Shieldless in Drangleic

It’s a dangerous world out there.

Likely even more dangerous when you willingly opt out of using a shield entirely. That said, I’ve started to wonder if I rely too much on my shield. Especially when I don’t really build characters around heavier armour which are more likely to require a shield, or, at the very least, make good use of one. Dark Souls II is an experience I don’t really talk about all that much. That’s not to say that the experience itself is bad, just that I made a bad decision in thinking that Miracles would be a good secondary damage option. When they’re really not.

Well, no, they are- you just have to progress pretty far into the story to get those Miracles.

Which meant that I’d need to start over with a new build and I never really got around to doing that. Until recently. Which is when I decided I’d run a full Sorceries build with limited weapon options and no shield. I’ll admit- it sounds like a bad idea. Which it was with some bosses. But it was something different that helped me to understand when a shield is actually useful.

The majority of character progression and development mechanics remained the same as they were in Dark Souls. But the most significant difference would be the introduction of Human Effigies, which essentially act as Humanity but also restore the temporary maximum health loss that occurs when you die. They’re not particularly required, either. Especially if you have the ring that reduces the amount of maximum health you lose with each additional death. I do believe the Sorceries have remained mostly the same as well. That said, for me, the greatest challenge was defeating bosses like the Lost Sinner with no reflexive shield raising. I always do that panic button press hoping that it will absorb the damage when I’m about to get hit.

Shower him with Soul Arrows!

I’ve had a lot of fun with the build, though. It’s definitely different as I’m usually doing most damage with a weapon and then relying on Sorceries for some enemies. Whereas, with this build, I’m having to think a lot more about actually rolling effectively as I don’t have a panic button. If I roll badly I’m going to get hit. Which makes equipment weight more important, which in turn reduces the number of armour sets I could wear without investing heavily into its governing attribute. Casting time is also something I’m now much more aware of.

It wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting, either.

Which many would say is because of the inherent damage of Sorceries, but in many ways I felt almost underpowered in the earlier areas as I had limited Sorceries to attune and these were my main sources of damage. But that’s part of the challenge. When using a Strength/Dexterity weapon you have steadily increasing damage, whereas Sorceries are much more spiky.

It took a fairly long time to come back to Dark Souls II but I’m glad that I did. I didn’t own the Scholar of the First Sin version until recently, so these are all observations of a character in the original version but I do have the DLC for that version. So I’ll likely be exploring those at a later date. Until then, I’ll likely be moving on to the next in the series with which I will likely try another different build. But, again, as I said with the first Dark Souls, the character customisation and progression is what makes the series so enjoyable. It’s great to always be trying new weapons or building around different attributes. I can easily recommend Dark Souls II, though. It’s different- but it’s the enjoyable kind of different.

Have a nice week, all!


That’s a Kindlin’

Prepare to hurl a colourful mixture of profanity at your screen.

Dark Souls is a funny game. It’s quite hilarious watching your character break every bone in their body when being struck with a hammer of impossible size, but, at least for me, it is equally as hilarious watching a small round shield completely nullify that damage. It’s also an experience that makes you question your RPG habits. I tend to favour heavy armour, sizeable weapons, and a reasonable health pool in most RPGs. But in Dark Souls I’m almost entirely sold on the idea of using Dexterity weapons and rolling as if my life depends on it.

Which, due to my armour, or lack thereof, it does depend on it.

However, the flexibility of character creation and development is fairly refreshing. There is absolutely nothing that prevents you from farming souls and levelling up multiple attributes. These attributes can open up the ability to use heavier armour, Sorceries, Miracles, and all manner of neat weapons. Each of which features a relatively unique move set and feel.

In that way, I really enjoy what Dark Souls is offering as it’s a fairly new experience. It’s not the first to offer a punishing and complex RPG experience, but it is one of the first I’ve played that allows you to really do what you feel is best with your character. Even though I started as a Wanderer- which is more of a guideline than an actual class- I’d invested points into Intelligence for Sorceries and even used a bow. I prefer the utility character builds. Ones where you’ve got access to multiple ways to approach the same problem. As sometimes you really don’t want to get too close to an enemy, but sometimes being far away is relatively detrimental, and sometimes certain damage types don’t even affect that enemy. So it’s a pretty great build overall.

Going to a bonfire after this fight? That’s a kindlin’.

Death is handled similarly to how it was in Diablo II. Wherein you leave a corpse when you die and must retrieve it, however, in Dark Souls, you’re not retrieving your equipment but your souls and Humanity. Both of which are fairly useful to character progression. Humanity becoming much more important once you can kindle bonfires. Bonfires act as a way to save your progress in a checkpoint fashion, too. With later developments allowing you to transport instantly between them. They’re pretty useful and definitely something you want to see when you’re exploring.

Likewise, blacksmiths give you access to weapon development.

Which, in most cases, will allow you to enhance the scaling that your weapon has or add an elemental damage type to it. You’ll need to find regular upgrade materials, special upgrade materials, and blacksmith specific items to unlock later customisation. But they’re all fairly self explanatory and it’s a pretty great system for creating a diverse character.

It is an experience that requires a fair amount of patience, too. Most enemies will require you to recognise their move set, look for openings, and take advantage of the opportunities you get. It’s also a fairly open world with few areas being gated by story progression. Fewer still if you take the Master Key at character creation. That said, I’ve been in various states of mind while playing and I’ve generally enjoyed much of what I’ve experienced. I’ve yet to progress to the DLC locations, but I’m likely to try a different character build for when I do as this build did defeat the final boss but does require tweaking. It isn’t nearly as impossibly difficult as some might suggest, though. Just take your time and be patient. Oh, and remember the colourful profanity.

Have a nice week, all!