The Dark Souls Story Comming to and End
It was 2009 when From Software had first released the Demon’s Souls game. After almost a decade and a series of brilliant games, Dark Souls III: The Ringed City (finally) brings closure to the Souls series. The Ringed City is the second and final DLC for Dark Souls III, so it is a perfect time to discuss what this newest installment brings us and whether it provides a fitting end to the story.
The Ringed City
The Age of Fire is coming to an end. Mankind has lighted a sacred fire for so long that the universe is running out of energy. The entire land is converging towards one point – the Ringed City. It is a city created long ago, even before the original Dark Souls events occurred. The game sets you on a journey to this city in order to unclog a space-time drain.
The road to your destination will be filled with mysteries related to the previous titles in the franchise. You will discover numerous interesting revelations about the past of the world we all know and love. There will also be several moments where you will face some through-provoking questions, which will lead you to consider the future and even the destruction of the universe.
The Dreg Heap
You will start your trip to the Ringed City in the Dreg Heap, an area where everything is literally falling apart. The opening moments are pretty terrifying and nicely portray that something serious, such as the end of everything, is going on. The developers dedicated their attention to narratives, which additionally explain the situation you and the universe are in.
People that are interested in the Dark Souls lore should pay close attention to the environment. More often than not, you will be able to notice a familiar façade and the imagery you know from the original Dark Souls 3 and the previous games of the series. Noticing that you exactly know what was that landscape that’s now tipped over is an excellent addition that really makes you really feel for the world that has been falling apart.
As for the early levels, they are practically a walk through the history of the Dark Souls franchise. In the beginning, you will notice some imagery from Dark Souls 3. Next, you will move on to the environments from Dark Souls 2 and finally from the original game of the series. If you think that From Software did this to avoid making fresh environments, think again. The levels have great graphics and you can see that the developers put in a lot of effort. Apart from the familiar surroundings, you will also have some completely new locations to explore, which also fit great with the story.
Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City is All About Surviving
Although I liked the fact that subtle clues hinted the current place I am in, the Ringed City doesn’t allow you much time for exploration. For example, the angelic creatures you will face in the Dreg Heap will fire barrages of light with such speed and frequency that they will able to kill you with just a few hits. That means that you have to focus on running from one cover to another and fighting with your enemies.
You have extremely little time for exploration and you will be punished by death virtually every time when you stray off the path the developers had in mind for more than a couple of seconds. In practice, this means that you can discover many shortcuts and side paths, but you have to be prepared to die several times in the process. This is a shame because it makes the game pretty linear in its core, which is something that wasn’t the case with the previous Dark Souls titles. And it’s not like the developers haven’t tried to hide certain things because you can find weapons or spells that will enable you to permanently take out the angels and do many other things. The problem is that you will need multiple suicide attempts to find all these hidden items.
I already mentioned the angels that can kill you with a couple of hits. They might actually be the best innovation when it comes to enemies. Aside from them, you will find Ringed Knights wearing dragon-headed greatshields patrolling the streets, as well as pyromancers, murkmen and iron dragonslayers.. The enemies themselves might not be too innovative, but they are relevant to the story.
The overall impression is that the Dark Souls III: The Ringed City could and should have had a different combat system. The problem is that it can often be unfair to you. For example, you will find yourself dashing through narrow corridors before finding yourself in the open fighting a number of enemies you simply cannot handle at once. To be honest, I very much enjoyed my first battle with the Harald Knight. However, when I realized that I had to fight five of them simultaneously while smaller enemies were bombarding me with projectiles, I was extremely annoyed. Prepare to face similar situations and arm yourself with patience while playing the Ringed City. You will need to be on top of your game from the early levels since the difficulty of the game doesn’t vary too much as you progress.
Four Boss Battles
Aside from ‘regular’ enemies, the final DLC of Dark Souls 3 features a total of four bosses. Each of them brings something different and unique to the battle. One of them feels perfect for co-op play, while another actually utilizes a covenant exclusively featured in The Ringed City. That means that you will have the opportunity to fight not only the boss, but also the players, which is a very fun thing to do and adds value for those who love PvP.
