Last week may have saw the release of another patch for "Dark Souls III," but the real noteworthy news related to the game was the revelation that Poise had been "turned off" - much to the horror of many players.
Since then, the community has been abuzz about why developer FromSoftware decided to turn off the mechanic. Some argue that it was intentional since it didn't know what to do with the stat, while others argue that it simply forgot.
In the end, it doesn't matter much since the stat is gone, and it will likely remain that way until a future patch. However, to understand what's going on, and why some people are so annoyed right now, we need to understand what Poise is and how it works.
Poise is a relatively simple stat to understand: its the measure of how much damage a player can take before being staggered. It can be found on each piece of armor, and your total Poise is the sum of each of your armor pieces. In general, wearing heavier pieces of armor will increase poise, while wearing nothing at all will leave you at zero.
However, this shouldn't be confused with Hyper Armor, which refers to the window during an attack where you can't be staggered at all. Unlike poise, hyper armor is a hidden stat, and in general, heavier weapons like an ultra greatsword will grant more frames of hyper armor than lighter weapons like a simple dagger.
Both of these mechanics, though separate, work in tandem with one another, with the ultimate goal being to allow players to move about and swing their weapons with minimal interference. Or at least that was the case until Poise mysteriously disappeared - and no, Poise has nothing to do with hyper armor on rolls; equipment load affects that.
Hyper Armor is still intact, so players who know how to use it can still take advantage of it if they know how to use it effectively. On the other hand, Poise being gone has several implications for characters in both PvP and PvE.
PvP is less effected by the missing Poise, but the effects are still quite noticeable. In earlier games, one strategy was to forgo speed and go for the heavy armor while wielding a heavy slow weapon. Players who did this would still take damage from an enemy's attack, but would deal far more damage than they would receive themselves. Another advantage poise stacking used to have is that it allowed players to simply walk through attacks and back stab an opponent.
This is gone now. Instead, players now find themselves in a situation where opponents with fast weapons can swing with little fear of retaliation, and it can be a bit of a problem when dealing with weapons like Estocs and their phantom range or Dark Swords with their fast swing speed and high attack rating. Of course, there are counters to this, such as rolling away from the second hit of a normal attack string from faster weapons.
Conversely, PvE's lack of poise is more readily apparent. With high levels of poise, players could walk through enemy attacks and attack whenever they want. Positioning is not an issue, as most attacks, if any, could knock you over. Combine this with a heavy weapon like a Fume Ultra Greatsword, and most enemies will crumble before you. This concept applies to any weapon, whether its an ultra greatsword, straight sword or spear.
Again, this is gone. Instead, players who stack poise will find themselves in the embarrassing situation of having the heaviest armor the game offers, only to find themselves being stunned by the weakest enemies in the game. Adding insult to injury, the defensive bonuses the armor offers are somewhat negligible. Yes, some armor is better than no armor, but the damage reduction it offers means little when you can get stunned by every single hit. To top it all off, the vitality you spent to equip the heavy armor sets could have been used on different stats.
The lack of Poise also means that various pieces of equipment that focused on the stat are completely useless. For example, the Wolf Ring, which used to add some Poise, is worthless. In a similar vein, the Pontiff's Left Eye is greatly weakened. With high levels of Poise, players would be able to go blow-for-blow with whatever enemy they wanted and get health back without fear of being knocked back. Instead, with no Poise, it would be near impossible to get the amount of hits needed to get the health boost, as most enemies who can survive after taking that many hits won't usually let you hit them without retaliation in the first place.
In the end, we really do need to ask why the stat is gone - for players at least. There's little question that FromSoftware didn't want a repeat of what Poise in "Dark Souls I" was like and turned it off. The evidence of that is the fact that Poise is referenced repeatedly in the game and even appears in your stat screen.
And If that's really the case, then do we want it back? Yes, but in an altered form. It's safe to say that no one wants "Poise Stabbing" to make a return to PvP, but there's no reason that people with larger weapons should feel utterly outclassed by smaller weapons just due to the virtue of them being lighter and quicker as opposed to skill level.
Poise has been gone for quite sometime now, and it looks like FromSoftware is content with keeping it that way. If it isn't, then the developer has a funny way of showing it, as it has yet to issue a statement about the situation, despite there being a huge discussion about it ever since its disappearance was discovered.