[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.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Impressions
No Legion impressions today, as I saved $10 by ordering the expansion from Amazon, who declined to ship it to me on launch day. Also, I technically had Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (DE) for the past week, but only got started playing it recently. Because Legion pre-patch free leveling.
Yeah, some weird-ass irony there.
So far, I have only gotten past the first 2-3 areas of DE and this is basically Human Revolution all over again. Including all the parts that lead me to make the game worse for myself.
For example, the hacking mini-game is back. Which means if you go through the trouble of actually discovering the password for a given computer, there is no reason to actually enter it. Because if you skip the mini-game, you lose out on the 100-200 XP, 100-200 credits, and occasional hacking software freebies that come from taking the scenic route in cracking security.
Why? Why don’t the designers just give you those things for free, if you actually went through the trouble of tracking down the Pocket Secretary with the password on it?
Another example: dropped weapons. Knock out two guards, each drop a shotgun. Pick up first shotgun, it goes into your inventory. Pick up second shotgun, it gets destroyed and you get +4 ammo. This is fine… if it were not the fact that shotguns can be sold to a vendor for like 1200 credits. A vendor that sells Praxis Kits, e.g. talent points, for 10,000 credits apiece. And so my gameplay arc now logically bends towards picking up one weapon type at a time and Fed-Exing it back to the (one) vendor until I can afford to buy all the things.
Hopefully this will stop once I exhaust the Praxis supply, but who knows.
Also, I feel slightly punished for exploring. I got to a new area in Prague, for example, and started exploring for an hour or two. At one point, I made my way through the sewers and into a restricted area with guards and such. After taking care of them, I noticed there were another group of hostiles hanging out in a room, all clustered together. Tightly packed enemies? Jackpot! I rolled a propane tank into the room, shot it, and mopped up the survivors.
As I was rifling through the pockets of the dead, I realized that some of these bodies had names. Names associated with a quest I happened to be on. My unceremonious slaughter did not prevent me from completing the quest, but I began to wonder whether or not I skipped an entire arc of interaction by killing them. Would there have been a conversation? Would they have given me a quest to complete in return for the item I needed? I arrived in their lair via a back route that I didn’t realize I was on; I was just screwing around looting shit in the sewers. I’m starting to think that I shouldn’t actually explore anything unless it happens to be an area for a quest I am actively on.
I am not sure whether the above examples can be considering minor annoyances or major ones. They are kinda major to me, but I’m weird like that. Beyond those though, the game is playing a lot like Human Revolution. If you liked that one, you will probably like this one. Time will tell whether or not the story holds up, or what other shenanigans might go down. What I will say is that whatever time I am not in WoW currently is being spent in Mankind Divided. So there’s that, at least.