Saturday, 15 August 2015

Dark Souls: Caught at a Crossroads

Once again, it is exploiting the game that brings reward rather than any feeling that I'm getting appreciably better at it. I really enjoy the fights against the lesser enemies, even some of the mini-bosses, but a lot of the more difficult mini-bosses and bosses seem to be beyond my skills.

Exploiting the Undead Dragon's lack of ranged attack
Sometimes, as I found with the Capra Demon and some others, the game makes things unfathomably difficult unless you're using some sort of cheap tactic or exploit to defeat them. Case in point, the Valley of Drakes was far beyond my ability as a melee character. Loaded up with poison arrows though, I could pick the Drakes off one at a time and clear the area.

Shortcut ahead, and not before time!
After that, the Undead Dragon mini-boss was easy prey as I could stay out of range of his attacks but slowly kill him with the bow. It was at this point that I really wished I'd made a dexterity focused character, as the damage scaling with the longbow is very impressive.

Frustration ahead
Beyond the Drakes was my way back to Firelink Shrine, but it was locked (no master key for me), so I had to venture into Blighttown. The key I required was easy to get, and I made sure to go and rest at this point (and spend my souls). Unfortunately my attempts to get further into Blighttown were stymied by flying enemies that caused Toxic buildup. The narrow ledges and flying enemies meant that I could barely even target them, let alone hit them, and so I quickly succumbed.

Strange things in the distance
I decided to brave the Depths again after this, knowing how to take things slowly and avoid the pits that lead to Basilisks. I easily made my way to the fog gate, and entered to meet the Gaping Dragon. This huge dragon is basically a giant mouth, filled with sharp teeth, with a penchant for swinging it's tail around and spewing out destructive ooze.

A nice, big, open area beyond a fog gate? What could possibly go wrong...
Needless to say, I didn't exactly last long against this beast. I tried to turn it, catch it on the sides and back, but I couldn't make enough of an impact to kill it. It has a particularly nasty attack if you get too close, where it can grab you and drop you in it's maw. Once thoroughly chewed, you get spat back out, but I lacked the health to survive.

Ah, it's just a little crocodile or something down in the sewers.
Next I decided to upgrade my Broadsword +5 into a Divine Broadsword, and took to the Catacombs. A divine weapon is required only because the Necromancers lurking there will reanimate any defeated skeletons repeatedly. I didn't find the Catacombs too difficult, aside from the numerous annoying traps, once I figured out the best way to kill the skeletons. They really are only an issue in numbers, or if there are exploding skulls nearby (floating ghostly skulls that drift about and explode if in range of the player, no way to target or destroy them).

Oh no, it's actually a creature from your nightmares
My problem arose when I found myself down at the bottom, in a little valley. It's filled with a new enemy, skeletons with a spiked wheel as a shield. They'll attack you by rolling at you in the wheel, and can hit multiple times. Trying to defeat several of these at once is far too difficult for me, and so I tried using the phantom (Paladin Leeroy) to help. Unfortunately I got a little cocky and got myself killed trying to attack a group of these skeletons, trying to make sure my summon didn't die before I could even meet the boss. Now almost 7000 souls lie at the bottom of that valley, so I feel I must try again.

No way to open this door here, but a nearby bonfire also has a lever
My other options are limited, and I really feel like this is a poor part of the game. Limited opportunities to grind for new spells, equipment or levels (I need 7406 souls for next level!). I feel stuck, and the way forward is not clear at all.

Door opened, time to enter the Catacombs properly
While ambling around and trying to find something else to do, I decided to attack the Hellkite Dragon, which is perched upon the bridge near Undead Parish. I managed to defeat the Black Knight atop a tower overlooking the bridge, and saw an excellent sniping opportunity. Unfortunately upon returning the dragon had disappeared, and despite going back to the bridge to make sure it was still there, it still couldn't be seen from the top of that tower.

Some stunning scenery here, and a very twisty structure down to the bottom
I tried to kill it from below the bridge, but after reducing it's health by more than half it starts to heal itself. I didn't have enough arrows to see if it will do this indefinitely, but it certainly did it four times. I will have to come back when I have some more damaging arrows, a better bow or something else. Back to the drawing board.

Time for a rest? I think not...

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