Dark Souls 2: SotFS (or therefore, "Baa-baa Black Sheep" and other musings thread)

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So I've been playing this quite a bit lately (I know I know, late to the party 'n all having still only completed Demon's and DS1), and wanted to comment on this oft controversial entry in the series. I admittedly approached it with equal amounts of both curiosity and reservation after hearing about the more prominent issues for so long, but after reaching the infamous elevator ride to Iron Keep I think I've seen enough to scribble some initial impressions.

- First, I noticed the controls felt a bit mechanically stiffer than DS1 at first. I realize this might be due to either scaled back Havok physics, the Adaptability stat, or both. However, being at I think lvl 84 the last I checked I'm certainly starting to feel more nimble. Apparently there is a bonus in leveling Endurance and Adaptability equally, so I've brought them both up to 20 so far.

- Things Betwixt is an interesting starting point, in that it's not really a traditional tutorial level so much as an introductory one. It feels pretty fleshed out actually, with the former firekeepers providing some initial lore and instruction. The ogre can go to hell though. Definitely a weaker tutorial enemy than the previous games.

- ...Going through this dark abyssal cave and...praise the sun, there is Majula and it's beautiful. It feels like a hub, but also like a normal seaside landscape. Actually, the game seems to have a surprisingly wide amount of level variety. I also like how the Grave of Saints is located underneath by access through the well. There are actually quite a few exceptionally distinct levels like No-Man's Warf and Shaded Woods that have as good an atmosphere as any from Souls.

- NPCs at the very least seem par for the course, with one standout in particular.

- Inventory is greatly improved over DS1. Itemization is better, and not only is the storage box more functional, but you can actually consume multiple souls at a time while keeping the inventory open. Simple yet so effective. Would've still liked to see stat comparisons at vendors though for new gear vs equipped. I also appreciate that infusing and reinforcement has been simplified.

- Pharros' Lockstones are cool new layer of puzzlement. Statues are...not as much. It wouldn't bother me if Fragrant Branches of Yore weren't so sparse though.

- As previously mentioned, the controls had combat feeling slow and stiff initially but with leveling it's improved most drastically. Parrying has an enemy-specific timing and rhythm, while you can no longer just hope to circle for a backstab on most enemies. Footwork and actually using inventory items in conjunction with stamina management seem to play a larger role than ever before. I also like how there is greater lock-on range, making the crossbow and spells feel more useful in this aspect.

- Enemy variety is pretty typical, but what surprised me perhaps most is that so far the bosses have been...better than expected. From what I heard I would've thought I'd be fighting humanoids in heavy armor for most of the game, but no. The Old Dragonslayer is about the closest I've encountered to that after more than a dozen. I really dug the Executioner's Chariot battle as well as Skeleton Lords. There actually seems to be more boss variety in both design and tactics in this game so far.

I also like how the torch comes into play for different things, like lighting the oil to help see your surroundings in the Lost Sinner fight, and the windmill which I've yet to see what if anything else is affected.

So yeah, long story short, color me pleasantly surprised by this one. So far with my 30-something hours in the game, some awkward level transitions (it was certainly a trippy elevator ride from Earthen Peak to Iron Keep) are about the only significant gripe I can muster. No wonky hitboxes causing unfair death yet, no unmanageable mobs; only perhaps an occasional wall- clipping enemy attack, which was also present in the previous games. I think it has a steeper difficulty curve than the original at first too, but mostly washed away after enough leveling.

I'll follow up as I kindle more of Drangleic.

Unfortunately the Scholar of the First Sin is a terrible version of the game compared to the original IMO. The different enemy layouts are nothing more than trolling in this version in places, and the game is made poorer for it. It looks a lot prettier and the framerate is great, but if you have played the PS3 version I would not recommend getting it again on PS4, and I would almost not even recommend the SotFS at all if you have never played it before.

Bear in mind that I liked DS2 more than the previous 2 games, and in a lot of ways more than DS3. Bloodborne is the best for me though.

KoudelkaMorgan:
Unfortunately the Scholar of the First Sin is a terrible version of the game compared to the original IMO. The different enemy layouts are nothing more than trolling in this version in places, and the game is made poorer for it. It looks a lot prettier and the framerate is great, but if you have played the PS3 version I would not recommend getting it again on PS4, and I would almost not even recommend the SotFS at all if you have never played it before.

