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Dark Souls 2 PvP: Everybody Is Dying
PvP in Dark Souls 2 is exactly what you’d expect it to be. Most of the time, the fights are over before you know it, with either you stomping your opponent into a fine paste, or with you being horribly murdered since you do roughly the same amount of damage to players as you do to monsters. Most of the time though, it involves you attacking an enemy, watching them roll through your attacks flawlessly, and then getting mulched, but hey, that’s Dark Souls and its client side system. Not to say this is a bad thing really; it’s part of the experience we’ve become accustomed to in this game series’ PvP. We’ve come to expect some level of frustration, even in the parts where it’s other players who are griefing us instead of the game itself.
You’ve got invasions, where some jerk invades your game and murders you while you’re fighting other enemies and will immediately run away to another pack of enemies if things manage to go south for them, as well as duels and summoned duels. Invasions are pretty self-explanatory; a player uses an item or is part of a covenant that allows them to enter another players game and try and kill them. Duels are where two players enter a specific area designed for PvP and try and kill each other, and the designated zones for this include the Blue Sentinels and Brotherhood of Blood duel areas.
Lastly, you have summoned invasions, where a player summons another player to duel them by touching their equivalent of a summon sign and then fighting them when the other player arrives.You can PvP anywhere thankfully, and like the first Dark Souls there are a couple of hubs where the vast majority of the combat happens. Unlike the first game though, there are two set locations for duels and a hotspot for summon duels. The first duel arena is in the Cathedral of Blue, and the second is in the Undead Asylum. Another popular place for summon duels is in Iron Keep, which you access about halfway through the game. Belfry Sol and Luna, Doors of Pharros, and Grave of Saints are places where invasions happen very often due to being zones affiliated with covenants.
So onto the things like builds, loadouts, and tactics. Builds are important to Dark Souls 2’s PvP, and its important to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into when you run certain builds. Almost any build is functional in Dark Souls 2 PvP, and the only thing that changes is how hard you have to work in order to win, because that’s why most people are doing PvP. Additionally, you want to be wary of people who have co-op buddies ready and waiting for you to ruin your day. Nothing spells disaster like a 3v1.
First, you have your spellcasters. Typically, they have less armor and only take a couple swings to hit, but they keep you at a distance with spells that can kill most players in one or two hits if everything connects. They normally have quick weapons that can make the most use out of weapon buffs like sunlight blade, or a resonant weapon. Typically, spellcasters fall into a couple different veins depending on the type of magic they use: hexes, sorcery, or miracles. Hexes deal absurd damage and high stamina damage, but require a very high stat investment to get returns. Sorcery often uses homing spells in combination with a heavy hitting spell to kill their opponent if the homing spell clips their opponent. Miracles often just chuck various lightning bolts at you until you get close and then they switch to melee since they can afford to put points into both strength and faith. After spellcasters, you have your melee guys. These guys come in two different types usually; you have the fast guys usually wielding really quick weapons, and the slower guys who will take a hit to the face and then crush you with that great club of theirs.
Most of the time it will seem like there is no middle ground with your opponents. They will either be spell-parrying demigods who backstab you while you are attacking, or they will roll off the edge to their deaths or just die. Tactics and how you approach your enemy is what drops you into one of these two categories. Normally, you can see a lot of the basic stuff such as a character’s equipment and get a general inkling as to what they are inclined towards. Light armor that isn’t spellcaster-based? Probably a melee that will try and stunlock you to death with a couple of swings. Super heavy slow-moving guy wearing Havels? Probably just going to tank it to the face and try and power through you. Obviously you can’t guess with 100% certainty, but getting a basic idea of what your opponent is running normally is a good first step to not dying horribly. Also, a lot of the time weapons that swing in a wide arc are more common in PvP because you can catch players as they try and roll past you.
An important part of PvP is learning which attacks you can take a hit from and not get staggered so you can trade blows with your opponent. Trading is an important part of Dark Souls PvP, or in any competitive game in general, as you don’t want to just get hit and allow no repercussions for your enemy. Depending on your loadout you can play a game of chicken with certain players. For example, if you are a hex-based caster (meaning you have very high front loaded damage) you can basically goad most opponents into rushing you (besides other casters), and when they take a swing at you, if you time it properly then you will still cast the spell even when you are hit and the opponent will take the spell to the face. Most of the time, people will eventually take a swing at you, and that’s when you need to decide whether you plan to trade and hit your opponent while taking their hit as well. When you trade, it’s important to remember that you only want to trade when you will deal more damage, or you will otherwise put yourself in an advantageous situation. You want to trade up, not down.