Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin

Key events

From Software's Souls series is notorious for its punishing difficulty. Yet just being hard wasn't enough for some people. They needed to make things extra hard. Do things like completing the entire game without ever levelling up or using a shield. Then other people had to come along and put those already impressive tasks to shame by playing these games with cumbersome guitar or bongo controllers, completing a campaign without getting hit, or figuring out buff concoctions that can fell colossal bosses in one hit.

FeatureFinding the humanity in Dark Souls 2

Jeffrey revisits Drangleic in From Software's divisive sequel.

Dark Souls 2 is a strange game, though its weirdness emanates from just how conventional it is - especially given it's part of a series known for forging new boundaries. Over a year ago I wrote about revisiting Demon's Souls and being delighted to find it the freshest, riskiest and most experimental title in From's recent action-RPG line-up. Dark Souls, despite technically being set in a different universe, superficially does the whole sequel thing - it adds more levels, more monsters, more spells, and more varied environments to an already winning template, but joined the dots in one glorious interconnected world.

Twitch completes Dark Souls

After modding it into a turn-based game.

Six weeks ago thousands of players took to playing the same game of Dark Souls, simultaneously, over Twitch. As you would expect, this poor Chosen Undead's rampant case of multiple personality disorder made them unable to even get past the starting area. At one point they destroyed their only weapon after smashing it against a wall too many times. Things were not going well, to put it mildly. So channel TwitchPlaysDark modded the game to make it a turn-based affair.

Dark Souls series sales surpass 8.5 million

The brilliant Dark Souls series has surpassed 8.5m sales, and more than 3.25m of those were on PC.

The numbers come from a Japanese presentation by From Software, reported by Famitsu and relayed/made sense of on NeoGAF.

According to the numbers:

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Dark Souls 2 patch will fix weapon degradation bug

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin introduced many new challenges to From Software's epic action-RPG, such as new enemy placements, fiercer foe AI, and... less durable weapons? It turns out this last one wasn't an intentional design choice, but was actually a glitch. And it's something From will be addressing in its next patch.

This peculiar bug made it so weapon degradation was tied to the game's framerate, somehow. This meant that the PC version on a nice kit has always been hampered by this glitch, only now it's true of the current-gen console versions as well since Scholar of the First Sin runs at 60fps on PS4 and Xbox One.

From has since addressed the issue in a statement to Kotaku where it said the next patch will resolve the issue. "The fix will be issued for PS4, Steam and Xbox One, and will be apparent for people running the game at 60fps as the durability decrease rate is linked to the frame rate," From clarified. "We are still working on the exact release date for the patch, which will also fix additional issues not just durability, and will follow up with the date as soon as possible."

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Face-Off: Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin

The definitive edition? PC's DirectX 11 upgrade compared with console.

The PC release of Dark Souls 2's Scholar of the First Sin edition is a curious value proposition, ranging from a £12 upgrade on Steam to a £30 standalone purchase. After seeing PlayStation 4 and Xbox One push out two visually identical renditions of the game - albeit with a performance lead on Sony's platform - this refreshed DirectX 11 edition on PC brings its own unique benefits. But does it represent enough of a boost over what the original DirectX 9 version offers to justify either end of its price range?

As with its current-gen versions, Scholar of the First Sin paints the entirety of Drangleic in a brand-new light. The higher-contrast lighting of the PS4 and Xbox One releases makes it to PC by default, and surprisingly there's no toggle in its graphics menu to revert to the old DirectX 9 setting. It's an improved look overall, thankfully; a brighter, more vivid aesthetic that makes the original Dark Souls 2 appear dull by comparison. This extends to its effects too, volumetric fog and transparencies now producing light that affects the surrounding area.

Changes to the PC's graphics options are minimal, but we get a three-way toggle for screen-space ambient occlusion this time. The original PC version's AO method is positioned as the lowest setting now, and produces the same dithering effect as last-gen consoles. The next step up is medium, noticeably increasing its thickness and spread across objects - an upgrade easy to catch by eye. Moving to the high setting marks a less obvious change, but on close inspection the spread of shade behind objects expands very slightly further. This is an area that we felt was lacking in its original PC release, and it's great to see a better option made available.

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What curious - and many would say slightly misguided - timing it is that brings From Software's two most recent games head to head, with the Dark Souls 2 new generation remaster coming out only a week after the developer's PS4 debut Bloodborne. It's also a little unfortunate for Dark Souls 2; Souls fans have been putting Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura's sequel up against Hidetaka Miyazaki's own entries ever since it came out last March, and the results have never really been in Dark Souls 2's favour.

Performance Analysis: Dark Souls 2

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Dark Souls 2

The Scholar of the First Sin remaster compared on PS4 and Xbox One.

Set to be the definitive console version of Dark Souls 2, Scholar of the Last Sin gets a worthwhile debut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In line with last-gen releases of this Scholar edition, each bundles in all DLC to date, adding brand new characters and tangents to its plot, with a slew of gameplay tweaks. Meanwhile, upgrades like more complex enemy layouts, improved lighting and superior effects adorn the current-gen releases - though the elusive Xbox One version comes with baggage not seen on PS4.

