On Dark Souls & Other Souls Related Things, Part 2 of 2 and a half

BY FLAN

Dark Souls is the best of all of the games. It’s not hard to see why – and I’m going to open this up like a game journalist in exactly this way since why the fuck not. Those guys are a bunch of hacks. But I’m writing this, so what the hell, who even cares anyway. Phew. It didn’t take long to get off topic, but okay, so, I think I’ve already gone over all of the Souls games in great detail. I’ll think about the things of various natures that I haven’t mentioned yet. I haven’t talked about Dark Souls 3, so let me just describe that first I guess.

Dark Souls 3… might be the worst game of the series. And I know what you’re thinking, whaaat, how could that be? Well, let me explain exactly the problems with Dark Souls 3, but first I’ll talk about some other shit. Dark Souls 3 is the only game of the series that doesn’t really have ‘builds’ – unlike Bloodborne. It’s kind of astonishing, but if you really really look at it hard enough, you’ll see pretty quickly that it almost doesn’t even matter what weapon you pick. You can do well with pretty much anything. Nothing seems particularly stronger than anything else, even in PvP. I’m not gonna say it’s perfect, there’s outliers like the estoc still, I think, and the dark sword, but those have ALWAYS been strong. Nothing has changed there. But it wasn’t in Dark Souls 2, the big PvP game that most people have played, I think. And that’s a big leap between games, Dark Souls 1 to 3, between that time there’s been two other ‘souls’ games dropped by FromSoftware. In Dark Souls 3 we got weapon arts, which are pretty nice, but it just so happens the Dark Sword got a really, really damn strong one.

So, let’s address builds first. They don’t exist, and I’m gonna tell you why. So let’s look at stats: we’re not suffering from a lack of space, like in Dark Souls 2 with adaptability. But armor is irrelevant! If you drop a whole bunch of points into vitality to get your equip load up, guess what your incredible reward is? You can MAYBE heavy roll while wearing full Havel’s and carrying his greatshield and a ZWEIHANDER, not even the greatsword. And the zweihander is one of the lightest ultra greatswords, if not THE lightest. Like, it’s insane the amount of dedication you need to have to get a good heavy build going – and I know what you’re thinking, ‘but that’s not optimized!’ – no, it’s not, but that’s what made Dark Souls 1 good. I think I’ve already said this before, but Dark Souls shouldn’t be about constrictions except when made up by the player. I want to be able to punish myself with stupid builds. I don’t want the game telling me what I can and can’t do, and that’s what this ridiculous weight limit does.

Let’s talk about more about that weight limit. At least in Dark Souls 2, being the first game where they actively tried to discourage heavy builds by splitting stamina and equip load into different stats, they at least sort of managed to nerf the build without ruining it. Havelmonsters were kind of a big deal, too, since we still had poise – I guess I never really experienced the ‘suffering’ of fighting those guys since I never really had much of a problem with them, I was a big fan of parrying on PC. Anyway, getting off topic, in Dark Souls 1 we have the 25-50-75-100 breakpoints. Dark Souls 3 has like, a 70% breakpoint? And that’s all. So you can pretty much wear ANY armour you like up to 70% equip load. I did some testing too, before the two DS3 DLCs came out, using Havel’s as the example of highest-end armour, and Elite Knight as an example of middle-of-the-road best bang for you buck, and it just so happens that Havel’s armour comes to around 35% or so damage reduction. Elite Knight? 25%. But the weight difference is ridiculous, Elite Knight weighs 24.30 units, Havel’s weighs 56.90! That’s before considering ANY other items, too, like weapons or shields.

So, at over DOUBLE the weight capacity required, Havel’s provides in exchange an extra 10% defense, and is pretty much guaranteed to leave you heavy rolling/unable to roll all game, unless you HEAVILY invest into vitality. Is that worth it? Well, no it’s fucking not, in what way is that ever worth it? I actually beat the game heavy rolling with a full Havel’s/greatshield/zweihander build just to test this, and no, it’s fucking inadequate against PvP in a serious way, PvE’s alright, but that’s not saying much. And the souls games all since Dark Souls 2 have had a trend of trying to teach you it’s better to just roll out of the way rather than get hit – as it should be, I guess, that seems to be Hidetaka Miyazaki’s kind of ideal. I’m okay with this too, but guess what, this impacts build variety – something desperately lacking in Dark Souls 3. Oh, and guess what, with the introduction of The Ringed City, we’ve got some new ways to make those dickass heavy users cry their salty tears – +3 rings.

