While the weapons will be available for everyone as found items throughout the game, these editions of the game will make them available from the very beginning.
“A helping hand is rare and much appreciated for battle-weary adventurers in this lost land,” the publisher said in a press release. “Players who purchase the DARK SOULS II Black Armor Edition or the DARK SOULS II Collector’s Edition will receive early access to five special weapons and shields in addition to the normal array of starter weapons on offer at the beginning of their journey.”
Here are the items—but be warned, there are descriptions of where each can be found:
Black Flamestone Dagger and Black Flamestone Parma – A dagger and shield encrusted in Black Flamestone both found in the Gutter at Black Gulch. Even though they are heavier than a normal dagger and shield, the Flamestone crystal’s unique properties make the dagger extremely sharp and give the shield high resistance to damage.
Yellow Quartz Longsword and Yellow Quartz Shield – A straight sword and small shield hardened with yellow quartz both uncovered at the bottom of the Iron Keep. Even though these items can break easily due to their high level of corrosion, they are exceptionally light and their power to inflict damage has not declined.
Bound Hand Axe and Bound Wooden Shield – A brutal hand axe and shield found in the Undead Purgatory. Both items are wrapped in chains and thorns to cause additional bleeding on enemies. Both the axe and shield have diminished in overall slashing power but their ability to deliver pain has been deliberately increased.
Homunculus Mace and Homunculus Wooden Shield – A mace and shield with spherical protrusions found in Aldia’s Keep. Although heavier-than-normal maces and shields, the hard protrusions greatly increase the striking power of the mace as well as the shield’s defensive capabilities.
Transgressor’s Staff and Transgressor’s Leather Shield – A staff and leather shield entwined with an unknown and seemingly lackluster element; these items are found in the Dark Chasm of Old. They have become a catalyst for sorcery and hex and cause an effect known as Darkness.
Now, as cool as all of these items sound, the last thing in the world I want is to have them from the get-go. A huge part of the fun involved in Dark Souls is actually finding these weapons, shields, and sets of armor.
Not only that, everything in Dark Souls has its place and a story behind it. You don’t merely find items, you find items that have a history that’s often tied directly to where they’re found. Loot in the Souls games is more than just a new sword with higher stats—it tells a story.
Another thing to consider: Invasions. Low-level characters that start out with quality gear will have an unfair advantage from the outset in multiplayer. We could view this as just one more danger in the Dark Souls universe, I suppose. I see it more as an unfortunate way to take a level playing field and skew it for no good reason.
I’m glad this isn’t DLC, with weapons and shields available only to pre-order customers. But I do think that offering early access to gear goes against the grain of what these games are all about. I don’t believe most Dark Souls fans will want to take advantage of this to begin with, which means that Namco Bandai either misunderstands its customers or is simply trying to broaden its customer base by giving said “helping hand” to players.
Whatever the case, expect justified backlash.
Of course, one does wonder what would make a better incentive for pre-orders. Perhaps some aesthetic bonus? A voucher for some early gestures or special character customizations? Or perhaps a game like this doesn’t need in-game perks at all to incentivize pre-orders.
The Black Armor Edition will cost $59.99 while the Collector’s Edition, which comes with an art book, cloth map, and 12″ figurine, will retail for $119.99.