As a starting point, both consoles get the basics right. There are no drawbacks on the resolution front: this is a true 1920x1080 game on PS4, and a pixel count reveals it's the very same situation on Xbox One, with both backed by FXAA anti-aliasing. It's an interesting result given the console's trend of adopting lower native resolutions than PS4 to secure a smooth frame-rate, or to achieve parity in graphical features. However, Dark Souls 2's lock at 1080p plants it in the upper echelons of multi-format releases so far, at least in terms of visuals.

From a core graphical standpoint, both platforms are also entirely on par. We get a 13GB install on PS4 here, while Xbox One demands a slimmer 12.1GB chunk of HDD space, but the end turnout is the same. Each frame pushed by either console reveals the new lighting model is in play (boosting contrast, while adding light properties to alpha effects) alongside high-quality shadows, while texture assets are matched for quality across the board.

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Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin's PC upgrade priced

UPDATE: £12 upgrade if you already own Dark Souls 2 and all DLC.

UPDATE 2ND APRIL: Upgrading to the remastered 64-bit, DirectX 11 version of Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin will cost you £20 on Steam. If you already own all the DLC you get 40 per cent off, bringing it down to £12.

Digital FoundryIs Bloodborne the next-gen Souls you've been waiting for?

And where does that leave the Dark Souls 2 remaster?

Despite its frame-pacing issues and long load times, Bloodborne is still very much worth the rush of commotion it's receiving this week. The game sits high in the hierarchy of quality PS4 exclusives, its only real competition in the gameplay stakes coming via From Software's very own remaster of Dark Souls 2, due out next week. With a new enemy layout, improved lighting and 1080p60 gameplay, the remaster's bid for relevancy is strong, but does Scholar of the First Sin keep up on technical grounds, or does Sony's exclusive steal the show?

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin's release date brought forward a week

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin's release date has been brought forward in Europe to 2nd April on PS4, Xbox One and PC, Bandai Namco has announced.

It was previously scheduled for release on 7th April.

The Scholar of the First Sin remastering is a little confusing in that half of its features are exclusive to its re-release while the other half are already available as a free update to the original game.

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Digital FoundryTech Analysis: Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin

The definitive edition? The PS4 remaster stacked up against the PC original.

The PlayStation 4 release of Dark Souls 2 is poised to be the best way to revisit Drangleic on console - a true 1080p title adorned with countless visual upgrades over last-gen. However, the Scholar of the First Sin remaster is also due for PC; a DirectX 11 reworking that adds many of the enhancements seen on PS4. With access to more powerful hardware, this could make it the definitive release, but as PC owners already enjoy the current game at 1080p60 and beyond, is the upgrade really necessary?

Digital FoundryDigital Foundry: Hands-on with Dark Souls 2 on PS4

Early analysis of Scholar of the First Sin.

Due out on April 7th, Dark Souls 2 makes its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One debut with Scholar of the First Sin - a new edition that tweaks enemy positions, adds a new thread to its story, and ties together all updates and DLC chapters released so far. Part remix, part remaster, both platforms also boost its visuals and frame-rate to a level we haven't seen before on console. We can expect texture updates and a bump to 1080p of course - but comparisons with last-gen also show some surprising twists elsewhere.

Dark Souls 2's Scholar of the First Sin update adds a new ending

Dark Souls 2's free Scholar of the First Sin update, which came out earlier today, has made numerous mild changes to the game. But the most important one is this: It has a new, optional ending.

Delving into what that entails is obviously going to be SPOILER-FILLED, so turn back now, ye reader, if you don't want to know.

Okay, still with me? Read on...

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Dark Souls 2 details its Scholar of the First Sin patch

Dark Souls 2 details its Scholar of the First Sin patch

Due in early Feb, adds better matchmaking and more lore.

Dark Souls 2 will be getting an update on 5th February for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC that will add the new content coming to The Scholar of the First Sin edition of From Software's beloved fantasy adventure.

Changes are numerous and mostly quite small, but here are a few of the more notable ones: The patch will add a new character, the titular Scholar of the First Sin, entering the Covenant of Champions will cause enemies to respawn indefinitely and deal more damage, white phantoms will no longer be beholden to a time limit when squaring off against a boss in another player's game, load times will be shorter on PS3, and there will be "additional item description text," which will ostensibly expand the game's already sprawling lore.

There's also an all new item, the Agape Ring. "When players equip the new Agape Ring, souls collected from kills during online play will be absorbed by the ring rather than the player. This allows players to control their online matchmaking experience by limiting their total souls collected," the description reads. In short, it allows players to not get overpowered.

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Dark Souls 2 heading to PS4 and Xbox One

New version also on PC/PS3/360. Free patch adds some extras for existing owners.

Namco Bandai - or Bandai Namco if you're feeling saucy - has announced that From Software's Dark Souls 2 is heading to new-gen consoles next year.