Bandai Namco
By Matt Peckham
April 1, 2014

I’m starting to worry about Dark Souls 2. It’s turning out to be pretty easy compared to my sojourns with both its predecessors. Too easy. And I’m definitely not a great player, so don’t read that as me boasting. I’m not. Chances are you’re better. I’m just thorough, and as I noted yesterday, playing the game on its own terms by clearing each area before moving on.

That put me into the mid-30s, level-wise, by the time I squared off with the first boss (think Ent and you’re close), one of four majors I’m supposed to tangle with over the course of the game. But man, what a drag. I went in expecting to croak at least once. Death is required reading in this game, the way you’re expected to learn how to grapple with a problem, the presumption being that each problem should be unique, as well as uniquely difficult. But it turned out to be the easiest, lamest encounter I’ve yet had in a Souls game.

That’s more than a little troublesome, as would this likely April Fools’ joke be — about From Software preparing a patch to lower the game’s difficulty by folding in a new effigy — were it true. The hypothetical effigy would reduce the amount of stamina you consume, eliminate the gradual half-health penalty that occurs when you’re undead (or “Hollowed”) and make enemies easier to dispatch. But joke-maker GameSpot attributes a quote about the effigy to Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki…who wasn’t directly involved with Dark Souls 2, and I can’t find the quote on the linked patch page, nor does the effigy appear in the patch notes.

The Souls games aren’t for casual players, of course — another reason to flag this story as suspect. Even if you sheared off more of the difficulty and made the game as hack-and-slash rote as Diablo III tends to be much of the time, it’s still too visually esoteric, stat-riddled and convoluted, interface-wise, to lure (much less hold) a casual player’s attention.

That leaves mainstreamers and enthusiasts, but are they complaining? Do any of you find the game too difficult? Would you want a difficulty reduction option? Are you playing the game on its terms, or just rushing through the areas, fast as you can?

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