Bear in mind that I liked DS2 more than the previous 2 games, and in a lot of ways more than DS3. Bloodborne is the best for me though.

Interesting. IIRC a lot of people said the SotFS content was better than the bulk of the main game. It kinda sounds like the original version might've been even easier, since I haven't had any issues with trolling yet. Difference in item placements or location seem like they'd be even more trivial.

I suppose it doesn't bother me if those are the only significant changes, but I also haven't played through it all yet. So far the Black Gulch leading up to The Rotten has been the only frustrating area, having to run the gauntlet of poison spitters every try. But then again I haven't lit the second bonfire yet; have to find another Fragrant Branch.

This one always felt... different to me. I like it but compared to 1 and 3 it feels like a fangame.

Never too late experience the Souls trilogy. I played DaS 1 for the first time last year. Then proceded to spend 11 straight months playing and replaying nothing but Souls trilogy games before finally getting my fill. I like all 3 about equally. They each have their own little twists that they bring to the formula.

DS2 isn't as bad as others make it out to be, it's about the same level as the third game but with far better DLC areas.

Yeah I replayed it recently and it's really not that bad. I think the spectacularly shitty intro cutscene that consists of looking at an old lady's mouth while she monologues for 45 minutes is what really primed me to dislike it. Fuck me that was boring.

Where they really dropped the ball with DS2 was storytelling. DS1 had a believable, dynamic world that oozed hopelessness and despair. NPCs aggroed almost instantly because they live in a dangerous world where people lose their mind like water out of a leaky bucket. Almost everyone has a tragic end and there's so much mystery and room for speculation. DS2 just lacks that verisimilitude. Most of the NPC dialogue is exposition, and although it's never as egregious as the pile of crap that was intro, you can really see the attitude that spawned it informing the rest of the game. Leveling up at a bonfire is a million times more logical and appropriate than some ridiculous fucking waifu character that gives you a speech telling you to touch her pussy every time you want to become stronger. That's the kind of crap that, to me at least, is world destroying.

It's not really any worse than DS3 though. They were never going to recapture the magic of DS1.

manic_depressive13:
Yeah I replayed it recently and it's really not that bad. I think the spectacularly shitty intro cutscene that consists of looking at an old lady's mouth while she monologues for 45 minutes is what really primed me to dislike it. Fuck me that was boring.

Where they really dropped the ball with DS2 was storytelling. DS1 had a believable, dynamic world that oozed hopelessness and despair. NPCs aggroed almost instantly because they live in a dangerous world where people lose their mind like water out of a leaky bucket. Almost everyone has a tragic end and there's so much mystery and room for speculation. DS2 just lacks that verisimilitude. Most of the NPC dialogue is exposition, and although it's never as egregious as the pile of crap that was intro, you can really see the attitude that spawned it informing the rest of the game. Leveling up at a bonfire is a million times more logical and appropriate than some ridiculous fucking waifu character that gives you a speech telling you to touch her pussy every time you want to become stronger. That's the kind of crap that, to me at least, is world destroying.

It's not really any worse than DS3 though. They were never going to recapture the magic of DS1.

You've never played Demon's or Bloodborne I take it lol. Dark Souls really didn't imbibe a feeling of hopelessness to me personally. It was more like a land that time passed by, as most residents often sounded far too jovial (or maybe delusional) to be convincingly hopeless. For a game with "Dark" in the title it could've been a lot darker actually. I'm glad it wasn't though in a way because the game still needs to be fun, and I think the director knew how to balance theme and playability.

hanselthecaretaker:
You've never played Demon's or Bloodborne I take it lol. Dark Souls really didn't imbibe a feeling of hopelessness to me personally. It was more like a land that time passed by, as most residents often sounded far too jovial (or maybe delusional) to be convincingly hopeless. For a game with "Dark" in the title it could've been a lot darker actually. I'm glad it wasn't though in a way because the game still needs to be fun, and I think the director knew how to balance theme and playability.