For instance, the Ring of Steel Protection +3, on a set of Elite Knight, gets you to 38% damage reduction, all physical of course but who even uses magic in PvP anyway? Magic sucks more than ever in Dark Souls 3 (but I’ll get to that). So, were you wondering what that does to a set of Havel’s? Well, you’ll love this, 46% damage reduction. Putting aside for a sec that this much damage reduction is utterly insanely ridiculous, that’s now only 8% less than Elite Knight. So let’s look at the bare minimum vitality you need to JUST use Havel’s while rolling normally, which is a whopping 43. Is that really fair? Goddamn man, 43 vitality? Are you shitting me? Havel’s Ring +3 drops that to 32, and the Ring of Favor +3 on top drops that to 28, but that’s still using up three whole ring slots you could potentially be using for other stuff. I mean, hell, this is way better than nothing, but this is WITHOUT any weapons or shields equipped, and now we’ve only got one ring slot. For those curious, if you want that Havel’s Greatshield with that armour, you need 59 vitality. I don’t think this is viable at all for someone playing within the NG meta of like 100-120, whatever it is at the moment.

So let’s just theorycraft this a bit more, this mystical build I’ve just thought up, because this is sounding more and more viable by the moment, isn’t it? So, with 40 strength we absolutely NEED to run the greatshield at all, oh wait we fucking can’t because if we take that big piece of fuck, guess what? We then need to shell out a shitload more stats into vitality to get a weapon going. I don’t even fucking know, what weapons are even viable for everything right now? Let’s just take the dark sword, sure, and then we add some more points to get the chloranthy and bring up to 15 dex to use the sword at all, and… well, goddamn, it works? It works.

https://mugenmonkey.com/darksouls3/188159

I mean, judge for yourself, but shit, that looks okay. You can roll, you can block, you can deal good damage… you’re using a cheesy weapon, but hey, it works? I guess you can’t take anything heavier than a friggin dark sword otherwise the perfectly fine balance will be tipped, and 125 seems like shaky meta, but it’s not too bad I guess. Huh. Well how about that.

Take this as you will.

So, anyway, I just wanted to say that basically all the PvP and PvE builds you see all boil down to, fast guy with weapon of choice hitting stuff – it’s not at all how it was in the other games where it felt like everyone was very different, even Bloodborne had a sense of uniqueness to it (mostly). But what this stupid build I’ve just made does declare, is that anything below the most extreme of weight conditions CAN be run…

I was going to complain here that Dark Souls 3 was ultimately not a souls game, and resembled Bloodborne more, but whatever I guess. I was going to complain about the DLC not really bringing to the table the fresh new PvP we needed to keep DS3 going, but I guess it did help to bring some balance to someone, so hey, whatever.

I’ll talk about Bloodborne some time soon.

On All Manner of Souls and Other Things

BY FLAN

Right.

Dark Souls Master Race.

Dark Souls is one of the best action RPG games of all time, if not the very best. I put forward the motion that it is in fact the best game ever designed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, in fact. It’s better than Bloodborne, Dark Souls 2, Demon’s Souls, and who fucking knows what King’s Field is like. I sure as hell haven’t played it.

So why’s Dark Souls so goddamn good? It was the first I played out of all of them after all, but here’s the thing. It’s the most balanced of all the games. There’s no bullshit attacks, no fucking overpowered as hell enemies that you shouldn’t be expected to fight, and there are so many goddamn weapons available right from the start of the game you will definitely have something to look forward to later on, as well as a fucking armory of swords or spears or axes to start using straight off the bat. This is one of the strongest points of Dark Souls – you just have so many options, instantly.

Dark Souls 2 on the other hand, I can name only a few weapons you can even obtain early on. Like, there’s the dagger, the hand axe, the morning star, the short sword… okay, really not bad, but these are all so hidden I’d be fuckin shocked if you managed to stumble on any of these except maybe the short sword or morning star. The dagger’s easy though. So there’s that! You can have an always trash tier weapon at the start of the game! Fantastic! Deprived in Dark Souls had a much easier time of it, to say the least.

