The Light, It Burns

Now that I’ve finished Dark Souls 1 & 2 I’m slowly emerging from the rabbit hole back into the sunlight. Mostly to read about Dark Souls 3, but still, it’s something.

I managed to gain a handful of levels in SWTOR, but not nearly as many as I wanted. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, every RPG now seems like a kid’s game compared to the Dark Souls experience. It’s like I’ve been through a religious rite and seen the Face of God. I’ve climbed to the mountaintop and seen the vast expanse of the universe laid before me. How could anything ever be as good?

Helix Nebula

I checked out the Primalist in Rift, but due to my complete lack of perspective, I can’t even begin to rate it. I’ve been staring into the sun for too long, and now my eyes are burned out, and everything looks pretty gray and lifeless. On a purely capitalist level I found it a bit pricey though. I had to buy $49 worth of credits to get it. And I can’t say I’m thrilled about being greeted with a Neverwinter-style “buy more stuff” screen when I log into Rift now.

I have a few other Dark Souls posts to get out of my system, and then maybe I can get back to normal.

Progression Report – September 2015

September’s report is again pretty easy: No MMORPG progression, however quite a lot of Dark Souls progression. I started Dark Souls II on roughly the 5th and as of this writing, I’ve completed the main storyline and have moved on to the post-launch DLC content on my first character. I’ve been posting a video series of my play-through on YouTube for those who might be inclined to watch.

Dark Souls II Ancient Dragon

I’m starting to get a little tired of the Dark Souls rabbit hole (the Dark Souls II DLC content is getting pretty frustrating), so I might finally get back to some MMORPGs soon. SWTOR is still beckoning with that 12x experience thing that is probably going to end when the expansion launches on October 27th, so I don’t have much time left. Of course I still have much to accomplish in FFXIV, but there’s no time limit there. Rift and Star Trek Online both have new stuff coming soon.

Progression Report – August 2015

August was a very easy month to summarize gaming-wise: Dark Souls, Dark Souls, and more Dark Souls, for a total of 132 hours. My Knight is about halfway through NG+ at the moment, and I can still see myself playing this game for a long time to come. I want to finish with my Sorcerer and my Thief, then try a Cleric and a Pyromancer.

Dark Souls Kiln of the First Flame

In the MMORPG space, my second and third most-played games in August were FFXIV and Skyforge, for a whopping one hour each. I would like to get back to leveling in FFXIV, SWTOR, and possibly even STO. SWTOR has that 12x experience thing that I don’t want to miss (for subscribers only though I think). I might have already missed the super-fast leveling event(s?) in STO. The Rift Primalist is on the horizon as well. And through my hazy Dark Souls fog I think I heard that Heart of Thorns now has a release date, which means maybe I should try to finish that cursed Living Story.

P.S. Thanks to Belghast for naming me a Blaugust Survivor!

Dark Souls – Catching Up

Don’t really having time to write up every boss fight in Dark Souls right now, but here is a quick summary of the bosses and mini-bosses Sir Thomas the Knight has gotten through.

Havel The Rock

A mini-boss waiting at the bottom of the Watchtower right before the Taurus Demon. He hits really hard and takes a ton of damage, but is otherwise fairly straightforward. He drops Havel’s Ring, which boosts your carrying capacity (and typically increases your movement speed).

Iron Golem

Iron_Golem

This massive automaton lies at the end of Sen’s Fortress and guards the way to Anor Londo. The fight was mechanically not very difficult (basically don’t get hit), however the space is tight and one wrong move will send you plummeting to your death.

Undead Dragon

A hideous, rotting dragon mini-boss that clings to the side of a mountain path in the Valley of Drakes and spits poison at any who stray too close.

Stray Demon

Found back in the Undead Asylum, the very first area in the game. You need to find a pseudo-secret area in Firelink Shrine to get back there. I went back because I saw/read that there was a nice ring to find and I wanted to see how I fared against the boss. At first I didn’t think I would be able to withstand the punishing hits and magic explosions, but the attack patterns became apparent fairly quickly for me and then it became a straightforward fight. As always, your mileage may vary.

Darkroot Hydra

Another mini-boss, but still a terrifying spectacle found in the lake of Darkroot Basin near the crystal golems and Havel’s Watchtower. Fortunately its bark is bigger than its bite and it’s not hard to defeat after you get close enough. Once the Hydra is defeated, you can climb a ladder that leads to another forest area where Sif, the Great Grey Wolf awaits.

