To the dismay of I’m sure most people on the Internet, I could write for days about how much Dark Souls pitches exactly into my wheelhouse as a game (mixed metaphor used intentionally because it’s funny), but I’ll try to keep this post focused on just what is different in the PC version of the Dark Souls Remastered edition.
In short: There aren’t that many differences. But there are some.
As a caveat, I haven’t completed the entire game just yet. But I’m pretty close. I have just three bosses remaining at the time of this writing: Kalameet, Manus, and Gwyn. I’ve spent over 50 hours in the game now and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the changes.
The biggest change I’ve seen in terms of the content of the game is that there is one new Bonfire at the bottom of the Catacombs in the room with Vamos the Undead Blacksmith, which is also a Warp destination.
It makes getting to Vamos for upgrading Fire weapons super easy (after you get the Lordvessel that is). But it also makes getting to the Tomb of the Giants much easier as well. Previously, you had to clear all the way to the first Tomb of the Giants bonfire if you wanted a Warp destination in the vicinity. Now you don’t have to do that.
The down side is that after Warping to Vamos’s bonfire you have to run through a big room full of Skeleton Bonewheels, but hey, there are pros and cons for every decision in Dark Souls. :)
There’s a tiny change with the Dried Finger. Previously you had to find it in the Painted World, but now you can just buy one at the Undead Merchant in the Undead Burg right at the beginning of the game. (This item is used to allow people to invade your games more frequently for PvP, so probably not a change of general interest to most sane people.) What used to be the Dried Finger in the Painted World is now a Twin Humanities.
In terms of UI, there is a new menu item at every bonfire that allows you to change your Covenant (seen also in the above image). You no longer have to physically go to Covenant leaders to join covenants, once you’ve unlocked them, if you want to switch between them. It had very little effect on the game for me.
In terms of graphics, I’ve noticed a few improvements in the lighting and fidelity and texture resolution, as compared to DSfix, but not a huge amount. Sometimes I feel like the draw distance is slightly higher, for example, inside the Archive Tower, where it’s easier to see the far walls. Sometimes I actually think DSfix looked better (the Royal Wood, for example). But most of the improvements I’ve noticed are in the area of particle effects, and there is some deeper color saturation here and there. Anor Londo, for example, looks amazing in the Remastered edition. The lava effects in the Demon Ruins are far better, and the Bed of Chaos cut scenes are much improved.
In terms of performance, the Remastered edition runs at a pretty solid 60fps (at least) in every single area, including Blighttown and the Seath the Scaleless boss fight, which you might remember as slideshows in the past.
In terms of bugs and quirks, all of the same ones are still there. Camera problems (eg. Centipede Demon), places you get stuck (eg. the spot between Great Hollow and Ash Lake), random button input lag, things like that are all still there as before. All the same skips and tricks are still available, apparently.
One problem I noticed is that the Remastered Edition once randomly re-selected its own video refresh rate. I discovered that I’d recorded a number of videos at around 30 fps because of it, when I thought I’d had it set at a 144hz refresh rate from the beginning. It was quite annoying. I don’t know what happened.
Are the minor changes worth the price of purchase? Well, I’m a huge fan of Dark Souls and consider it to be one of the top 10 seminal games of my lifetime, so obviously I’m going to recommend everyone run, don’t walk, to buy it at any price. But if I use my logical brain instead of my emotional brain I realize it’s not a game for everyone. (A topic I might write about someday: What are the exact personality flaws/traits that are required for a person to enjoy the Souls series?) For the average person, I’d say it’s an entirely optional, luxury purchase.
The bottom line is that if you didn’t like Dark Souls before, you aren’t going to like it any better now. However if you didn’t like it because of technical problems before, maybe give it another try. If you liked Dark Souls before, you’re still going to like it now. But you probably won’t notice anything different about the Remastered edition unless you’re a “superfan.” If the changes I mentioned above don’t mean anything to you, then it’s effectively the same game for you.
If you haven’t played Dark Souls and have the slightest interest in trying it, then a) I’m incredibly jealous that you’ll get to experience seeing this game world for the first time while I never will again, and b) it’s a great time to get it and it’s absolutely a game that is worth the asking price and this is the best version that’s available. But again, it’s not a game for everyone and there’s a strong chance you’ll throw it away in disgust after an hour. (I did, the first time.) At a bare minimum, you need to be the kind of person who relishes learning new game systems and overcoming obstacles through trial and error.
If you just want to be able to run the game on the PC without the hassle of setting up DSfix, it might also be worth getting even if you already own the Prepare to Die edition. That’s the main reason I got it. I never seriously tried to play Dark Souls with mouse-and-keyboard so I can’t speak to whether it’s any better now than it was. All I can confirm is that it’s possible to play it with mouse-and-keyboard without running a mod, which is better than it was before.
If you already own the Prepare to Die edition on Steam, the Remastered edition is half price at $20, which to me (as a superfan) is just a crazy ridiculous steal of a bargain for all the hundreds of hours of gameplay available here.
If you like the multiplayer aspects of Dark Souls (I am speaking of more than just PvP here), then I will recommend that you run, don’t walk, to get it right now because I have never seen so many people in the game before, and undoubtedly never will again. The multiplayer portion of the game is crazy populated right now. There are also apparently some new jolly cooperation options but I haven’t looked into them. Even if you don’t engage with other people, there are still a whole lot of multiplayer components like blood stains and messages and ghosts and even rare things like Vagrants and Drift Item Bags floating around. (If you’re worried about being ganked every 5 seconds, there are systems in place to prevent that.)
As for console versions of the Remastered edition, I can’t think of much reason to bother, unless you like the multiplayer, or you want a copy for Xbox One or PS4. Presumably the original console versions still run just fine. That’s one of the main advantages of consoles.