If you need proof that gamers don’t want just mindless entertainment spoon-fed to them, take a look at the success of the Souls games. GadgetMatch is here to look back at the recently concluded hardcore action RPG franchise, ranking every game from worst to best.
5. Dark Souls II
As the direct sequel to the industry-changing Dark Souls, Dark Souls II had a lot to live up to. It didn’t.
It has an overabundance of forgettable boss battles. It has too many levels that rely on throwing waves of bad guys at the player from all angles. It also looks the worst. Muddy, low-res textures make the environments look fake. Baddies have a wind-up toy feel because of their clunky animation.
But even as the worst in the series, Dark Souls II is still a good game. The HD re-release Scholar of the First Sin does a lot to alleviate the problems of the original. Touched-up graphics, remixed enemy encounters, a more fleshed out story, and all three amazing DLC packed in make it the definitive version.
4. Demon’s Souls
Demon’s Souls introduced a lot of elements that fans have come to love about the series: intricate castles and caverns filled with devious traps and larger-than-life bosses, calculated sword-and-sorcery combat, the risk/reward tension of exploration and self-preservation, and a revolutionary online multiplayer system that let players help or fight each other. Experiencing all this was a revelation for PS3 owners.
Going back to Demon’s Souls though after playing the later games reveals the primitive design. Ambushes are telegraphed a mile away to experienced players. Enemies can’t withstand constant pressure. Most boss battles have one neat solution that make quick work of them on repeat playthroughs. Magic is OP!
But nothing will take away the thrill of conquering Boletaria Palace for the very first time.
3. Dark Souls III
Of the Dark Souls trilogy, the final chapter is the most refined gameplay-wise. Dark Souls III cherrypicks from all its predecessors’ mechanics while presenting novel ways to overcome demons and dragons and all sorts of foul, twisted evils. This combination of quality features results in the most fun-to-play Dark Souls game.
It is certainly the grandest, taking players across distant lands and distorted timelines, and serving up the biggest and baddest bosses to conclude the epic story.
And yet at times, it feels like the creators were getting burnt out. There aren’t many surprises, especially for diehard fans who’ve played all the older games multiple times. Familiarity reduces fear, which is as much of a Souls hallmark as the difficulty. At the very least, developers From Software are leaving the series on a good note.
2. Dark Souls
Although Demon’s Souls came first, it wasn’t until Dark Souls was released did video games at large feel the seismic shift this storied franchise caused. Unlike Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls wasn’t exclusive to the PS3. It also came out on the Xbox 360 and PC, garnering a much bigger audience that was thirsty for something different from brain-dead shooters and tedious RPGs that dominated the market circa 2011. And boy was Dark Souls different.
Gamers used to the comforts of contemporary games were dropped into a mysterious land that punishes thoughtless play. You don’t get a guided tutorial that explains what you can do. There is no map with objective markers telling you where to go. Whenever you die, all the enemies you kill come back to life. Checkpoints are few and far between. You can’t manually save your progress, and the game auto-saves the moment you do anything, so you can’t just load an older save to undo a mistake. You can’t even pause the game at all!
None of that stopped millions of players from facing the game’s myriad trials, plumbing the depths of the fantastical interconnected kingdom of Lordran, and discovering the simple satisfaction of earning hard-fought victories.
It’s only fitting that the best Souls game is a spin-off and doesn’t even have “Souls” in the name. Bloodborne takes the core components of Dark Souls, discards everything that slows things down, and turns up the dial on speed, style, and story. The result? Fast-paced, hyper-focused action in a nightmarish plane of existence dripping with atmosphere and intrigue.
Forget the hundreds of useless gear that only have the slightest variations. Each weapon in Bloodborne is wholly unique, with “trick modes” that add another dimension to fighting. Guns replace shields, and lost health is recovered when you immediately strike back against foes, forcing more aggressive play. Toss out the tired “grimdark Lord of the Rings” aesthetic. Bloodborne goes all Brutalist Victorian, deftly mixing the Gothic stylings of werewolves and vampires with the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft.
There are no weak, throwaway, and unfinished levels. All the bosses have something special about them. The optional Chalice Dungeons present a series first with their ever-changing areas and randomized loot. The Old Hunters DLC is a masterclass of expansions, supplementing the main game with lengthy and meaningful content. The music is sinister and stirring.
Most important of all, Bloodborne recaptures the essential sensation of trying to survive in an unknown, uncaring, and uncompromising world.
Sony’s PlayStation is back, Xiaomi outs new Mi 8 variants: Weekend Rewind
Ending the week with nostalgic feels
Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.
1. The iconic PlayStation is back!
Let’s kick things off by taking a trip down memory lane. Almost 25 years after its debut, Sony is bringing back the iconic first-gen PlayStation and it will come as the PlayStation Classic.
It’s basically a miniaturized version complete with a pair of original controller replicas. What’s even more exciting is that fans of the original PlayStation will be able to relive 20 legendary titles including Final Fantasy VII and Tekken 3!
