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Graphmaster Gerbil
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Anyone Play Dark Souls for PC?

Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:41 pm

When you get Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition for PC cleaned up a bit with DSfix, pretty much all of the shortcomings introduced in the From Software port are taken care of. I render the game at 2560x1600 with reduced rendering resolution at depth of field turned off and the game actually looks pretty nice for dx 9. It runs pretty well too on my crossfire setup with AA turned up, etc.

A bit of hype has been generated about this game because of its high default difficulty, which is rare in this day and age. I picked it up when it was $6 during the Steam Autumn sale so that I could get back into a bit of casual console action/controller style gaming after not having done any since Gears of War 2 came out years ago and I thought this game would be fun to re-hone some of these skills...

Yes. Dark Souls is difficult. But it's more then that: It's broken. Well, sort of. People complain because you can't save wherever you want and have to re clear the identical hordes of enemies over and over. I agree this is a bit frustrating, but I have to admit, it has sort of a harsh logic for this type of game (making sure that you can't often just run directly back to a boss fight with full power after dying). While the enemies respawn in the same places, they don't always behave the same way, which can be frustrating, but also gives the game a bit more realism. Health potions and the like take what seems like an arbitrarily long time to use - which is just what you need when scrambling away from getting your ass handed to you. What's worse is that they seem to sometimes work faster than others, which is a cruel reality when you are depending on them for survival. NPCs are better/more accurate archers with longer range than you can ever be, even with top bows... Again, though, I get it. This game is not meant to be easy.

All of the above could be viewed as interesting/challenge inducing design decisions IF the controls weren't so darn clunky and non-responsive at times. The thing is, sometimes the control system seems like it works perfectly. I can go through a dozen enemies were I time things correctly based on NPC movements, and game play feels exhilarating. Then, after dying, I go through the same enemies and controls just feel broken. At first I thought it was all me. That I my reflexes had dried up and that I just wasn't very good at these sorts of games anymore (which may be at least somewhat true). But after about 15 hours of game play (the game is frustratingly addictive if nothing else), I'm pretty sure it's not all me.

I can describe the issue with the control scheme best with the analogy of the infamous Quick Time Event (QTE) action cut scenes you encounter in games like Tomb Raider. Every exchange with an enemy (attack/block/parry, etc) is like being trapped in a mini QTE. Often, these works well enough and controls feel smooth and responsive. However, also often, it feels like there are micro lags upon the initiation or termination of these "QTE" exchanges that make precision controlling nigh impossible. What this amounts to is that, in one scenario, facing the same enemy, with the same equipment, same level of stamina, etc, a shield block, dodge, parry, etc for example, will work, but at other times, no such luck. You die. While most of the time, the controls and timing seem responsive and consistent, there are enough times were this goes out the window just enough to really sap the fun out of things. This, in addition to the the above challenges of the game, is the forty foot log that breaks the camel's back and makes the game way more frustrating then a simple challenging game would be.

TLDR: Inconsistent control responsiveness breaks game.

Anyone else have any experience with this game? Or how responsively it plays?

BTW, here is a blog post on Dark Souls that pretty much captures how I feel about the game.
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Re: Anyone Play Dark Souls for PC?

Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:00 pm

Well, at 15 hours in, you are still a complete noob to the game and it will seem inscrutable and daunting. You will be moderately experienced at around 100-150 hours, and the decent PvP players are all 500+ hours played. Dark Souls does not have a typical RPG learning curve where things get gradually harder as you progress. Think of it (in terms of difficulty) more like a competitive FPS or RTS, where it seems kind of arbitrary and a little baffling until you get the hang of it.

Second, you need an Xbox 360 controller to get the intended experience. There is a mouse/keyboard fix that acts as a plugin to DSFix (google DSMfix), but even with this, it is still terrible. There is no excuse for the shoddy quality of the PC port, but unlike the graphics this particular issue is essentially unfixable without a controller. Even Steam is very clear about this. The very first thing they say about the game "Notice: Microsoft Xbox 360® Controller for Windows® (or equivalent) is strongly recommended." When you have a good controller setup, the entire game is exhilarating(and yes, sometimes incredibly frustrating too).

Also, I think that article you linked is full of ****.
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Graphmaster Gerbil
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Re: Anyone Play Dark Souls for PC?

Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:31 pm

Thanks for putting the fact that I'm a total noob at this game so gently. I agree. BTW I do use a 360 controller.

I believe that you are correct - that you can work towards mastering the controls, and therefore the game, with enough practice. But I think this is despite the inconsistency in control. I think one of the reasons it takes so long to master this game is becaus you not only have to learn the controls and tactics of each enemy, but because, in addition, you need to learn how to compensate for these minor control inconsistencies.

Perhaps mastering the game despite these flaws Perhaps is extremely rewarding for some. But for those that can't dedicate the time, it just makes the game less enjoyable. Then again, maybe I am just splitting hairs and coming across like the whiny noob that I am.
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Re: Anyone Play Dark Souls for PC?

Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:13 pm

i've got a bit over 100 hours, the game is playable with mouse & keyboard, its not great though... i'm using an old logitech dual shock and its decent enough despite some buttons not wanting to map 100% correctly.
the game is challenging, but thats what makes it fun. i've probably got some character in your lvl range if you wanna try and smash stuff sometime.
dsfix is almost required if tyou play above 1280x720 resolution, it just looks bad without it :)

on a side note, pretty much all From Software games play similar to each other, King's Field and Shadow Tower one laid out the beginnings of what became demon souls to become dark souls. unlike demonm souls if you die you dont have to basically play the whole area over again.
it will take you many hours to get anywhere, im only like 80 hours on my main guy(a knight) and 2/3 the way through all the content of the prepare to die edition, far as whats left in the original game, ive only got to finish up catacombs, tomb of giants and kiln of the first flame and i win... that's probably gonna take me a while to get through.
where as my 2nd character a sorcerer is like 20 hours into the game and beaten half the game already, sorcerer and pyromancer are suppose to be easier to do, pyromancer being the easiest starting class overall.
anywho, the challenge and deaths are the biggest fun factor and stress points of the game, learn to die and die well, you are suppose to be able to memorize patterns and defeat things without too much effort or loss over time, become efficient and learn you still suck once the next area comes up. :D
i've probably got someone in your lvl range(+/- 15 lvls from your characters lvl for summoning) if you need help toppling some boss sometime.
and if you want less pvp grief stop going around as a human unless you are about to summon a phantom.
probably drinking some tea.

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