Phone a friend
Similarly, friend summoning has had its own Dark Soulsy twist. Players can't summon their friends by name, but they can equip a ring that will make an encounter with a friend more likely.
Other changes include the fact that fast travel in the world via bonfires is also unlocked from the very beginning of the game, rather than three quarters of the way through as in Dark Souls, and there's an item that will allow players to respect their skills after character creation.
Whilst I personally found voice chat the most troubling change, the internet has largely welcomed the prospect, but balked at the idea of instant fast travel and respeccing, as they have the potential to make the game 'easier.'
I know the game is going to be tough - hell, I've played it for barely two hours and experienced the infamous game over screen more times than I'm comfortable admitting - but the game's atmosphere is what always kept me coming back for more, and if there's one thing I don't want the sequel to lose, it's that.
But, for every minor thing I saw in Dark Souls II that gave me cause for concern, I saw three more things that I absolutely loved.
The opening settlement of Majula is beautiful and lonely and desperately sad all at the same time. Climbing a castle's ramparts and looking back to see the area I'd just come from sitting innocently on the horizon was an early and entirely fitting reminder that any progress in Dark Souls is progress to be proud of.
In playing the opening two hours, I know I've barely scratched the surface of what Dark Souls II can offer, and I'm confident it'll be the perfect end to my Xbox 360's heady glory days.
The console ends not with a bang, but with a 'YOU DIED' screen - it's just the kind of bittersweet send-off it deserves.
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