2. Razer Phone 2 gets a launch date
Razer officially confirms the arrival of its second gaming smartphone — the Razer Phone 2. It succeeds the Razer Phone that was launched last November and based on earlier leaks, it’ll be a familiar-looking product.
The phone should sport the same body as its predecessor including the display with buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Of course, the internals will have beefier specs as well. We’ll know the low down real soon during its special event at California this October 10.
3. Apple is on the lead!
While it may be true that Apple didn’t sell the most number of smartphones, they still earned more than their competitors. According to the latest data from Counterpoint Research, Apple had the biggest share of industry profits during the second quarter of 2018.
For comparison, Apple earned 62 percent of the second-quarter smartphone profits. Samsung, which is the top-selling smartphone vendor, is responsible for just 17 percent of smartphone profits in the quarter. Huawei takes the third spot with eight percent of the profits.
4. A complete but affordable smartwatch
Huami, Xiaomi’s sub-brand in China, has a smartwatch that offers tremendous bang for your buck. The company just unveiled the Amazfit Verge and it’s got everything you could ask for in a wearable without the high price tag.
The Amazfit Verge has a GPS, heart-rate sensor, and a full-circle AMOLED display. It’s also equipped with a microphone and loudspeaker that allow voice calls through the smartwatch.
5. Xiaomi outs Mi 8 Pro and Mi 8 Lite
On a related note, Xiaomi also held a quick event to announce a few things including two new Mi 8 variants — the Mi 8 Pro and Mi 8 Lite.
In a nutshell, these are additions to the flagship Mi 8 family. The Mi 8 Pro is similar to the Mi 8 with the same specs like its Snapdragon 845 processor, up to 8GB of memory, and 128GB of expandable storage. Although, this model comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor.
As the name suggests, the Mi 8 Lite is a toned-down Mi 8 and comes with a midrange Snapdragon 660 chipset, dual rear cameras, and a 24-megapixel front camera. Both phones are initially available in China, but international availability is yet to be announced.
Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.
Singapore’s first iPhone XS buyer goes all out
He went for the 512GB storage!
Whenever new iPhones launch, a familiar scene is people lining up in front of Apple Stores long before launch date. The same is true in Singapore where the iPhone XS and XS Max officially became available on Friday, September 21.
We visited the Apple Store in Orchard Road and caught up with the first person to cop the new iPhones. His name is Daniel and he went all out getting two units of gold iPhone XS Max with 512GB of storage. Watch our interview with him.
The same situation is true elsewhere in the world. In countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and more, lines formed as those who pre-ordered got ready to claim the new iPhones.
This is the first time that the two sizes of iPhones feature the same specs. In years past, there was always a plus model that had more features other than just having a bigger form factor. In 2018, the only difference is the screen size — 5.8 inches for the iPhone XS and 6.5 inches for the iPhone XS Max. Both phones are equipped with the new A12 Bionic processor. Apple says it’s their smallest and most powerful chip to date. Both also sport dual cameras.
The Apple Watch Series 4 also launched today. It’s a significant update to Apple’s primary wearable featuring medical advantages other than the usual improvements. As always, it still is a lifestyle gadget and comes with an array of available looks.
Apple iPhone XS unboxing: Beautiful gold color!
We have them early!
It’s now mid-September and if you’ve been following technology news, you’d know that means one thing: new iPhones from Apple. And if you’ve been following GadgetMatch closely the last few years, you’d expect us to be brewing content by now.
This year, we got them early. What we are unboxing the 5.8-inch model, dubbed the iPhone XS and the bigger variant, the iPhone XS Max. There’s also a more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone XR coming later in October.
The box has not changed much — it’s still the same minimalist white box with the image of the phone you’re getting. Inside are a packet with manuals and stickers, USB-A charging brick, Lightning cable, and a pair of Lightning EarPods (not AirPods, they just look alike).
It’s worth noting that the bundled charger is the regular adapter and cable from yesteryears, even if the new iPhones already support fast charging. To get fast charging on the iPhone XS and XS Max, you need to spend an additional US$ 75 for a Lightning to USB-C Cable and a 29W USB-C adapter.
Since omitting the 3.5mm headphone jack, these new iPhones are also the first ones to not include a headphone jack to Lightning dongle — an extra US$ 9 purchase if you ever need one.
Unlike previous years where you need to get the bigger model to have the best features iPhones have to offer, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are essentially the same phones — the latter just has a bigger display and battery capacity.
The iPhone XS and XS Max also come in a new beautiful gold color, something similar to our favorite iPhone 8 and 8 Plus color from last year — a subtle, non-tacky shade of gold. A slightly darker gold but shiny stainless steel band also highlights the edges of the phones. Button and port placements have not changed, and the notch housing Apple’s TrueDepth Camera technology lives on.
We have more iPhone content coming in the next few days so make sure to stay tuned for that. Our unboxing video is also coming where we unboxed a new case color as well. Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t yet.
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