Clocked

Dark Souls 2’s Return to Drangleic is the perfect warm-up for Elden Ring

Dark Souls 2 may be the most divisive FromSoftware game to date, yet its yearly Return to Drangleic event is going to be the ultimate appetiser for the highly-anticipated Elden Ring.

Each Soulsborne game has a yearly ‘return to…’ event; a set time of the year where fans are encouraged to return to the game, create a new character, and embrace the multiplayer and social aspects of the title. Essentially, it’s a way to reinvigorate the game, allowing new players to get a sense of how it functioned when it was first released. For Dark Souls 2 in particular, that’s Return to Drangleic.

The event was originally scheduled to take place in February but, due to Elden Ring being scheduled for release that same month, the community decided to move it forward. The new period is set to run from January 16 to January 30, making it a great excuse to get reacquainted with the classic gameplay mechanics of the Souls universe (which Elden Ring most certainly shares).

dark souls 2
Image: Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin / FromSoftware

When Dark Souls 2 was first released it performed the dreaded trick of splitting opinions right across the board. Critics generally appreciated the game’s generous length, more traditional storytelling, and challenging gameplay loop. Returning fans, however, weren’t as impressed – at least initially.

Dark Souls 2 was the first and only Souls game to not be helmed by visionary director Hidetaka Miyazaki, and his absence was keenly felt in terms of the game’s atmosphere and design. Word spread online, through fan websites and comment sections.

Although, as the yearly Return to Drangleic event demonstrates, this game still has its admirers.

return to drangleic

As someone who only recently decided to jump into Dark Souls 2 – the combination of it going on sale on the PSN and a stint of isolation provided the perfect set of circumstances – I would encourage anyone with the slightest curiosity to take part in Return to Drangleic.

While many of the criticisms levelled against the game are fair, it is ultimately an interesting deviation from its more acclaimed siblings. And importantly, some of these deviations are illustrative of the changes we are going to see in Elden Ring.

So if you do happen to find yourself in some sort of lockdown, or are just looking for a game to tide you over until Elden Ring, then this month’s Return to Drangleic should push Dark Souls 2 to the top of your shortlist.

Dark Souls 2: Return to Drangleic

Dates: January 16 – January 30, 2022
Where: Dark Souls 2 (Scholar of the First Sin version preferred)