[Dark Souls 2] Day PvP
When I played the original Dark Souls, it was the Prepare to Die edition, which never had multiplayer reenabled after the hacking exploit back in 2022. As such, I never experienced seeing the messages on the ground, being able to summon friends to help with bosses, or indeed, to be invaded by players.
Well, I have since had the distinct pleasure of getting invaded in Dark Souls 2. Twice. By the same guy. And yes, this was a legit player and not an NPC – I got the Armorer Dennis experience separately.
In case you aren’t familiar with the system, here it is: you can be minding your own business, and suddenly a warning message will appear that “so and so is invading.” At that point, you cannot leave the general area (fog gates appear), you cannot fast travel via Bonfire, and a red invader (player) will show up somewhere. Oh, and you cannot Save & Exit the game. You are essentially locked into non-consensual PvP for the next 15 minutes until either you or the invader dies. Also, any regular enemy NPCs that are still around will still be around and will only attack you.
If you die, you drop your Souls wherever you are. If you manage to kill the invader, you supposedly get X amount of Souls. I wouldn’t know, because I was killed both times I was invaded.
Because here’s the thing: I didn’t sign up for PvP. In the original Dark Souls, the system was that you could only be invaded when you were Human form, e.g. something you deliberately triggered with a consumable. Dark Souls 2 has no such limitation. In fact, my max HP was already reduced by 20% because I was working my way through No-Man Wharf, which features enemies that will deal 90% of your HP in damage if they catch you with a combo. I already lost 17,000 Souls in this area just from NPCs. Well, NPCs and falling into the water once. So when I saw the invasion text, I ran back to the Bonfire at the start of the map with the idea that “at least my Souls will be near the respawn point.”
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I’m playing a Sorcerer build. It’s been okay-ish for regular enemies, but it definitely leans towards the glass cannon side of things. Certainly, the invader I faced had a significant HP lead on me, as even though I managed to get a few full combos off on him, it only amounted to about 30% damage. And that’s the thing about this: the invader gets to pick the time and the place. Well, I guess I picked the place by running over to the Bonfire, but I was already out of spells both times he invaded, and I was running around with Soul Gain+ equipment rather than items more geared for PvP. Meanwhile, the invader can gear themselves however they want, with whatever spells they want, and they have to be in Human form to invade in the first place, which means they have their max HP. I think the only limitation is that they cannot regain HP from flasks/consumables, which sounds like a bigger deal than it is considering they aren’t likely to give you the opportunity to pop a consumable yourself. Plus, you know, I had already used most of my flasks working my way through the map.
At this point, I’m not quite certain what I’ll do. The option exists – one way or another – to basically play the game offline. That will mean zero chance at getting invaded, but will also remove the player messages and bloodstains. The messages have pretty much exclusively been memes, but occasionally there are warning about traps or illusionary walls. Is that worth having my gameplay interrupted to such a massive degree? If I tried to engage the invader where I was and died, I would have had to work my way through the entire level all over again, past enemies and traps that could kill very quickly. Nevermind the fact that since I did die, all of those enemies respawned, setting me back again. I did manage to trigger some shortcuts inbetween invasions, so I won’t start from scratch, but still.
From what I read you can also just Alt-F4 to shut the game down and boot the player. Supposedly this “flags” your account and you cannot invade or play co-op until you use a special item that respawns after many in-game hours. Which would be just fine by me. My hesitation though is around the rather opaque auto-save mechanics. How much progress would I lose (if any)? Would it be perhaps worth it?
I dunno, man. Helistar recently questioned why I would continue playing this game if I already hated its fundamental design, e.g. failure cascades, etc. And that’s fair to ask. At the base level, I am having fun… after a fashion. I like the sense of incremental progression, working my way through a hostile map, and having spells/items/etc to look forward to. And remember: I’ve played dozens and dozens of survival and roguelike games over the years prior to this series, so this sort of thing is up my alley.
But we’ll see. Non-consensual PvP is not up my alley, and if the game feels worse without “social” elements, then that will be that.