You always hear people jokingly say that Dark Souls II was made by the "B-Team", while "A-Team" worked on Bloodborne, and wether or not that's true doesn't really matter, because it sure feels like it is. Compared to the first game, the lore is bland, the enemy and boss designs repetitive and uninspired, the difficulty is legitimately artificial, combat feels floaty and the world makes no sense.
Story elements related to the first game feel more like references than a continuation some sort of overarching plot, which is what you'd expect from a sequel. Ignore the blatant connections like specific items or covenants, and the world of Drangleic would be as related to Lordran as Boletaria is.
While in the first game difficulty was a matter of endurance, of getting through relatively long areas from bonfire to bonfire without dying (Absolutely all of which, by the way, you could run through without fighting a single mob along the way if you knew what you were doing); the second game just resorts to throwing more enemies at you for often unavoidable fights that just end up being a matter of stalling until you can backstab or poke something, and being rewarded with a bonfire soon afterwards. The thing about being able to run past encounters in the first game played along with the "difficulty through endurance" concept, and raised the skill ceilling so that more experienced players could get through the game in just a couple hours, knowing where to go and what to do; while Dark Souls II often blocks you and forces you to either fight everything along the way, or eventually get lynched at a choke point. The starting area of the Crown of the Ivory King DLC is the best example of this I can think of.
Lastly, and to me most importantly, the game feels completely voided of style. While Lordran looked and felt cold and humid, only the remnant of a once great land long past its peak like some sort of medieval post-apocalipse, with the land covered by moss and inhabited by either hollows or monsters, exception of which were the few characters, each with their own storyline, each who depending on your actions all either turned on you or suffered great loss; Drangleic is just a pastel colored kingdom with really nothing remarcable about it. Nothing bad happens to any of the characters, the "Brotherhood of Blood" rarely comes to get you, the motivations for your actions all feel gratuitous and sometimes incoherent, and through the many playthroughs I've done, I never really found anything new, any little details that made the world more interesting or even felt the motivation to go through it one more time like the first game so amazingly did.
However, even through all of that, the game is still fun.
PvP is about as unbalanced as it was in the first game, and some of the mechanics lower the skill ceilling a bit, but it's still very rewarding to completely wreck a ♥♥♥♥♥.
Even though the bosses are all iterations of things we saw in Dark Souls, the adrenaline rush you get from actually beating them is still there.
And although the world feels dead for entirely different reasons and the lore has little depth, it's still way more interesting than most other games'.
The game is pretty good, but it is far, far from great, and even further from what the first one was.
Just prepare to die a lot, not from your estus running out, but because there was actually an ogre behind that door.