There are a large number of people within Respawning who without fail will talk about Dark Souls, share a meme or make a reference to the game on a weekly basis… And while I’m not someone who joins in the topical banter, I soon hope to. This is how I’m levelling up my gaming.

I should clarify what I mean by ‘I soon hope to’ and ‘leveling up my gaming’ – I’m getting better at it; I’m playing games, making them harder for myself in order to push myself and trying to surpass my previous limits. There are a few different games that I have been playing over the past few months that have been stretching what I’m capable of… Then there’s the end goal, complete Dark Souls 3. This may mean that I’m going to bypass through Dark Souls 1, Dark Souls 2, BloodBorne and Sekiro as well along the route…

Let’s start from the last time I decided to sit down and play a game until I completed it – Horizon Zero Dawn was one of those games that I needed to play to be able to learn how to slow down and enjoy; even the gameplay meant that I had to slow down. The bow and arrow is a very versatile weapon, the ideal use of the instrument is to be able to cause the most damage possible while also being as quiet as possible… But that involves accuracy, which, when I’m playing fast action shooters, tends not to exist. Being forced to slow down meant I could take my time and train, specifically working on aim. This was also enforced by the fact that each of the different creatures had different critical hit locations, and as the game went on, the beasts got bigger and had more elaborate ways to shield their weak spot… Not that it mattered, though – I slew any beast I came across with relative ease.

After a pause in gaming, I slowly weaned myself back in by playing a large amount of Project Cars (Yes, I do know Project Cars 2 is out, my wallet wishes it could give me the money for it) – In what started as an ‘I’m just going to drive some Go Karts’, turned into an ‘I’M GOING TO DOMINATE EVERY RACE AND COMPLETE ALL OF THE HISTORIC CHALLENGES ON MY FIRST PLAYTHROUGH’, like a bizarre feverish need. I didn’t necessarily plan for it to go that way but I’ve just started getting into the idea of increasing the number of Platinum Trophies I have to my name, and the fastest way to do that with Project Cars I feel is attempting to win every race I start… But that also means I’m getting lots of practice at being precise with my movements, be it steering, breaking or accelerating at the best time, and, all in all, I’m becoming a better gamer because of it.

This is going to be one of those confessions. As I was growing up through school, I would always hear peers talking and saying that they had just completed the latest Call Of Duty on Veteran while also saying, and I quote, “It was easy” (Stuart, 2011. Cheers mate…). Even as I grew up I never tried to play the games on veteran or hard; I just wanted to enjoy the game. It’s been recently where I sat down and decided I want to complete Call of Duty 4, and since I had the remastered version on my PS4 I decided to enter the challenge – I also decided to change my playstyle a little. I let the NPCs do more of the moving and I would follow behind; only when I was given instructions or when it was obvious that I should be killing someone would I engage. As a result, I ended up progressing through the game far faster than I thought I would – As of yet, I haven’t finished the playthrough yet, but there’s a good reason why I haven’t yet.

While this isn’t the main reason why I haven’t finished COD4 yet, it’s definitely a contributing factor. That’s right; it’s time to talk about Clone Hero again. Custom charts are actually amazing – I recently came across the desire to play some of The Fall Of Troy’s songs on the plastic guitar, and after a quick Google search, I come across something that was even better than what I thought I would find. Instead of finding just the song that I wanted, I ended up finding that the charter xX760Xx had not only charted the song I wanted to play, but also all of their studio albums. Literally the best thing ever! If you haven’t listened to The Fall Of Troy yet, then they’re definitely worth a listen, especially if you like mathie-proggie music stuff. I would recommend something like ‘The Dark Trail’ on ‘Manipulator’, or even anything on the album ‘Doppelgänger’. Getting back onto how this fits into gaming, though, these songs fall into a genre called Math and the core components involves complex rhythms and weird time signatures. When this is translated into a game by someone who is good at it, it can really prove how shit at the plastic guitar you really are… However it also shows me how much I can also improve, on the other hand.

Now for what I’m currently playing; I finally started God Of War, and holy shit is it great. This game feels like the progression of my gaming skills, starting from Horizon Zero Dawn which taught me accuracy, following on with God Of War; I can use those skills with aiming the Throwing Axe, and while it’s not the main focus of attack within the game, I’m glad I can still use it to fall back on. Now GOW is pushing me to be better by focusing on up close and personal melee combat, either with the axe or bare fists. Obviously, there’s one issue with being that close to your target, they can hit back… I have seen a large amount of Souls memes online, and one of those is how useful the dodge is – In the vein of preparing for Dark Souls, God Of War is training me to dodge. Anyone can stand there and mash buttons killing your foe, but not getting hit in the process is an art I have yet to perfect… I reckon by the time I complete the game, though, I should be prepared to give Dark Souls another shot… Here’s hoping I’m semi-successful.