A few months back, the Dark Souls fanbase went abuzz with anticipation – a remastered version of the original game had been announced, set to be released on the 25th of May for the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.
The reaction was mixed. Some were elated to have the opportunity to revisit Lordran with a rekindled (pun intended) multiplayer scene, some were not exactly happy with the seemingly minimal changes in a full-priced release, and some let their desire for a Demon’s Souls remaster overshadow this one.
So, what exactly was changed in the remastered version and, most importantly, is it worth the hefty price tag?
Dark Souls Remastered – New Features
Let’s not sugarcoat it – “remaster” is just a fancy word to stick on a port and charge premium for it on every platform. They are very different from remakes, as remakes essentially reimagine a game from the ground-up. Remasters, on the other hand, simply bring a game to a newer platform and introduce some limited improvements.
That said, the remastered Dark Souls does not differ at all from the original game in terms of mechanics, with nearly all the improvements being solely technical. Among other things, these are bug fixes, some gameplay balancing, along with updated graphics and some new multiplayer features.
The first and most significant change when it comes to the graphics is the enhanced resolution and framerate on all platforms.
The original game ran at 720p and at 30 FPS on consoles, and the poorly-optimized PC port also locked the game at this resolution and imposed the same framerate cap, with PC gamers having to resort to mods in order to make the game perform better.
Here are the Dark Souls Remastered resolution and framerate targets on all platforms:
|PlayStation 4||1080p||60 FPS|
|PlayStation 4 Pro||4K (Upscaled)||60 FPS|
|Xbox One||1080p||60 FPS|
|Xbox One X||4K (Upscaled)||60 FPS|
|Nintendo Switch||1080p (Docked)/720p (Handheld)||30 FPS|
Console releases of the original Dark Souls on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 were plagued by performance issues, while an entirely different legion of problems befell the PC version due to the developers’ inexperience with PC ports. The remastered version will, luckily, fix all those performance issues.
Furthermore, the graphics engine has also been updated to feature sharper textures, denser and better-looking particle effects, as well as more realistic lighting. However, no new assets will be included.
The only truly significant gameplay improvements are in the multiplayer department.
- Dedicated servers – The original game’s multiplayer invasion and co-op system relied on peer hosting. With dedicated servers, connections are bound to be more stable, especially when a higher number of players is present.
- Up to 6 players at once – The original game supported up to four players being present in a single world at any given time, but the remaster increases this number to 6.
- Password matchmaking – A very handy feature from Dark Souls III which allows you to connect with your friends even if the levels of your characters are not within the standard summoning range. The higher-level character’s stats are scaled down appropriately.
Those are the major changes, but the remastered game does introduce additional bug fixes, balancing, and various other minor improvements that make the game more stable and fluid than the original release was.
Dark Souls Remastered – The Price
Like most remasters, the Dark Souls Remastered is set to launch at $40 on all platforms.
Now, the question that you, if you’re a Souls veteran, undoubtedly want to know is: are there discounts/free copies for those who already own the game?
Originally, Bandai Namco had stated that there would be no discounts, but they have recently changed their mind due to community backlash. Steam users who already own the original Prepare to Die Edition will receive a 50% discount. However, there are no discounts for those who own the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 versions of the game.
Dark Souls Remastered vs The Original – Which Should You Get?
So, maybe you’ve never played any of the Souls games before, or perhaps you played a few but not the first one. What you will be wondering at this point is which you should get: the remaster or the original Dark Souls – Prepare to Die Edition? Well, this is not really that relevant a question anymore, since Bandai Namco has announced that they will be removing the Prepare to Die Edition from Steam soon, although no exact date has been set. It will most likely coincide with the launch of the remaster.
At the moment, Dark Souls – Prepare to Die Edition costs $20 on Steam, but you could probably find it a little cheaper at some third-party stores or marketplaces. The only reason why you might opt to buy it at this point is to be eligible for the Steam-only discount on the remastered version, although there would be little sense in getting a $20 game for a $20 discount unless you fancy yourself a collector and want to have the original version in your library before it’s taken off Steam and its price skyrockets.
Apart from that, there are no merits to playing the original release instead of the remaster. The port is borderline unplayable without the help of DSfix, and the multiplayer scene is pretty much dead by now as well.
The Final Word
Looking at it from an objective standpoint, Dark Souls Remastered seems to be a rather competently put-together port. It fixes the original PC release’s glaring issues and will provide a reinvigorated multiplayer experience.
Best of all, Bandai Namco had finally met the community’s demands and provided a 50% discount for those who already own the game, albeit only for Steam users, which is bound to win the favor of many veterans who are itching to revisit Lordran once more. On the other hand, those who own the original game on the PS3 or the Xbox 360 will have to pay full price for this privilege.
So, should you buy it?
If you’re a veteran who owns the original game on Steam and is seeking to recapture the feeling of your first time playing the game, the 50% discount on the PC release makes this prospect all the more appealing. On the other hand, if you’ve only played the original on a console, we suggest waiting for a discount – unless you’re really eager to jump back into the multiplayer, that is.
As for the newbies to the franchise or those who still have the original Dark Souls sitting on their wishlist, I say: go for it! Whether it’s your first “Soulsborne” game or if you’ve simply left the (arguably) best for last, the remastered game and the DLC are well worth the price tag. Enjoy the scenery, take in the lore, praise the sun, and git gud!