Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin hands-on preview
Dark Souls II did phenomenally well on last-gen systems, despite releasing fairly late into the generation’s lifespan. It only makes sense then, that it would receive a makeover and re-release onto the current gen. This new version is called ‘Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin’, and it contains all three of the previously-released expansions for Dark Souls II, as well as a number of tweaks and upgrades to the game.
Now while the game is coming to both last-gen and current-gen systems as well as PC, there are some limitations as to what the last-gen version can handle. For that reason, the last-gen versions will not feature an increased online player count or the graphics upgrade. Still, the last-gen versions are hardly missing out as they still get all three previously released downloadable expansions, as well as several tweaks and upgrades to the game.
I had an extensive hands-on session with Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin and I can honestly say that it’s the best version of a Souls game yet. Sticky Trigger played Scholar of the First Sin on the PlayStation 4, and it runs like a dream – smooth and gorgeous (in its own nightmarish death-around-every-corner kinda way).
Immediately noticeable, is the graphical upgrade. This is easily the prettiest Souls or From Software game yet, with improved textures and some amazing lighting. At a native 1080p resolution, the game looks crisper than ever! Even though I was being pursued by spear-wielding undead, I still took the time to gaze at my surroundings in wonder. Not only that, the lighting has been drastically improved, giving a new sense of realism. Whether it’s a beam of light in an otherwise dark cave, or the sun setting in the background of the town of Majula, you’ll be praising the sun.
In addition to the impressive new textures and lighting, the game also runs at a much better framerate – the coveted 60 frames per second each game aspires to achieve. If you’re an experienced Dark Souls player, you’d be right in assuming that an increased frame rate allows you to better read your opponents’ attacks – and counter them. That, or you now get to witness your demise looking smoother than ever before.
The hardware of the current-gen consoles also allows for a couple of game-changing tweaks. Enemies will now pursue the player longer than before, and even through fog gates – prepare to die even more. Experienced players can no longer rely on their memories of several areas of the game, as From Software have added more enemies and items, or moved them from some areas completely. Some weapons that many people missed are now more obvious to spot, though some of the game’s more powerful weapons are less durable than before. The game is now “fairer” according to From Software and Namco Bandai, though part of me is still frightened as heck to become undead all over again.
I wasn’t able to experience the online-multiplayer, though it too has apparently been improved. For one thing, there is an increased player count as well as other improvements that From Software are being deliberately mysterious about.
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin also features an expanded story and lore, meaning that players will now be able to learn more about the world and everything in it more organically. NPCs will also have a greater effect on the player and the story, and it has been hinted that an already existing NPC has been given an important new role, though exactly who this NPC remains shrouded in mystery.
So after my time with Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, am I excited to jump back in, die a few hundred times and fall in love with the game all over again? You betcha!
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin releases on April 7.