<- Previous update: Slack Knight
Due to sheer length of content, I've decided to split this update in two halves. The second half will be posted later.
If I could direct your attention to the OP of this thread, you will find my stats & equipment from the very last time I played. So, if anyone's curious about what my stats are, what weapons I'm using, what level I'm at, etc. you can always just check the OP. You always could have done that, actually--but this time, I have a direct screenshot. Less work for me, more pleasing to the eye for you.
After I awoke from my month-long slumber, I made it back to the blacksmith, with all the spoils I gathered from the last update--plus a little more. At last, I bought the other smithbox I needed. That was the #1 thing on my to-do list, so now that I have both in my possession, I can finally start pushing forward.
Before I left the old church, however, I spotted something in the blacksmith's inventory that I had never noticed before: A Crest of Artorias, for 20,000 souls. If you recall from my test video
, you'll remember that I happened across this large, mysterious door in the heart of Darkroot Garden--but I couldn't quite figure out how to open it. Well, it seems the old blacksmith was carrying its key the whole time.
This crest opens a door in the Darkroot Garden sealed by ancient magic.
The door leads to the grave of Sir Artorias the Abysswalker. Many adventurers have left for the grave, but none have returned, for they make easy prey for local bandits. With such dangers, the crest can do more harm than good in the hands of the uninitiated.
Seems right up my alley. But 20K souls?... That's a little bit more than I'm willing to sit and grind for. But perhaps, I thought to myself, there's some way I could speed up the process? I considered my options:
First, there's the Undead Parish. Heading backwards from where I traveled here would give me access to redcapes and many undead soldiers. Additionally, just outside the old church, there is what appears to be a large monastery. It previously housed a gargantuan knight, which I firebombed to death in Update #6. When I made my way inside the altar, I found a few redcapes, and a sorcerer who fired strong bolts of ice at me from above. It seemed too dangerous at the time, so I neglected venturing further. It might be time to visit it again.
Next, there's Darkroot Garden itself. The bush monsters, as annoying as they are, yield a pretty decent amount of souls--plus, I can't scratch the feeling that there's still plenty of unexplored territory here; I still need to find that hidden bonfire Turkey keeps mentioning, and in the Darkroot Basin, there is an elevator I've yet to use, inside of that cave where the bonfire is. I should try going down there. As for the giant stone knights and the ice golems... They can wait.
Finally, I have this urge to revisit the Undead Burg. Not only do I need to restock on some Firebombs--there are a lot of things I feel like I've neglected to do there. I look in my inventory, and I see a bunch of keys that I still haven't used yet, like this Mystery Key, and I seem to recall bumping into a few locked doors back in the Burg. I think it would really pay me handsomely to make the trek back over there again.
Hopefully, by the end of all this, I'll not only have collected enough souls for that Artorias Crest; I'll also have tied up all (or at least, most) of the loose ends in these areas I've yet to complete.
1. The Black Knight
Flee, after watching my black knight glitch
video, made a few comments about my fighting style. Basically, he suggested that I experiment more with other weapons and strategies. My Winged Spear, while reliable, is overall inefficient for killing black knights, because of their strong armor. Two-handing a mace, such as my Morning Star, could
get the job done faster--if I'm very careful.
In order to test that strategy out, I required another black knight to face. Fortunately, I left one behind in a tower in the Undead Parish, making him the perfect test target. He kinda fucked my shit up the last time I tried fighting him, though--that's why I just left him alone. That greatsword he had was the real deal--what it lacked in speed, it made up for in power and range. I'm gonna have to play to my outs if I wanna beat him.
I had to test out my Weapon Smithbox first, though. I had some Titanite Shards jangling around in my pocket, so why not? Unfortunately, reinforcing weapons and armor still costs you souls, even with the box. Eh, I guess it's just nice being able to do it at any bonfire. Anyway, naturally, I chose to reinforce my Winged Spear. Now it's a Winged Spear+1, which gives it a scrape more damage. Wanting to conserve souls, I didn't upgrade anything else.
To reach the knight's tower in the Undead Parish, I had to backtrack. Rather than getting annoyed about it, though, I tried to be positive and think of it more as an opportunity for me to hone my combat skills. Try out some new techniques, and discover some new areas, or things that I may have missed on my first go-around.
