I’m an actual man now for once

Because today, after 4 years, I beat Dark Souls.  I think I bought it the week it came out, and it took me longer to finish it than it took FROM SOFTWARE to make Dark Souls 2 and Bloodborne.

Shameful? I don’t think so.  Dark Souls is a difficult game, but it’s a fun one.  The fun keeps you coming back for more abuse, but when you get beat down pretty bad, or get stuck, or get into a farming rut (where the stuff you are trying to farm takes a lot of practice to git gud enough to beat consistently), you may need to take a break. I took a lot of them, some months at a time.  Unlike Red Dead and Bayonetta (and a few others), I kept coming back to Dark Souls.  It really is that good.  I’ve heard complaints about the camera and the controls (and the difficulty) but frankly the controls are brilliant, the camera is just fine and the difficulty?  Let me expand on that a bit.

First, the game takes skill in two ways. First you have to learn how to fight and if DS is your first FROM game, you are going to have to learn the fighting system.  The core features is that you need to actually hit your opponent with your weapon (seems odd but watch any World of Warcraft or Diablo 3 video for the contrast) and a lot of the things that work in a normal fight work in DS, like keeping distance, feinting to draw out certain attacks, circling, parrying and blocking.  Seems easy right?  Except that your AI opponents are doing some of the same things!  All of your moves take stamina, and that’s probably the strangest thing to get used to– when you move around or get hit or attack, you use stamina.  If you block an attack that exceeds your stamina, you will get staggered– and usually fucked.  Heavy attackers, like bosses, or groups of small attackers will chew through your stamina like crazy– and you have to figure out how to deal with it, either through the movements and blocking you do, or equipment because…

Secondly DS is an item management game, just like Torchlight or Skyrim.  There are tons of items and weapon sets in the game and most can be upgraded, some to godlike heights.  You need to know what type of weapons you want to use, how to use them (this takes a lot of practice) and then learn how to upgrade them.  I ignored the item management portion until the last half of the game and I suffered for it.

Unless I get the DLC (likely) I won’t pile into DS again for a long time, so bear with me as I take a trip down memory lane for my own future enjoyment here.  This has spoilers (just a few).

Bosses that were rough

Makes people cry.
Makes people cry.

The first bosses were pretty easy, nothing too crazy there.  However, when I got to this guy and his fucking DOGS, who is just a mini-mid-boss, I had to take a break from the game for a long time.  I just could not get past him.  The combination of the dogs knocking your stamina down and the massive stamina damage that the Capra can dish out is brutal.  As this is fairly early in the game, it was teaching you a lesson about what to prepare for later and how to deal with stamina issues like this.  I ended up beating him when I was just showing Matt the game on a whim over Xmas break (probably in late 2012).

Yeah, shortly after the Capra is the Gaping Dragon, which is one of the scariest monsters in the game.  I don’t think this would be a problem now since the thing is so big– but I had a lot of problems getting him dead. I used the sun bro to help and then it was off to Blighttown…

After that, I sort of got on a roll.   Even though Havel and the Hydra and probably a bunch of bosses I can no longer remember took me a long time to beat, none of them were a huge problem.  Queelag I did pull a summon in to help, but that was just to save time really.  She was a cool enough fight to not mind and also, tits.

However, Andor Londo is where I’ve heard people say the game says “fuck you, welcome to Dark Souls!” and they’re right.  There are two notorious parts to this beautiful cityscape.  The first are some knight archers that you have to come at on ledges.  Their bows are bows used to kill DRAGONS, so you go flying when hit to, you know, your death.  This wasn’t even a boss and it made me want to eat my controller.  After that, of course, is the most difficult boss in the game, which is actually two bosses.  Smough and Ornstein.

Not too friendly
Not too friendly

These guys are total dicks, and really this is a gateway to the game since the actual ‘plot’ starts after these two guys are beaten. You figure out (sort of) what you are supposed to be doing to beat the game except for just going around different areas after the bells of awakening have been rung. I had the sunbro AND another person help me with this fight, but I knew if I got stuck there, I would not finish the game, so sucked it up and farmed humanity from the rats in the sewers to run it as a human with FRIENDS.

After these dudes, I have to say the rest of the bosses were much easier, especially with the internet helping. Except, of course, for the last one. The final boss reminded me of the Capra Demon above in that he has completely relentless attacks, does massive damage and drains the shit out of your stamina bar. And then you die again and again and again. I think I was able to get past ALL of the knights guarding him without having to use an estus flask.

