Words On Wednesday

2016-07-13 Dark Souls II – Update 3

Time for another update to my progress in Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. At the end of the last update, I had just finished the Lost Bastille and opened up Sinner’s Rise, the Grave of Saints, and the Gutter.

Sinner’s Rise

Since Sinner’s Rise was the closest area to me upon finishing the Lost Bastille, and it ends the chain of areas coming from Heide’s Tower, I decided to start there. All of the mobs in the tower area are the Royal Swordsmen with either swords or crossbows. I can fell them in a single combo, and they’re fairly easy to pull individually. Clearing out the upper floors and reaching the elevator down is a cakewalk.

The bottom area of Sinner’s Rise is completely different. The very first enemy you encounter off the lift is a Flexile Sentry. I tried going toe to toe with it a few times, but eventually decided I could just as easily run past it. The rest of the basement area has several of the exploding Undead Citizens / Rupturing Hollows. Plus, the area is filled with water so your run speed is heavily reduced.

In order to give myself easy access to a flame, I took a torch down and lit the sconce by the elevator. Then, I ran straight through the basement to the other side and lit the sconce there. Continuing on toward the door with the mist, I noticed 2 stairways on either side of the door. These led to rooms with small tunnels on the back walls. Remembering a conversation with Matt from when he was playing through the game, I brought the torch in and used it on these tunnels. Sure enough, they caught fire, which I knew would give me light in the boss room.

I charged in through the mist to fight the Lost Sinner. I died very quickly. After respawning at the bonfire, I went at it again. The Silvercat Ring allowed me to hop down to the lift without damage, so that was quicker than running around the stairs on the outside of the tower. To save the time of waiting on the lift to come back to the top each time, I started activating it again after I reached the bottom.

I kept dying enough to develop muscle memory for reaching the boss door. Though I initially bypassed the Flexile Sentry, it would occasionally get a hit on me as I ran past and take a good chunk of health. Thinking it would be like the Dragon of Heide’s Tower or the Pursuer and not return after killing it, I finally decided to actually fight the Flexile Sentry. I died several times, used a Human Effigy to summon the NPC in the elevator shaft, died again, fought it a few more times, used another effigy to summon the NPC again, and finally killed it.

Flexile Sentry in Sinner’s Rise on YouTube.

After fighting the Flexile Sentry, I was in pretty rough shape. My NPC was almost dead, I was several Estus Flask charges from full, generally just a little worn. But with humanity and what was left of the NPC, I figured I had no other option but to try and fight the Lost Sinner again. I did alright, but ultimately died. Still, it was ok, I wouldn’t have to fight the Flexile Sentry again on my way there.

As it turns out, the Flexile Sentry actually *isn’t* like the Dragon or the Pursuer. It’s just a normal enemy, and it respawns each time you die. I was obviously a bit frustrated with this discovery, but whatever. All I wasted was 2 effigies and maybe an hour of my time. However, I wasn’t going to bother with him again, and resumed running past it each time.

Quite a few attempts on the Lost Sinner, I finally got her to probably about a third of her health remaining. I was out of Estus Flask charges, but I really thought I could beat her this time. I switched to my Lifegems that I normally try to conserve, but this was a special case. Gradually, I chipped her health lower and lower. Once she was down to just a sliver of health remaining, I knew I could kill her in another combo. I got ahead of myself, rushed in, and she killed me before I could get a hit in. I rarely throw controllers, but that got to me.

I knew I could kill her, I just had to stay calm and dodge appropriately. The very next try, I made a point to be as cautious as necessary. I got her down to a quarter health and ran out of Estus Flask charges again. Though I could’ve killed her the previous time, I would not make the same mistake. I kept my distance and refilled my health with Lifegems as necessary. My caution paid off, and I was finally able to kill her without getting in a hurry.

The Lost Sinner on YouTube.

