Review: Dark Souls: Remastered Edition (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): May 25, 2018
- Release Date (EU): May 25, 2018
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Developer: From Software, QLOC
- Genres: Action, RPG, Adventure
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
- Also For: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Dark Souls Remastered: $40 DSFix
Dark Souls is an action roleplaying game, created by From Software in 2011 as a spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls (which also needs a remaster, wink wink nudge nudge Sony ;)). A year later, the game was treated to an absolute subpar PC port, featuring the same 30fps and 1024x720 resolution that the Xbox 360/PS3 versions had, despite the more powerful hardware that PCs had at that time. After approximately half an hour of it’s rushed PC port, Durante released the ever popular mod called DSFix, which allowed higher internal resolutions, unlockable framerate, and even custom textures after some additional work, allowing PC players to take the beauty Lordran to a whole new level. Unfortunately, some of these fixes resulted in some bizarre bugs, like falling through the floor while sliding down ladders or the decreased jumping distance (as some physics were tied to the framerate)
And then, in the beginning of January, Namco announced the Dark Souls: Remastered Edition, featuring all those improvements DSFix offered and more! Online Co-op and PVP limits were increased from 4 to 6, dedicated servers are being used for online connections, Password matchmaking was added for easy co-op and other additional quality of life additions. This all sounds great, yes? I mean, this is the Dark Souls that we should’ve gotten 6 years ago! But, unfortunately, it’s not all that simple. While the remaster offers some excellent improvements over the stock console versions, the PC modding community has been hard are work to offer those same fixes...for free. But before I go into any more detail as to why I’m disappointed here, let’s start with just the game itself, Dark Souls.
As mentioned, Dark Souls is an action RPG that takes place in the world of Lordran. You play as the Chosen Undead, a character out of prophecy who was chosen to “Ring the Bells of Awakening”, to awaken Frampt who will tell you of your destiny to retrieve the Lordvessel and link the First Flame to continue the Age of Fire! Of course, this is easier said than done, as you must make your way through poisonous swamps, lava-filled caverns, a ghost of a city, facing hard-hitting enemies and unforgiving boss battles that will test the patience of any player. Of course, you’re not in this alone! You have helpful NPCs like Solaire of Astora or Maneater Mildred that you can summon to help you fight those unforgiving bosses, or Siegmeyer of Catarina or the Crestfallen Knight that will help you figure out where to go next. But be warned, while there may be a few helpful NPCs around the world of Lordran, there’s more who’s sole intent is to stop you. Not only does that apply to NPCs, but also to other players. While you’re trying to battle it out with regular enemies, players can drop in or out of your world whose only purpose is to kill you dead and Well What Is It in your face when their twink build kills you. But we know this, the game is 7 years old after all. So what does this remaster do that’s new?
Gameplay wise? Almost not a damn thing. If you’ve decided to read or watch anything about the remaster lately, you probably already know this. There were no balance updates, no game mechanic glitches fixed (like lagstabs, or chain backstabs), or any of the various glitch skips that exist in the game were fixed. As far as I can tell, the only truly massive glitch they’ve fixed in this remaster is Blighttown, which now runs at a buttery smooth 60fps all the way through. The only new content added is a Bonfire, that is now located next to Vamos the Blacksmith before the Pinwheel fight. So what did this remaster really do, then? For one, the textures have now been upgraded to a native 4k, and the framerate cap has been lifted from 30 fps to 60 fps without any of the aforementioned issues DSFix added to the game. The engine now has new lighting effects, that provides a better dynamic lighting, but this also massively improve particle effects as well. One of the most welcome changes, in my mind, is how sorceries and pyromancy and miracles of all look compared to the original version of the game. Beforehand, most spells were merely blue blobs, whereas now they have more definition to them, and in some cases an actual “shape” beyond random blob. There were also a fair few quality of life additions, such as the ability to use multiple items at once, the ability to change covenants at any time at a bonfire, being able to quick change your item slot to your first item (which is usually the Estus Flask) as added in later sequels to the franchise.
“But Tom! That doesn’t sound so bad! So why are you disappointed?” As noted above, Durante released a mod called DSFix for the original PC version of Dark Souls. This mod allowed users to create custom textures, increase the internal texture resolution to essentially as high as they like, and uncap the FPS to 60 (or, again, as high as they like). Once modders got a handle on the texture structure of Dark Souls, and how to replace them, we’ve seen quite a huge number of high quality texture replacement mods. Eventually, anyone playing Dark Souls 1 on PC was also using DSFix and these improved textures, all for free, for at least the last 5 years. So why am I disappointed? Because this Remaster’s new textures and framerate limit offer virtually no improvement over simple DSFix and custom textures that are already available now, for free. I will concede that the remaster’s textures at times can be slightly more clear and more crisp than mods, but it is virtually unnoticeable versus custom textures unless you have two screenshots in front of you at the same time. Not only are these textures barely as good as the free alternatives, but QLOC didn’t even replace some low res textures at all, nor did they even fix any of the graphical glitches present in the original version of the game. Virtually no care or love was put into this remaster whatsoever, something that From Software has always tried to incorporate since the fiasco that was the original PC release. QLOC spruced up the engine and multiple, added a bonfire, and then haphazardly slapped on some high quality textures and pushed it out the door.
+ New lighting and particle effects greatly improve the look of spells and areas in the game.
+ Online multiplayer improvements, including password match making, dedicated servers and increased number of participants, work really well.
+ Official 60FPS without the DSFix problems.
+ Blighttown no longer runs at 10-15fps.
- HD Textures are barely any better than free mods, and not even replaced in some areas.
- Graphical glitches are still present in this remaster.
- Excluding Blighttown, no major glitches were fixed.
- High price tag for what is essentially a minor update.
out of 10
(not an average)
Overall, I think QLOC dropped the ball here. I love Dark Souls, and Dark Souls 1 will always be my favorite of the all the games in the series, but there was simply no love put into this remaster. However, if you've never played the game, or if you've only ever played the console versions, then I would highly recommend picking up Dark Souls Remastered Edition, as it fixes a lot of issues that were present and unfix-able in the original console version of the game and still plays just as well now as it did in the past. But if you own the original Dark Souls 1 for PC, and you have no desire to PvP, don't even bother buying the remaster. Even with the $20 discount, it's not remotely worth the price tag when you consider you already get all these improvements (even if slightly buggy) for free.