Much has been made about Dark Souls II's graphical downgrade between E3 2013 and final release. Here's Dark Souls II developer From Software addressing things in a statement to Kotaku:

"Throughout the game development process, a game is constantly being balanced not only in game playability, but also in the realm of resource management. A developer is always challenged with creating the most rewarding gaming experience while delivering continuity in graphical quality, gameplay dynamics, and balance within the game. The final version of Dark Souls II displays the culmination of this delicate balance and we're very proud of the positive media and fan reception for the game."