Hands on with Dark Souls II PS4

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Hands on with Dark Souls II PS4

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin on PS4 adds the expected technical improvements, but also remixes core gameplay elements to give veterans a reason to dive back in.

The jump to PS4 has given developer FromSoftware an opportunity to paint a more pleasing picture. The native 1080p resolution, upgraded lighting effects, and cinematic filters give the game a richer, cleaner look compared to the PS3 version.

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

But the biggest improvement comes from the improved frame rate — 60 frames per second according to Bandai Namco representatives. The increased fluidity translates into more responsive movement and combat, a major advantage considering the game’s famously unforgiving difficulty.

Then there are the gameplay adjustments. You won’t be able to rely on your memory to cakewalk the PS4 game because some enemies and item locations have been changed. Enemies will follow you more tenaciously, even through fog gates — a terrifying, potentially ruinous side effect of PS4’s expanded RAM pool.

Some weapons are also being tweaked. I noticed that the Fire Long Sword, a powerful early-game weapon that saved my butt countless times on PS3, seemed to be way less durable in this version. In other cases, a producer told me, weapons that were largely overlooked may be easier to find, or be adjusted in other ways.

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First SinDark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin on PS4 also includes all previously released Dark Souls II content expansions: Crown of the Sunken King, Crown of the Old Iron King, and Crown of the Ivory King, so there will be no shortage of things to do and monsters to kill.

All in all, I was pleased with the refinements and look forward to dipping my toe back into the cursed world of Drangleic this April — just as soon as I’m done with Bloodborne. Is 2015 The Year of FromSoftware?

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6 Author Replies

  • “seemed to be way less durable in this version”

    Still can’t believe they haven’t fixed this. Weapon degradation is tied to the frame-rate. So let’s say on PS3 version if you attack a dead enemy and your weapon spends 4 frames inside the body resulting in 2 points less in your durability. With the PS4 version since it’s running at 60fps and not 30fps that means it spends twice as many frames inside the body than the PS3 version does, so 8 frames. This then results in 4 points in durability lost instead of the 2 on the PS3 version.

    This is why it appears your weapon seems to have less durability because of how it is calculated based on frame-rate instead of actual time.

  • Can’t Wait ~
    “Software” should improve their character customization, all those character looks ugly probably they need to
    learn something from Korea Developer

  • I wonder if they fixed the whole torch mechanic. You could tell that they had to scrap that half way through the game because the PS3 couldn’t handle the lighting effects.

    Needing a torch to see where you were going, ( giving up one hand ) I think would have brought the game up to the difficulty that they were looking for. But they scrapped that and turned the lighting so you didn’t need any torches at all, making the game so easy I would almost say it was broken.

    Just moving enemies around, and changing stats on weapons, really doesn’t fix this fundamental flaw.

    • To be fair, certain areas of the PS3 game were hugely dependent on the torch, such as the abandoned pirate’s cover (which was LONG and insanely HARD). I didn’t get a chance to reach areas where torches were more necessary, though the developers say the lighting effects have been upgraded significantly.

  • Hmmm….still debating on whether or not to pick this up day 1. It does come with the new content and all the dlc, none of which I’ve played yet. But it realeses so close to Bloodborne. Maybe if I get the Dark Souls II platinum in time….(only 5 trophies left!)

    • The upgraded frame rate and remixed enemy/item locations are the biggest draw for me. Plus, the DLC content of course.

  • So, no option to transfer my PS3 save? I’m really not in the mood to start over again, even more with Bloodborne is close to release…

  • I will be buying this day one. My hope is that DSII SotFS sells really well and you give Dark Souls I the same treatment. Can’t wait! Bloodborne and Darks Souls II Scholar of the First Sin just 2 weeks a part! That’s a lot of death. :)

  • Follow you through fog walls? BLASPHEMY!!!!
    Actually, I’ve been killed a few times because the host ran ahead, ran into the boss room and left his phantoms to fend off the enemies he aggro’d. So I’m not entirely against this.