I played Demon's Souls, but that has the excuse of being a predecessor. After DS1 they went backwards in that regard. Sadly I have not, in fact, played Bloodborne. Not really sure what I can say regarding the sense of hopelessness besides "I disagree" without writing a five thousand word comparative essay. Suffice to say, the fact that half the characters read as depressed and end up losing the will to continue, thereby becoming empty husks seems pretty dark to me.

RaikuFA:
This one always felt... different to me. I like it but compared to 1 and 3 it feels like a fangame.

I have the same feeling towards DS3, however. 1 was, well, 1. 2 Introduced new mechanics, new ideas, new land(s?), more mob-based ideas to battle sequences. Bloodborne introduced 'aggressive timing', a focus of swift and precise movement skills, a phenomenal story and worldbuilding. DS3 felt like it was a third the length of all others, and felt like a fan copy of BB but DS-stylistic choices ... that didn't even depart from the mold that DS2 did.

Keeping the speed, but losing the rally bonus. Halving the length of game content, and kind of failed to deliver a new and interesting twist on the world of Dark Souls.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

RaikuFA:
This one always felt... different to me. I like it but compared to 1 and 3 it feels like a fangame.

I have the same feeling towards DS3, however. 1 was, well, 1. 2 Introduced new mechanics, new ideas, new land(s?), more mob-based ideas to battle sequences. Bloodborne introduced 'aggressive timing', a focus of swift and precise movement skills, a phenomenal story and worldbuilding. DS3 felt like it was a third the length of all others, and felt like a fan copy of BB but DS-stylistic choices ... that didn't even depart from the mold that DS2 did.

Keeping the speed, but losing the rally bonus. Halving the length of game content, and kind of failed to deliver a new and interesting twist on the world of Dark Souls.

I agree. DS3 was the lazy one. The least inspired. Been there, done that. The cameos of previous characters (as new characters) were so bad. Still a pretty good game, just because it's Souls.

image

The Rotten was the toughest boss yet going solo. Well, him and the Gargoyles a close second. Far cry opposite of Covetous Demon who was probably the biggest pushover next to King Allant from Demon's Souls. Really helped scaling Endurance and Adaptability for rolling because he closes distance too well and blocking eats up too much stamina. Also not sure why that Woodland dude has been the only red phantom that kept reappearing.

The portal beyond the bonfire must be something to do with offering the Four Great souls once acquired, but absent on lore. Same with the guy in the wheelchair in the cave opened with Forgotten Key. I couldn't hear much of what he said because of all the commotion above.

Have pretty much cleared everything up to Iron Keep so will tackle that next.

hanselthecaretaker:
image

The Rotten was the toughest boss yet going solo. Far cry opposite of Covetous Demon who was probably the biggest pushover next to King Allant from Demon's Souls. Really helped scaling Endurance and Adaptability for rolling because he closes distance too well and blocking eats up too much stamina. Also not sure why that Woodland dude has been the only red phantom that kept reappearing.

The portal beyond the bonfire must be something to do with offering the Four Great souls once acquired, but absent on lore. Same with the guy in the wheelchair in the cave opened with Forgotten Key.

Have pretty much cleared everything up to Iron Keep so will tackle that next.

The Rotten hits hard, but I found him too predictable to be difficult.

It's funny how the "spider town" becomes much easier if you carry a torch all the time (they certainly loved to give much more importance to torches in this game)

hanselthecaretaker:
Also not sure why that Woodland dude has been the only red phantom that kept reappearing.

The portal beyond the bonfire must be something to do with offering the Four Great souls once acquired, but absent on lore. Same with the guy in the wheelchair in the cave opened with Forgotten Key. I couldn't hear much of what he said because of all the commotion above.

Have pretty much cleared everything up to Iron Keep so will tackle that next.

1) There are actually two Woodland Child invaders, so you may be fighting the second one.

2) I'm not sure what you mean by portal. Are you talking about the place after The Rotten, that has that fountain with the snakes? Because that's a whole new area that you're going to want to explore.

3) Guy in the wheelchair is playing a game with you basically. You need to find him three times total--so two more times for you--and then he'll let you do something which I won't spoil for you.

Oddly enough, Dark Souls II is my favorite out of all the games. I don't know why, seeing as Dark Souls beats it in nearly every single way, but II is always the one I go back to. Dark Souls, once I got the platinum, I haven't touched it since. But II I find myself going back to every now and then just for fun. I think it has something to do with how the game's story and lore leaves just enough up to speculation that my imagination can run with it and I can come up with my own stories.

