The video gaming world is exploding with today’s release of Dark Souls II. If you’re on Twitter and you don’t want to hear about it, now would be a good time to disable your account or take a break because it’s going to be all over the place for the foreseeable future. I’ve dropped nearly 300 hours into Dark Souls on PC, and every second of it has been incredible. I’m generally not a big ‘day one’ purchaser of video games, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be getting the sequel as soon as I’m able to.
I’m totally excited for Dark Souls II except for one small detail…I’m a PC gamer, which means I have to wait until April 25th to be able to play it. I feel bad not being able to participate in what will most certainly be the mass experience much like when GTA V came out last year. Do I feel so bad that I’m willing to buy a PS3 though? Not really. The good news is that I couldn’t care less about spoilers so that part of things doesn’t bother me. While everybody else is engaging in the masochistic fun of Dark Souls II however, it looks like I need to fill the next month with some creative ways of punishing myself before the PC version comes out. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with.
Do Some Crazy Runs in Dark Souls
With all the time I’ve spent in the first Dark Souls, I haven’t really strayed far from the path as far as trying different classes and play-styles. Perhaps it’s time to try out a Soul Level One playthrough, just to see how far I get. If that doesn’t do the trick, maybe I’ll try my hand at sorcery. I think the ultimate masochistic hobby however may be to do a Deprived run, where I play as a naked undead armed with a wood plank and club. If I really feel like harming myself, perhaps I’ll get myself a whip (the worst weapon one can get, I’m told) and go full-on Castlevania. If nothing else, it would make encounters with even the most rudimentary enemies a series of epic battles.
The only real problem with doing stuff in Dark Souls is that it’s only going to remind me that I’m not playing Dark Souls II, and that’s a bummer. Well, if we’re thinking about video games that leave you feeling demoralized and beaten down, that can mean only one thing…
Learn How to Play a MOBA
I’ve played a bit of Dota 2 after doing some reading up about it. What I’ve learned so far is:
1. The worst thing you can do is ‘feed’ the other team by dying a lot, and…
2. I die a lot.
I’ve only played against bots thus far because I don’t want to jump into a situation where I’m getting yelled at by people who are good at the game. However, maybe now it’s time to jump in and fill up all that hate like a sponge. This reserve will most certainly come in handy when I’m learning how to play Dark Souls II and constantly getting invaded by people who have been playing it for a month.
Speaking of getting regularly abused by other players and being powerless to stop it…
One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Souls games is the ability to invade and be invaded by other players. While it is a risk associated with making your character human (and thus more powerful), it was easily avoided by remaining hollow for much of these games. With Dark Souls II, there is an added wrinkle that players will lose maximum health by dying when hollow, which means that becoming human will be more necessary. What does this mean? Constant invasion and endless griefing opportunities.
There’s only one way to get ready for this type of experience, and that’s to dive into DayZ; an environment which consists of nothing to do but screw over other players and steal all their items. It’s a rare thing to last more than about 10 minutes in this world, and it’s even rarer to find someone you can trust. If you can hack it though, DayZ will give you nerves of steel and make the treachery you’ll inevitably encounter in Dark Souls II feel downright benign in comparison.
Become Addicted to an MMO
One genre of game I’ve pretty much steered clear of over the past decade is the MMO. A combination of lack of time, along with an aversion to endless fetch quests has kept me from really digging in. Perhaps I should try my hand at spacefaring in EVE Online. Between learning the intricacies of operating a tiny ship with the ridiculously complex nature of surviving and thriving in this universe would surely leave me in the fetal position by the time Dark Souls II comes out.
On the other hand, maybe the best way to engage in masochism is to commit to World of Warcraft. There’s a shit-ton of content available and the game itself is pretty easy. Honestly though, becoming addicted to this game would be less a punishment of myself and more of my family as I become a stranger in my own home. Perhaps going more ‘old school’ is a better idea; maybe I should…
Play System Shock 2
On standard difficulty, the BioShock games are pretty much a cakewalk for anybody who is remotely experienced with FPS games. While this can be addressed by ramping things up, the real challenge lies in playing the title that really put Irrational Games on the map: System Shock 2. The spiritual predecessor to the more modern Shock games is very much a late 1990s shooter/RPG hybrid most notable for being incredibly difficult. Having picked it up on GOG a while ago, I have to say it lives up to its reputation.
Its difficulty is about more than just having enemies that are hard to kill; items and ammo are scarce, respawning comes at a cost, and wayfinding is of the ‘walk this corridor 50 times until you find the hidden door’ variety. I’ve only ever gotten a little way through it, but I’ve got a month to kill and maybe it will toughen me up for dealing with having the deck stacked so high against me.
Play competitive StarCraft 2
I’m sure those Korean players aren’t THAT good at Starcraft 2, right? I’ll have a go and see if I measure up. By the way, does anybody know what the difference between Zerg and Protoss is? Whatever, I’ll figure it out…After all, it’s a long wait until April 25th.
So, PC enthusiasts: Since you have to wait for a month to play Dark Souls II, how are you planning to spend that time? What’s a punishing game experience that you’d recommmend?