Demon’s Souls, going back in time for a sec, also has that kind of brutal ‘too bad no weapon for you’ thing going. You want a rapier? Welp, better get going to world like 3-1 or whatever straight after you beat 1-1, buddy boy, and not a second before then. This is a time when I don’t even mind lacking gear. You can get enough weaponry at the start. Just… enough. It’s easier to excuse this game because in general it’s fucking brütal so you just gotta roll with it and bend over.

Bloodborne is the real motherfucker of the bunch though. Holy fuck guys. Where are the weapons? Seriously. You have to beat at least one boss to even get the chance to BUY your weapons. Like, fuck man, why so goddamn harsh? At this point, it’s like if you picked the wrong weapon, Hide-kun is like ‘fuck you man desu restart from the beginning kuso’. And then you have to buy most of these weapons anyway. Like, goddamn. They ain’t cheap either. I got my second ‘I am actually going to fucking use this’ weapon at fucking Cainhurst, which is like half way into the fucking goddamn game. That’s fucked.

So okay, Dark Souls is thus the winner. Definitely. I mean, come on. Straight up you have easy access to the Estoc, relatively easy access to the Winged Spear and THE ABSOLUTELY GODLIKE Zweihander. If you were lucky as hell you might have a short bow dropped from that archer guy above the Asylum Demon (yes he can drop that bow). If you have the Master Key (which you do because you’re a smart fuckin cookie) you can go straight to goddamn Blighttown, and get a motherfucking Iaito and be the ninja you know you can never be IRL. Or the fucking whip, if you really want a challenge. And you can get like 9k in Large Proud Knight souls, which are 3k each. This is a pain unless you know what you’re doing, BUT THIS SHIT IS RIGHT THERE. On top of that, you’ve got cheap shit from the undead merchant in the burg, if you really want something cheap and right the fuck now.

Gameplay is also the strong point of Dark Souls. I don’t know, I had kind of a unique experience with the first boss by fighting him fairly in a 1 on 1 duel on top of the watchtower as opposed to jumping on his fucking head, sword out like a sensible bastard. So that got my head round the game real fuckin quick. From then on though, I had no problem with the game. The difficulty of Dark Souls is not legendary, in the same way the Demon’s Souls is, or Dark Souls 2 has it’s stupid bullshit.

So okay lets talk about this difficulty shit real quick.

Dark Souls’ difficulty comes from rolling. If you’re dex. You wanna be lazy, pick up the Eagle Shield and just ayy la fuckin mao your way through everything with L1 held, and watch motherfuckers whiff you constantly while your stamina remains an immovable object – like your squishy self. I don’t know, there’s no real serious ‘fuck you you’re dead’ bits in this game where stupid shit takes over. Unlike Dark Souls 2. There are times when the unexpected happens, but the player is always the one to blame. And this is important. The player should be the one who fucks up, and then is punished. Not ‘fuck you man, you’re going to fucking die, that’s it, fuck you and fuck your souls, you’re dead cunt, so dead’. I just don’t know what to say. Enemies just are a lot squishier in general, your weapons scale up perfectly to what you’re fighting, and you’re always rewarded when you try to fight with strategy as opposed to dumb ass brute force.

Dark Souls 2. Where do I begin. I’m obviously going to talk about SotFS, since DS2 has been deprecated – who the fuck plays that anymore anyway. So, SotFS. What the fuck man. You’ve got shit like that ogre in the forest now, straight up at the start of the game? Why the fucking shit is he there? People say shit like “you gotta run past him man” but that’s not right. You need to prove your manliness. He’s killable, but he takes so many fucking hits, and ONE mistake, and you are fucking GONE. Like so many enemies and situations in Dark Souls 2. The NPC phantoms this time around just went up to fucking 11. The AI for NPCs has, let’s face it, never been good. In DS2 though, I gotta say, Maldron, man. Whoever did Maldron deserves a medal. Never before have I seen shit like this. And that was cool.

