Dark Souls II Previews and Interview

We have rounded up a couple of recent previews and an interview, all centered around From Software's sequel to Dark Souls, their 2011 dark fantasy action-RPG, itself a spiritual successor to the PlayStation 3-exclusive Demon's Souls.

Kotaku has some gameplay from the recent beta with a brief write-up to accompany it:
Of course, one of the biggest new features in Dark Souls 2 is the ability to properly dual wield weapons. The dual swordsman seems like he'll be a lot of fun to play with, perhaps after I've memorized every enemy in the game. I have no idea what gave me the crazy idea to run around a new Dark Souls game for even a minute without a shield.2P

For the most part, the rest of the game felt pretty much like the Dark Souls experience that I'm used to. The combat feels tight, though ever so slightly different than the first game. I need to play more to get a better feel for what the differences are, but it feels more difficult to roll around and dodge attacks. That may be because I'm used to running around with no armor and fast roll, because they tweaked things, or both.

Right away, I can tell that the developers of Dark Souls II get what made the previous game so appealing and riveting; they were able to maintain that awesome sense of exploration and dread that keeps players on their toes. Enemies wait in ambush while you explore the world and carefully march over to that glowing trinket on the ground. Archers pepper you with arrows from the shadows when you think all is clear, and the first large enemy you face can easily kill in one or two hits. The soul of Dark Souls seems to have made the transition in directors, which was probably everyone's biggest worry after DSII was first announced.

What has changed significantly is the sense of movement and weight added to the player's actions. Where Demon's and Dark Souls felt like you were gliding around the environment, DSII makes you really feel each and every step of your character. You feel a really "sticky" relationship with the ground, and I can't really tell if this is a good or bad thing. Again, two hours isn't enough time to truly master a video game, but I was initially put off by the more methodical movement. I was able to figure things out, though, and found myself cutting through enemies without blaming the controls for my missteps. More surprising was the fact that moving backwards while targeting an enemy is significantly slower than before, leading to an untimely death when my new friend, Mr. Sickles, made short work of my general buffoonery. This change forced me to focus on rolling instead of my tried-and-true backpedal, and I must say that the rolling system feels far more responsive and useful than before. Many previews mentioned that rolling requires far better timing than before to completely avoid an attack, but I felt the exact opposite. Perhaps it's just personal taste, but it's worth mentioning.

I was able to level up a bit following some pretty gnarly encounters and felt that sense of "home" when I returned to my bonfire. The typical stats are all still there for leveling (strength, dexterity, attunement, etc.), but most surprising was the addition of a stat for speed. I'm sure Dark Souls enthusiasts will tear this stat apart with graphs and data analysis, because it could end up being a monumental change to how we play DSII. The game says that this stat will increase overall movement speed, blocking speed, and basic recovery, making it easily my top choice for leveling when I first start playing in March. I'm a bit wary about its usefulness, however, as many will attest to the complete uselessness of the resistance stat in DSI.

Finally, PressPlayOnline has an interview with community manager J. Kartje, covering the lore, online play, general tweaks to combat, the PC port and a few more things.