Lords of the Fallen Is Better Than Dark Souls 2; Sorry, Fanboys

It's not that Dark Souls 2 is "bad," it's just that Lords of the Fallen is superior.

By Daavpuke, Posted 02 Jan 2015

Game of the Year lists have rolled in and a fair few will have likely mentioned Dark Souls 2 in some sense. It is an easy top ten participant after all. Yet, Lords of the Fallen won’t be given the same credit, despite it essentially being a clone of the former. There’s a reason for that: Lords of the Fallen, the game, isn’t Dark Souls 2, the name. More so, Lords of the Fallen is an improvement on the Souls model and actually makes for a better game. So, if anything, it should be the copycat making its way into many regurgitated lists full of similar titles. For a basic understanding of that, read our reviews on both games here below:

Dark Souls 2 – 72/100

Lords of the Fallen – 84/100

If arbitrary scores were enough to dictate the quality of games, however, the review scale wouldn’t be such a point of debate. Therefore, this piece can do what a reviewing critique shouldn’t do: A comparison between games, instead of a view on their respective merits alone. Yes, one is beating the other in some fields, but to know that, let’s actually look at where each shines brighter than the other.

Here’s why Lords of the Fallen is better than Dark Souls 2:

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison

“Prepare To Die”

Really, anything Dark Souls is or does can be said with the series’ colloquial slogan. This ominous message prides itself on smashing its entrants in some perverted Running Man antics. Many enter, but the majority will fail time and again and get chewed up by the relentless machine of this grueling roleplaying game (RPG). Dark Souls 2 goes even as far as making fun of players right in the opening sequence, laughing in their faces on how they will perish time and again. This is such a hateful attitude. The goal is to make sure that the player is stomped on at any step, which is translated in enemies blindsiding characters into an abyss, hordes erupting out of dark corners with little chance to escape or even treasure chests destroying the player’s every fiber. Every spot in the game is a bad situation waiting to happen, just because it wants to be as bad as it can towards its audience. Its stance was marked with the series’ very first serving, in which the tutorial absolutely obliterates any newcomer. Welcome to your death, chump!

Essentially, that’s what trolling is: Annoying subjects for the sake of being annoying. Games with correlative models, such as popularized by I Wanna Be The Guy, are cast aside as being purposely anti-player. And yet From Software’s game isn’t given that banner, under a guise of a “challenge” or learning curve where there is less adversity than there is plain waylaying. It beats the same drum of not wanting anyone to play or progress its game, as only dying is emphasized time and again. Triumph isn’t rewarded, failure is punished.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison

Lords of the Fallen, in turn, tones down on this spiteful stance. Yes, that challenge is still present, but with much less instances of tricking players into an early grave. It doesn’t need to go out of its way to kill its audience at every turn, as the game is more than hard enough to complete that goal on its own. Even with all enemies visible in the distance, the chance for survival is only determined by the player’s skill. One-shots aren’t the standard in this game, since it’s much harder to learn from something that abruptly cuts a run short. There is breathing room.

Most apparent in the latter’s scheme, the “tutorial” segment isn’t some reluctantly thrown in addition. This starter section actually serves its audience to steel themselves against the gruesome hardships ahead in that “organic” way the former boasts about. There’s an entire opening world where dark castles and tough bosses can be faced, each more excruciating than the last. This isn’t a “hand holding” part of the game either, just a stepping stone to more and more arduous tasks. It’s as if Lords of the Fallen actually wants to give someone a fighting chance, before dialing up the difficulty to maximum, instead of starting at 11 and giving anyone the finger for not falling in line. This flexible method, ironically, prepares one to die.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison

“Figure It Out”

Oh, how the masses love throwing out the rhetoric of hand holding in modern games and how Dark Souls doesn’t indulge in that. While that is true, it’s also only half the truth. In reality, Souls games obtusely go in the opposite extreme, not saying anything anywhere. From its items to its statistics, any information is hard to come by in this game. Applying that vague roguelike trait to this RPG makes things much more confusing than they should be, given that the difficulty is purposely elevated enough as is. More so, the use of some items can be crucial to overall progress, with potential game-breaking effect upon their improper usage. Veering towards game-breaking states is never a good thing.