But then there’s other shit like times when you’re pitched off cliffs and shit, or instagibbed by things you cannot possibly see coming. Or times when you’re straight up violated from behind because you walked into a trap purely by accident, when it was never possible for you to determine through logical reasoning and peeking around corners that there even was a trap. Some of the enemies in this game are just brutal. And then my personal pet hate, the knights at Dragon Shrine. Why are those huge ass motherfuckers given such an attack rate boost? Even with a goddamn rapier, or espada, you’re fucked. You can’t 1v1 those guys. Or you could! Sure! You can do that. But why would you?

Poison arrows are stupid op. You can sit back and just poison so many assholes to death. And this is stupid. I hate this. Why make enemies so fucking hard, consistently, then make it so I can just sit back and poison them. Why. This is nice, because I can say “fuck you” to the annoying ass enemies like these knights who I just cannot be fucking bothered spending hours fighting because they have so much goddamn hp and yet so much goddamn damage, but also shitty, because I WANT to be able to fight literally every enemy in the game, and come out on top when I play properly.

The knights though are like minibosses. Fuck that. I hate that shit. Minibosses are meant to be minibosses, not fucking every five steps you take. There’s like six of these assholes in the shrine, at least. And you have to fight all of them, or feel the wrath of all the other dudes at the shrine. Fuck this.

The bosses are okay, but most of them just piss me off. Ruin Sentinels are just bullshit, and piss me off no end. I’m good at them now, like after several hundred hours I can now pretty consistently beat any boss first try or so, but so many bosses still just piss me off because of their attacks. Ruin sentinels have massive fucking goddamn swipes, how the fuck do you dodge that shit? Sucks fuckin ass, that’s what. I know how to dodge that shit, but sometimes I just don’t want every goddamn enemy I fight to end up being a whole boss fight. Fucking huge ass hp bosses as regular enemies, fuck em to hell. The boss fight was okay, but then you fight them in Drangleic Castle? What the fuck man, there’s like 5 of them in the one room, and if you aren’t VERY careful you can aggro all of them at once. And then there’s all the adds in that room too. What the fuck.

The DLC made Dark Souls 2 worth playing. The Smelter Demon 2 was a fucking fantastic boss, Fume Knight was Artorias-tier boss quality, so was Sir Alonne for that matter. The Ivory King was a pretty cool boss too, gotta say. Good fun. Having to collect all of the friendly knights was cool too, and that armor set with that helmet was fucking badass. Sunken King was kind of trash though. Fuck that DLC. Boring gloomy area with shitty enemies that just piss you off more than they beat your ass. Funnily enough I don’t really remember why I hate that one so much, but it’s just shitty and not fun.

Funny thing, I’d probably play it again, but I won’t now, because I’ve already played through Dark Souls 2 every possible way, and every time it’s just fucking boring as hell. Also, the extra final boss of SotFS is shit. Fucking what’s his name? Dumbfuck, Scholar of the First Sin? Yeah, what a shit fucking fight. He’s not hard, just annoying and bullshit, which is typical of Dark Souls 2.

Demon’s Souls… I haven’t played this enough to really say much. I am pissed off that it’s so goddamn hard, but that’s okay, it’s Demon’s Souls. It is, like I said, brütal. Fucking crazy. This game is meant to, unlike the other games, test your sanity and your might. So I can take it. Dark Souls 2 really feels like the sequel to this game, not Dark Souls 1. This is why I fucking hate Dark Souls 2. Call it Demon’s Souls 2 if you’re doing that shit.

Bloodborne. I can’t say I have really enjoyed most of the bosses. They’re all pretty trash. Micolash was just a fucking mistake – he has two attacks, a huge AoE instagib, and then a long range single target instagib, and he can spam both of them because he has literally no cooldowns and no other possible attacks besides swatting at you with his meager little girly hands. Rom was actually a kind of cool boss, so that was nice. The rest of the NPC hunters I’ve fought are shit. Fucking bullshit. All of them. Not as bad as the phantoms from Dark Souls 2, but still pretty fucked. Gascoigne is probably my favourite fight so far. Fuckin Gascoigne, man, that was one skin-of-your-teeth fight. That was what made Bloodborne great. It just feels like that sensation of risk/reward is kind of gone now. It’s just gone back to Dark Souls style ‘hit boss until it attacks then back up and maybe heal’. There’s no real reason to YOLO SWAGGERINO into a fight 1 on 1 against the boss all like HIT ME MOTHERFUCKER I WILL TEAR YOUR ASSHOLE INTO A GAPING MAW THEN SHOVE MY GODDAMN SWORD UP THERE AND FUCK YOU WITH IT, no, there’s no point to that, in Bloodborne if you take too much damage, like in any game, you fucking die. The risk/reward is too risky. Why risk when you can just go for the reward? Just back off and heal. You have 20 flasks, you asshole, so just fucking use them and stop trying to kill yourself by hitting the boss to get your hp back. That never works.

