PC gamers get to enjoy (?) the delights (?) of Dark Souls II.
After a short wait during which keyboards were polished and monitors were given a protective covering, Dark Souls II arrived on the PC in all of its glory. From Software and Bandai Namco can now sit back and watch PC gamers around the UK pull their hair out in frustration as they try desperately to make their way through this incredibly difficult, but oh so enjoyable, action RPG. Having already played the game on the Xbox360, I approached my gaming rig with more than a little trepidation…
There is no denying that Dark Souls II is a brilliant, yet punishing, game. In this PC version, nothing has really changed when it comes to the core gameplay, the tight combat mechanics, the slowly revealed story, the high level of difficulty which is still slightly easier than the previous game. Even the threat of the tutorial area remains, only this time I knew what to expect so didn’t fall foul. For all of the information on the oppressive world of Drangleic and the relative serenity of Majula, the place that players will return to over and again if only for the gorgeous sunset, check out my Xbox360 review of the game.
However, as is always the case, PC versions can have their differences from the console versions of the same game, altering the quality of the players’ adventure. With Dark Souls II, there are positive and negatives to this port, none of which change the core game or, essentially, how much it can be enjoyed.
On a positive note, there are certain aspects that PC gamers would expect. The visuals of the game are still very, very nice. In fact, there are even some improvements in the PC version. There are a range of resolutions and customisation options that will improve the look of the game no matter what sort of gaming rig you happen to be using. The frame rate is also silky smooth, which is no small thing.
There are also little improvements to the way the game looks throughout. Little things that may be unnoticeable by themselves, but for someone who has played the previously released console version, the game will look better. I am not entirely sure how many gamers will want to venture in Drangleic on PC after already having done so on console, but for those that do, the improvement is there. Notably, the shadows look much better, even though the lighting in the game is pretty much the same.
Another difference is that the loading times are substantially shorter. Again, its not a huge deal, and will be wasted on anyone who has not enjoyed the loading screens of the console version, but it all adds to the fact that this is the better version of Dark Souls II for those who care.
Or at least it would be, were it not for the controls. There is something kind of aggravating about control prompts popping up on your PC monitor that are referring to the Xbox controller. Yeah, we know that Dark Souls II on PC is a port, but you don’t have to rub our noses in it. Mind you, plugging in an Xbox360 controller is probably the best way to enjoy the game.
There are plenty of control options available, and the standard mouse and keyboard controls can be modified to a degree. But full control mapping is just not allowed, and many PC gamers will find themselves dancing their fingers over the keyboard as they struggle to control the game. Using the keyboard and mouse, even with the option to customise the controls to a degree, will require patience and nimble digits.
So yeah, improved visuals and less than perfect controls. I would say that pretty much evens the game out. Dark Souls II is a brilliant and highly enjoyable game, with equal measures of frustration thrown in. Gamers will play the version for the platform they own, so it doesn’t really matter which is the better example of the game. For those that own both a PC and a console, the chances are that you have already jumped into the console version. But if you are stuck deciding which version to pick up, there really is nothing in it. Flip a coin – you are going to die a lot either way.