Sif, the Great Grey Wolf

Sif_Great_Grey_Wolf

An adorable husky that picks up a tremendously large sword in its mouth to fight you. You wouldn’t think a wolf would be able to pull that off but I saw it with my own eyes. Sif is fast and has at least one devastating one-shot kill attack. The fight required a lot of patience. I wasn’t expecting to face a boss but I stumbled on him while exploring Darkroot.

Pinwheel

A creepy spell-caster boss found at the end of the skeleton-filled Catacombs, which are down the steps down past the big black bird at Firelink Shrine. Pinwheel turned out to be a rather simple boss for me and I killed him/her/it on the first try. After killing Pinwheel you get to move on to the Tomb of the Giants, another bastard of an area that’s even more bastardly than Blighttown.

At this point, after wandering all over the place, I finally figured out how to progress in Anor Londo, so I headed back there to find the Lordvessel.

P.S. The horrifyingly bad images in this post were grabbed from video stills. I have failed to take any screenshots of Dark Souls bosses. (Mostly because in the time it takes to capture a screenshot, I’d probably get killed.)

Dark Souls – Screenshots

Have some Dark Souls screenshots to start your work week.

I am absolutely in love with the “look” of this game. I’ve always been a big fan of realism in game graphics and this game looks like you could reach out and touch what’s happening on the screen, at least after you install the DSfix mod.

Tomb of the Giants

Before I found out that Anor Londo was the place I needed to go, I wandered around The Catacombs and the Tomb of the Giants for quite a while. The Tomb is so dark you actually have to find and use a hideous skull lantern to see more than two steps ahead. My Knight is seen here wielding the enormous, heavy Dark Knight sword you get from the Undead Parish: I got so sick of those Skeletons down there that I pulled out something that would smash them flat.

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Havel’s Armor

I stumbled upon a set of Havel’s Armor hidden behind a secret illusory wall in Anor Londo. Havel The Rock is a mini-boss at the bottom of a Watchtower who appears to be clad granite armor. Indeed, the armor is so heavy it’s impossible for me to use yet–my Knight could barely even lift the shield into position (it required 50 strength!). But it was quite funny to stomp around–slowly–like an invincible Terminator for a little while. At least until I discovered I wasn’t invincible at all.

Havel's Armor

Darkroot Waterfall

After defeating The Hydra (which, I discovered, is not even a full boss), there is a long, long ladder you can climb up beside a waterfall that eventually leads to Sif, The Great Grey Wolf. And yes, one time I wasn’t paying attention, walked off the edge, and died.

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Demon Lava

After defeating Chaos Witch Quelaag, a passage leads down into the fiery domain of The Demon Ruins. I haven’t explored it yet, because, I mean, just look at it. Who wants to go into that?

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Kingseeker Frampt Comes Alive

After you ring the second Bell of Awakening, this freakish … thing … appears in Firelink Shrine. I passed by him a hundred times before I realized you can talk to him and learn where to go next (Sen’s Fortress and Anor Londo). He is also a vendor of sorts that can turn your items into souls.

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Posted on Blaugust Day 17. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Dark Souls – Moonlight Butterfly Defeated

After defeating Chaos Witch Quelaag, ringing the second bell, and leaving Blighttown, our intrepid Knight Sir Thomas wandered far and wide looking for the right path. His journey took him back to the Undead Parish bonfire, past Andre the Blacksmith, to Darkroot Garden, where the Demonic Foliage lives. (I’m not making that up.)

Darkroot is also home to a clan of Giant Stone Knights, napping among the trees. You’d think they would welcome a fellow Knight, but they did not. Apparently they don’t like to be woken up. Fortunately they are slow and easily dispatched.

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The last Stone Knight slept before an ancient ruin, with an unexpected doorway of white light at the top of the stairs. Not having any other plans, Sir Thomas walked through and found himself stuck on a bridge facing the Moonlight Butterfly boss fluttering not very far away.

At first I didn’t think I would be able to handle it because it hovers out of melee range for quite a while, shooting green glowy magic thingys. But after dying a number of times I discovered that if you stay alive long enough, the butterfly will cross overhead to the other side of the bridge and land, waiting patiently there for a while so you can run in and kill it. If you don’t kill it fast enough, presumably you’d have to endure another barrage of green magic before it lands again. I was able to bring it down pretty fast by two-handing my Halberd, which by then had been upgraded to at least Raw +1.

