Part 4: Heide's Tower of FlameAnd with that, we have caught up with the LP. The next (actual) update will probably be Saturday but from then on updates will get much rarer. So far I could keep a weekly schedule, but the official statement is "when it's done"
Finally, a new area. This one's a lot shorter. Mostly because the Forest of Fallen Giants is pretty much the biggest area of the game.
Hiltrud in New Game has switched to wearing the Drangleic torso piece but went for something lighter for the rest (except the gloves) because the Drangleic Armor is actually pretty heavy and personally I'm one of those people who never go above 70% equip burden to avoid having a slower roll. This is a great example of the game now having cloth physics by the way. The first game had some armors with pieces of cloth or even small capes, but they'd never move and it looked kind of awkward. But since this is a Souls game EVERYTHING has an in-game explanation that is not at all farfetched or even ridiculous. Surely, in the first game, they knew the ancient art of reinforcing cloth to make it block incoming attacks but they forgot this technique by the time Dark Souls II plays out. Because it was a dumb fad. Clearly, this is how it is.
in NG+ we're a feral warrior using large wooden chunks as weapons. Guy Diealot (his name, by the way) doesn't really have the body for this outfit since he's pretty skinny but he somehow pulls it off with the Bandit Armor, the Lion Warrior Skirt and the Gyrm Helm. Also some gloves that don't really matter.
The Dragonrider is a really easy boss. So easy, in fact, that I believed he'd just return as a normal enemy later on, which was the fate of a couple early bosses from the first game. He's a dude in armor with a big weapon so he might seem really scary at first, but if you just circlestrafe counter-clockwise you will be able to dodge the vast majority of his attacks. Sometimes you might want to roll, if only to be on the safe side. He doesn't really have any attacks that require special tactics but be aware that while he mostly does two or three hit combos, he has a rare chance to also add in a fourth hit.
He can be made slightly harder by just not enhancing the arena with one or both of the switches but unless this is your first time and you want to (and should) play it safe this isn't required at all.
Soul of a Dragonrider, who faithfully served King Vendrick.
Long ago, the dragonriders mounted wyrms, and were feared on the battlefield for their unparallelled strength.
Give this soul to Straid to make...
Moveset/Weapon Class: Halberd
Physical Damage (+0/+5): 100/250
Magic Damage (+0/+5): 90/120
Scales with (+0/+5): STR (C), DEX (C), INT (C)
Requirements: 18 STR, 17 DEX
Damage Type: Slash/Thrust + Magic
Halberd of the Dragonriders, King Vendrick's royal guard. A highly versatile weapon that can slash, sweep, and thrust when wielded numbly, and is also imbued with magic.
Demands great skill of its wielder, and thus served to test the worthiness of those who aspire to join the Dragonriders.
Stability (+0/+5): 70 / 78
Noteworthy Damage Reduction (+0/+5): 100% Physical, 75%/78.1% Fire and Lightning
Requirements: 35 STR
Greatshield of the Dragonriders, King Vendrick's royal guard.
The rank of Dragonrider was reserved for honorable warriors who helped found Drangleic. Together with the King, they crushed its former inhabitants and erected a magnificent kingdom upon their graves.
Moveset/Weapon Class: Twinblade
Physical Damage (+0/+5): 60/150
Magic Damage (+0/+5): 80/100
Scales with (+0/+5): STR (C), DEX (C), Magic (C)
Requirements: 20 STR, 22 DEX
Damage Type: Slash/Thrust + Magic
Twinblade of the Dragonriders, King Vendrick's royal guard.
Twinblades are wielded with an unusual technique. This one strikes hard but is very heavy.
Demands great skill of its wielder, and thus served to test the worthiness of those who aspired to join the Dragonriders.
