New Series: Dark Souls Remastered–Saving Solaire (EP 1)

We are Osuria, a cleric and scholar who has studied the Age of Ancients, the Age of Fire and the Undead Curse that plagues our world for years. Through our studies we know this curse and this cycle has affected many worlds, and they key to stopping the curse is ensuring the fire is kindled in the world where all of this began. One name has shown up repeatedly in our research–Solaire.

In order to save Solaire–and our world as well–we must sacrifice everything. Forsaking our faith and our humanity, we will travel to Lordran and become an vessel for chaos so that Solaire may bring order to the world.

But first, we must slay the demon who patrols the Undead Asylum.



About Dark Souls:

Dark Souls is an action role-playing game developed by FromSoftware and published by Namco Bandai Games. Dark Souls is a third-person action role-playing game. The core mechanic of the game is exploration. Players are encouraged by the game to proceed with caution, learn from past mistakes, or find alternate areas to explore. The player character is a cursed undead, locked away in an undead asylum. After escaping the asylum, the player travels to Lordran to ring the Bells of Awakening, where they meet undead from other worlds, such as Solaire of Astora. The bells awaken Kingseeker Frampt, who tells the player to brave Sen’s Fortress and ascend to Anor Londo. In Anor Londo, Gwynevere instructs the player to succeed Lord Gwyn and fulfill the prophecy. To accomplish this, the Lord Souls must be acquired from all the Lords and returned to the flame.


Co-Op Critics Podcast: NYCC 2015 Wrap-Up

In the latest episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast, Brian and Nick recap their trip to New York Comic Con, and discuss some of the games that were on the show floor at this year’s show, including Dark Souls 3 and Just Cause 3. They also talk about what big games they’re gearing up for this holiday season.

You can listen to the episode right here in the player above, and check out our SoundCloud page for all the back episodes!

NOTE: The game of the month for November on Co-Op Critics will be Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. We’ll be featuring videos all month and a podcast at the end of November to discuss our thoughts on the game.


Check Out Our Dueling Dark Souls Let’s Plays!

This is a very exciting month for me. For those of you that follow the blog and our Co-Op Critics podcast, you know we spotlight one game a month for the show. This month’s game is Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, and I could not be happier.

I am a HUGE Souls games fan. I’ve put over 400 hours into the first three games, and I’m currently making my way through Bloodborne (in a Let’s Play series you can check out here). I’m also an evangelist for the games, so when Nick agreed to take the Souls plunge and play Dark Souls II, I was ecstatic. I’d played through once on the PS3, but with the Scholar of the First Sin edition, there are some changes that make the game challenging even for returning players.


Clearing My Gaming Slate for Bloodborne

I usually have three or four games that I’m playing at any given time, seeing as I play on pretty much every platform out there. But there are certain releases that I know will be taking a huge commitment of my time, so I try to clean out my gaming slate before I start them. Dragon Age: Inquisition was one of those games, but that was just a warmup for the game that comes out tomorrow–Bloodborne.

I will be writing, talking and making videos about Bloodborne for the next several months, so I’m not going to talk too much about the game itself here, except to say it’s my most anticipated of the year by a country mile. I’ve put at least 400 hours into the Souls series of games, and I expect I’ll put no less than 100-150 into Bloodborne. That kind of time commitment–especially when I don’t have a ton f time to game–requires sacrifices to made.

I won’t be picking up Borderlands: The Handsome Collection tomorrow, as I know I won’t have time for it (but Nick’s grabbing it, so expect to see some videos here and on the YouTube page). I finished Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dying Light and The Order: 1886. The only other game I have going right now is Battlefield: Hardline, and that will be mainly for multiplayer with my Xbox friends over the next couple months.

But the end of March and all of April will be about one game–Bloodborne. And I can’t wait to dive in. Expect a ton of let’s plays, highlight videos and blog posts about the game over the next several weeks.

What was the last game you cleared out your gaming slate for? What’s coming up that you need to make room for?


E3 2014: What I’m Most Excited About (Part 2)–Bloodborne

The other day I talked about the new Crackdown as the first of my top three E3 announcements. The next one on my list came from Sony’s E3 presentation, and it’s the thing I’m most excited about coming out of E3.

