Dark Souls II received critical acclaim. Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 91/100 based on 30 reviews, the PlayStation 3 version 91/100 based on 69 reviews and the Microsoft Windows version 91/100 based on 36 reviews. Reviews for Dark Souls II praised the atmosphere, and visuals in the game, seeing it as a large improvement over the first two installments in the series, but were polarized over the game’s increased difficulty. German magazine M! Games gave it a 90% fresh rating, with their reviewer stating that it took him more than 60 hours to complete. Famitsu reviewed the game with four reviewers giving their opinions, who gave it 9/10/9/9, bringing the total score to 37/40.
Ign‘s critic Marty Silva gave the game a score of 9/10: “Dark Souls II is a smart, massive, and incredibly rewarding sequel. It’s crammed with deep systems, tense encounters, and enough clever multiplayer and New Game Plus elements to make me want to restart the second I saw the end credits. Not all of the tweaks and additions worked out for the best, the penalty for dying made the game almost unplayable but with such great enemies and levels to fight and explore, Dark Souls II made 60 hours of pain and agony so much fun they flew by in a heartbeat.” Daniel Tack of Game Informer gave the game a 9.75 out of 10, stating: “Dark Souls II is an epic adventure from start to finish packed with wondrous environments, imaginative and terrifying foes, and the continual adrenaline-apprehension rush of passing through each fog gate make this title a must-play.” Polygon‘s Phil Kollar also gave it a 9/10, and similarly praised the ambition displayed by the team in creating such a vast RPG universe for the player to explore, the notorious difficulty, and the sense of triumph that comes with eventually defeating the game; he notes that his character died 235 times before completing it.
Despite the almost universal praise, the game was criticized by some reviewers for aspects relating to its unyielding difficulty. In an “alternative take” review, as a newcomer to the series Justin Haywald of GameSpot gave the game a 5/10, claiming that it “too often sacrifices fun, replaces it with tedium, and tries to defend that choice by calling it a challenge.” Eric Kain of Forbes described that the flaw of Dark Souls II is that it “fails in almost every way not only to live up to the games that came before it but to find and establish its own identity”.
As of March 2014, the game had shipped 1.2 million copies within the United States and Europe; and according to a 2014 Bandai Namco financial report, the game also sold very well in Brazil. As of April 2015, the game has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide. The also game won the Game of the Year award at the 2014 Golden Joystick Awards. At the 2014 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers event show, Dark Souls II was nominated for best game design/franchise. Another game in the series, Dark Souls III, was released in 2016.