    But @1 is correct. The higher frame rates does affect weapon durability. At least that’s what I’ve read PC players say. They should fix that because some weapons are already ridiculously fragile. 4 or 5 hits and you’re in danger of breakage. That’s why I stopped using the boss soul weapons I made and only rely on the super durable murakomo. With all those mobs, you don’t have time to throw some powder every few hits.

    I’m getting the digital versions of Bloodborne and Scholar of the First Sin so I won’t have to swap discs.

    And #5, zingakum, you’re correct. We all have to start from scratch, no transfers and that is indeed a big bummer.

  • oh, wait, I forgot, in case anyone from From is reading this:


  • I was kinda hoping that there would be a legacy program where owner’s of the ps3 version can buy the ps4 version for a reasonable price. Like the previous program you guys had for AC and bf4. Oh well.

  • dark souls 2 was pretty meh, and with bloodborne coming out literally the week before what is the point of this?

  • cool but no game progression transfer through ps3 to ps4? no thanks.

  • A Vita version would be appreciated…

  • Sid
    ((((((((((((WITCHER 3 PS4 GAMEPLAY FOOTAGE))))))))))))

    Dark Souls 2 Thanyou all.

  • @lisatsunami I wish they would make the durability system back like how it was in Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls 1. Though with that said, in DSII I’ve taken to using the Santier’s Spear – unlimited durability after the weapon breaks!

    Also +1 the Demon’s Souls remaster, I’d be all over that.

  • At 30fps I was uninterested in this as that’s what I thought it was going to be… But now I know it’s at 60fps, I am extremely interested. I will be getting Bloodborne(just wish it was 60 too) but now I feel I need to get this as well.

  • @BlueBl1zzard, I’ve had several people during co-op recommend that to me. I’ll have to try it. I used the spear long ago, but didn’t know about the breaking it part, so I didn’t like the moveset but I’ll break it and try it again, tonight, thanks.

  • So the frame rate durability bug is now, officially, a “feature”? *headslap*

  • @lisatsunami…YES! I would so love to return to Demon’s Souls. Too bad that’s in ATLUS’ hands stateside.

  • One thing I hate about being in between console generations is the republishing of games you bought a year ago for full price. It’s not that I want it for free (I’m reasonable about that), but I wish there was SOMETHING that allowed for an upgrade cost if you had some sort of proof or something that you currently own the original. I fell for it when I bought Diablo III for the PS4 but I couldn’t do it for GTAV when I got the LE for PS3, Last of Us for PS3, and I don’t think I can do it now for DS2.

    I’d love to have all of the above for PS4 but I just can’t get behind paying full price x2 for a game. Hope it does well though.

  • As someone who imported the region-free Asian release of “Demon’s Souls” before a U.S. release was announced, then later purchased and played through the first “Dark Souls” including its DLC, and still later purchased and played to Drangleic Castle in “Dark Souls II,” detouring to complete two of the three DLC packs (third purchased but not attempted) and thereafter taking an extended break, I was EXTREMELY excited at the prospect of resuming my journey on PS4. In the absence of a save transfer option, however, I will not be making this purchase. I’m still very excited for “Bloodborne,” of course, but I can’t deny my disappointment at the absence of such a rudimentary feature. Surely the cost of developing this option, even with the intent of patching it in post-release, could not be so steep as to offset the revenue generated from players like myself whose keen interest has been dependent upon a feature supporting the continuity of gameplay progress!

  • Will there be a separate trophy list from the PS3 version?

  • Firstly, let me beg for 3D Dot Game Heroes (also developed by From) on Vita/PS4. A truly excellent game/homage that deserves to be played by more people.

    The only “remaster” so far that has kept their 60fps target consistently was The Last Of Us. 60fps is a meaningless metric if it can’t be maintained (I’m looking at YOU, Sleeping Dogs). Also, most people’s HDTVs don’t have the motion resolution to update all 1080 lines in 30hz, never mind 60hz. I’d personally rather see solid 30fps with significantly enhanced lighting systems, shader effects, and stereo 3D — even though I do have a TV that can render all 1080 lines @ 60hz.