Perhaps even worse, this is justified under false pretenses. With that harkening back to olden days in mind, the Souls fanatic mentions that old games didn’t explain how to play the game either. Yet, that had several different reasons. For example, tech limitations would severely impact what could or couldn’t be said. As designs were also much simpler, there was less omission overall, so it was still possible to get a basic grasp of the whole. Older games were, logically, also not as evolved and as all processes, these things came with trials upon trials in game development. That’s why lacking instructions are less present in contemporary games.

Now, in its defense, Dark Souls 2 has been more compliant with info spreading, if reluctantly as any leniency it yields. Not every small shard is a cryptic poem anymore. It still, however, tries to hold back as much as possible and that needs to stop. If the game really was about pure skill, like so many would believe, it wouldn’t need to hide any descriptions. Sheer gameplay would take care of any amateurs. Players aren’t studying for a test, they’re sent in this nightmare world to conquer it by hand; practicality over all.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison

This category is won by Lords of the Fallen without much effort. It clarifies what things do, which is self-explanatory, really. Found a new item? Go into the menu and it will show exactly how this is different than the other. There’s no trial and error needed, no theories pondered on what an item’s effect may be, no constant fear of crippling the game by not applying the right abstract thought. Simple descriptions; that’s all a game needs to do to be a better game. That’s not the same as a step-by-step guide on how to beat the game. It clearly sets aside any confusion to let the gameplay do the talking. It’s sort of mind-boggling that any game was able to throw a veil over that and have its crowd accept it so blindly.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison


A lot can be said about Dark Souls 2 just by the mere fact it doesn’t have a pause screen. Many dismiss this as being a small omission, but it showcases that attitude discussed earlier. Here, the most important thing to take away from that is that omitting the pause screen is completely unnecessary. Admittedly, it makes more sense in the online features of the game, but it applies this to an offline portion as well, simply to pester players furthers. It’s so, so unnecessary. Why is this a thing anywhere? Players work around it to rest at a dead spot in the game regardless. It shouldn’t be an actual “quest” to halt progress for a minute to take a break. Sudden calls don’t work that way.

More problematic still, the menu system is a subtle trolling mechanism, not clearly detailing if players have left it. It’s yet more contrived design that pushes itself onto its audience. A menu isn’t the place where that complete sense of concentration should be mandatory, it’s an auxiliary means to the actual action at hand. Dying at the hand of an incomplete menu exit is a heinous act to put in any game. Imagine if a deep strategy title like Europa Universalis would require this sort of condition within its many sheets. That world also has a tough challenge, but it’d be mad to frustrate users so needlessly through technical implementation.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison

Lords of the Fallen separates management from action, because the two have a much different dynamic that requires a different kind of attention. It’s getting simpler with each argument to bring these points home. Let the options menu stay where it is, at the side of the game and not in the middle of the fray. Yes, there is a sense of cutting away from the immediate tension that lowers the immersion everyone craves, but the alternative is much worse. Moreover, the separate screen gives more room for that whole information bit addressed earlier. There’s definitely a thoughtful reasoning in not crowding the same spaces for inverse activities.

It’s not so much that Lords of the Fallen is the “winner” in this sense, though. There’s no commendation for implementing a pause screen. What a world that would be, crediting something for not being overtly thick. It’s just common sense applied in a game. Rather, it’s Souls’ failing for not doing so properly.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison


Previous items were stepping stones with varying degrees of aggravation as to how they affect the overall game. The main reason why Dark Souls 2 is such a hassle is the very foundation of its theme. It wants to be as hard as possible and requires the highest skill possible, at all times. Overcoming this gives its users that “badge of honor” anyone in its community proudly displays at any opportunity. This sort of perfection is hard to attain in any game, but one the size of this particular project is damn near lunacy. Perfection is a requirement it asks from its players, so it needs to be able to handle that in turn, but it’s a task no modern game of its complexity can handle anymore, not to the highest degree it needs it to be.

To illustrate this, let’s say that the margin of error in Dark Souls 2 is set to something as high as 95% accuracy or more. Anywhere outside of that frame and the animation gets shut down by hits, the character gets blocked by scenery or a multitude of other events occur that result in catastrophic failure, ergo death. It means that the enemies and the world around it need to operate at this level of excellence as well, with only a minuscule amount of indiscretions allowed. Basically, maybe two enemies in the game can have spotty hit detection that one time and a wall or two may not be as solid in construction as first appears. This, offset with the deluge of enemies and involved locations in the game, is a recipe for disaster.