Sniper Team 4:

hanselthecaretaker:
Also not sure why that Woodland dude has been the only red phantom that kept reappearing.

The portal beyond the bonfire must be something to do with offering the Four Great souls once acquired, but absent on lore. Same with the guy in the wheelchair in the cave opened with Forgotten Key. I couldn't hear much of what he said because of all the commotion above.

Have pretty much cleared everything up to Iron Keep so will tackle that next.

1) There are actually two Woodland Child invaders, so you may be fighting the second one.

2) I'm not sure what you mean by portal. Are you talking about the place after The Rotten, that has that fountain with the snakes? Because that's a whole new area that you're going to want to explore.

3) Guy in the wheelchair is playing a game with you basically. You need to find him three times total--so two more times for you--and then he'll let you do something which I won't spoil for you.

Oddly enough, Dark Souls II is my favorite out of all the games. I don't know why, seeing as Dark Souls beats it in nearly every single way, but II is always the one I go back to. Dark Souls, once I got the platinum, I haven't touched it since. But II I find myself going back to every now and then just for fun. I think it has something to do with how the game's story and lore leaves just enough up to speculation that my imagination can run with it and I can come up with my own stories.

- I wonder if they look the same. I could've sworn I killed the second one twice, but perhaps wasn't paying attention to the name. I think the first died when I dropped to the ledge below. Second was easily dispatched if you have ranged ammo or items and go through the tunnel and take the elevator to the opening. He's easy to pick off from above haha.

- Yeah, but it was still closed for me. I'll return when I have two more Great Souls I suppose.

- I've seen the wheelchair guy before but can't remember where.

So far I'm really enjoying this one too. Was kinda expecting to find more weapons and shields by now though since it's apparently the most content-heavy of all the games. I really feel like so far the biggest thing missing or flaw is the seamless interconnected world building. It's like it was trying to combine the hub style of Demon's with the open design of DS1. Like I said I haven't experienced any wtf hit boxes or rage-inducing mobs (yet). The level and boss variety have been more than ok as well.

Iron Keep was pretty challenging. The flame statues before the Iron King were kinda tricky, only because there were a couple of the ogre trolls hiding in the paths that needed to be lured out since I didn't have stamina to power through them. Iron King himself was a bit of a push over as his attacks were slow and only his breath was a threat by way of proximity on a smallish platform. Only took three tries solo, and one more Great Soul to go.

I remembered I left one fog gate unspoiled, so went back and got properly introduced to Smelter Demon. He was quite a bit more of a challenge through being more aggressive and having some impressive buffs that make Ornstein and Smough seem like the Hardly Boys. First attempt solo was around half a life bar futile, but a second attempt with my own buff of a one Lucatiel of Mirrah summoning proved to be a jolly good time.

I know there is a trophy that involves her co-op x 3 but this was the first I've used her. Perhaps a bonfire buff will rekindle my earlier chances at her accompaniment.

RaikuFA:
This one always felt... different to me. I like it but compared to 1 and 3 it feels like a fangame.

Am I wrong or was it made by a different team?

Johnny Novgorod:

RaikuFA:
This one always felt... different to me. I like it but compared to 1 and 3 it feels like a fangame.

Am I wrong or was it made by a different team?

It was made by From's "B" team while Miyazaki and the "A" team (hehe) focused on Bloodborne. Miyazaki still played an advisory roll but his skillful world building is most noticeably absent in DS2.

However, I will say that I've been pleasantly surprised by the sheer variety and generally upheld detail of 2's environments, regardless of how disjointed most of them are. Another nice surprise was rain, which made for an incredibly atmospheric and pleasing reveal of Drangleic Castle at night. Now I just have to find the last Great Soul so I can get into the place.

Nice to hear someone have their expectations exceeded by DSII. It is a bit of a black sheep in the family, but I put more hours into it than any other Souls game, if only for its sheer length. I also think it has the best and most refined gameplay of the entire series before DSIII devolved into cartwheeling olympics and ridiculous anime flips.

