Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin and remixing video games

Dark Souls 2: Scholar Of The First Sin presents a new way to remix a game’s play experience.

From Software’s Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin released in April 2015, as a combined remaster and DLC bundle. The remaster also served as the next-generation console release, bringing Dark Souls II to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Along with all available DLC (Crown of the Sunken King, Crown of the Old Iron King, Crown of the Ivory King), some graphical improvements and assorted usability updates, the game’s enemy placement received a complete overhaul. The sheer amount of combined content and the reworked enemies make Scholar of the First Sin more than just a remaster, playing it feels almost like playing any Souls title for the first time, exciting and dangerous. For any Dark Souls veteran, it is the perfect excuse for a replay.

The new enemy locations add danger and variety to the play experience, especially in the early game.

As anyone that has played a Souls game knows, the first adventure in a new hollow land is a scary, yet exciting experience. The world is rife with ambushes, weird monstrosities and environmental hazards that a player needs to learn and memorize before traveling between bonfires becomes routine, and safe. The reality is that the first time is always more exciting than any subsequent playthroughs. This element of surprise, the feel that any shadow or corner might pose danger, lessens with each visit to an area. In Scholar of the First Sin, the ambush setups, enemy composition and newly scattered loot make for an entirely fresh playthrough. The new enemy types from the three DLCs have also been introduced to other areas of the game, further varying the kinds of danger a player must adapt to.

Whenever I start a new run of an already completed Souls game, I have noticed a tendency for my attention to shift from the respawning enemies and intricate level design to perfecting the set piece boss fights. While Dark Souls’ boss battles offer interesting challenges, the tension and mystery of the surrounding world is significantly diminished. It would be interesting to see what other games could do with a similar treatment. Any game that constructs different kinds of engagements with enemy placement, could implement remixed positions for new game plus runs. This treatment could also be released as DLC in games that facilitate multiple run-throughs since the production cost for the developer and publisher would be minute compared to creation of new game assets and content.

The relatively simple, and production-wise cheap, procedure of rearranging the enemies in Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is an effective way to remix a game, and provides a different model for injecting new life to existing play experiences.