Any technical issue the game exhibits potentially dooms the participant and puts them in a worse spot. That shouldn’t be able to happen once, since the challenge is elevated to such a heightened degree already. As Icarus flying too close to the sun, it’s this model of an infallible state that breaks the series. It simply can’t soar so high without getting burned by its own hubris.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison

In that same illustration, Lords of the Fallen puts its tension around more of 80% or over, if a visual is needed. This isn’t the game going easy on players either, as it’s still strenuously difficult, but it’s less absolutely unforgiving. There is a high demand in this game as well, but its overall goal is much less unattainable. Just like there are fewer one-hit slayings, it’s also possible to have more than instantaneous muscle memory reactions when it comes to fighting. That, in turn, leaves more gaps for when something should go wrong, without it becoming a complete calamity.

It’s that breathing room thing that’s so important here. There’s much more nuance possible in this RPG. Instead of just having a minuscule window of opportunity that can only be completed with a specific action, Lords of the Fallen allows for experimentation with just slightly bigger gaps. That’s freedom instead of a constraint, not a leniency of any sort. Not trying to stay at the highest peak of performance at all times, instead opting for a tick below that, makes for a much more operational end result. That’s what wins Lords of the Fallen all the high fives it so deserves.

Lords of the Fallen,Dark Souls 2,Comparison

Let It Go

Look, Demon’s Souls was once a resurgence of traditional values that felt like they were long gone, but since then there have been more games that took the brutal challenge to heart. If anything, games like Dungeon of the Endless present a similar assault in an ingenious gameplay design so complex and intertwined, but with the difference that it actually works. As previous points have shown, Dark Souls 2 isn’t even the best in its own zoomed-in, specific genre. Just about the only thing Lords of the Fallen can’t follow through on is the range of combat diversity available in Dark Souls 2, since it doesn’t have the same budget to handle it. That, however, is just more content in an overall technical design that works to a lesser extent than the other option.

Perhaps even more alluring to the fanboy, Dark Souls 2 is a prettier game. Anyone left defending the series at this point with comments that are “missing the point” or “being bad at video games” and other types of cop-outs is the same dismissive ignoramus that chooses style over substance, while claiming gameplay is king. Souls is just a name. If it were really the case that decent design wins all, Lords of the Fallen would be an easy pick, since it improves gameplay at just about every turn, in a more confined whole.

It’s time to drop the Mountain Dew and try another soda. It might not be the Dew, but it might just be a little better than expected.  Hell, straying from the flock to welcome others is actually good for a game. A game needs to fight for attention. Accepting brands just for being brands is how a series devolves into refinement over innovation and soon enough Dark Souls is just another Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed. Lords of the Fallen 2 would be in the works. The same applies to that sequel as well.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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  • This must be the longest troll ever contrived into a convincing blog post. You can't be serious? Not every game can put out titles that up the difficulty, with virtually no in-game guides, all with no readily apparent plot connections, & YET STILL having their players clawing over eachother with theories & thousands of hours of gameplay. The difficulty & such is artificial, YES, but they can only do this successfully if it translates well to the player. The fan-dom is anything but artificial, and possibly the most vibrant online game discussion topics of all time. Point is that's not by chance, or simply because it was hard or something. Truth is we don't entirely grasp the mounds of effort Dark Souls devs put into the game to MAKE it work. It wouldn't be possible any other way. One example of that statement is ironically "Lords of the Fallen". The story immersion was TERRIBLE. The dungeon/map layouts were unremarkable & wayy too focused on "the absence factor", it clearly became an excuse for the DEVs to be lazy. Perhaps they were as diluted as you my friend. Show me anyone who can't get enough of "Lords of the Fallen's amazing epic story line!". They don't exist. I felt same about another dissappointing game, "Dragon Age: Inq", and offered a friend to buy me Lords of Fallen digital copy, if I gave him my DA:I account. Surprising to me at the time, he was thrilled at the idea. But now I see why.
    VERY ironically, I only stumbled across this blog post because I was googling somewhere I could try and trade Lords of the Fallen for Dark Souls or Dark Souls 2 game. If any takers here, some1 e-mail me @ LloydMarley@gmail.com . I'm a legit DS fan. LotF was fun, don't get me wrong. But the move from beating Dark Souls 2 -> LotF was a mudslide story-wise. Just another testament to the true success of DarkSouls though. Remember that trade I'm offering, & tell your friends! ^^
    Posted Mar 22, 2015


General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco Games, Square Enix
Developer(s): Deck13 Interactive, CI Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Action, Hack And Slash
Release Date: 2014-10-28

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