Version Tested: 1.00
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Dark Souls fan and the opportunity to dive back into Dark Souls 2 afresh on the highly anticipated PC version sent my blood pressure into a frenzy…which in hindsight is something I should probably discuss with my doctor.
Getting past the opening cutscene, I dropped straight into Things Betwixt. I’m instantly surprised by how smooth the game is. The console version of Dark Souls 2 (I played it on PS3) isn’t exactly slow, not by previous Soul’s games standards anyway, but with the additional power of PC behind the game, you really feel the additional freedom in the framerate.
Heading through Things Betwixt and searching out as many secrets as I knew to find, I found myself at the Firekeepers hut. Having only ever played the Souls games as melee characters, I chose to break that mold this time around and kit myself out as a sorcerer. So, off I head into the tutorial area.
Given that the tutorial area is slightly more open than your first encounter with Things Betwixt, I was expecting a slight slowing of the framerate but nothing like that happened. The textures seem very slightly sharper on the PC version too, but this may be me looking for graphical improvements where there may not be any. Dispatching the tutorial enemies was smooth and satisfying.
Heading through the cave network into Majula, I’m pleasantly surprised by how beautiful Majula still looks. Anyone who has played Dark Souls 2 before knows that you will see this place literally hundreds of times, and the fact that the first appearance can still give a player goosebumps is wonderful. Breaking from the traditional path of the game, I decide to head to Heides Tower of Flame, a place not exactly suited to my level, but I felt I needed to see if these Soul Arrow spells were handy in a tougher fight. I work my way through the underground passage to the tower, stopping briefly to enjoy the water running through the sewer as it looks so lovely. I then make it to the tower area entrance. Again, no slowdown from the game at all.
Through my time at Heides Tower of Flame, I did notice something odd, however – there is a certain type of enemy in Heides Tower, an Old Knight who carries a mace. They are unusually quick and possibly my least favourite Old Knight enemy type. Upon killing this mace wielding knight for the first time, then dying soon afterwards, I realised that he didn’t respawn – a trait shared by any/all common enemies. At this stage, I’m not sure if this is intentional or if it is simply a glitch, but changing the status of enemies like that may well upset a number of players, potentially making the game easier.
Before I knew it, I was facing off against my first boss, the Dragonrider. With the game offering me all the smoothness I could possibly need, the battle was decided quickly by a barrage of glowing blue Soul Arrows (of death!) Before I realised it, I came to the conclusion that with the game being this smooth, I was reacting faster – the game was allowing for more split second decisions, which meant that my rolling was pixel perfect and my attacks were perfectly timed.
The very feeling of standing on the Majula coastline, watching the sea roll in, is something mesmerising. It looks truly wonderful, lavish and helps build the picture of the beautiful, but bleak surroundings for your game.
Personally speaking, the PC version of Dark Souls 2 is the definitive version. From Software previously admitted that their PC version of Dark Souls 1 was a bad conversion at best. That is not the case with Dark Souls 2. Granted, it is automatically assumed that you will be using a controller (which I do for any/all PC games these days) but the additional graphical options and inevitable mods which will come pouring out of the already stalwart Dark Souls community, will mean that this game will hold a place in fans’ hearts for a very long time to come.
For the technically curious, I ran Dark Souls 2 for roughly 11 hours at 1920 x 1080 resolution and it hovered between 55 and 60 frames per second on an AMD Radeon HD6970M (yes, a laptop) with 8GB of RAM and an Intel i7 2670QM (natively running at 2.2GHz, overclocked slightly to 2.6GHz) I have a feeling that the framerate might be capped at 60 as even my video capturing software couldn’t make it exceed that amount.
Technical Competency – 9/10
Graphic/Sound Quality – 9.5/10
Network Stability – 9/10
Overall Quality Grade – 9/10
The PC version of Dark Souls is currently (in my opinion) the definitive version of the game. With the sheer butter-smooth nature of the gameplay and the inevitable mods which will come flooding from the community in the coming weeks, it’s going to stand head and shoulders over its console brethren. Currently multiplayer and PvP is smooth and quick to connect, but how this will be impacted by millions of players all clogging up the Namco Bandai servers, is anyone’s guess.