I still love the guys who put “Jump” at the top of the elevator under Firelink.
The biggest problems are:
A desire to making the game harder for the sake of being. This resulted in a lot of encounters against multiple enemies, which is doing a disservice to DS’s combat.
Unimaginative enemies, notably an excess of humanoid enemies and bosses.
Repetitive attacks. The most notable of these is an overhead swing with excessive tracking.
Poor world design. They wanted to make the game feel like it was taking place across a continent, but you never actually felt like you were traversing these great distances. Yeah you could see Heide’s Tower really far away, but it was just a short jaunt through some hallways and suddenly you’re there. There’s also the path to Drangleic Castle, which is obstructed by a few rocks that could be easily climbed over. However, to circumvent this obstacle the player character decides the best course of action is to kill four of the strongest demons in the land so that he/she can get through the Shrine of Winter. The biggest issue with the game’s world design is the Iron Keep, particularly when you reach Earthen Peak you get a nice view of the windmill and the surrounding land. However upon beating that area’s boss ,you enter an elevator which brings up higher than the top of the windmill, and are presented with a massive castle sunk into lava, with the surrounding land being a volcanic, mountainous wasteland.
They also made poor decisions in regards to the invasion covenants with the lack of a dedicated invasion stone, as well as Soul Memory in general.
While all of these issues don’t make DS2 a bad game, in fact the game is still genuinely awesome, they certainly detract from the experience. The higher ups were trying to emulate Hidetaka Miyazaki’s design decisions without actually knowing why those decisions were being made, and the game suffered because of it.