I freaking love From Software for this. According to the Japanese blog Esuteru, they are taking some extraordinary steps to make things especially difficult for folks who have somehow gotten their hands on Dark Souls early and its so mean that you can’t help but love it. The developers are using a feature in the game that allows players to send Black Phantoms into each others games. Black Phantoms are nearly unstoppable and if you run into one it means almost certain death. For anyone playing the game ahead of the game’s release date (which was today in Japan) the developers responded by sending in max-level Black Phantoms into the games of those who were already playing the game. As I said, Black Phantoms are brutal in any form but the stats of these guys pretty much assure that the game would be unplayable, no player would be able to defend themselves against these beast. We are talking about Hunters at level 145, 1900HP, and all abilities at the maximum 99. That just sounds badass but for the sake of comparison, folks reviewing the game are reporting that after more than 60 hours of gameplay their stats across most categories are barely a third of that.
It hasn’t been confirmed by From Software as to whether this same strategy will be used outside of Japan but it’s a pretty damn cool way to get back at folks. While it sucks for the player, the strategy is really intended to punish retailers who broke the game’s street date and sold the game early.