PC gamers have begrudgingly waited for it, and some are still waiting for a boxed copy, while their console brethren basked in its glory, but what is the difference? Well, there is no need to revisit old ground here as the games systems and controls are identical, if marginally different on the control side depending on the console it is being compared to. What this means is that no matter what version of this title you purchase you are going to get a supremely well crafted experience that lets your imagination wonder as you explore Drangleic. Don’t believe me? Then you might want to check out Adrian’s glowing 9/10 review, but what of the graphical additions?
Well, the good news is that Dark Souls II is a marked step up from the port the original game gave us, which is no great surprise. However, the gap isn’t as steep as some might be expecting. Any who have been on top of their news will have no doubt seen the full compliment of graphical options on display. Among the list we have options for character model detail, shadows, antistrophic filtering, texture detail and ambient occlusion, all of which help add that extra bit of sheen to proceedings. However, with the immense lighting and texture quality that was present in the alpha build nowhere to be seen, the biggest improvement seems to come in the form of a resolution upgrade. This time, From Software have seen fit to let us go all the way up to 4K resolutions, no DSFix necessary and boy, does it help. Running at 1440p made everything sharper, crisper and rounder. Almost eliminating any need for anti-aliasing. Couple this with the stability increase found here, enabling a stable 60 frames per second and you can add the adjectives, “smooth” and “responsive” to that list. Trust me when I say that, if any game required those two traits for a fulfilling experience, it’s the Dark Souls series.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the other options do represent a noticeable improvement over their console counterparts, just not as much as I would like. Shadow detail, would probably be at the top of this list. Delivering full deep, smooth shadows that contrast with the pixilated blurry mess found on the consoles. It goes some way to alleviating the nerfed lighting system that is now in the game. On the flipside, texture detail can be underwhelming in places as it seems to be relying on the same assets used in the console versions in most places. If not for the increased resolution, it would be really hard for the average eye to discern the difference.
The icing on the cake should be how easy it is to run Dark Souls II with everything maxed. While we don’t have the privilege of running multiple rigs to test it fully, my moderate i7 2600k, 580 GTX system had no troubles handling it with everything maxed out, and I for one never underestimate the impact of 60 frames per second.
From Software have done a good job this time around and there is no doubt that the PC version is the definitive version of Dark Souls II should you get the chance to choose. Even better, is that there seems to be strong support for the game after release, with the development team correcting minor bugs and problems that are cropping up across all platforms. There should be no doubt that this is a title you should play regardless of your allegiances and I reiterate that while the PC may have the upper hand, Dark Souls II is a superb experience no matter the system or console you play it on.