Once upon a time, the Kingdom of Drangleic was a majestic, thriving land. However, mysterious events led to the exile of King Vendrick, and the land became desolate, with lost souls dwelling in it. Meanwhile, a lone traveler is seen near the village of Majula. He is trying to find a cure for a terrible curse that has fallen upon him, forcing him to lose his humanity and prey upon the souls of the dark beings. An enigmatic woman known as the Emerald Herald tells him that the Four Grand Souls have to be collected in order to bring redemption to the traveler and the entire land of Drangleic.
Dark Souls II is a sequel to Dark Souls, sharing its dark medieval fantasy setting, though it is set in a different land and is not directly connected to it story-wise. In terms of gameplay mechanics, the game is very similar to its predecessor, being a third-person action role-playing game with interconnected world exploration and a deliberate emphasis on challenge. Most cardinal aspects of the gameplay remain the same. Combat relies on timing, precision, as well as dodging and blocking moves that deplete stamina. Defeating enemies yields souls, which can be used at a special bonfire to level up, manually increasing the protagonist's main attributes. The game also features character creation that allows the player to customize the protagonist's class, genre, and physical appearance.
The player character is cursed, and each death deprives him of his humanity, sending him back to the last bonfire he has visited. Unlike the previous game, leveling up can only occur at one specific bonfire in the game; however, the player can freely teleport between all the bonfires he has accessed. Another difference is the limitations imposed on respawning enemies - after several tries defeated enemies will no longer re-appear after resting at a bonfire. Magic is given more prominence, enemies having more pronounced strengths and weaknesses to various elements. Joining covenants and participating in special events such as dueling against each other and cooperative fighting are featured in the game's multiplayer mode.