Sony finally revealed “Project Beast” at E3 2014, and it wasn’t the Demon’s Souls successor that some were thinking developer From Software was working on. Project Beast is actually Bloodborne, a very Lovecraftian-looking, gothic horror game that is definitely inspired by Demon’s Souls, but not beholden to it. Check out the trailer:

Now, that trailer doesn’t show any gameplay, but we have seen this leaked footage from the game in action, with a nice breakdown by YouTube user VaatiVidya:

Between the world and creature design, Bloodborne certainly has the markings of a From Software game. But watching the main character wielding a shotgun also says this is a pretty stark departure from what we know the Souls series to be. it was further confirmed that there are no shields in Bloodborne, so the emphasis is clearly on having more dynamic, fast-paced combat.

I know some may disappointed that Bloodborne isn’t more of a direct Demon’s Souls sequel, but I could not be more excited. As a horror fan, the world design is right up my alley. And as a fan of the Souls games, I’m still playing Dark Souls 2 and we know we’ll get more in that series moving forward. Having a sister series begin with Bloodborne would be awesome, and the game looks to be offering something that you can’t get in the current Souls games.

I am VERY excited about this one.


Dark Souls II’s Informal Quest System

One of the many things I love about the Souls games is the organic way that quests emerge during a playthrough. There’s no quest system per se, but as you figure out your character build and playstyle, you will find yourself questing for items, spells and upgrades to complement how you are approaching a particular playthrough. This will lead to gaming session where you are not trying to complete a particular level, but rather find an item, or battle an enemy over and over in hopes of getting an item drop.

I have been playing a Hex build for my first time through Dark Souls II, and it’s been an interesting challenge. Because of the hybrid nature of the build (Faith/Int), you don’t really start to become powerful until later on in the game. Hexes require either a certain Faith score or a certain Int score, and certain hexes require different catalysts to cast. These factors are what led to the quest I was on last night–to get a Black Witch’s Staff from the Leydia Witches in Undead Crypt. The Black Witch’s Staff allows you to cast miracles, sorceries and hexes, meaning I would no longer need to switch between spell casting items during combat, and I would only need one equip slot for spell casting.

And so, I ventured back into the Undead Crypt, a very difficult area of the game that I’d completed recently, but needed to revisit, as it is the home of the Leydia Witches. The Leydia Witches are very cool from a lore standpoint. They worship the god of disease, and they can cast multiple forms of magic. They were once good, but abused their power and were killed, their spirits now forced to serve as guardians of the Crypt. From a gameplay standpoint, the witches are very powerful, casting spells that can make quick work of you if they land. When you kill them, there is a chance they will drop a Black witch’s Staff, but no guarantee.

So, my quest was to battle the witches in hopes of getting a staff. Luckily, there is a room not far from the first bonfire in the undead Crypt that houses three Leydia Witches. It also contains four Undead Prisoners, and is an absolute deathtrap if you don’t approach it carefully.

And this is what’s so great about Dark Souls II. This one room became a 45-minute quest for me. Because my character is a spellcaster, running into the room, dodging attacks and meleeing everyone was not an option. The witches are all lined across the far end of the room, and they begin casting Affinity (like homing magic missiles of death) as soon as you enter. Each time I battled them, I had to first lure out the four Undead prisoners and kill them so it was just me and the witches. I then actually had to run past them, dodging attacks along the way, and get to the room behind them to get better position. From there, I used Lightning Bolts and Soul Spears to take them out one by one.

Each run through that room took me about ten minutes, and it wasn’t until my fourth try that I finally got one of them to drop the staff I needed. It was worth it, though.

That’s just one example of the informal quest system that emerges while you play through a Souls game. There will be times where you make suicide runs into areas that are way to difficult, just to grab an item or weapon before dying. The hunt for items, weeapons and upgrades brings you back to areas you’ve already completed. And the type of items or weapons will depend on your build and style, so each playthrough will involve different quests.

This is just another aspect of the brilliant design of the Souls games, and the reason they are so replayable. Over seventy hours in, I’m still questing for odds and ends to perfect my build.

I love this game.

In the video below, you’ll see someone play through the room containing the three withches. This eprson had a much stronger bow than i do, and they smartly used a ranged approach with the witches. The Affinity spell they are casting is awesome, and the reason this person is not taking a lot more damage is beacuse they never take a full hit from one of an entire group of projectiles.


Dark Souls II–The Plateau

As I approach the 50-hour mark into my first playthrough of Dark Souls II, I’ve hit what I like to think of as “The Plateau.” My character is level 76, and I’m at a point where levels cost enough that I have to really think about where I’m spending my souls (the game’s currency). I’ve also unlocked the ability to really start upgrading some of my gear, which is also an investment that requires a lot of thought.