For example--since I was heading backwards, this gave me ample opportunity to teach myself how to backstab, since a lot of the enemies were facing the other direction. I've also begun to employ the shield-kick in my little gameplan. Initialy, I thought it was utterly useless--but after accidentally using it a bunch of times, I've gleaned it's function as a way to drain your opponent's stamina, which is actually very useful. I've also gotten better at rolling, backdashing, reading my opponent's movements, and even parrying. I'm getting good.
Most importantly, I'm beginning to block a lot more effectively--and it's all thanks to my new shield--the Grass Crest Shield--the one I picked up at the end of my last update. What it does is increase the rate at which your stamina replenishes when you aren't blocking. This allows you to act a lot faster during combat situations, because your stamina gauge fills back up almost instantly.
As I've been warned, holding up your shield for too long only drains your stamina faster. The less time you spend blocking, the less stamina you'll lose. From what I understand, it's to prevent overly-defensive play, so learning how to block effectively is integral. At first, this was a difficult system for me to get used to--but the Grass Crest Shield has really
helped me out, because it encourages you to keep your shield down by rewarding
you for doing so. Pretty awesome. The pretty green aura is a nice touch, too.
When I reached the black knight, it took me quite a few attempts to beat him. Two-handing the mace required me to forgo my shield, which meant that any hit I take will almost certainly lead to death--I could only take two hits before I bit the dust. Dodging his attacks was easy enough, but I had particular trouble avoiding his overhead slash. Not to mention--though the Morning Star was indeed doing more damage than the Winged Spear would have, it still wasn't doing a whole lot. It wasn't until I eventually upgraded to a Morning Star+2 that I was dealing ~30 damage per standard hit, ~80 per strong hit--which finally proved to be too much for him.
When he fell, I collected about 600 souls, some Titanite, and best of all: His shield.
It was a slow, incremental process beating him--but I gathered about ~4000 souls through the process, and I became a much, much stronger player as a result of going through the same area over and over. I was only level 17, but I was already feeling like a pro. It even got to a point where I could reach the knight's tower without even needing a drop of Estus, because I knew how to handle each and every enemy without taking a hit.
Also, I haven't talked about this very much, but I'm really beginning to see why everyone praises the map design so much. Every little area blends into each other in such elegant and clever (and often unexpected) ways. It all feels very fluid and seamless, unlike in most games, where the areas tend to be bluntly segmented and disjointed. Here, I love that feeling when I enter what appears to be a completely new location, only to open a door or something and be like, "Oh, this leads way back here!" Like, I honestly really love that. I got a taste of it again when I discovered how to open that gate in the parish, and I suspect the whole game is going to be like that.
You know what's funny? I just realized--as I keep "getting gooder," the game starts getting gooder, too.
2. Darkroot Basin Elevator
After killing the black knight, the next thing I wanted to do was go down that elevator in the Darkroot Basin. I didn't have the faintest idea what I'd find down there, but needless to say--given that you all already know--there wasn't anything for me.
It led to a new location called the Valley of Drakes.
One step out of the elevator gave view to a large bluish figure off in the distance--some kind of pygmy dragon. I gave it a closer look with my binoculars, and just stared hesitantly at it. After awhile, I said "fuck it" and tossed a firebomb at it. Pissed, it immediately attacked and started breathing bolts of lightning at me. I kept my distance, futilely trying to find some kind of opening--and figured that I ought to retreat.
Unsatisfied with my findings, I started hunting tree monsters in the forest to compensate, after which I wound up with a total of 6000 souls.
I visited Artorias's door again. I began to wonder if collecting 20K souls was even worth it at this point. Should I even worry about it right now? Out of boredom, I started tapping the R1 and R2 buttons, thinking about my next course of action while stabbing the air with my spear. I struck the door with it, wondering if striking walls damages weapons. I struck the wall immediately adjacent to the door--and, to my bewilderment, the wall disappeared, revealing the hidden bonfire I've been looking for. This is one of them illusory walls I've been hearing about.
I lit the bonfire immediately, and it was then that I decided my next move--I'm gonna tackle that monastery.