The portals beyond the primal bonfires are... a bit more esoteric in their purpose than in the original. The means to unlock their meaning are way more hidden, and some require really going out of your way to discover them. But, once you do find out what they mean, whether through a wiki or gameplay, I think you'll be greatly pleased.

Keep it coming, these threads are always fun!

About the fountain you saw past the The Rotten, there's actually a different way to unlock the door past it, not getting the Great Souls. I won't just spoil it for you here but suffice to say it can be a little tricky to do if you're going in blind but totally worth it.

I'm glad you're enjoying the game as well. It's actually the first Souls game I played to completion, and by far the one I've put the most time into. There's a lot of bang for your buck, especially if you got the DLC. The combat and gear options feel so good compared to the others, and the open nature of the early game means you can quite easily get builds you want to try going early. While it has a lot of flaws and technically the first is more of a gaming achievement, DS2 holds a special place in my heart. DS3 was such a let down for me in comparison. Way too much fan service, overly linear, bad weapon balance (which to be fair I heard they patched to a degree), and a weird combo of Bloodborne aggression but Dark Souls mechanics which could sometimes be really aggravating.

Keep it up, you'll keep enjoying yourself. Especially once you get to the Crowns DLC. Those are some of the best content Dark Souls has.

Edit: The reason the game felt stiff early on was likely because rolling isn't just based on equip load anymore. The Adaptability stat adds more invincibility frames to your rolling. When you start the game you don't have many points in the stat so your rolls are less effective. Equip mode is more lenient in this one when it comes to roll speed, I believe that there is not much change until you go to heavy load, unlike DS1 where there were several stages of roll speeds.

hanselthecaretaker:
Iron Keep was pretty challenging. The flame statues before the Iron King were kinda tricky, only because there were a couple of the ogre trolls hiding in the paths that needed to be lured out since I didn't have stamina to power through them. Iron King himself was a bit of a push over as his attacks were slow and only his breath was a threat by way of proximity on a smallish platform. Only took three tries solo, and one more Great Soul to go.

I remembered I left one fog gate unspoiled, so went back and got properly introduced to Smelter Demon. He was quite a bit more of a challenge through being more aggressive and having some impressive buffs that make Ornstein and Smough seem like the Hardly Boys. First attempt solo was around half a life bar futile, but a second attempt with my own buff of a one Lucatiel of Mirrah summoning proved to be a jolly good time.

I know there is a trophy that involves her co-op x 3 but this was the first I've used her. Perhaps a bonfire buff will rekindle my earlier chances at her accompaniment.

Still going strong I see. Good to hear.

Lucateil indeed does have a trophy that involves having her fight with your for three battles, but in order for you to be able to call her, you have to have talked to her at certain points and learn her whole story. And while she's easy to find the first time--in The Lost Bastille--the other times she's kind of hiding, especially in The Gutter/Black Gultch. If you haven't fulfilled the requirement by the time you get to Aldia's Keep, then it's too late and you'll have to wait for your next game.

I'm curious, did you find all three wheelchair man encounters?

Sniper Team 4:

hanselthecaretaker:
Iron Keep was pretty challenging. The flame statues before the Iron King were kinda tricky, only because there were a couple of the ogre trolls hiding in the paths that needed to be lured out since I didn't have stamina to power through them. Iron King himself was a bit of a push over as his attacks were slow and only his breath was a threat by way of proximity on a smallish platform. Only took three tries solo, and one more Great Soul to go.

I remembered I left one fog gate unspoiled, so went back and got properly introduced to Smelter Demon. He was quite a bit more of a challenge through being more aggressive and having some impressive buffs that make Ornstein and Smough seem like the Hardly Boys. First attempt solo was around half a life bar futile, but a second attempt with my own buff of a one Lucatiel of Mirrah summoning proved to be a jolly good time.

I know there is a trophy that involves her co-op x 3 but this was the first I've used her. Perhaps a bonfire buff will rekindle my earlier chances at her accompaniment.

Still going strong I see. Good to hear.

Lucateil indeed does have a trophy that involves having her fight with your for three battles, but in order for you to be able to call her, you have to have talked to her at certain points and learn her whole story. And while she's easy to find the first time--in The Lost Bastille--the other times she's kind of hiding, especially in The Gutter/Black Gultch. If you haven't fulfilled the requirement by the time you get to Aldia's Keep, then it's too late and you'll have to wait for your next game.