Gascoigne worked as a boss because he had actual delays on his attacks, and so many times when you could actually get in a charge attack, and then not get 1-shot after he hit you once while the hammer came down. That happens all the time. Even when you immediately start charging after the boss misses an attack, good fucking luck landing that charged power attack without taking at least one hit. If you take one hit and die, what the fuck is the point? You’re dead. You can’t rally your hp back when dead. This is why Bloodborne fails in it’s whole ‘aggressive risk/reward’ system. They sort of gave up on it mid-development.

Maybe then, Bloodborne isn’t finished? Maybe that’s why they released DLC for it? Is that why shit like beasthood just doesn’t seem to fucking do anything, and why there are certain things that just don’t work, etc? That would explain a lot. Bloodborne didn’t even have 3 full years of development, from start to finish. And crafting a whole fresh new game like this from start to finish takes time.

So Bloodborne isn’t even really that hard a game. It just has a very different style, similar to Dark Souls 2 compared to Dark Souls 1, and you gotta accept and adapt. The playstyle isn’t even that different.

One thing. Are all these games good? I dunno, I guess. But Bloodborne and Dark Souls 2 are both flawed. In Bloodborne, you have to go all the way back to the hub and then teleport back again by figuring out which gravestone to go to then reawakening by going through another loadscreen. So two load screens, just to reload a single area. Even if you just quit and reloaded your save, that’s still two loadscreens. And that wouldn’t refresh the area anyway, only certain things. Also, there’s no menu at the lanterns. Lanterns NEED a goddamn menu. Why can’t I even sort anything at the lantern? It’s a nice feel, that I have to go back to the hub to go change my shit, it makes it more of a home and less of a transport hub for nothing but transport. But it pisses me off and slows the game down a lot.

Dark Souls 2 just fucked up and made way too many enemies deal way too much damage and have way too much goddamn health and armor. And the rapiers are just way too overpowered. Too many enemies can be too easily destroyed by the rapiers, but when you pull out a big heavy weapon, you get your ass handed to you because of how fucking long it takes to throw even one attack, when in the same space of time you could have pissed away your entire stamina bar on a series of attacks that could even kill a player from full health in one swift fucking unrecoverable combo. Trust me, I’ve done that. Rapiers are op. All the big weapons do have slightly more damage, but what’s better? Like 12 fucking attacks from a 550 damage rapier or some shit, or 1 and a half clumsy ass attacks from a huge ass Zweihander that does 700 damage? Bullshit. Then there’s all those ridiculous PvP builds out there that make Giantdad look like a goddamn SL1 fists only PvP focused build. Mundane Santier’s comes to mind. Havels. Shit like that. I’ve told Giantdad’s to go fuck themselves only by parrying their slow ass swords before, as a goddamn invader myself (fuck yes Hornet ring). But shit like Santiers – what the fuck do you do man? What do you do against that? And other assorted shit that I can’t even name.

Dark Souls 1 is just the pure shining example of the perfect Souls game. Everything else should be measured by this golden standard. And as usual if you disagree you’re a fucking retard and I am goddamn right.

On Christmas and Consumerism

BY FLAN

I’ve got a few words to say here.

No, I’m not gonna be all, “hey you guys didn’t you know that originally blah blah blah random fucking facts nobody blah fucking blah cares blah about blah blah blah”

Simply put, Christmas is a thing where in the end, everyone ends up buying a whole lot of shit for a whole lot of other people. I’ve seen certain members of my family fucking panicking to shit all over the place about the amount of gifts they’ve get to hand out. As in, ‘oh fuck me I forgot this guy and that guy, what do I do’. And this sort of shit just pisses me off. I myself have gone and been hypocritical as hell and bought a few for a certain few people also. But I’m gonna put up a token’s defense and say there’s a big difference between the shit people will buy just to throw at other people for no good reason only because they feel obligated, and the actually seriously good time-waster video games I’ve bought for people. Gifts that fucking mean something.

