Gamer’s Guide To Darksiders II On Apocalyptic
In today’s edition of Something To Be Proud Of — incidentally our 9,000th article… you know what that means for the next one, right? — which is basically our very own version of gaming how-to guides, we’re going to be talking about a game I recently finished on the highest difficulty without too much of trouble doing so. That’s right, today we’re going for a more sombre tone with the grim reaper himself, in Darksiders II, on apocalyptic difficulty.
The original Darksiders was a great game that posed a decent challenge to anyone willing to tackle it head-on and while it had its share of frustrations, for the most part it was fair and didn’t make you feel at all underpowered. If anything I would wager a bet that apocalyptic difficulty is how the developers intended for many to play the game. The normal difficulty makes you feel suitably overpowered as a horseman of the apocalypse but when you turn it up to apocalyptic, it really nails home that ‘fallen power’ sort of feel that’s prevalent in the game, since you technically were stripped of your full powers at the revelation of the false apocalypse due to the seals being unbroken. And rightly so, you are equally powered to everything or in some cases woefully underpowered and must overcome the odds.
I’d rather have that (read: Aquaman) over something that destroys everything in its wake with no suitable equal (Superman).
Darksiders II was a slightly different beast however. And so it should be since unlike the brutish, machismo-drenched War, Death is a far more eloquent sort of character. Fittingly. An elegant Death, as it were.
The combination of dual-wielded scythes and dodging differs greatly from the first game’s greatsword and blocking mechanics. Make no mistake: In Darksiders II there is no such thing as blocking.
You block by dodging, basically.
Completing the game on apocalyptic is more an exercise in dancing around enemies, biding your time until the right moment to strike, as much as it is about wailing on foes you’ve just caused to trip over themselves in dizziness.
Here’s some quick tips for completing the game on the highest difficulty:
- Dodge. Often. Never stop dodging, in fact. Dodging is your best friend in this game, and will be how you avoid the majority of damage. There is a skill you can unlock later in the game which allows you to counter-attack by timing your dodge. Get it, but don’t rely on it. While it’s good to time your dodges during boss battles, in most other fights it makes no matter as so many things will be attacking you that you will almost always not see some attack coming. So dodge. Constantly.
- It should be noted that on apocalyptic difficulty, you will die. If not platforming, then doing battle against some or the other enemy that is stronger than you. The Deposed King for example, will eat you alive. So just die, the first time. Or even the second time. Dodge around and study the boss, watch their movements and look for opportunities you can exploit or tactics that will make your life easier. Then when you’re ready, die and reload and take on the boss properly. This way you conserve health and wrath potions for when you’re ready to take on the boss, proper.
- Death has a sort of super mode that is called Grim, where he turns into his more powerful reaper self and does bonus damage and takes virtually no damage while doing so. Use this very sparingly, but do keep it on hand for when it’s obvious that you’re going to have a bad time. Sometimes you get two or three mini-bosses coming at you at once. Weaken them down with attacks, then go into Grim mode to do massive bonus damage. You unlock Grim by defeating Thane, in the starting area, at a sparring match. A stronger Grim is unlocked at level 16.
- It’s important to consider the type of enemy that you are attacking, however for the most part you are going to rely on your wrath powers. I favoured the harbinger tree initially, however only the first power (teleport slash, I think it’s called) is really worth it for that tree. On the necromancer tree you get some much better powers including ghouls to attack your foes for you and more importantly; distract bosses. You also get a swarm of crows that attack enemies and restore your health and reaper energy (required to activate Grim). There’s also a protective armour power but fuck that shit, you shouldn’t be getting hit in the first place.
- Remember that in any dungeon at any time, you may fast travel out and back to your respective realm’s hub area, where the merchants are located, in order to restock and resupply, as well as rid yourself of excessive loot. Do this often. Don’t worry about where you left off in the dungeon since thanks to the waypoint system you can warp right back to that exact point when you’re done, with a quick visit to the world map.
- On the subject of dungeon waypoints, remember that some dungeons don’t level according to your character so if you find yourself fighting against level 17 constructs when you’re a level 12 character… cue that South Park skiing instructor meme. Better you fast travel away from that dungeon and do something else, then come back in and retry it later. I did this twice in my playthrough, and the second time I went through those areas I quite honestly breezed through them where the first time I struggled.
- Use your possessed weapons very wisely. They consume other weapons and gain their power but what’s important is that you can stack effects. So if you find a powerful weapon and feed it to a possessed weapon then try and feed weapons with the same stats. As an example, if you feed a possessed weapon something that boosts its critical chance, feed it more weapons which have critical chance to boost the effect. This is especially handy for when you find weapons which grant health on crit, mixed with weapons which grant crit chance and finally armour that grants bonus health. I managed to craft some pretty awesome possessed weapons around level 15 which doubled my health, crit damage and granted health on crit. Be smart about how you combine effects and you can benefit greatly.
- When you come across the Soul Arbiter’s Maze, try your best (use a walkthrough if you have to) to get yourself to floor five of the maze, and then head to the secret stash for that level. Spoiler: It’s a legendary scythe that grants you life steal. That’s all you need to know, really. There are other effects but those don’t matter. Having life steal is a godsend in a game where you send out flurries of hits while dodging the same. It’s invaluable to your survival and saved my skin more than a few times.
- Finally, when all else fails, don’t be afraid to try and exploit the mechanics of the game to the best of your ability. As an example, one of the boss fights later on has the rather fortunate circumstance of placing the player in a large cylindrical tower while the boss is at the middle and never moves around except for vertically. So I basically just stayed back and took pot shots with my revolver, while dodging his projectile attacks. A rather handy little unintended consequence, or was it? Always keep both eyes on what you’re doing, and you’ll never know what luck you stumble upon.
In truth, Darksiders II was an adequate challenge in the end, but once I was done I wasted no time in dropping the difficulty to normal and just enjoying the ride thereafter, collecting things and getting the final few achievements where I could. There is also a new game plus mode which unlocks a new nightmare difficulty if you’re
Until then, here’s hoping this guide gets you through the trickiest of situations in Darksiders II on apocalyptic difficulty and if there are any more tips you have to offer, feel free to throw them into the comments and I’ll add them in and credit where necessary.