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Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King Review


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On 08/21/2014 at 12:05 PM by Chris Yarger

Take the best parts of Dark Souls II, add in some clarity, mix with a smidge of higher difficulty, and voila!
RECOMMENDATION:

A must have for any Souls fan! Seriously, go buy this DLC as soon as possible.

Dark Souls 2 was a great game despite the overlapping positive/negative feelings from its fans. When the three-piece DLC pack was initially announced, I pondered if it was truly a great idea since expanding on closed cases can sometimes fray loose ends. Sure, Dark Souls 2 wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t as bad as some insisted either. With the scent of the Sunken Crown lingering in the air, I was poised to see how it would tie in to the original DS2 storyline, even while I feared that over-expansion could ruin what made it so great. Thankfully I was happy with what I was given.

Crown of the Sunken King is full of surprises, but the biggest surprise was how easily accessible it was when compared to how blind the players felt when trying to access Artorias of the Abyss for Dark Souls 1. As soon as you fire up Dark Souls 2 and enter the lands of Drangleic, you instantly find an item within your inventory that points you in the right general direction, as well as the ominous obelisk in Majula which now blatantly tells you where you go. I was a bit taken aback by this approach considering the hell some players had to endure to find the DLC entrance in Dark Souls 1, and I feared the worst considering a game such as this was basically hand feeding me everything I needed. But once I stepped through those gates deep down within The Gutter and entered the realm of the Sunken King, any fears of ease and over-accessibility were ceased and shattered, much like my skull and will.

Crown of the Sunken King is hard, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. While Souls games are notorious for their difficulty, CoSK truly punishes you in ways you’ve never been beaten before. For starters, poisonous enemies are crawling throughout the entire DLC as well as enemies who petrify and break your equipment. Dealing with status effects hugely influence how you approach your enemies, and mass stocking poison/petrification reduction items becomes a necessity as opposed to a luxury. Enemies seemingly lurk around every corner, and they always appear in groups, yet they are easily lured into one on one fights. The bosses are no joke either; from an optional boss featuring three different enemies versus you to a poison/fire spewing dragon, CoSK shows that it will only be given to those who are deemed worthy to hold it.

While the enemies and bosses proved to be interesting at every turn, the most remarkable part of the DLC was the world and how it was presented. From the moment you find your first Bonfire (which are now few are far between), you’re presented with the entire world as viewed from the top of the crevice. You can easily peer over the ledge and see where you’ll end up as you progress, and while a complete overarching view is nothing new in a Souls game, that first view is simply an awe inspiring moment that showcases how big of an expansion this truly is. What separates this world from the standard world of Drangleic in terms of design concepts though is how it’s laid out. Drangleic was laid out much like the web of a drunken spider, whereas the realm of the Sunken King is tiered and heavily reliant on opening different shortcuts and labyrinthine exploration. When you add in switches that activate various mechanisms such as doorways and pillars that can serve as elevators, you’ll find yourself constantly going back and forth looking to see if you missed any other accessible route, punctuating how insanely well designed this maze really is.

Within the DLC are new items and spell expansions offering new lore not only pertaining to the Crown of the Sunken King, but also expanding and tightening the lore of the main game (finally) as well. While it was not the plethora of items I was personally expecting, the uniqueness of each new piece made for interesting finds. These particular items now have new abilities never before seen within a Souls game, such as poisoning the user merely by handling the weapon, to increasing poison potency by equipping certain gauntlets, or even a shield that can cast miracles and sorceries.

Finding fault in the Crown of the Sunken King is incredibly tough to do. If a finger were to be pointed at any one particular thing, it would be the staggering difficulty feels at times. While the content is manageable, you’ll still feel gimped when the game decides to throw a surplus amount of enemies towards you at once, and you’ll feel even more slighted when you realize that all of those particular enemies can either destroy your equipment or petrify you for an insta-kill. But as I said, it can be managed, and with proper patience and the will to not snap your controller, you will always find victory in your future -- even when you lose 100,000 Souls and punch your neighbor through a wall.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

asrealasitgets

08/21/2014 at 08:02 PM

It's a rare occurance, but I think when all of the DLC is released it will make DS2 a much better game, considering the more challenging/difficult parts of it will be in the expansions. I'm not in the camp that thinks DS2 is a bad game, but it isn't my favorite of the three, Demon's Souls being my fav, then DS1. I thought the DLC was very hard. I navigated through it all, but its really tough. Especially that optional boss battle with 3 enemies at the same time? Sure one of them can be nerfed, but still, having to get through a whole cave full of poison, in the dark, and then deal with the 3? I really feel like this game was meant for over leveled characters. The people complaining that the game is too easy was the main audience, but even those players went in over leveled. I try not to over level. I try to push through with whatever build I have and get into a fist fight. I hate making it easy. 

I think this DLC is setting up for more difficult DLC this month and next.  

Chris Yarger Community Manager

08/25/2014 at 06:45 AM

This DLC was absolutely incredible, and I can't wait to get my hands on part two tomorrow.
whoa.. that is tomorrow isn't?

xDarthKiLLx

08/21/2014 at 09:03 PM

I'm getting all 3 of the DLC's for my birthday next month.  Can't wait....I've had to restrain myself from looking up the lore on the internet for CoSK.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

08/25/2014 at 06:45 AM

Ah.. Avoiding spoilers is tough, good luck to you man!

KnightDriver

08/27/2014 at 02:59 PM

I was surprised to discover you can play Dark Souls II co-op. I don't think I could convince my usual gaming buddy to play this though. Too hard core. I'll get to it sometime myself though - love this game world.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

08/28/2014 at 04:58 PM

All the Souls games have been co-op so far. And while the co-op aspects are fun, it's sometimes is infuriating trying to sync servers so you can play together. It's not as easy as invite and play.

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