That's a question that gets asked often on the Dark Souls 2 gamefaqs forums: is Dark Souls 2 worst than Dark Souls?
Yeah, they're kind of idiots on there. Honestly though, I think it's worth looking at. Dark Souls 2 is a game that draws much more heavily from Demon's Souls, it kind of wants to take that game and improve on it more than Dark Souls. The normal formula for a sequel in the west is to tweak and refine a game, that's generally how eastern developers roll too but they seem to be a lot better about letting the story of the first title rest.
Dark Souls is this game I want to say is perfect; at least more so than that terrible "The Last of Us" game. In Dark Souls you can generally chalk a death up to your own fault, or a sort of learning experience. If you want to find out how well Dark Souls is made play through the game a second time and count your deaths. You don't even have to count really because it's noticeable as you make it past several zones at a time without dying.
And there's this symmetry to the design of the world and the levels, where all the levels connect, and all the areas connect to the mythology. You start out at a bonfire, there's a tree there, that tree might connect to those in Ash Lake, the Kiln of the First Flame definitely directly connects to where you start out. Dark Souls 2 sort of gives up on that idea for better or for worse. But I wonder how many people actually played Dark Souls because fans told them "it's like every part of the world connects."
Dark Souls 2 also has some big changes to how weapons work, but honestly it kind of sucks. The weapon I used for most of the first playthrough was something I bought at a shop, the shield I used was an early find that I didn't have any reason to change from. PVP is better in a way, because you have to pay attention. They gave bads loads of ways to stunlock you, so even mediocre plays provide challenge.
The problem with that is hard to explain though, in that it's not bad that these terrible players have a giant sword to carry around and whomp on enemies, more than it's this problem where that seems like a much less interesting way to actually play the game. But the numbers support it pretty clearly. Someone who is playing the game for the first time probably doesn't realize just how annoying that is. But some people say bads exist for us to turn them into good players.
Dark Souls 2 tries to balance a lot of player behaviors from the first game. They set the game up so that it made a lot of the metagame elements much less important, and they made lots of little things a bit more difficult. Especially early on, probably in an attempt to teach newer players better habits, you find lots of enemies that you can't backstab once you get out of the starting "decaying humans" areas.
But in all honesty Dark Souls 2 doesn't really feel as sticky as it's fore-bearers. It's a great title, but I wonder if it's really good enough, on it's own, to warrant a gamer placing so much energy on the title. I feel like there are too many sections of the game where they just throw a ridiculous amount of enemies at you in lieu of actually setting up a tough encounter. They rely on archers from above putting pressure on easy battles a bit too often, and on water to slow you down. When Dark Souls 2 works honestly it feel better than Dark souls, especially for a veteran, but it can also leave you scratching your head at times.
I'm taking a break from the game, cause EDF 2025 is like an actually fun Monster Hunter game (bring it!). Dark Souls 2 is a fantastic game though, nowhere near as terrible as The Last of Us. And isn't that what Dark Souls 2 is supposed to compare to? It's never going to be as good as Dark Souls, but it can still destroy the average game that attempts to be tough.