Unboxing the Dark Souls II Collector’s Edition and Collector’s Edition Strategy Guide

If you’ve been kicking around here for any length of time, you probably have a good idea that I’m a pretty big advocate of From Software in general and Dark Souls in specific. The series has made quite a splash in the western market, so it makes sense that we’d see a bit of an upgrade to its collectable releases as time has gone on, as Demon’s Souls didn’t really offer anything, while Dark Souls offered a free steelbook version if you preordered the game. Well, Dark Souls II goes above and beyond with its Collector’s Edition content, offering up a release that’s on par with some of the larger Triple-A Collector’s Editions to come out over the past several years. I’m not the sort of person to jump on any giant package released for a game I’m interested in, but as a dedicated and vocal fan of the franchise, I felt it was an easy purchase to justify, along with the CE strategy guide, and with that, I wanted to share it with all of you, since in some locations it may still be available for purchase.

So let’s take a look at the package:

As you can see, the box is absolutely huge, and outstrips the strategy guide size-wise (which is, itself, not a small object). The outside of the box contains the normal selling point advertisements you’d expect for such a game, and the sides of the box are decorated with artwork from the game, but the big focal point is the clear plastic front, which showcases the figurine that is the big selling point of the CE. There’s more to the package than just the figure, however:

The CE contains the steel book version of the game (dubbed the “Black Armor Edition”), a hardcover artbook, a 12″ figurine, and a map of the game world of Dark Souls II. To get into each piece separately a bit:

The game world map is a cloth map, suitable for hanging up or framing if that’s a thing you’re into doing. It’s basically just an overhead view of the game world overall, meaning it’s not anything you could use to navigate the world proper in any sense, but it’s visually interesting and looks like you’d expect a map from a Souls game to look, honestly. It feels fairly sturdy in hand, as well, so it’s not a cheap novelty by any means, and I can certainly say I think it’s a worthwhile novelty inclusion in the package.

The artbook is a little more confusing in context to discuss, almost entirely because it lacks in context entirely. While the hardbound book is solid and features an extensive amount of artwork, that’s the entirety of its contents: artwork, and lots of it. There are no comments from the design staff, or introductions, or philosophical waxings from the producer; indeed, this is an artbook in the purest sense of the term, as it’s crammed full of art and nothing else. It’s very nice art, to be certain, but for those who like a little context to their art, this may be a bit confusing for you.

The steelbook case comes with a slipcover, as most seem to, that essentially looks like you’d expect the exterior of the normal release to look. The case proper features front and back artwork of the knight from the cover, and also features a pronounced exterior with obvious emphasizing of the mask, arm, sword and title of the game. As steelbooks go, it’s pleasing to the eye and feels weighty in hand. Upon opening the case up…

It comes with two discs: the main game disc, which you’d expect, and a soundtrack disc featuring songs from the game. The music is as impressive as you’d expect, so this is a strong inclusion to make, and it’s a worthwhile addition to the package. There’s no manual included in the box, as has become a trend these days, though the package does include a DLC code for the “Black Armor Weapons Pack,” which consists of a handful of swords, daggers, axes and shields to work with; they’re not exceptionally better than the starting gear you can potentially have (unless you start Deprived obviously) but they’re okay.

We finally come to the “big” piece of the CE, the figurine. The character stands a foot tall and is equipped in what the strategy guide describes as the Faraam Set, worn by the Forossa Lion Knights, for those who find this sort of thing to be interesting. He comes with two swords, which can be placed in-hand by taking the pommels off of the swords, slipping them into his hands, and replacing the pommels. The figure isn’t posable outside of removing or placing the swords, and it’s made of a fairly light-weight plastic all in all. It’s worth the price if you’re a fan of the franchise, or if you just like the armor designs, and while I’m the sort of person who would’ve preferred a sword and shield over two swords, the figure is pretty cool and justifies the price well enough.

Before we go, I do want to touch on the CE strategy guide for the game a bit, for those who are curious about it or thinking of picking it up. Weighing in at a whopping four hundred and sixty four pages, this hardcover book is an absolute beast, and you could probably injure someone with it if that’s a thing you look for in your reading material. The guide, as with its predecessor, breaks down each area and shows you where all of the hidden goodies are, as well as much of what you can expect in each location, in case you’re naive enough to think that’ll help or anything. It also gives you a comprehensive list of armors, weapons, items and NPC’s you can meet, as well as a description of what to expect from each enemy and boss you’ll encounter throughout the game. While I haven’t spent much time with the game proper, from perusing the guide, it certainly sounds like the final product will be even worse than its predecessor in terms of pure difficulty, so as the saying goes, “Prepare to Die,” and we’ll see about bringing you a final review as soon as I’ve finished learning just how many swear words I really know.

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    • Mark B.

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