Huntsman’s Copse

Though I had already gotten the first bonfires in the Grave of Saints and the Gutter, I was advised by Matt to go to the Huntsman’s Copse instead. Having beaten the game before, I figured he knew better what to do than I. With plenty of souls from the Lost Sinner, I repaired what equipment I had damaged and paid to have the path to Huntsman’s Copse opened up.

I ran through the first portion of the area pretty easily. I was cautious with corners and doors, gave plenty of space between enemies, and generally took my time. Before long, I reached the second bonfire of the area with plenty of Estus Flask and weapon durability remaining. Just to be cautious, I lit the fire and rested to top off my flask.

Continuing on, I made it into the forested area. The undead were easy to kill, and the Artificial Undead were slow enough to manage without much hassle. Before long, I saw the dark spirit invasion notification in the lower area of the forest. Not wanting to risk losing my souls, I immediately ran back toward the bonfire. Armorer Dennis gave me a lot of trouble, so I knew Forlorn would probably be a tough fight as well.

Oddly enough, I grappled pretty easily with Forlorn once he caught up to me at the bonfire. He did eventually kill me, but not before I was able to take him well below half health. I knew I could kill him if I took my time as I did with the Lost Sinner. Just to play with the fight, I baited him back to the bonfire a few times to watch his movements and attacks.

Eventually, I decided to see how he handled the ladder near the bonfire. If I climbed it, he quickly climbed up behind me. If I jumped down, as the Silvercat Ring allowed me to do without damage, he would climb the ladder down behind me. Obviously, this opened him up for an easy combo before he reached the bottom of the ladder and turned around. I quickly developed a cheap strategy of luring him up the ladder, getting a few hits in, jumping down, and getting another combo in. Rinse and repeat, healing at the top of the ladder as necessary.

Forlorn on YouTube.

After taking out Forlorn, I decided to explore up near the rock passage in the upper area of the forest. The Torturers on the way were tough, but manageable. As long as I got them one on one, I could dodge past them pretty easily and kill them in 2 combos. Stepping through the rock passage I immediately stumbled upon 3 Torturers together. Knowing my limits, I retreated quickly to the bonfire, where I was immediately slain.

No Torturers for me. Instead, I went the other direction near where I encountered Forlorn. Taking my time and going cautiously through the area, I took out each mob I came across to clear the area without much risk. Crossing another bridge, I noticed a bonfire in a shack. Awesome! No, not quite awesome, the door was locked. As much as I’d like a closer bonfire, I figured I might come across a key eventually.

Continuing up the path, I was slaying trash mobs with impressive efficiency (impressive for me, at least). I came to a fork in the path and decided to take the left path. Not more than a few steps up through the passage, I came upon an open meadow with a lone item in it. Why does that always give me a bad feeling in video games? Oh, because it triggered a summon for Merciless Roenna. Typical.

Going with my tactic for Forlorn, I decide to lure Roenna back to the bonfire. While the locked bonfire would be closer, I hadn’t yet found the key. I start my trek across the Huntsman’s Copse, occasionally pausing to make sure Roenna is still following me. Maybe halfway back, I received a message that Roenna had left my game. Well fantastic, I’d have to fight her nowhere near a bonfire if I wanted to kill her. Whatever, not that big of a deal, I’d just explore the other direction.

I continued along the right path, hugging the wall in hopes that I wouldn’t fall into the pit and die. When the path cut underneath the waterfall, I turned to investigate the cavern and- nope, not going through a mist door right now. I continued on around and into the cave system. While I normally try to conserve my torch as much as possible, I cared more about not dying and having to backtrack all the way through the level.

Taking my time to single out enemies and lure them when possible, I made my way through the cave. Lighting all the torches along the way, I eventually emerged right next to the hut with the bonfire. How about that, 2 paths to the mist door. Realizing that I’d cleared out this entire side of the level sans Roenna and hadn’t yet found a key, I got a sinking feeling that the key was probably on the other side of the level past all those Torturers.

