October 20, 2011 by Tim

I’ve conquered my first Dark Souls playthrough, clocking it at about ninety hours. Overall, it was incredibly enjoyable… definitely a serious contender for my game of the year. I know most people are already calling Skyrim “GOTY”, but I don’t know… it’s going to be hard to top Dark Souls for me.

That’s not to say I though Dark Souls was perfect… I have a couple of gripes. The biggest of which involved the online aspect. It just felt a little broken to me. And I’m not talking about “Waah, I can’t co-op with my buddy” like the sort of whining I see on forums from people who went into Dark Souls with no clue what the “multiplayer” was supposed to be like.

Rather, in general the online portion didn’t always seem to function the way it was designed. From a cooperative standpoint, I’d hit droughts wherein I’d both find no summoning signs and not be summoned for entire areas or chunks of levels. And then I’d hit times where it would be phantom-summoning aplenty. It was very hit or miss, with a lot of “summoning failed” messages inbetween.

I might be willing to chalk a lot of that up to the Xbox 360 “Souls” community being in its infancy. There is no 360 version in Japan, so Xbox users miss out on that whole community of players populating the servers (something I forgot to take into account when choosing my platform). Additionally, even stateside PS3 owners have been enjoying Demon’s Souls for a couple of years, so there’s an established group of people that know how multiplayer works, etc.

Either way, I don’t think there’s any reason that might explain how broken PVP seems to be in its current state. “Invasion Failed” is an incredibly common message. And whats worse, the cracked red eye orbs get consumed even if the invasion fails… so people aren’t going to waste those if they know they have a 99% chance of not connecting.

Even players in the Darkwraith covenant with the red stone that they can spam rarely get a successful invasion.

I joined the Gravelord covenant for a time, excited about using the Death Eyes to create trouble in other players’ games, and tempting them to invade me to set their worlds aright. Totally broken. The covenant doesn’t work at all like it’s supposed to. I used a Death Eye and sat around for nearly an hour. Nobody invaded me, and I never got any souls from the supposed infected players. It just wasn’t working.

I finally joined the Darkmoon Blade covenant, since it seemed to be the only one with a high percentage rate of invasions, but even that mostly only worked through the ring they give you. Purposely trying to invade with the blue stone rarely ever worked.

I hear we’re still 1-2 patches behind the Japanese version of the game, so hopefully they’ll get some of that stuff worked out. It’ll be a month or two before I embark on my NG+ playthrough, but I’m already really looking forward to it, and hopefully the online component will be a little more hassle-free.

In the meantime though, I’m getting my ass kicked up and down the block by Arkham City on hard mode, and I can’t figure out why. I guess I’m just out of practice from my Arkham Asylum days, but group fights are taking me three to four tries to get past, and I’m currently pumping all of my level ups into reduced damage from melee attacks just to try and survive.

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