Dark Souls III: The Ringed City DLC – Review
Platform – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer – FromSoftware
Publisher – Bandai Namco
MSRP – $14.99 USD
Editor’s Note – This DLC was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 with review copy being provided by the publisher – Bandai Namco.
Welcome to The Ringed City, a mysterious place where only the brave may tread upon and explore its dark lore, secrets and of course face new enemies. The Ringed City is the final downloadable content you’ll be able to play for Dark Souls III and most likely the last piece of content for the Dark Souls franchise in general. From Software has stated numerous times that it’s time they sit back and let the Dark Souls series rest for a bit. So how does The Ringed City fair in comparison to the previous downloadable content – Ashes of Ariandel and does it send nice a goodbye letter to the franchise? It’s now time to see how this final chapter lays Dark Souls to rest.
Level Design and New Content
The first area of The Ringed City is quite annoying and full of trolling, it’s one thing for a Souls game to be challenging and another when it completely forces itself to be “extra” challenging than it needs to be. To summarize on what I am trying to say here without spoiling anything, just basically pretend that you cannot freely roam around the first area in the game until you find a specific hidden enemy to kill. Unless you’re cool with being a masochist to yourself and try to farm the items while getting constantly spammed by flying magical projectiles. As a veteran Souls player it was okay for me to put up with it, but at the same time, it was truly unnecessary. The start of Ashes of Ariandel was a lot easier to get into and a bit more forgiving than The Ringed City, some experienced players may or may not be turned off by the first area of The Ringed City.
Once you get past the annoying first segment of The Ringed City and kill the first boss the real Dark Souls experience truly starts here. The Ringed City feels more like a classic Souls game in terms of its level design and enemy placement and of course, it wouldn’t be a true Dark Souls experience without the interconnected shortcuts that you discover after dealing with trap zones or challenging monsters. Meanwhile, Ashes of Ariandel kind of felt the same way, but it gave you the illusion that the world was much bigger and unfortunately it really wasn’t. Instead, it was more of giant snow mountain with not a whole lot to explore. In Ashes of Ariandel, it was very easy to find items and secrets in your first play-through which rendered the second play-through almost meaningless. The Ringed City on the other hand actually feels big thanks to some of its great beautiful vistas in certain areas, classic level design, and excellent sense of scale that From Software is known for creating.
The Ringed City introduces total of four new bosses (up from two in Ashes of Ariandel) with one of them being an optional hidden boss, 9 new armor sets to collect, 21 new weapons in combination with shields and bows, 6 new spells (2 miracle spells, 2 sorcery spells, and 2 pyro spells), quite a few new items and even a new covenant to devout yourself too. In terms of the stuff you can collect and find, there is a lot more here to see and do compared to Ashes of Ariandel which is a nice improvement and that was one of the bigger complaints about the previous DLC.
The new enemies also pose the classic challenge of having to figure out their animation timings and maneuvers before striking an attack of your own in order to exploit them the best way possible. Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to talk more in-depth how everything plays out, I cannot because it would spoil the new content. Dark Souls is best experienced when the players know nothing about it and I think every true fan understands that.
The best aspects of The Ringed City are the bosses, second area of the DLC and the story conclusion. Once you get to The Ringed City itself you will just enjoy staring at the gorgeous views and all the shinies you can collect that you can see from a distance. This is also where the level design starts to pick up and it’s very reminiscent of the classic Dark Souls design. This is what’s Dark Souls has always been to me, being immersed in a gritty dark gothic fantasy world that’s full of danger, secrets, and places to explore and not knowing what’s lurking around the next corner. This DLC is quite good at capturing the same magic of feeling frightened and being alone in a dark mysterious world. While there are plenty of hidden armor sets, weapons, shields, bows and crossbows to find I just wish there would be more of it. Sadly, it ends way too soon and when you kill the last boss, it just feels like something amazing has just started yet end up realizing that it’s all over.
The final boss is a fantastic conclusion to the game and an end to a dark story arc that fans will love to soak themselves in (I am looking at you vaatividya) It’s a perfect example of what an excellent Dark Souls boss is. The fight is split into three different phases and it felt quite challenging depending on how beefy your character is. To give you an example: my character was in 140s Soul Level without new game+ and I still died here and there and was forced to tweak a few things to slay him, but honestly speaking I believe I was a tad over leveled. It’s also worth noting that the bosses in this expansion have a much higher health pool than any of the previous ones in the main game or the previous DLC. So, therefore you better make sure you’re well prepared before you face the final baddie of the game. It’s also worth saying that the soundtrack of each of the boss encounters never ceased to amaze me. From Software has once again outdone themselves when it comes immersing the player in an epic deadly battle with its orchestra and chorus.
Overall, The Ringed City is a solid conclusion to the Dark Souls franchise. It has a great foundation of the basic elements that reminds all of us what makes this series so special and dear to our hearts. The Ringed City is loaded with a lot more stuff to find and explore than the previous DLC – Ashes of Ariandel despite there only being two big areas and four bosses it’s much denser in content. If you love the Souls series and are looking a way to finish it off with a bang, then The Ringed City is an easy recommendation to make despite the first area of the game being more punishing than it needs to be. If you enjoy a good challenge and want to take your hero on a new adventure, then you’ll be happily satisfied yet also very sad to knowing the fact that this is it for Dark Souls.