I'm curious, did you find all three wheelchair man encounters?

I think I remember reading somewhere that there is an order for her appearances, and I'm not sure if I could use an ascetic to revive previous bosses and still summon her for them, or if it's already too late once she's at Iron Keep/Smelter Demon.

Also, no I still have one wheelchair dude to find. I'm half-stuck at this point not knowing what direction to head, since I think I've gone through every known area and boss short of the castle besides whoever and wherever the last Great Soul is. I've gotten Lost Sinner, The Rotten, and Iron King. I know there's a statue blocking a 2nd bonfire at the Gulch but not sure if it's worth using a precious Branch of Yore.

I'm trying to stay more blind for this one and to be honest it's more fun that way. I kinda spoiled big chunks of Demon's and DS1 for efficient trophy hunting but figured I'd try a different approach here.

hanselthecaretaker:

I think I remember reading somewhere that there is an order for her appearances, and I'm not sure if I could use an ascetic to revive previous bosses and still summon her for them, or if it's already too late once she's at Iron Keep/Smelter Demon.

Also, no I still have one wheelchair dude to find. I'm half-stuck at this point not knowing what direction to head, since I think I've gone through every known area and boss short of the castle besides whoever and wherever the last Great Soul is. I've gotten Lost Sinner, The Rotten, and Iron King. I know there's a statue blocking a 2nd bonfire at the Gulch but not sure if it's worth using a precious Branch of Yore.

I'm trying to stay more blind for this one and to be honest it's more fun that way. I kinda spoiled big chunks of Demon's and DS1 for efficient trophy hunting but figured I'd try a different approach here.

You need to find the adored pet of a certain Duke. Go back to Majula and explore a bit to find the path.

As for that statue in Black Gulch, don't bother with it now that you've killed The Rotten. It is a hidden path that unlocks a bonfire right there, and also where you would have summoned Lucatial for the fight.
However, I will tell you that you should have plenty of Yore Branches at this point, and the game will give you enough to unfreeze every statue you come across as long as you explore enough, so don't stress about it too much.

^ I've been using my branches as I've been getting them because I always run into a statue. So as of now I only have one, and there seem to be a lot of rather pointless/trivial reward statues in Shaded Woods that I'd rather not waste them on. I've been pretty good about nooks and crannies but these branches are one of the more rare items to find for me. Even Effigies seem harder to come by than Humanity from DS1. In fact they seem about as rare as the Ephemeral Eye stones from Demon's Souls.

As for the pet, I'm guessing you mean that smug sounding fancy cat (can't remember her name...*googles*....oh yes, Sweet Shalquoir). I've exhausted her dialog as of acquiring at least two Great Souls but maybe I missed something. I've bought a few things from her but she doesn't seem to update her inventory much; at least not yet.

hanselthecaretaker:
^ I've been using my branches as I've been getting them because I always run into a statue. So as of now I only have one, and there seem to be a lot of rather pointless/trivial reward statues in Shaded Woods that I'd rather not waste them on. I've been pretty good about nooks and crannies but these branches are one of the more rare items to find for me. Even Effigies seem harder to come by than Humanity from DS1. In fact they seem about as rare as the Ephemeral Eye stones from Demon's Souls.

As for the pet, I'm guessing you mean that smug sounding fancy cat (can't remember her name...*googles*....oh yes, Sweet Shalquoir). I've exhausted her dialog as of acquiring at least two Great Souls but maybe I missed something. I've bought a few things from her but she doesn't seem to update her inventory much; at least not yet.

Generally speaking you won't need to unfreeze every statue you come across. Most of them offer small rewards or shortcuts. Shaded Woods is full of them, but the only one that's really important is the one you can see to the right of the bonfire leaning against the wall. I highly recommend you unfreeze that one, particularly before you proceed much further. Off the top of my head, the statues worth thawing are that one, the one in Things Betwixt, the one near the back entrance to Lost Bastille, the one in the path between Heide's Tower and No-Man's Wharf, and the one by The Rotten (it's a bonfire and Lucatiel summon sign so unless you wanna use an Ascetic and go for Lucatiel quest completion first try you don't need it now). These all lead to useful stuff for every character. The rest tend to be stuff like items or spells. In many cases in Shaded Woods the items you get will include other branches so they pay for themselves.

