Dark Souls 2 is the third entry in the Souls franchise from From Software, a series which is renowned for is incredibly lonely environments; its visceral and complex combat, freedom of character customization and most of all its insanely high difficulty and learning curve. All of the games in this series so far have earned high critical praise and one of the most devoted hardcore community in all of gaming. Now lets take a look at how Dark Souls 2 stacks up compared to its predecessors.
Dark Souls 2's world is much different Demon Souls and Dark Souls 1. The story of Dark Souls 2 is of a lonely wanderer who is succumbing to the curse of the hollow and is slowly becoming permanently hollow. In order to try to prevent this he/she goes through a portal to the northern isle of Drangleic to seek help. Dark Souls 2 story is more guided than its two predecessors, which allows new players to be able to get into the story more easily. In order to get more of the depth and fill in the gaps you will have to do some personal research such as reading the lore, which is given with many of the games pieces of equipment. This will provide a little back story about the characters which used them or the place in which they were used. The Souls series can shine if you want it to, and this also allows the player to use his or her own interpretation to decide on the outcome of the store. Many people spent years on the previous game just looking for small parts of interesting lore so they could piece together the history of the world of Dark Souls. This can actually be used in this game. However, this is also good for the players who don't care about the story as it will not be too invasive and allow people who are focused on the gameplay aspects to just avoid most of the story all together and focus on the combat.
The world of Drangleic is both somewhat beautiful yet lonely at some points. It is the opposite of redundant though, as one area can be bright then the next can be dark and terrifying. This makes the world feel like it is real with a unique history, all of which look amazing when put side by side. They manage to make this new country fit into the world which Dark Souls established with areas that look like they were built by the same architect such as Dark Soul's Anor Londo and Dark Souls 2's Heide's Tower. From a graphical stand point Dark Souls 2 is not a vast improvement over its predecessor however there are a few subtle changes which make some of the areas of Drangleic outshine anything from Lordran. The main one of these changes is the lighting, which can make some areas look absolutely stunning when the light hits right, such as the first time I laid eyes on Majula.
Now its down to the main attraction. Dark Souls 2 adds to the unique mechanics brought fourth in Demon Souls and Dark Souls 1. The combat provides a weighty and realistic feel while also feeling incredibly satisfying. The Soul's series' combat system feels incredibly deliberate and skill based when compared to other action RPG's such as Fable and spectacle fighters such as God of War. If I could describe the combat system of the Soul's Series, I would say it is a mixture of the 3d Zelda titles and the PS2 cult beat 'em up God Hand. As for comparisons to its predecessors the game is considerably more open out of the gate allowing the player to decide which area to tackle first, and unlike Dark Souls you are able to fast travel from the very beginning of the game which is incredibly helpful. Dark Souls 2 also adopts a few features from the original Demon's Souls where the player has to return to the hub in order to level up . There are also a multitude of tweaks to the statistics which the Soul's veterans will have to adapt to.
Now if there is one thing that the Soul's series has in spades that is replayability and the newest member of the franchise is no different. The games in this series are naturally replayable because of their extraordinary depth. Then there is the vast world of Drangleic which can be explored at the players leisure. Barely half of the world will be discovered in a players first run through the game. Once the player has completed to 50+ hour plus campaign they will unlock new game plus which allows the player to face new enemies and bosses while progressing through the story for a second time. To avoid boredom in repeat playthroughs all dialogue is skippable during New Game plus, which is also very important. Finally there is also a in game covenant which significantly increases the difficulty of the game and is a great challenge for the hardcore Soul's fans.
In conclusion Dark Souls 2 is a direct side grade of its predecessor with more of the incredible depth and gameplay. It also makes some minor changes to allow it to be more approachable by new players while still being able to keep its core fan base completely intact.