If you don’t know the person well enough to even buy a gift for them, why bother? They sure as hell won’t be getting you anything, and in the end you can look at it all you like as a fun, ‘exchange of gifts’ type deal, but lets talk realtalk for a sec. What about those awkward moments when you hand someone a gift, and they’re like, ‘oh uh sorry man I didn’t get you anything’? How do you think those guys feel? It’s a major guilt trip. And chances are, they’re gonna remember that. Even if they don’t remember exactly who it was who gave them the present, even if they don’t really remember their plans for the next Christmas, they are going to remember that they suddenly gotta spend money on useless crap.

Consumerism. Just a word. I don’t fucking know what it really means, and neither do you. It’s just a big symbol that you can just look at and go, oh, yep, I know that word. Or you know the meaning behind it. Who cares about the definition? This is what Christmas best represents to me, and it just makes me fucking sick. I get the lunches, the dinners, all that, the family gatherings, and I’m not against that. That shit is fine. Who doesn’t like to catch up at least once a year with the people who mean so much to you? That’s important shit. What’s not important is buying stupid shit for those people. Sure, if they’ve been complaining for months, and you’ve heard it personally from them that they sure as hell want a thing, and you can get that for them, sure. Maybe that’s okay. But nobody should feel fucking obligated to do this – and yet we do feel obligated. And it happens every goddamn year.

Psychology is another fancy word that I’m gonna just chuck in here, since it seems to fit the theme. Gift-giving should be for the important people in your life. Those people who you really fucking care about, and the people who actually entrust to you what they might actually fucking want for Christmas. Not the randoms, the nigh-acquaintances, the long distance cousins, all that, who you just don’t see often enough. Really? Is it really worth it getting someone a fucking bar of chocolate, or candles or some shit? Is it really the thought that counts? Personally, I think it’s good enough that you just happen to be able to see the person at that fucking time.

Why’s this and that asshole gotta feel like he has to give you something? Why even bother? I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make me feel good inside when I get shit. It just makes me feel sick, because then I get that guilt all up inside me, and then that guilt turns to fucking anger at this shit fucking holiday. In the end, you’ll be at K-Mart or Big W, or whatever the fuck, and you’ll be shelling out for this and that, and it’s the supermarkets and shit who really win. And that’s okay. I mean, free market, man, these guys can do what they like. It’s just the little issue that Christmas is a cancer that is probably never going to disappear.

We are always going to buy buying this shit. And these guys who’ve managed to brainwash people into doing this every year are going to be continuously profiting off this, and we are still going to be fucking doing this. And on top of it, we’re all still celebrating it. Like, is it the birth of Jesus? Is that why? I sure as shit don’t think so. Atheists do Christmas. Every single person does it. Even the people who say, ‘oh I don’t celebrate that’ are still off to some kind of get together. So why the fuck are we still calling it ‘Christmas’? Why are we still going on about the birth of Jesus or whatever the fuck? The Christians care, that’s right. Why should we? We sensible bastards, who don’t give a fig for religion of any sort?

Why can’t we just call it what it really is: Consumistmas. Or some shit. We celebrate the noble cause of buying shit every year. That’s what this is.

Video Games and Other Crap

BY FLAN

Bilby is always demanding I write something here. So here you go Bilby, here’s some bullshit from the horse’s mouth, just what you ordered.

Here we fucking go.

I’m always thinking about video games, it’s just my thing. There are many schools of thought on what actually constitutes a video game, what constitutes a GOOD video game, and what actually qualifies as a video game. Then there’s all the weirdos who end up calling things art? And shit like that? What the fuck man, who does that. Art… art is only called art by the critics who decide at that time that this thing is fucking art. Would they have called Zappa’s Freak Out! or some such art, at the time? No, in fact the way I hear it it was widely regarded as the worst music America had ever heard. But, I’m getting a bit off topic here.