Most of the NPCs in town update very rarely. Some will after you get all 4 Great Souls, but generally what they start with is what they stay with. Though if you haven't already make sure to spend several souls at the armor merchant. After certain milestones of your spending he updates and it's very worth it. You can tell because he changes position and attitude. He does it twice. The other merchants will update stock as well from time to time as you pass milestones in the story

Nope, not Shalquoir. I'm actually a little surprised that you haven't run across this boss yet, as you've been in The Shaded Woods. Head back there and keep following that path. That leads to the final boss soul you'll need eventually. Also, Benhart of Jugo's quest will start in this area. You'll need to summon him for three fights, just like Lucatiel.

And my bad, I totally forgot about the Shaded Woods statues. Comic Sans has the right of it in that area--the only one you REALLY need to unfreeze is the one that is to the right of the starting bonfire. To be a bit more precise, there's a fallen log/tree that makes a bridge right next to the bonfire. You cannot cross it from the bonfire side, but looking across it there is a statue. Go unfreeze that statue, and the item it drops is used in The Shaded Woods area you're in.

Also, did you figure out what the deal is the giant scorpion in that area? Not the boss, but the other one.

So I got the key from the lion near the Ruins bonfire but need another branch to get to what it unlocks I think. As for the big door where it sounds like the last Great Soul boss is, it can't be unlocked yet as I don't have the required ring.

There is also still a door I can't unlock yet in Majula, behind the well. I guess I haven't explored as much as I thought. That's the thing about Souls games; chances are you're still missing something.

I did some more exploring of The Gutter and found some more cool loot, including an unresponsive knight-looking dude that appears down on his luck. Apparently he'll respond to some gesture, but none of the dozen+ I have yet.

Also, no scorpion yet, but I did run into a giant spider a ways back. He seemed to be cool with me hacking him to bits.

hanselthecaretaker:
There is also still a door I can't unlock yet in Majula, behind the well.

I'll give you a hint for this one.

Avnger:

hanselthecaretaker:
There is also still a door I can't unlock yet in Majula, behind the well.

I'll give you a hint for this one.

Hmmm. I haven't really been back to that area since originally going through it, other than the 2nd bonfire building where the hag was at first. Will check it out, thanks.

Since you seem to be stuck on a few things, here's some tips for your current situation in case you want some pointers. The game in general is easier to navigate than DS1 but can still be obtuse at times.

The lion key

The big door

The door in Majula

NPC Quests

hanselthecaretaker:
So I got the key from the lion near the Ruins bonfire but need another branch to get to what it unlocks I think. As for the big door where it sounds like the last Great Soul boss is, it can't be unlocked yet as I don't have the required ring.

There is also still a door I can't unlock yet in Majula, behind the well. I guess I haven't explored as much as I thought. That's the thing about Souls games; chances are you're still missing something.

I did some more exploring of The Gutter and found some more cool loot, including an unresponsive knight-looking dude that appears down on his luck. Apparently he'll respond to some gesture, but none of the dozen+ I have yet.

Also, no scorpion yet, but I did run into a giant spider a ways back. He seemed to be cool with me hacking him to bits.

Okay, that giant spider? Was it called "The Duke's Dear Freja"? Because if it was, that is the last Boss soul you need. If it's not, then I am curious as to what giant spider you killed, because that's the only one I know of. I suppose the easiest question to answer all of this is: Do you have any bonfires located in Brightstone Cove Tseldora? It's the place where the spiders just...just spiders. Spiders. If yes, then you have all four Boss Souls most likely, and can make your way to the Drangleic Castle. If no, then that is where you're heading. It's worth noting that Freja's Boss Soul DOES NOT look like the other three major Boss Souls. Freja's soul just looks like a normal boss soul in your inventory.

I suggest you go back to Shaded Woods and have a look around again for a giant man scorpion. He's hanging out in a giant sand pit. I won't tell you what you need to do, but he's really hard to miss.

All those doors that say you need a ring are later areas. The one you are most likely referring to is called Aldia's Keep, which you will go to eventually, so don't worry.

