Just finished for the night. Here is a small review (it's not a professional review, just what I wrote down on the top of my head).
Review for Dark Souls II Beta - Phase 1: So far, the animation is more fluid/solid. I managed to defeat the Skeleton Lord (Really cool fight that was easy, unfortunately). I wanted to check out the Dual Swordsman, as I'm sure that class will add some some sort of difficulty. Here are my pros and cons:
*It seems more difficult than Dark Souls and maybe even Demon's Souls. There are more adds in fights, this time, which can make for a tense fight.
*I love the backstab animation. Truly makes you feel like a badass,lol.
*The gameplay has been silky smooth. It's not slow like in Dark Souls; I really love the grass effect and the different parts of your armor moving from the wind blowing.
*The menu interface looks easier to navigate.
*Probably one of the most obvious changes: Graphics. They are more polished. It's going to be another creepy, atmospheric game
*The monsters look absolutely amazing. Pinwheels are back and fun as ever to fight. The two bosses I encountered were fun, but easy
*The lag was horrible when I was invaded and vice versa. I would get attacked from the invader and he was across the screen from me. I'll be making my reports to the forums very soon about this (this is obvious, hence it being a beta, so no big deal here).
*Sometimes when trying to summon a Phantom, it would fail to initialize (this happens about 35% of the time).
That's about it, for now. I do have some photos to show (granted, they're iPhone photos and I was using one hand for some, so the quality might be horrible). So far, I'm loving Dark Souls II and people that were worried about the game being easier or the story being "given to you on a plate", don't worry no more. This is Demon's/Dark Souls, through and through. Looks like this is going to be my GotY 2014.
MY REVIEW: 4/5