Each boss does represent a unique type of fight, but they share the same problem that happens with regular enemies. It will take some time to learn your opponent’s moves, but the real problem will be the giant health bar most of the bosses have. Even when you perfectly know what you need to do, defeating the bosses still requires draining their health, which, in turn, requires a lot of repetitive action. The excitement quickly fades away, especially when you notice the fact that you practically cannot make a single mistake or you will find yourself starting over.
New Weapons and Gear
The Ringed City is simply brilliant in the area where you would expect a DLC to dominate – new content. There is a broad range of fresh items that the Ringed City brings, making it more than worth your money (you can get is on Steam for just $15, did I mention that?).
New weapons really show the creativity of the developers. You will have the opportunity to wield a knife that extends into a crystal bladed sword, as well as with two massive swords that come in handy during the mid-range combat. I personally liked a staff (or a pole) infused with the corpse of a “mad king.” You will also come across new powerful rings, such as a Wolf Ring or Havel’s Ring. When you feel that you need to protect yourself, you can use some of the familiar armor sets or you can use a shield that is virtually made from two doors. You will need to have strength to wield this shield, but if you have it, there is basically nothing that can hurt you.
The good news is that the new weapons will certainly make things more interesting when it comes to PvP combat. Another important piece of information for those who love PvP is that enemies drop upgrade materials for weapons like overstuffed piñatas drop candy. That means you can be comfortable with using upgrades any way you like without the fear that you will have to play PvE over and over again.
Is It Worth Playing?
Up to this point in the review, you could have concluded that the Ringed City is not worth your playing time. If you are still reading, I have to say that this is as far from the truth as it can be. The only reason why I have been criticizing the final DLC of Dark Souls III is that it’s not as good as the rest of the franchise.
Dark Souls III: The Ringed City is a sort of a journey throughout the series’ history, which is something that the fans will see as pleasing. The difficulty of the game is satisfying, although at times the game can be annoying. It will take you about six hours to complete the game, but you will have to return (or take it at a slower pace) to discover additional weapons.
If you are a fan of the Souls series, it is definitely worth playing. After all, if you’ve played all other games, you won’t be able to resist this one. In order to avoid spoiling the game for you, I will only reveal that only a couple of characters get somewhat complete arcs. As for the greater Souls lore, the fans will have a bunch of new names and locations to build theories around, but the bad news is that it all remains on theories.
Not Really Suitable for Begginers
As a DLC, The Ringed City is not exactly intended for new players. It is somehow presumable that you had played at least Dark Souls III if you purchased the expansion. Don’t worry, if you consider yourself a newbie to the series, there is enough material to make The Ringed City interesting for you. Various upgrades, different weapons, and opponents all contribute to a good overall feeling. Both new and experienced players will enjoy the combat system, which is one of the best traits of the series ever since its start. Exploring ruins is still as exciting as earlier. The other important asset is the lore, which in this case only appeals to the fans of the lore and the games in the Souls series.
Very High Dark Standards
The main problem of The Ringed City lies in the fact that previous installments of Dark Souls set the bar incredibly high. Their success didn’t lie in the difficulty of the games or beautiful graphics. It was hidden in every piece of dialogue, every item description and every enemy encounter which were carefully designed to perfectly fit into the game and provoke a thoughtful response from the players. It’s not that The Ringed City doesn’t offer some nifty details, but they are somehow hurt by the speed of the game. The fact that the game is packed up with old references also doesn’t help, especially in the boss battles, which, instead to be original challenges, actually represent a nod to the long history of the series. I get the idea why the creators did this, but unfortunately, it turned out to be a little boring.
Is It Really The End?
This is probably the most important question of all. The official information from the From Software says – yes, The Ringed City is the last game in the Souls series. The game is clearly created for the fans and, although it has its flaws, it gives a nice epilog to a successful franchise. This moment also seems appropriate to put the series to a rest because the quality seems to be declining, so it might be a good decision to end the franchise while it is at its peak.
On the other hand, I am more inclined to believe that this will be just a break. Don’t be surprised if From Software surprises us with a similar game (under a different name, of course) anytime soon. Also, we might even see a new Souls title after an appropriate pause, especially because not all answers have been given and not all loose ends have been connected. Until that happens, the fans of the game can enjoy playing Dark Souls III: The Ringed City on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.