It’s this point in the game where my character build really starts to come together. I’ve gone with a Hex build, which requires an investment both in Faith and Intelligence, as it’s a hybrid spellcasting class. So, my “go to” spells are getting set, and I’m zeroing in on the armor and weapons I will most likely use for the rest of the game.

During this period, I do a lot of exploring, going back to areas I’ve already cleared and grabbing items I may have missed, as well as dropping my summon sign and letting people bring me in for co-op.

While some players might feel like this part of the game is a grind, I really enjoy it. There aren’t the big and quick jumps in level like the early game, but that’s fine with me. “The Plateau” is where I really get to know my character, and ready myself for the push through the rest of the game.

‘Return to the Nexus’ Community Event Starts Today at 4PM EST

YouTube user Peeve Peeverson has set up a pretty cool community event leading up to tonight’s late night server test of Dark Souls 2. At 4PM EST, he’s inviting Demon’s Souls players to come back to the game and start a new playthrough. The event is called Return to the Nexus, and he put together a cool video to promote it. Check it out:

Peeve will be live streaming some of his playthrough over on Twitch TV at

I’ll be jumping in and starting a fresh playthrough, as I will take any excuse I can get to keep playing either of the Souls games.


NYCC 2013: Dark Souls 2 Demo Impressions

I finally got a chance to play Dark Souls II at New York Comic Con this past weekend, and my anticipation for this game is now at a fever pitch.

The demo I played was the same one that was at TGS and SDCC, which featured the Mirror Knight as the area boss. The area begins at a bonfire and you quickly descend a ladder into what appears to be some sort of crypt or catacombs.

While I didn’t get a ton of time with it, I found Dark Souls II to be a great blend of familiar and new. Basic movement combat and item selection was the same, so I had little trouble jumping in and navigating the game. Where I found things to be pleasantly different however, was in the enemy encounters.

There are still plenty of enemies that you can take on one at a time, but Dark Souls II seems to take a more mixed approach in general. I found that most of my encounters involved two or more enemies, and frequently enemies of different types. Enemies also came from different directions, so I couldn’t take the same slow, plodding approach that most early playthroughs of Souls games required. The enemies were more cleverly designed as well, like the tortoise-armored brutes that would fall backwards on top of you if you tries to backstab them.

Another great addition is the torch mechanic. Dark Souls featured an area (Tomb of the Giants) where you needed to switch out your shield for a lantern in order to see (unless you had the Cast Light spell). In Dark Souls II, you carry a torch that you can light in certain places, as there are areas that are completely dark. This seems to be much more of a core feature in Dark Souls II, so the choice of using the torch or going in blind with a shield will be one you have to make more often. It adds a new layer to encounters, which also adds more tension.

Sadly, I didn’t make it to the Mirror Knight in my playthrough, as I had to step aside and let someone else play. But, in my short time with Dark Souls II, it was clear that the game still has everything I’ve loved about the series, as well as a new level of complexity to deal with. I cannot wait to sink hundreds of hours into this one come March.


Defenders of the Faith–Part 2: At Home in the Catacombs

Ahh, the Catacombs. An area of Dark Souls I previously hated, but have grown to love playing through them with my Faith build. I’ve spent more time in the Catacombs during this playthrough than with my previous two combined.

For those unfamiliar, the Catacombs are a potentially frustrating area of Dark Souls because the skeletons that populate the area can reanimate if they are not killed with a divine weapon. There are necromancers (six of them, I believe) scattered throughout the level, and until they are killed, they keep bringing the skeletons in their area back to unlife.

Those not playing divine characters often build divine weapons just to play through this part of the game. As a Faith build this time around, I looked forward to tackling the Catacombs with a character uniquely suited to them. By the time I made it to this area, I had upgraded my divine Claymore to +5 (halfway to max), and my Faith stat was in the low 30’s. So for the most part, I ripped through this area without much trouble, decimating dozens of skeletons along the way.

Unlike previous playthroughs though, when I beat Pinwheel (the area boss), I didn’t just move on to the next area–I went back for some co-op. I ended up playing through the second half of the level several more times, helping people through. I also went back and forth through the area a few times, exploring it in a way I had never done before.

With my Faith build, I felt like the Catacombs were almost made for me. It’s yet another reason why Dark Souls is a game that you should play through multiple times. Every approach gives you a new appreciation for the game world.

Here’s a cool video by OreoYifu that features some good co-op in the Catacombs, including a few great invasions.