Here was my item Build at the end:

  • Black Armor Set – max upgrades on everything
  • Shield of Artorias – no upgrades (you need 34 STR to use it)
  • Black Knight Great Sword – max upgrades
  • Flame Stone Plate Ring
  • Ring of Steel Protection

While the boss fights are intense and ‘big events,’ in the game, Dark Souls is so much more about the exploration and the world you get to experience. It’s basically a huge undead prison with a lot of mean people nearby that want to fuck you up.  The way the world map is set up is like some huge puzzlebox that you unfold during play, it’s quite amazing.  I even enjoyed the worst area of the game, Blight town, quite a bit despite it’s insane difficulty working (slowly) through it.  And if you ever get stuck there, remember, at the end there are TITS, so keep going.  Though the story is explicitly sparse, there are some dramatic parts and some subplots going on.  What happens to that preistess in the beginning? What happens to the first firekeeper?  Who is that knight that you talk to early on?  What is going on with SUNBRO!??  That said, with both Bloodborne and Darksouls 2 out already, I am not sad to finish DS1, since there is MORE mayhem to wade through.


I did fight about 20-30 people in PVP.  Most of the fights were due to the Forest Covenant ring which summons you back to the forest when people show up there to kill them.  I was probably invaded 5-8 times and won only a couple of those invasions. Most of the time there was a fire blast and I was killed in those situations.  In the Forest, it was a bit more even but I still didn’t do great. I ran a SUPER tank build and a lot of times I would swing my sword and the other guy would not be expecting to get hit stunned and then would be lying down shortly after. I found the mutiplayer mechanisms, both invasions and helping people out to be extremely innovative and excellent. If you want to get invaded or help someone, you can, if not, it’s a single player game when you want it to be.

In the end, Dark Souls is a modern classic whose popularity keeps growing and growing for good reason, why would people play PVP in WOW or Guild Wars when they can PVP in Dark Souls?  And even if you experience just a part of it, say up to the Gaping Dragon at least, you will have experienced one of the best video games ever made.

And more Torchlight 2

Torchlight 2 addiction is in full swing, so there hasn’t been the normal cavalcade of posts about stuff recently. Needless to say, Hardcore TL2 is a harsh mistress. My problem is that I get finicky about my class selection and just can’t stick with one character. Likely because I’ve played Berserkers for so long that I want to try something new, and that’s been the outlander. Outlanders, well, no one plays them that I know, so I’ve never seen one in action that I could say– “wow that’s cool!” I built a close combat Outlander but the build is only viable once you get BURNING LEAP at level… 35! As soon as I got that high, the character died almost instantly. With Sensless at about level 65 or so dropping loot down to all of us, it’s been really easy to build characters back up once they are toast… but when he croaks during some Mapworks misshap, who will help then?

Mods. Synergies I know is solid, but I tried the HACKANDSLASH essentials mod today for a bit and it’s a massive hodgepodge of a ton of other mods. Some of the classes looked cool, but I am skeptical that it will all work well together and am not sure I want to time sink to find out. Synergies is a total overhaul mod, like Zyel for Diablo 2, and I can get behind that. I think once Matt finishes the game hardcore (which will take months most likely because he refuses to run a shield/wand combo with his embermage for survivability) we’ll switch to non-hardcore synergies.

I’d also like to get a legendary drop one of these days…

Savage Sword of Solomon Kane (and Bloodborne)


Finished the collection of Howard’s Solomon Kane stories and holy crap, I wish he had done another 10-15 of these. The stories are incredibly visceral and intense and while a bit more focused on Africa than I would have liked, there are some good pirate stories in there too. While Conan’s stories are also amazing, Solomon Kane is a lot more relatable since the stories take place in the early modern period and not an imagined pre-history.  I feel like his story arc was not completed by Howard, and that’s sad.  The final story in the book is just a fragment, but still worth reading.  The version (Savage Sword) has excellent illustrations throughout as well.

And speaking of early modern… Bloodborne by the Dark Souls peoples (From Software) looks to scratch the exact itch not having more Solomon Kane stories caused.


The Mimic that destroyed steve

Torchlight 2 Hardcore. With the MAC version out where we can all play together, we have. Vanilla so far, but Synergies is likely just around the corner.