Moveset/Weapon Class: Bow
Physical Damage (+0/+5): 72/180
Magic Damage (+0/+5): 80/100
Scales with (+0/+5): STR (B), DEX (D), INT (C)
Requirements: 20 STR, 18 DEX
Damage Type: Projectile + Magic
Bow wielded by Dragonrider, King Vendrick's royal guard. Merely drawing this bow requires inhuman strength, but each shot has deadly potential
Demands great skill of its wielder, and thus served to test the worthiness of those who aspired to join Dragonriders.
Note: This bow uses more Stamina to draw the string than any other bow class weapons. Excluding greatbows, of course. It's also one of the highest damaging bows.
Ah yes, good old Ornstein, or something that resembles him. Ornstein was a boss in the first game. He was together with some big dude called Smough and it was my favorite boss fight of the game.
In Dark Souls II he's alone and, frankly, I'm not too fond of him here. He's definitely a more fun boss than Dragonrider but it really seems more like he's been thrown in here as plain old fanservice.
Old Dragonslayer is literally just there. He has a pretty good variety of attacks. Even though he's using a Spear he will not only thrust but also sweep. He also has one thrust with a obvious but unassuming wind-up you should look out for. If it connects you'll be skewered and take quite a bit of damage.
At a range he can also fire dark homing magic,or close in with a dashing thrust or even a jump. Dodge timing on those can be a bit tricky. At least I tend to screw it up occasionally. Lastly, he has an attack from his old buddy Smough: He'll jump up and attempt to crush you with his mighty bottom. This also has an AoE effect so it's best to get as far away as you can unless you know exactly how far it reaches.
Of course, now I have to address why he is here with the game's Lore: I simply don't know. There really isn't anything that even tells us that this is in fact Ornstein so my own take is that this is just an animated suit of armor. But still, why would someone do that? One theory is posited by VaatiVidya, one of the guys on youtube who try to make sense of the lore of Dark Souls, in this video. Attention: it addresses and shows some things that I haven't mentioned yet so be wary of some overarching lore spoilers, I recommend only watching this video if you've already played through the game.
Anyway, VaatiVidya's theory is, that the cathedral may as well have been built in the image of the one in Anor Londo by Gwynevere (who, as we know if we thoroughly played Dark Souls, was not actually present in the first game seeing as the one we met there was an illusion) who was said to be married to a fire god called Flann. The gist is that Gwynevere moved to what is now known as Heide with Flann. And since Ornstein was tasked with protecting Gwynevere he went with her. Or she created something that resembles him. That's also a possible explanation for having a Cathedral with the same architecture as in Anor Londo as well as the Tower of Flame at the other end of the area. Personally, I lean more towards Dark Souls II being set in the same general area as the first game so it's also possible that this is an actual remnant of Anor Londo but since it was abandoned another city was built around it as time went on but the cathedral remained. Or perhaps, it is that Gwynevere returned here with Flann long after Anor Londo was gone and erected the cathedral there for old time's sake. OR maybe... it's something completely different. This really is a part of the game we have very little information on, so we can speculate and theorize like crazy. And that's what makes it fun.
Soul of the Old Dragonslayer.
The Old Dragonslayer is reminiscent of a certain knight that appears in old legends.
Give it to Ornifex to make...
Moveset/Weapon Class: Spear
Physical Damage (+0/+5): 52/130
Lightning Damage Damage (+0/+5): 60/105
Scales with (+0/+5): STR (E), DEX (B/A), FTH (C)
Requirements: 16 STR, 25 DEX
Damage Type: Thrust + Lightning
The spear of the knight known as the Dragonslayer was imbued with the power of lightning, and shattered the stone scales of dragons.
Strong attack unleashes its latent power.
Note: Strong attack will shoot lightning at the cost of durability both when one-handing and two-handing the weapon.
So far we've discovered three covenants. Two of which belong together. Those two are The Way of Blue and the Blue Sentinels. Essentially covenants reward players for doing specific things. As you level up your covenant devotions you will get access to new things.
Way of Blue (noob covenant)
Can be joined by talking to Saulden in Majula. The way of blue is meant to protect you from invaders.
To level up the covenant you happen to have to kill invaders.