    Two remasters announced in the last two weeks, and neither include the complete series: no Demon’s Souls here, and no Borderlands 1 in that collection. Publishers, don’t assume that low sales/interest in those incomplete re-releases means there isn’t interest at all. You just need to do it right, like the PS3 HD Collections. No one likes starting a franchise in the middle, and not having a reasonably complete collection decreases the value proposition.

  • Dear From Software,
    I am a lifetime fan. Please reboot all of these games: DEMON SOULS, DARK SOULS, and make a TENCHU collection.I will gladly pay full price for all of these games!!!! please please please

  • ….for PS4. Thanks

  • @plaztiksyke

    While not all games need 60FPS, skill intensive games like Dark Souls should have it.
    I’d rather have a game that controls better, than a games that looks like a pretty slide show.

    Action/ARPGs and Fighting games definitley need a high FPS.

  • I hope you guys also give Dark Souls 1 a PS4 remastered release.

  • Hey #20….

    The original launch was effectively ruined about a week after release thanks to everyone using the hacked save that whats-his-name came out with. That sort of stuff being released so far early after launch is catastrophic! While a large portion if not all of the players who used it a lot online had their ability to connect to the multiplayer server suspended, let’s be real here for a second…With the PS3 version not requiring you to even have + to play multiplayer…I’m sure people are still running around with max level items on characters that shouldn’t have them. There’s just no way to clean that up really.

    If you’ve played through the game a few times, running through it is going to be cake. You specifically mentioned you didn’t even start one of the DLC packs…that might have been because you didn’t feel like ever playing it, but it sounds like you might be the type of person to not really play through this game more than a couple of times.

    And it shouldn’t be a surprise that you’re not too excited about it coming out for PS4. But those of us who have “beaten” the game 20+ times…we won’t let starting over stop us. In fact, it might even be IDEAL.

  • I waited because I knew this was gonna happen. But I already bought the strategy guide for when I get the game. Bloodborne and Dark Souls II in the same year. I’m gonna die a lot.

  • I like the fact this is coming to PS4, it just seems like really weird timing on the release date. I’m sure I’ll be very busy with BloodBorne for quite a while so I won’t even consider getting this for some time.

  • If there is no way to transfer saves from PS3 to PS4, then there is no way I’ll buy it. I spent countless hours collecting every single weapon, armor piece, and spell on my character until I had everything. Even the Illusory Rings. I can’t just restart all that on PS4. Too much agonizing time spent collecting.

  • I really want to pick this up eventually, I just hope the durability bug has been resolved.

  • If I hadn’t played it yet I sure as balls would now! Awesome!

  • For people complaining that you can’t transfer your save from PS3 to PS4:

    You need to realize something: Vanilla DS2 and Scholar of the First Sin are NOT exactly the same. They didn’t just up the graphics and framerate, they also revamped levels, have higher player counts and redid item placements. If you already have all the items and knew the game by muscle memory, it would give returning players a HUGE advantage. They want everyone to be on an even playing field and I for one support this.

    I will be busy with Bloodborne for now but I will be picking this up in the future.

  • Finished original DS2 on the PS3 (original as before the DLC)
    But IMO I dont know whom will get the HD version, its coming so soon after BloodBorne and after seeing how BloodBorne looks I wont be able to stomach the ugliness of DS2.

  • And how about a demon’s souls prequel? Still my favorite from the souls series…

  • FromSoftware and Sony should bring a port of ANY Soul game to PS Vita!

  • if no savegame transfert from ps3 to ps4:

    I’M OUT

    no way I start over!!

  • Portstation 4.