There have been, in the back-ass of ACT 1, deaths due to cold and Chillhoof and Mimics, but other than the sighing and loss of items, it’s really not a big deal since an hour or two later a new character is back in the game and lessons learned. Still– when you get over level 20, the stakes get higher and HIGHER.

TL2 Hardcore Victory!


While I used the Essentials mod while pulling this off rather than vanilla, I finally got my Veteran hardcore badge for Torchlight 2.  I still am only about level 34 in Elite hardcore– and I do NOT like my build very much at all.  The lack of farming and the really really difficult and long fights you encounter in Elite mean it may be…ah….never before I get the elite hardcore badge.

It was a good run.  I learned a lot about the berserker– I’m no expert but getting there.  I used Ice with northern rage as my AOE and Raze as my 1 on 1 attack.  I was doing massive amounts of damage with Northern Rage at the end there and had a power that would proc to increase casting speed by 50% or so which made Raze crazy insane.

Offense means very little in hardcore though, it’s all about the defense.  Having over 600 armour and 400-500 in every resistance is an absolute must.   The only way to do this efficiently is to run a shield.  Always always run a shield in hardcore, regardless of your class.

That said, I lost a lot of characters pushing through to the end.  Here is a list of the fatalities:

Buttdust_0 – level 32 Embermage-– died in Korari Cave (got caught in one of those bone traps and couldn’t get away).

Lipstitch – Level 8 Berserker – The Bone Gallery (oops!)

Dead Rose – Level 22 Berserker – Watchweald Temple

Poofias – Level 51 Berserker – The Broken Mines Floor 7: this one hurt emotionally since it was right near the end. I didn’t have my electric resistance high enough…

Poofias 2 – Level 22 Beserker – Watchweald Temple (again!!)

Vagisillica_0 – level 44 Berserker – Forgotten Halls floor 1. Just a bad mistake IIRC…

Vagisillica_1 – Level 44 Berserker – Blightbogs. This was on a critical hit from a champion troll. However I got overconfident and ran a pistol and sword rather than a shield. Stupid, stupid stupid.

And the final iteration of the berserker that pulled it off:

Vagisillicus 2
Vagisillicus 2 – the two handed sword is just for show.

Monster Hunter for iOS

There just aren’t many good games for iOS that aren’t “free” and then try to take your cash to let you play the game.  I was pretty surprised to see a port of Monster Hunter to iOS show up yesterday and grabbed it immediately.  At 15$ this will set you back, but it’s worth it.  The controls (I’m playing on an iphone 5) are awesome for the touch screen and the game is damn fun–it’s fighting in real time and then crafting craziness.   What’s more the game has 4 player multiplayer on wifi.  This is probably the closest to Dark Souls that we’ll see on iOS as well.  And if you were a fan of Infinity Blade– this is just so much better.

Farewell to Dark Souls (#1 at least)

With Dark Souls 2 out in a few days, players are lamenting the end of Dark Souls 1 as the video above is probably just the first of many tributes. Now this is strange because it’s a single player game primarily? Correct, however there is a massive multiplayer component to the game that some people may never experience (with the exception of the computer invasions that mimic when another player invades). Since many people will be immediately switching to Dark Souls 2, they have to say goodbye to their characters and such, so it’s truly bitter sweet since the new game has already been reviewed and found AWESOME.

What caught me on this video is that it references the dragon archers I mentioned in an earlier post. The money shot is at 2:12.

Dark Souls almost broke me!

I get so little time to play games and Dark Souls is one that you really have to take seriously, especially when it’s trying to emotionally maim you at every turn.  The last few days I have been stuck in one single area and yesterday I almost threw in the towel on the game for good.

The situation is that you have to fight through some fairly tough enemies only to have to then walk up a series of ledges while under fire from some archers who have GIANT dragon killing arrows that will knock you off the ledge if you get hit (whether you block or not). You are forced to run between them so while one is shooting you from the front, another is shooting you in the back.  Then you must engage one of them in close combat without falling off the ledge.  All told, I think I tried this 50 times before making it through.  At try 45 I was like–fuck this game forever.   My last ‘stuck’ point was the first Capra Daemon which is understandable for me since it’s a boss and all. Those are SUPPOSED to be difficult.  This is just… some area in the game.   Praise the fucking Sun I got through it and on to what I’ve heard is the most difficult boss fight in the game…

People have even made artwork of this area...
People have even made artwork of this area…