The Big Fix

Among the numerous problems with Dark Souls II post-launch, the degrading integrity of its world was the most jarring. Already the game had an almost devil-may-care attitude with regards to item placement, with numerous hanging threads or plot holes further muddling the unambitious narrative. FromSoftware had clearly pinned their hopes on rectifying at least the latter with DLC. Items related to Nashandra hinted to the existence of others like her, and the files confirmed that these other children of Dark were to feature in the game’s three planned DLC right from the start. However, these additions ended up just as slipshod as the main game. Looking at just Nashandra, the claim that she was the smallest Dark fragment and thus formed first became increasingly laughable as one sister after another was revealed to act before her. How did the main villain with supposedly such a huge head start not do anything of relevance during all those centuries?

The developers were clearly still without a map as they continued to sail, and it only compounded their game’s criticisms. Thankfully, they were aware of such shortcomings and receptive to feedback. On November 24, 2014, an overhaul for the game was announced with the subtitle Scholar of the First Sin. Advertised as the “definitive” version, the developers tried fixing as many of the narrative problems as possible, or at least the most egregious. It would add new characters to help reframe the existing story, seamlessly integrate the DLC into the main game, relocate many items into more appropriate contexts, and even change rarity for the supposedly more unique items. As for items whose sources couldn’t be changed or still didn’t make sense even in their new context, FromSoftware opted to simply revise their descriptions in a major update for the game on February 5, 2015, almost two months before Scholar of the First Sin‘s April 1 release that same year.

To give one example, the Alonne Knight set’s descriptions originally read as if Alonne was one of many foreign guests whom the Old Iron King had invited during his later prosperity. This became patently absurd when the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC revealed the knight to have served the man since before he became the Iron King. The February 5 update therefore removed this detail, now leaving it to imply that Alonne’s example was what prompted the King to trust foreigners to begin with. The timeline of events was fixed, and the narrative cohesion was strengthened. And following the release of Scholar of the First Sin, even more of these changes came to make sense with their new locations. It is for that reason that I refer to this update as the “big fix”. It may not have addressed all of the game’s problems — most rooted in fundamental design decisions — but it undeniably improved the story and world.