One of the coolest features of Dark Souls was that it allowed players to "invade" other people's games and hunt them down. The trick was, you could only do this if both your character and the target were alive. Dark Souls being the tough beast it is, most players spent the majority of the game in the shadowy undead mode, meaning only the best players could wage war on each other.
That's changing for Dark Souls II. Now even undead players can find their game being invaded by strangers, but developer From Software is implementing lots of new systems to make sure it doesn't become unfair, starting with the way it chooses whose world is invaded by whom.
"Before, the matchmaking was based upon player level," producer Takeshi Miyazoe has told Official PlayStation Magazine. "That will remain, but we also want to focus on how much time you've played the game. Also, there will be penalties for players who invade, but still lose. There are risks. And there will be 'policemen' against invaders and a ransom system where if you constantly invade or kill NPCs there will be motivation for summoned players to go after you."
So the game itself will regulate sporting play, and if things get really desperate there's always the Covenant system. There are several of these factions that you'll be able to join, allowing you to summon NPC warriors to protect you should another player turn against you.
It all sounds suitably hardcore. We'll get to find out just how tough it will be in March, when Dark Souls II is released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A PC version is due around the same time.