  • @SNORLAXex : Fair enough — one aspect of 60hz is reduced input lag. Still, unless the 60fps is *SOLID*, then the tactical advantage is totally lost. (See the Vita shovelware ports that Sony has done that drop below 20fps and become unplayable.) Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, Watch Dogs, and other cross-gen ports to PS4 have all had major framerate dips during action sequences because they over-promised and under-delivered on rendering performance. I’d rather have consistent performance, which I can get used to, instead of highly variable performance that is impossible to adapt to.

    Again, The Last of Us did a *fantastic* job with very consistent 60fps. But even they offered a 30fps lock which was 100% consistent in my playing, and even looked a bit better to me. Flower, flOw, and The Unfinished Swan on PS4 also have solid framerates, but those games are in a totally different category (even though they are totally awesome).

  • As a player new to the style of games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, would the best option be to tryout Bloodborne first or Dark Souls for PS4. Thanks!

  • @PortuguesePig:

    By all accounts, Bloodborne is going to be a more aggressive, speed and timing-oriented game.

    Dark Souls is tough, don’t get me wrong, but defensive builds can carry you a long way, and playing without a solid shield is decidedly hardmode. Additionally, enemy location is consistent, so you can expect a given stretch of misty road or dungeon corridor to have the same enemies in the same place pretty much every time, with exceptions for NG+ additions in DS2 and one-time enemies like NPC invaders.

    Bloodborne, from the looks of things, is going to be mercilessly dynamic: some enemies always in the same spots, but with wandering crowds mixing things up and No. Shields. At. All. I get the feeling a certain dev got sick of everybody cowering behind a Havel’s Greatshield all the time.

    Start with Dark Souls, and don’t start with the Thief class unless you want a preview of what Bloodborne’s probably going to be like.

  • Also: am I the only one who badly wants scabbards back? They dropped them in the move from DS to DS2. I’ll admit that it’s really just an aesthetic preference, but watching my poor character performing iaido moves with a naked black steel katana made me wonder why I wasn’t leaving a little trail of severed undead fingers.

    I’m not exactly an expert, but the “blinding draw” just doesn’t seem like it should work with no scabbard to draw from.

  • I would rebuy this in a heartbeat if they allowed to transfer my PS3 character to PS4, as I have yet to purchase any of the DLC.

  • For all those saying dark souls 2 wasn’t great, I think that’s because you played dark souls so much that the second one just wasn’t new enough. I didn’t play the first one and I thought DS2 was amazing. It was also very difficult until I learned the tricks, which is why after some people beat the tar out of the first one they thought the second one was so easy. After beating the second I went to the first one and thought “meh”.

  • This is cool, I guess. But it’s hard for me to get excited at the prospect of paying full price a second time for a game I already own, and then trudging through the whole gauntlet again just to have some cleaner graphics and a couple of item/enemy location change-ups.

    I enjoyed Dark Souls II, even though it was needlessly obtuse (which I suppose has become the whole point of the Souls series). But I doubt I’ll be making this purchase. Too much for too little.

  • I, for one, will be picking up Bloodborne and DS II on their release dates. I am a HUGE fan of the Souls series, and cannot wait for these 2 games!

    That being said… I wish all the whiners who are complaining about not getting a free transfer would go away. Very VERY few games did that, and almost all of them were at the PS4 launch. And seriously, I say to you now: You claim to “love” the Souls series, yet you arent going to pick it up just because its not free? Sorry, but IMHO those people have no business claiming they are *true* Souls fans. If they were, then ONE of the new improvements (framerate, graphic overhaul, enemy/item remixture, 3 DLCs) would be enough to rebuy the game, much less ALL of those being included!

    Sorry, but it just rubs me wrong. This is one of my all time favorite game series, and I really wish EVERYONE saw the beauty that is Dark Souls!

    And if they don’t fix the durability issue, im fine with that… Just adds even more of a challenge, :-)

  • Two questions:

    1) Is this available for digital download on the PS4?

    2) This “gameplay adjustments” mean that the old strategy guide is useless? If this is the case, would there be a new one?

    I’m so glad I waited for a PS4 release :D

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