Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin, Not quite the same as before…

Virtually everyone is jumping of the remaster bandwagon these days, thanks to the fact that the last few crops of games for the PS3 and Xbox 360 were really great more than warranting a reworking for newer platforms. Joining the fray is From Software, who recently had players babbling excitedly about their first true current generation title, the PS4 exclusive Bloodborne.  But while Bloodborne presents some new ideas for the developer, they haven’t left their roots behind, and Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, makes a very welcome appearance on PS4 and Xbox One.

While the name might imply that it is a different game, or a standalone expansion, Scholar of the First Sin is actually a remastered version of the original Dark Souls 2. That said, it does contain all three Lost Crown DLC packs, which are a great addition if you have the stomach to fight through to them.

This is usually the point when we point out that, other than cosmetic changes, better resolution and improved frame rates, nothing much has changed. But From Software aren’t exactly known for being forgiving when it comes to their games. And while the massively steep learning curve and brutally unforgiving nature of the original are still present here, From decided to mix things up a bit. Some not all of the encounters have been modified. Where previously there may have been no enemies, there are now new surprises. And the locations of some items like the near crucial Ring of Binding have been changed.

What this means is that while newcomers will have to take on the dangers of Drangleic from a fresh perspective (and won’t notice much new, beyond how punishing the game is) veterans won’t just waltz through Scholar of the First Sin. While the experience won’t be entirely fresh for those that have played Dark Souls 2 before, there are enough changes and surprises to keep players on their toes.

In terms of visuals, the upgrades certainly are as apparent as they can be in the drab and depressing kingdom of Drangleic. There is more to occupy the eye, and while it might not seem like a massive upgrade at first, this dead world certainly seems more alive than before.

And, of course, there are the three brutal and punishing DLC packs. This adds value, particularly for veterans who never got to the extras. And newcomers well, they’re in for a massive, sprawling experience that does its very best to see their character on the wrong side of dead.

What’s truly refreshing here, though, is something that isn’t common in remastered games. For the most part, they are carbon copies of what came before, albeit spruced up for the new hardware. But From Software obviously wasn’t content with delivering the exact same experience before, and their tweaks included the switching up of certain elements that were mentioned before. This means that upgrading your version of Dark Souls isn’t necessarily a grudge purchase. While it may not be a truly fresh experience, it has freshness to it, and surprises that help the game stick to its punishing nature, even in the unlikely event that the player has finished Dark Souls 2 before. It’s something of a caring approach ( a word that seems out of place when describing any game from From) and one that shows that this developer wants to add value to what others might perceive as a quick cash-in opportunity.

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