Since I really wanted to get rid of Roenna before I fought the boss, I went back to her meadow. I fought her once and died. Only slightly dejected, I trekked across the level. When she spawned in this second time, I rushed up to grab my souls and fell back some. I baited her forward, since I really wanted to grab whatever item she was guarding before she killed me again. Rushing past her, I spammed on the x button to get the item before she could hit me. Undead Lockaway Key, probably some sort of access to a secret area or something. Wait, a key? Like… something that might open up that bonfire in the hut?

Once it occurred to me that I may be able to light that bonfire and cut my trip to Roenna and the boss by half or more, I bum rushed past her and toward the hut. Sprinting most of the way there, I was able to reach the hut while she was still a good piece behind me. I ran up to the door, spammed x, and sure enough it opened. I ran in and lit the bonfire before she could catch up to me. Even if she killed me this time, my souls would be right next to a bonfire and I would be in much better position to lure her next time.

Grappling with a somewhat powerful NPC summon in close quarters is both difficult and nerve-racking. I stepped out of the shack and went toe to toe with Roenna. Surprisingly, I was able to kill her without much hassle. Maybe the confidence of having a bonfire nearby gave me the fighting spirit I needed to take her out.

Merciless Roenna on YouTube.

With Roenna dead, the only thing between me and the boss was a short stretch of path with a few trash mobs that I could easily destroy. I ran to the boss door and stepped inside. Three skeletons in one fight? Great. Though they seemed to share a health bar, which was an interesting choice when the Ruin Sentinels each had their own health bar. I rushed forward and surprisingly took out the middle skeleton with a single combo, but quickly got obliterated by the remaining two.

Let it be known that I despise multiple-target boss battles. Dodging multiple enemies is hard enough, but even worse when you’re trying to chip them down little by little. NPC summons make it easier since they can tank aggro and occasionally dish out a little damage themselves, but I’d still prefer to just go one on one with a boss.

After a few fights, I noticed that ALL of the 3 initial skeletons have extremely low health. Low enough that any one of them would be dead in a combo or two. My problem was that I would rush into the fray and get swamped before I got out. I perfected a tactic of rushing in, killing the center skeleton in 3 hits, and then dodging back to evade the other two. The issue from there was being able to dodge the 2 lords and the 2 rolling skeletons that spawned when the first one fell.

Once I was finally patient enough to take out all 3 of the initial skeletons, the rest of the fight was cake. All of the other spawns are trash mobs that fall in 2 or 3 hits. I would kite them until I had some decent space, slash a few times to hit probably 3 or 4 of them at a time, and then keep running away. Cleaning up was super easy when all the enemies were gathered into a single mob chasing me in circles.

Skeleton Lords on YouTube.

After finishing the Skeleton Lords, I could tell I was getting a little worn on Dark Souls. It’s a fun game, no doubt, but it is hard. It is difficult to the point that I can’t just relax and play. My enjoyment of Dark Souls comes from the success of defeating a hard boss, not exactly from the process of getting there. I decided that after I finished up Huntsman’s Copse, I would put the game down for a while.

From the Skeleton Lords, I went back to the bridge area with all the Torturers. Considering how time consuming it was to pick those guys off one by one, and how difficult they are to handle in groups, I decide to just bum rush past them. I quickly learned the timing to get through to the bridge unscathed nearly every time. At the top of the bridge is a gap to a small platform that no enemies could cross to. I would rush across the bridge and jump to the platform, waiting for all the Torturers to either kill themselves by falling off the bridge or return to the other side.

I became extremely efficient at getting this far. If I did get hit, it was only by the Artificial Undead near the first bridge, or the last Torturer before the bridge. I rarely died getting to the platform, or even jumping onto it. My problem was getting *off* the platform. Something about the positioning of the bridge and the platform made it tremendously difficult to jump back without falling. I would either jump too soon and fall before I reached the bridge, or press the jump button too late and just run off the platform. A solid 75% of my deaths were due to falling.