Opinions are all that separate humans from animals – I think someone said that once. If they didn’t, they should have, because I think it sounds fucking brilliant. I’m always bitching on about the sick truths I’m laying down, and all the facts and shit, and to a degree I think I’m in the right. I can, of course, be so conceited to think that it is actually the truth, because at times it may as well be. So here’s some opinions/truths, whichever you fucking want to believe (which you’ll be making your mind up on as you go along unless you’re a mouth-breathing waste of skin).

Video games don’t always really need to be fun? Is this something some people believe somewhere? Personally, I think I do believe this. I don’t know about always, but at the moment, yes. Dark Souls 2 is a prime example of a game which isn’t fun, but you play it anyway. I say not fun, because KAMI-SAMAA~ think about it for a fucking second. Deep down. Every time you died to a random fucking thing you couldn’t have seen coming because you didn’t watch YouTube videos on it, did you really say to yourself, “yeah, I fucked up, this is my bad”? Personally, no I didn’t.

Comparison time. In Dark Souls, one of the first examples of Shit I Should Have Seen Coming Part II is that one flaming barrel that barrels down the stairs at you in the Undead Burg (oh no spoilerino). If you didn’t see this coming, you’re a dumbass. Why? They straight up show you the dude. He doesn’t come out of nowhere. He doesn’t spawn in with the barrel. He’s standing there the entire time, waiting on you. And when you’re up the stairs far enough, he kicks it down. This is a good reminder that you need to be on your toes, always – since this isn’t really ever a fatal trap, I don’t think, but it can certainly wake you up.

Unlike this, you’ve got Dark Souls 2, where there are times you simply cannot possibly see things that end up happening. One example is all those explosive barrels. The black ones. Who looks at a black barrel, and says to oneself, “this barrel is going to explode if I happen to breath fire on it, throw a firebomb on it, or if someone simply hits it too hard with a gigantic fucking mace”. I don’t think anyone does. Why couldn’t they be red? Red is a good colour, it says to me, “stay the fuck back man I’m scary”. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve died to these barrels once or twice in stupid ways. But my main issue here, the first time you see these barrels, there is no possible way to know what to expect. But I’m really not here to bitch about Dark Souls 2.

This is kind of an example of gameplay which isn’t fun. It’s not fun to get your shit kicked in for a reason you straight up don’t understand, don’t see coming, or simply don’t like. I just can’t think of a better example than Dark Souls 1 and 2, because this is a case where difficulty has been blurred in a very odd way. People don’t really seem to notice, and maybe they don’t give a shit, but they’re very different games because of the way they use difficulty. Dark Souls 1 is forgiving, it allows you to play the PvE any way you like, and if you get fucked up by something, that’s your fault. Dark Souls 2 isn’t generous enough with weapons or armor, and the fact that everything is less durable than before is a pain in the ass.

I don’t really know, I’m having trouble expressing just how different they are. But it comes down to shit like animation timing, 60fps vs 30fps, the dodge frames, the fact that invuln frames are tied to adaptability, things like that. There’s so much different and wrong that it really should have just been a new game. Maybe, one day, Miyazaki-senpai (uguu~) will actually fucking tie this shit together, story-wise. But I doubt that. So you might as well call it something like, “Broken Crowns: Throne of Want”.

But yeah SERIOUSLY I need to stop complaining about Dark Souls 2.

Games need to be challenging, yes. Games do not have to be Dark Souls 2’s Fume Knight fight on NG+7, however, where you’re constantly trying to nail those frame perfect rolls, while poking him down, all that. They don’t. Low skill ceiling games are good too. People like those, and so do I. But why? Because then you can pick it up and play it with anyone. Anyone. Children are inherently good at games, because of their natural curiosity. Kids will pick up games like this and given enough time will beat the shit out of you. And that’s always good fun, because being able to connect with others through a video game is always a good experience.

Games need to be fun. But also, they don’t, because games can be art too. The Stanley Parable, The Beginner’s Guide, games like those – are they really fun? I don’t know if they’re actually fun. Is it more just simple curiosity that gets us to play through silly little stories like this? Games need mechanics, things that you can interact with, and in a way I suppose in The Stanley Parable that’s what you’re doing, you’re interacting with the narrator – he tells you to do one thing, and you, you choose to do that or something else. And then he reacts. So you’ve got that constant interaction that gives you a form of enjoyment.