There is no statue blocking the door that the Fang Key unlocks in The Shaded Woods. Walk along the path where you killed the Lion Warrior that dropped the key. See that hole in the wall that leads into a cave? You have to figure out how to get in there.

The Majula door has already been answered by other people, but yes, Forest of the Giants is where you're heading to figure out how to unlock that place.

Finally, that knight in the Gutter? He's a Hiede Knight, and he won't respond to any gestures. You simply have to attack him. There are a few of like him scattered around the game. I'm curious if you found the...shall we say, Legendary armor set in The Gutter? Or the two ancient enemies that are hiding out in Black Gulch?

The spider I killed didn't drop anything, and didn't even fight back. I think it was in the bottom of The Gutter but not sure. It was huge and took up the whole room though. Kinda reminded me of a larger primeval demon from Demon's Souls, but a big ass spider. I will try attacking the Heide Knight down there now that you mention it. I didn't want to at first because someone left a message saying try gesture, so I thought aggro'ing him might've spoiled something. I haven't seen anyone else in Black Gulch beside the two red phantoms and the giants in that passage around where the wheelchair guy was. I'm going to head to the Forest and Shaded Woods again before anything else.

I also just realized I did find the man scorpion, but same as the big door in Shaded Woods he seems to need a ring or some other item. I suppose I could also try attacking him....

If nothing else I have all Lucatiel's convos and know where the summon signs are. Will need to use an ascetic for The Rotten and Lost Sinner to get my three. The lightbulb also went off regarding the ladder. I thought the option of setting up the ladder would somehow use the miniature ladder I bought, not realizing it was completely separate.

One thing that's tougher in this one is remembering where certain things are since there are so many separate areas; it's like playing musical bonfires. DS1 was obtuse but for some reason easier to recall what was from where because you had to at least physically travel to each area, at least initially.

But then again, I've only played this a fraction as long.

Also, thanks for all the tips, fellow Escapists! It's more fun than resorting to the Wikidot.

hanselthecaretaker:

I also just realized I did find the man scorpion, but same as the big door in Shaded Woods he seems to need a ring or some other item. I suppose I could also try attacking him....

Short answer: NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Long answer: You're right. You need a ring. You can either go check all the rings in the game, or ask yourself: who do you know that might have a way for you to talk to non-humans...?

And I know the spider you refer to now. That's actually a bug that cures poison. That's what the mist does that it was venting out. It's completely harmless otherwise, and as you said, won't defend itself. It's there for all the people who would get poisoned in that area.

Anyway, in the same area where you find the man scorpion, there should also be a boss fight against another human scorpion. That's the path that will lead you to the final boss soul that you'll need. As for Black Gulch, good. You found the Giants hiding down there. They should have dropped a key, which you used to unlock the door where the wheelchair guy is in that area. Well, there's another door in The Gutter--hint, it's closer to the start of the area, up a ladder--that that key will unlock.
As well as a door in The Pit in Majula. That door's easy to find, assuming you have the Ladder Smith there.

Made some headway tonight...

-Found the cartographer in the Forest as well as some loot

-Got the house key for the Majula mansion and explored that

-Paid for the pit ladder and got that loot from the locked door below

-Defeated the Scorpioness Najka and claimed her soul

-Got to Doors of Pharros and Brightstone Cove Tseldora

-Defeated Prowling Magus and Congregation first try. Easy boss in general but was already almost out of Estus with only some Rouge Waters; literally was at a barely visible sliver of health by the end of the fight. Phew

-Finally got my Supreme Weapon trophy

-Got to Duke's Dear Freja but was not prepared after going so far since the last bonfire visit. Have to figure out how to get to that one where it says the door only opens from the other side.

If you wanna have an easy time in the spider areas, try lighting a torch. The spiders will avoid you and won't attack. As an arachnophobe I do that in all my playthroughs cause the spiders jumping at me can cause a minor freakout. Also, if you didn't already use the key you got from the lion in Shaded Woods. The reward for doing so has a payoff in Tseldora near that locked door you mentioned.

Since there's no real way to infer it otherwise, the dragon talon you got in the Majula pit is a key to some of the DLC. There are two more different keys scattered through the game. You will find one just progressing through the story in a chest, not too long from where you are, the other will require you to thoroughly explore an area you've already been to.

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