Praise the Sun, Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin is prettier, more brutal, and packs all the DLC from the original title into one full package of death.
Praise The Sun!
As a Dark Souls II fan, someone who finished the original PS3 version 4 times, there are a few elements that have been added to Scholar of the First Sin to make it feel like you need to play it again. Firstly the game now runs at 1080p, 60 fps. This is clear from the start of the game as rotating the camera and running through the field of grass for the first time shows off the game’s visual improvements. Keeping in mind that this is not perfect, there are occasional frame rate drops that do occur, this is due to be fixed in the coming weeks.
The textures look better, they are not breath-takingly spectacular, and after playing Bloodborne this will be torture on the eyes, but they are a clear improvement over the original. The lighting effects have also received a few tweaks. Torches, bonfires, and spells all give off an illuminating glow and it all hits the higher-res textures quite nicely.
Enemy distribution has been tweaked throughout the game. At times you will find new enemies in different places as before, and other times you will find more of the same enemy in one place. Instead of fighting four hollowed knights, you will now fight eight. This is tough, believe me. Being swarmed by a group of enemies was hard enough without the amount being doubled. Basic enemies seem to be more aggressive than before, it takes a couple of shots to take down a starter knight whereas it would take two or three in the PS3 version, before the Scholar of the First Sin patch.
Death Awaits Thee…
You feel the increased difficulty in the first half of the game, but at the same time the added trolls and double enemy count allows for souls farming early in the game. It felt like the boss difficulty was lowered a bit as many of them seemed like they were missing a few attack sets. Do not get me wrong, they were still a challenge, but thanks to the added NPC summons, each boss was taken down in one fell swoop. It is normally the trip to the boss that takes patience, weapon durability has had some serious work, weapons barely last at all now before breaking. This forces you to take more than one approach to the way you traverse areas, handle equipment, and even levelling up your character. Carrying two weapons is a must at all times, three to be safe.
There are countless new surprises for those who played through the last generation’s version a few times. NPC invasions are tripled that will test you constantly, completely new enemies have been placed in new areas, and every now and then you will find new items that vary from new weapons, armour, consumables and key items.
You will cry for your mommy!
Overall the difficulty has been cranked up way high, this is okay for gamers who have recently played the series, but newcomers beware, this is not Bloodborne, nor the Dark Souls II that people spoke about last year. It kind of reminded me of the original Dark Souls’ difficulty when starting off fresh. It’s brutal and unforgiving. Keeping in mind that for every new adjustment in gameplay and difficulty, there is a silver lining. Bosses are tough, but you can now find double the NPC summons, and enemies are doubled, this means more souls. It all weighs itself out at the end.
The Crown Trilogy DLC is also included in Scholar of the First Sin. This DLC offers all the tweaks and adjustments that the main game offers, and at the same time it adds a couple of hours onto the already lengthy campaign. The DLC environments, enemies, and bosses feel fresh. There is no doubt that quite some work was put into separating the DLC from the main game while still keeping it true to the Dark Souls mechanics. This time around you have to find keys that grant you access to the DLC, this is new and keeps the player from gaining entry to the area before they have met the required level. Although you can access this DLC whenever you find a key, it is important to hold off until late in the game.
To say that some of the game’s toughest boss fights take place in the DLC is an understatement. The final boss for each DLC is a testament to difficulty. These bosses really show off the game’s deep mysterious storyline, and at the same time as abuse the “death” mechanic. All three DLC’s don’t feel like add on content, with Scholar of the First Sin having them added into the game already, it just feels like a longer Dark Souls 2, with so much more to learn and study in terms of NPCs, and the story of the Iron King
There are enough new features and added content to warrant a replay. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin feels like a completely new game at times, and at other times you will be asking yourself why you are even putting up with it again. Regardless of its difficult starting point, there is even a greater challenge awaiting thee in the depths below Majula. You will spend countless hours dying over and over again. It is the way we want it, and there is no fault in that.