Dark Souls II Progress: 9/21/15
September 22, 2015

After killing some non-essential bosses and taking out one of the first four major villains, I've decided it's time to acquire one more Great Soul. So I padded back to Harvest Valley and did lots of running and healing to make up for the fact that I kept getting poisoned. No biggie there. One thing I liked about the area as the abundance of breakable walls that led to sweet goodies. Unfortunately, I needed to lead some sickle-wielding freaks to the walls in order to smash them, but it wasn't too terrible.

...Okay, I lied. It was skull-crushing. Four of them came at once, along with a piddly zombie that I killed with a single slice. I spent my time picking my shots and either dying or slowly whittling my way towards triumph. There was also one more out of the way wall that took me ages to cut through because I had to have everything set up perfectly. First, I had to kill the giant guarding it, then take out three of the sickle-wielders, lead the fourth one up a ramp, into one of the walled-off troves, around a tight corridor, down a small ledge and back towards the wall in question. Along the way is the entrance to his spawning point, which is setup such that you cannot exit once you enter.

Of course, he went back to his spawning point, so I had to lead him all over again. I did eventually get through and grab all the terrific prizes inside, then trotted on to the Earthen Peak.

You wouldn't think this level is as difficult as it is. Almost everything here fell with a shot or two, but you had poisonous walking mushrooms, swift manikin assassins, pools of poison, sorceresses who could one-shot me with an explosive fire spell, not to mention a handful of heavies, poison rivers, poison vessels, poison, poison, more poison, and Bret Michaels. It took me an unbelievably long time to reach the first boss, mostly because I kept getting arrogant and dying from simple falls and all around carelessness.

Thankfully, the first boss, the Covetous Demon, was probably the easiest one I've faced so far. Imagine Jabba the Hut crossed with a sperm and you have the idea. The creature flops around slowly, occasionally thwacking you with his tail, sometimes trying to jump on you. However, he's so slow you can spot his attacks from a mile away. Needless to say, he didn't last long against me.

Again, I ran into troubles getting to the second and third (hidden) bonfires, mostly because of poison and the sorceresses--and once because of a mimic. I learned early on that standing still around a sorceress is suicide. If you rush in and skewer them as quickly as possible, they have a tendency to die without contest.

I eventually took on the second boss of Earthen Peak: Mytha, the Baneful Queen. She's pretty much Medusa, severed head and all. Mechanically speaking, she's not too tough. However, the room she lives in is filled with knee-deep poison (ARGH!), so you have to defeat her quickly. I'm guessing there's a way to reduce or eliminate the poison in her lair, as I've see in screenshots of poison-free boss arena, but I didn't bother with that. I actually managed to kill her even with the constraint in place.

I thought she might have had the Great Soul, but then I discovered that the Iron Keep was just ahead and that the soul must be there. I took it upon myself to eliminate every Allon Knight and Captain in my way. Though they were troublesome sods, I was able to take most of them out with two or three shots, only dying when they overwhelmed me. As luck would have it, one of them dropped a Blacksteel Katana, which has the potential to become more powerful than my Uchigatana. I took the thing to Majula and had it worked on, boosting it to a +7 before taking it back to the Keep.

I took on the Smelter Demon boss after wiping out most of the knights in the first area, bringing his HP down to half before losing. I read up a little on the creature and found that he can be poisoned. Oh, how the tables have turned! So I packed an extra rotten pine resin to make my blade poisonous. The trick worked and the demon's HP depletion helped cut down the time spent fighting the boss. I took him out in my second attempt and moved on to the gauntlet of traps and ironclads in the latter half of the fortress.

All over the next area were pitfalls, wall-mounted flame throwers, snipers, and heavies galore. Again, I ended all of their spawning cycles, especially taking pleasure in using switches and buttons to send a few of them to their deaths in the molten metal below. It took me a couple of days to reach the third bonfire, but from there it was on to the Old Iron King.

I think this is my favorite boss fight so far. Yeah, he looks too much like Balrog from Lord of the Rings, but the fight itself was decently fun. There was a recognizable pattern that could screw you up if you weren't careful (a blow could easily send you into lava). It took me several attempts, but I did eventually triumph over the beast and claim my second Great Soul.

In other news, I ascended and rang the bells at both belfries. Let me just say that I think these segments add little to the game. I'm a tad disappointed in From Software's ability to pad Dark Souls 2 out with a lot of tiny, ho-hum areas rather than a few impressive regions. The only upside to the belfries, Luna and Sol, is that they are prime areas for PVP. While in Belfry Luna, I got smoked a few times by a guy named STICK! Sol, on the other hand, pit me against some jester-looking player whom I actually defeated. Me! I won a PVP duel! I still suck, though...

Anyway, one of the belfries rehashed the Bell Gargoyle boss fight from the previous game, only you had to fight four gargoyles this time. (Urgh... they're grotesques, not gargoyles! They're only considered gargoyles if they have water spouts.) I didn't care for this fight. It's too chaotic and easily solved with a lot of healing, running, and bash-bash-bash...

Next up, I think I'm going to head down the hole in the middle of Majula to nab the third Great Soul.

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