Questioning The Dark Souls 2 SL150 Meta
PvP Soul level meta has been a rather hot topic amongst several forums in the Dark Souls 2 community. For those who are new to the series I will offer a quick history lesson: Whenever you wanted to PvP in the previous souls games you needed to find opponents around your own soul level, thus a SL meta was established to increase these matchmaking odds. Besides increasing the quantity of multi player encounters, it also made PvP more balanced as everyone had an equal amount of points invested in their stats.The community back then decided on a SL around 120 as that would facilitate most popular builds, without giving the players too many tools to become “overpowered”.
In Dark Souls 2 a new soul level meta is being formed as well and the winning number seems to be around 150. Before I start expressing my thoughts on this number I would like to say that matchmaking in Dark Souls 2 is not completely figured out yet, especially in NG+. This might make a community decided PvP Soul Level less important, than in the previous games. It is also important to note that nobody is trying to decide what YOU should do with YOUR CHARACTER, the community is simply trying to create a fun and competitive Dark Souls II PvP environment, similar to how a tournament organizer is simply constructing rules for its contenders to ensure fairness and, in this case, attendance.
The factors that come into play when coming up with a number
- Organic: this is simply the level most people play the game at without actually trying to aim for a certain level.
- Realistic: does attaining this level and then reaching the pvp hotspot location require too much work? If so then it is unrealistic.
- Builds: At what level do the most popular builds function well
- Softcaps: around what level do you hit certain softcaps? This is to try keeping your ROI (return on Investment) on your points high
Organic and realistic soullevels when going into NG+ are anywhere between 110-200, depending on where you spent your souls, how many souls you lost, etc. So any level between 110-200 will pass for that criteria. The game is still too new to figure out what builds are going to be cookie-cutter, so I will not touch on that right now. That leaves us with the softcaps and ROI.
Hitting all the softcaps in Dark Souls 2 will get you around SL115, if you invest only in one damage stat (Dexterity in this case). Do we really need 35 points to further “pimp” our character? If you believe that you need more health, than why not sacrifice some adaptibility. The keyword here is sacrifice, people are making insanely powerful builds that do not have to compromise on anything, which puts purists (people who play as either a pure physical, sluggish, ironclad warrior; a cloth covered, glasscannon, magic user; or a fast rolling, high dexterity, high damage assasin) at a huge disadvantage. If you compare this Greatsword warrior build with this one. You will find that the second Greatsword warrior did not have to compromise on speed, eliminating his main weakness, but he is encouraged to spend those points in adaptibility as his main stats are already at their softcaps.
So what is wrong with having completely maxed out characers?
First and foremost it hurts the purists. To go back to the Greatsword builds, what if I enjoy being a super tanky, sluggish, warmachine, I will have to keep investing points passed their soft cap, thus hurting my ROI and putting me behind against other Greatsword builds that will min-max and get speed. Similar the glasscannon mage will be hard pressed to invest more points in doing damage over defense because the ROI becomes so low after maxing intellect. Lastly, the assassin will find himself either looking to increase its health and equipload or becoming a hybrid caster. Does this mean purists builds are completely nonviable? No, this is Dark Souls if you git gud any build is viable; however, as a DS1 veteran, creating new themed-builds was a big part of the PvP appeal to me, and being punished for trying to create a more traditional build will take away from that. I remember having to fat roll with my Iron Tarkus Cosplay, but still being pretty successful, and most importantly a lot of fun. This would have not been as much fun if I were fast rolling and using enchants on my weapon.
Secondly, the lack of a weakness in a build will hurt the strategy aspect in Dark Souls 2 pvp. Every build requires a different playstyle; the squishy mage that has to stay back has now become a mage wielding a Moonlight Greatsword in full Havel’s that can’t wait until you get passed his barrage of spells to smash your face in. The once so delicate assassin and sturdy tank will now make your hits feel unrewarding when you finally catch them between rolls.Some might argue that eliminating weaknesses will better demonstrate skill, but won’t level 1 fist fights do the exact same thing? Saying all builds need to be similar or capable of doing it all, is the same as saying people should only play one character in competitive fighting games. A big part of the fun in souls PvP is creating an unique but effective build, and a soul level meta of 150 will not facilitate that as well in comparison to a soul level meta between 100-135. However, in the end Dark Souls is about enjoyment, if more people enjoy PvP’ing at 150 than that is where most people will be, I am simply sharing my own views to hopefully spark discussion or at least urge you to think about where you want the meta to be.
Lastly, I found a great video that further illustrates these points.