After defeating the Moonlight Butterfly, the bridge led to the workshop of a blacksmith who had been turned to stone while clutching a Watchtower Basement Key and a Divine Ember. Sir Thomas was no closer to his goal, but at least he could open a new door.

Posted on Blaugust Day 14. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Dark Souls – Chaos Witch Quelaag Defeated

Previously on Dark Souls, our intrepid Knight Thomas dispatched the Gaping Dragon on his way through The Depths. The Gaping Dragon dropped a key which opened a door leading to Blighttown, a total bastard of a zone, pardon my French.

Let’s just say that Thomas the Knight died a lot–sometimes from falling but mostly from getting poisoned. Not just regular poison, either. Super-duper “toxic” poison, delivered by friendly neighborhood Blowdart Snipers hiding in hard-to-reach areas, spitting deadly darts rapid-fire while you climb up and down ladders and navigate across shaky wooden bridges, dodging Ghouls and Flaming Attack Dogs. Even after abandoning his knightly armor and switching to poison-resistant Thief gear, Thomas the Knight was quite sick most of the time.

Blighttown Swamp

Eventually Thomas the Knight made it all the way to the bottom of Blighttown to reach a swamp filled with annoying poisonous mosquitos and murky poisonous water. At least it was “only” regular poison. At the end of that swamp lay Quelaag’s Domain and the lair of Chaos Witch Quelaag, the boss guarding the second bell.

It “only” took me 18 tries to defeat the Chaos Witch, which I take as a sign that I’m finally getting the hang of this game. It didn’t take me long to give up on trying to avoid getting poisoned in that swamp, so every time I had to start out with a slow drain of health. Thankfully as a Knight you get a lot of health so it wasn’t that much of an issue. I continued using my trusty Halberd and Tower Shield in that fight, but I switched to the Wanderer’s armor set because it had a higher fire resistance.

I discovered by accident that if you run right up in her face, she can’t hit you very well with her Firesword. (Every boss seems to have one vulnerability like that.) Then the only other thing I had to watch out for was the Red Glowy Attack (a highly technical name I have given it). I was able to block the brunt of it with the Tower Shield but if it ever went off unexpectedly it would usually one-shot me. (In subsequent fights on other characters I learned it was better to run away from it instead of trying to block it–it’s a short-range AoE.) Otherwise I just had to stay to the side so she wouldn’t spit lava on me.

(The sound is all screwed up in the following YouTube Gaming video. I had the game sound way too low compared to the webcam, so don’t turn it up too loud. :)

After the Chaos Witch was dead, Thomas the Knight was able to find and ring the second bell, opening the gate leading to Sen’s Fortress and many further adventures.

Posted on Blaugust Day 13. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.

Skyforge – Sound Design Matters

I duck into Skyforge now and then but it’s rapidly losing its appeal for me. Part of it is because Dark Souls demands my attention right now, but I think I figured out another reason yesterday: The sound effects, or lack thereof.

On my 2-Hour Scorecard for Skyforge I marked the Sound as “Okay.” Now after five hours I’m going to downgrade it to “Bad.” When my Cryomancer is out in the world defeating bad guys and such, throwing out these huge AoE whirlwind spells and dropping comets from the sky (or whatever that ability is), you would think that my speakers would shake and rattle everything on the desk with the sheer magnitude of it.

Skyforge Comet

Not so much. It almost feels like I’m playing with the sound turned off. The sound effects are really subtle. I even double-checked my sound settings to make sure I hadn’t turned them down for some reason, but no, they were up there at full. (Sometimes I deliberately turn down sound effects because they get a little too noisy.)

It’s impressing on me the importance of sound design in a game–for me, at least. The better the sound design, the better the immersion. By comparison, Dark Souls sound effects are huge and visceral and attention-getting. Skyforge sound effects are puny and forgettable and I can barely focus on what’s happening when I’m playing. (This is not helped by the fact that it doesn’t matter which abilities I press–whatever I’m fighting in Skyforge is going to die eventually no matter what.)

I also think I’m going to downgrade the Performance category from “Good” to “Okay.” I’m finding that it runs considerably slower in fullscreen windowed mode, which is my preferred setting for most games if it’s available.

Posted on Blaugust Day 8. Read all of my Blaugust posts here.