For the purposes of this review, I won’t talk about the majority of the things that have already been discussed about the game by Kevin’s review, which you can read here. This review will focus entirely on how the game looks, and how it controls on a PC environment.
The world of Drangleic is the story.
Well, there is an official story, which involves the player trying to find a cure for their curse, while not directly set after Dark Souls, it is aesthetically linked to it. No, outright handholding with storytelling was never the point of Dark Souls. To really invest in it, one must go and find a story.
The world of Drangleic is full of information, and while the dialogue and cutscenes are minimal, they do enough to convey what needs to be said. (Most cutscenes are dedicated to introducing a boss that will, in all honesty, kill you.) Item descriptions, level design, NPCs are around for the journey and to help you get to know the world of Drangleic a bit better, but it’s a story that doesn’t present itself outright, and doesn’t feel like it needs to.
Let’s start by making one thing clear, which most of you probably already know by now, but I will mention anyway. Dark Souls II does not look like the E3 trailers promised. The graphics are hugely inferior to that footage and those promotional screenshots on Steam, so get them out of your head, because you won’t find any visuals of that calibre, even on a mammoth PC rig.
Now, From Software never really said anything about that promotional content. When From Software stated how the PC port was going to be, they only promised a stable frame rate, higher resolution textures and some capacity of PC graphical options. With full confidence I can say, they have delivered.
The frame rate is stable at a constant 60fps all the way. Even while capturing video the graphical stability remained the same. No frame rate loss or lag whatsoever, and considering that this game looks much fancier than Dark Souls, that’s a win in my book.
I can’t really comment on how it looks in comparison to the console versions, since I haven’t had an opportunity to try it on those platforms, but I can safely say that Dark Souls II does not require a “dsfix” whatsoever. The game supports 1080p natively and higher if your computer is capable of handling it, so the game has visually been properly optimised for computer platforms. Praise the Sun!
I firmly believe that Dark Souls in general is played best with a joystick. Sure, in Dark Souls II the key bindings are interchangeable to suit your play style, and it really does make a difference, but you will still be giving yourself a great handicap by playing with a keyboard and mouse. I can see that From Software did the best they could to allow players to adjust their controls to allow some sort of keyboard and mouse playability, but Dark Souls really just isn’t suited for that.
I will give this gripe the benefit of the doubt.
I played the first Dark Souls and defeated Ornstein and Smough up to new game+ with a controller, so maybe it’s because of my muscle memory the fact that I found myself so uncomfortable while playing with a keyboard and mouse. Maybe, if you’re a new player who hasn’t played any of the Souls games yet, a keyboard and mouse might work for you, but for me, there really is no chance. If you have a controller, Dark Souls II works splendidly, it actually feels subtly more responsive than the first Dark Souls, which is absolutely fantastic.