At the end of the bridge before the mist door was a Red Phantom Purgatory Guardian. Supposedly, he only appears in New Game Plus, but that’s neither here nor there. I tried to fight him a few times, but I was never really able to make much headway with him. Instead, I decided to bait him toward the bridge and run past when he got close. Provided I could get him to attack me and dodge it, he was too slow to catch me before I passed through the mist.

As for the Executioner’s Chariot boss fight, it was a long and arduous process. The chariot is easy enough to avoid by hiding in the alcoves along the walls of the chamber. Supposedly, you can dodge roll under the spikes on the wheels, but I never bothered practicing that enough to know. The skeleton spawns in the area are the typical skeleton mobs that fall in probably 2 hits, no big deal. Necromancers? Pft, cake, I can drop them in 3 hits easily.

The issue is handling this all at once. If I focused on killing skeletons, I frequently wouldn’t notice the chariot approach until too late. If I tried to dodge into the alcoves before the chariot came, the skeletons would corner me and kill me before I could get away or kill them. Trying to rush past the skeletons and deal with the Necromancers directly, I would often misjudge my timing and get caught in the hallway with no alcove to hide in before the chariot ran me over.

Using some trial and error experiments, I started to get a general feel for the timing of the chariot, plus I figured out where most of the alcoves were placed. I started rushing up the hall as quickly as possible, stepping aside for the chariot to pass at the last minute. This kept the skeletons out of melee range, and gave me a chance to take out the Necromancers before they could revive anything. Once the Necromancers were gone, I could kill the skeletons and know they would stay down.

When I finally managed to defeat all the trash mobs in the area, I could finally focus on the chariot. My first time pulling the lever, I didn’t know what to expect. The chariot crashed through the gate and I ran straight for the guy driving it. I slashed several times before I realized he was dead on arrival. Okay, so apparently you just fight the horse, cool. I kept my distance and watched closely to figure out the horse’s attacks and any tells about what move it was using. The charge was hard to dodge, but it didn’t do a ton of damage. The breath was simple, just back up and wait for it to clear. The rear kick didn’t have much of a tell, but I could quickly backstep and usually managed to avoid it. I was doing pretty good until I got closer to the chasm than I realized, and the horse kicked me off the edge.

After a few dumb moments of getting ahead of myself, I finally got back into my groove dealing with the regular enemies in the area. I finally reached the gate lever again and prepared myself. Stay away from the hole, and I should be fine. Sure enough, I ran straight to the horse and kept close for the majority of the fight. Staying at the horse’s side, I was able to get a few hits in here and there without opening myself up too much. Before long, I successfully killed the horse.

Executioner’s Chariot on YouTube.

With the boss dead, I explored upstairs and joined the Brotherhood of Blood covenant. It’s specifically a PVP covenant and I don’t even have PS Plus, but I figured it was an easy way to get the trophy for joining a covenant. From that point, the only other task I had in Huntsman’s Copse was to proceed past the Skeleton Lord room and open up the next area.

I traveled to the bonfire in the hut and breezed past the undead along the cliff. Once I reached the Skeleton Lord arena, it was nice to find the area empty. I pulled the lever to lower the bridge and crossed into Harvest Valley. Not wanting to deal with this trek more than once, I cautiously proceeded forward. Eventually, I reached the bonfire, which I lit and traveled out to Majula.

Taking a Break

As I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty spent on Dark Souls right now. Reaching a pretty decent stopping point, I’m going to hang it up for a little while. Having received the new Ratchet & Clank reboot for my birthday, I’ve been itching to play it since it came out. Eventually, I’ll come back and finish Dark Souls, or at least make some more progress toward completion. Until then, keep an eye on my YouTube channel for updates.

Dark Souls II playlist on YouTube.

Ratchet & Clank (2016) playlist on YouTube.

Meta:

Words: 3481 | Characters: 18671 | Sentences: 212

Paragraphs: 51 | Reading Level: 11-12th Grade

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