The Beginner’s Guide is a game, however, that I wouldn’t consider terribly fun. The narrator there is much less interesting to listen to for those who aren’t in it for the story, or for those who simply wanted The Stanley Parable 2. You also don’t really have much of anything to interact with. You’re being guided through a series of things, and along the way you press a few buttons here or there, or read things, or whatever. It’s fascinating, really, that someone has made something so terribly meta – but seriously I digress. It’s a game that isn’t necessarily fun, but is it good?

Is the game good? That’s a question. That’s a very interesting question, for every game. Opinions, bias, and facts all play out when a person equates everything in their head and responds. I for one move that The Beginner’s Guide is a fantastic game – but then, it’s barely a game, and more of a story, so it’s more that I want to call it an interactive story but simply say game, because, well, it’s on Steam and easier to enunciate and because I don’t want to sound like a turtleneck wearing art critic.

This is where we have to continue to ask endless questions. Is it really a game? Does it matter if it’s a game or not? Is it good, then, whatever it is? I for one am not really sure I have the answer to any of these questions, and I’m not entirely certain it would or will ever be the solemn duty of anyone to actually declare any one answer to any of these questions. On a purely definition level, is The Beginner’s Guide, a game where you walk around with WASD and that’s about it, really a game? I don’t know. I suppose it is. But it’s not. You don’t really do anything. You don’t have to solve any puzzles. You don’t fight any aliens. There’s no game here. You just walk around, and listen.

I don’t really think we’re there yet, I don’t think we’re at the point where we really have to worry as to whether or not our games are truly becoming metaphysical entities transcending the dictionary. I think it’s safe to call anything that has a mouse and keyboard attached a game (or a controller of whatever the fuck it is you’re into). That, perhaps, should that be the answer? As long as you press this and that on a form of interactive plastic and metal, is that what defines a piece of content as a game? I suppose when it really comes down to it, you could say so.

Is the game good though? This is just endlessly a back and forth debate. Is Fallout 4 actually good? Here’s the list of good things, and here’s the list of bad, let’s weigh it up. It’s not really possible to form an opinion on a game by playing it. A person develops an internal opinion straight up by playing the game. It’s impossible to discern, it just happens as you’re doing it. You won’t even know you have an opinion until you wonder as to whether or not you like it, and suddenly realize, gee, I’ve been considering everything I’ve seen already, even now I have an idea of what I want to say about this.

And so, you’re never ever gonna have an unbiased opinion. Stop ever trying to say ‘unbiased’. You won’t manage it. You need to be a robot, or so clinical about the game you’re never going to actually be able to feel emotions ever again because you have an ice pick lodged in your frontal lobe. I’ve tried, with some small measure of success, to try to weigh up the pros and cons of a game, but opinions are a fickle thing, and just today I completely changed my mind about two games so many times the implications for both are still reeling inside my head, and I have more to say about the pair of them, I’m sure.

Video game journalists are a joke. Anyone who takes them seriously are off their heads. Once upon a time, I thought it’d be okay to read this and that. But nowadays I’m older and wiser. The sports section of your local paper isn’t like the upcoming games section on Kotaku or whatever the fuck people read. The sports section is filled with solid, grounded information. Facts. Perhaps predictions on upcoming matches. This is far and away nothing like what people say about video games. People say shit like, “Fallout 4 coming soon – MEGA HYPE TRAIN!!!!” when comparatively little has been revealed about it, and fuck all has been told about what will make it actually good as compared to the shit games from yesteryear.

When you’re seeing things like the news reporting things such as Tony Abbott stuttering so hard on camera he looks like a chronic alcoholic, this is (to a degree) biased information. They almost always cast such things in such a hard light as to render the poor fucking moron who used to be our prime minister a poor fucking moron, no matter which way you look at it (or read up on it, whatever). This is completely unlike the things that people like Chris Fuckface or whoever on Kotaku say about this and that, because it’s less important. Newspapers can change a vote (or a whole bunch of them), they have the power to tell lies, and many other things… just like Kotaku. They can also take bribes.

Come to think of it, what was I thinking? Everyone’s corrupt.

I don’t know what else to fucking put here, so here you go, 2000 words or so of shit. Take from it what you will. It’s all opinion anyway.