For joining you get the blue seals, which will increase your health a bit and can be coupled with the life ring for an extra boost.
For 1 defeated invader you get the Bloodbite ring, which protects raises bleeding resistance.
For 5 defeated invaders you get the sorcery Hush which masks all noise you make for a short time
For 10 defeated invaders you get the Blue Tearstone Ring which increases your defense when low at health.
The Blue Sentinels (police covenant)
Can be joined by talking to Targray in the Cathedral of Blue with a Token of Fidelity in your inventory. The Blue Sentinels are the other side of the Way of Blue which means you'll get summoned to other player's worlds to help them fend off invaders. Additionally you can also engage in honorable duels with fellow Sentinels by praying at the Statues by the bonfire in the cathedral. To level this covenant up you... uh... need to kill a lot of people. Be they red phantoms, sinners you invade with a cracked blue eye orb or duels against other sentinels.
For joining you get the Guardian's Seal, which allows you to get summoned to members of the Way of Blue
For 50 kills you get the Spirit Tree Shield, which can parry spells.
For 150 kills you get Wrath of the Gods, a powerful AoE miracle.
For 500 FUCKING KILLS you get Bountiful Sunlight a miracle that slowly heals you and your allies. You'll also get Targrays Armor set. If you want his set just kill him and then buy it from Melentia. That's one kill vs. 500. You'll miss out on the other rewards, though.
Company of Champions (git gud covenant)
Can be joined by interacting with Victor's Stone in Majula. This is supposed to be a challenge covenant. It increases the amount of hits enemies take and also expands their aggro range, forcing you to fight multiple HP-sponges at the same time routinely. To level it up you need to collect Awestones and offer them to Victor's Stone. Awestones from Red Phantom invaders, be they human or NPC and also have a chance of dropping from various strong enemies.
For joining you get the Champion's Tablet which does nothing but tell you who else is in the Covenant.
For 10 Awestones you get Great Magic Weapon, a sorcery that buffs up your weapon to do magic damage.
For 25 Awestones you get the First Dragon Ring, which slightly increases numerous stats, making it very useful
For 50 Awestones you get the Vanquisher's Seal, a ring that makes your fists a valid choice of weapon by greatly increasing stat scaling for unarmed combat.
Sublime Bone Dust
Charred, ashen bones.
Cast them into the Far Fire in Majula to increase the HP restored with each use of your flask.
They say these are the remains of a saint who cast himself into the bonfire. But we will never know for sure, for soot and ashes tell no story.
Note:It's not clear whether it's referring to a saint who cast himself into any bonfire or someone who linked the fire. Linking the fire was one of the possible endings in Dark Souls. After lighting the final bonfire after the final boss the First Flame would be re-lit, burning the one who did it alive in the process. If it's referring to that it confirms that the Link the Fire ending is canon. However there's still more to learn about that later on.
Dark Souls II: Talisman used by cleric knights. Blocks Estus recovery within a limited area.
It is said that the cleric knights used these talismans to hunt down accursed Undead.
Cleric knights fight with pride, and by blocking the recovery of the Undead, they can also fight with impunity.
Dark Souls: Talisman utilized by Allfather Lloyd's cleric knights to hunt down the Undead. Blocks Estus recovery within a limited area. In the outside world, the Undead are accursed creatures, and Lloyd's cleric knights are widely praised for their Undead hunts. This blessed talisman blocks Undead recovery, allowing the knights to fight with impunity.
Note: Allfather Lloyd was the brother of Gwyn, the highest ranking deity from Dark Souls. It's interesting to note that while other item descriptions make a point of obscuring origins, uses and other facts of items these two descriptions are remarkably similar. Coincidency? Probably. The only thing left out is Lloyd's name.
Old Knight Halberd
An undated halberd.
Wielded by a warrior from a time so ancient that there exists no record of his endeavors. Has extremely low durability. Sometimes, just as a thing falls to pieces, it unleashes its last flash of great power...