So I’ve completed DS 1 and DS 3 numerous times with DLC and both are arguably my favourite games. I’ve heard that DS 2 isn’t ‘bad’ as people say, just different in terms of lore? Anyway I’ve been thinking about this for a while and just thought I’d let it out there, is it worth it?
Warning: opinion incoming
My first recommendation is that you should go for scholar of the first sin, which bassically is Dark souls II with all DLC, some new enemy placement, new item placements and extra lore (secret new endboss too!).
Dark Souls 2, is a masterpiece, just like the other DS games. It is different at times and lore-wise it doesnt connect to DS1 or 3 very well (but there is more than enough room for lore-speculation).
some things i liked:
it features new punishment on death; everytime you die your max HP drops by a fixed percentage (can be mitigated by wearing a specific ring or using humanity to revive).
It has some really good area's (imho). the Journey down 'the gutter' was a memorable experience for me. it is a very dark area and torches in DS2 are limited in time (they can burn out). while traveling trough the gutter you can light stationary torches along the way with your own torch. upon death they stay lit which helps you navigate in this vertical maze and help you.... well.... see in the dark XD.
I personally found the areas in DS2 pretty hard. might be just me, but area's like No-mans wharf and black gulch were a proper challenge for me and i found them harder than most areas in DS1 or 3.
Bosses on the other hand... they are quite bit easier in DS2. While some felt like a proper challenge (Pursuer, dragonslayer or ancient dragon), some of them were so easy that i would label them as unmemorable (covetous demon, dragon rider, last giant).
Some bossfights have some unique features and play a bit different (think amongst the lines of wolnir and curse rotted tree in DS3).
For example: The executioner chariot boss in DS2 is running circles in a narrow corridor trying to run you over. luckily there are safe spots were you can hide. But at the same time skeletons keep spawning and make life miserable. without spoiling it, there are multiple ways to survive and defeat the boss. it wasnt very hard, but it was a cool fight (not in the last place because the music for this fight is amongst the best of the game).
Something i also like is that things you do in an area might influence the difficultie of a bosssfight. not really a feature, but there were some fun interactions that will change the boss-arena's here and there...usually resulting in an easier bossfight.
Some other changes that are unique to DS2;
Enemies will stop spawning after you killed them X times (won't even respawn after resting at a bonfire). Using a specific item will 'restore the area' respawning all enemies (and even the boss), but at a cost. The difficulty of the area after using this item will permanently be at NG+ level.
new stat: adaptability; granting poise, all-res and influences invulnarability frames while rolling and the speed at which you use consumables (including estus). other stats will look familiar.
new game + will reward you with a different boss-soul on some boss-kills. granting acces to spells/weapons unique to NG+
Many armor pieces in DS2 have extra effects on them (more souls on kill, less falling damage, raise equipment load or a certain stat or refresh spell-uses). While DS1 and 3 had this as well, DS2 has many more armors with special effects.
i could go on for a while, but bottom-line: its really good... play it
it might be the worst Dark souls game, its still one of the best games ever made