Completing the Dark Souls plat made me feel relieved, but still wearied. I didn’t feel that much joy or accomplishment, and it was definitely muted. Yesterday (Thursday), I buckled down to plow through the rest of the plat requirements for DS III. I didn’t want to do it; I seriously thought about taking a break. But, I know myself. I know that if I stepped away, I would just obsess about it more until I did it. So. Four bosses. Four rings. I took a deep breath and took the plunge. I went after Oceiros with the help of Hawkwood, and it was no thing; he never is. Champion Gundyr, on the other hand….First of all, I’d like to note that I was playing offline because I did not want to deal with invasions–human or NPC. I can’t get a human summon for the life of me, but I have been invaded. There’s an NPC invasion in this area as well, and I simply did not want to deal with her.
I biffed it in my first attempt on Champion Gundyr, even with the Sword Master by my side. I was too hesitant and allowed Champion Gundyr to dictate the fight, and he pushed my shit in over and over again. I was already irritated, and, let’s face it, that did not help. Fighting a boss while in a heightened emotion in a FromSoft game means certain death. This time, I resolved to be more deliberately forceful, and I got all up in Champion Gundyr’s face–By the way, Champion Gundyr is so goddamn aggressive, but I managed to get him solo with not too much difficulty the first time I met him. Being a caster is helpful with certain bosses, including this one. That’s what I did this time around, and it wasn’t hard at all once I settled the fuck down.
I stealthed my way through the Black Knights though I normally kill them because I just didn’t care about anything that didn’t help my run progress. I made it to the Dark Firelink Shrine and beelined it for Lothric’s throne. Behind it was the Life Ring +3, one of the four rings I needed. I briefly chatted with the Shrine Handmaid then warped myself back to ‘my’ Firelink Shrine. I set myself up for the next part of my run–which was Lothric Castle. It’s pretty big, and it can take some time to explore the whole castle. There are dragons with black slooge that breathe fire as you try to get into the castle, so you have to go the back way, and there’s oodles of other shit you can do as well. I ignored the other stuff and went straight to the level to open the front gate. I died to the scrubs in the castle twice because I was rushing and not doing the area as I normally would. Plus, I was getting more and more worried about the last thing I had to do, but I’ll get to that later.
I pulled the lever and then returned to the bonfire so I could run through the front door. Yes, I got burned by the dragons–I usually took care of them before attempting this–but I made it to the shortcut in no time flat. I ignored all the side bits, and I took on the Dragonslayer Armour with the help of Morne. I’ve never had a problem with this boss, and this time was no different. Oh, before I did that, I got the Thunder Stoneplate Ring +2 from around the way, and that was three bosses down and two rings.
I was flagging, I will admit. This was not how I played Dark Souls III, and it was making me very unhappy. DS III is my favorite game ever, and it is my comfort game. I play it when I don’t feel like playing anything else or when I’m feeling sick, tired, or depressed. It’s like a warm blanket wrapped snuggly around me, and this run really stripped all that away.
I hated it. I hated grinding so much. I hated how intensive it was and how much it took out of me. It didn’t help that I had to do everything left with one character, and she was not leveled very well. I mean, yes, I had 40 Strength and 40 Endurance, but my Vigor and Vit were pretty abysmal. I was so fucking impatient racing through NG++, and I feared it was all for naught.
I lit the Grand Archives bonfire and faced the final area I had to clear for the second-to-last ring I needed. One of my favorite rings, Lingering Dragoncrest Ring +2, was nestled in an alcove where the three Winged Knights resided. I ran to the alcove and grabbed the ring before blinking back to Firelink Shrine. I took a deep breath because I only had one thing (hopefully) left to do.
Up until this point, things had been tedious, but not especially difficult. I had left the Nameless King for the last because I knew that I was going to have trouble with him. I thought about attempting him earlier, but I didn’t. True to my nature, I left the most unpleasant task for last because I didn’t want to do it. Yes, I have beaten him solo before, on NG+ and on NG+5, but it’d been some time, and I was not looking forward to it.
I had no problem with the first phase and the King of Storms–the dragon. Four or five Sunlight Spears to his beak and a visceral made pretty light work of him. It’s the second phase that terrified me, and I knew that I was getting into my own head about it. I feared him, and I feared I would not be able to beat him. I had one fucking ring I needed, and he was in the way. I caved and started messing with the formula by looking at videos as to the best way to cheese him/easiest way to beat him.
I tried a lot of it. Sorceries. Strafing to his left. The latter was explained as he had to keep turning to face you because all his hits were front-facing. Lies! There’s one he does where he wheels around 180 and smacks you in the face. Maybe it was a patched-in move because I don’t remember it, though, as I said, it’s been some time since I’ve fought him solo. And I rarely get close to him so that could be the reason I’ve never seen it before, either. There was a video on using a fast weapon to bleed him which I completely ignored because it involved a lot of rolling. As I have mentioned a million times, my reactions are shit, and I am not going to do well with a strategy that relies on rolling.
Side Note: I have a terrible habit of rolling and blocking at the same time. This is obviously not good for the stamina regen, and it made the circle-strafe to the left method more difficult. I tried that method a few times and tried to just roll, but it still didn’t work for me, so I gave it up.
I was getting more and more upset with each try because I just wanted it to be done. I knew I should probably take a break and try again later, but I didn’t want it hanging it over my head. I knew I was hurting myself by being so negative and defeatist about it, but I didn’t know how to stop it. I did plug in my old laptop to check out my characters there. I had a few that had the ring already, but didn’t have the covenant rings. I had forgotten there are TWO covenant rings you need, not one. Also, I sold all the early versions of the rings on those characters as is my wont, so, yeah, no. It was going to be on this character or not at all.
I steadied my breath and contemplated putting on The Pina Colada song on repeat ‘coz that’s my Souls fight song, yo. But, I didn’t because I save that for really hard special occasions, and this wasn’t going to be that. I had strayed too far from my roots, and I needed to get back to what made me, well, me. I was a Pyro, damn it, and that was how I was going to play the goddamn game. I was going to do it my way, and if that wasn’t good enough, then so be it. I went in feeling deadly calm. Not resigned, but determined. I was deliberate in my actions and not frantic at all. Took care of the King of Storms in less than one mana bar because I meleed him more than I normally would along with the Sunlight Spear, and I faced the Nameless King with all my Estus Flasks at the ready. I chowed down on a Green Blossom and flipped to my Pyromancy Flame. I maintained a medium distance from the Nameless King and started flinging Chaos Bed Vestiges at his face. I was dialed in, and I was calm.
That thing that always happens on a good run happened. My rolls were true, and I felt as if the game had slowed down. He didn’t do nearly as many attacks as he normally would, and it’s because I kept in that sweet spot of being far enough away so he wouldn’t melee me, but keeping close enough so he wouldn’t do his ranged attacks. He did his wind attack a few times, but I easily rolled into them. When he did his infrequent flying thunder attack, I rolled away from him and reset. I didn’t get greedy, and I didn’t panic. I soon had him down to a sliver and a half, and I deliberately slowed myself down even more. One thing FromSoft is really good at is creating that feeling of ‘get that one last hit in!’, and it’s detrimental more often than not.
I breathed slowly and smoothly as I readied my fire one more time. I threw it in his face, then watched in disbelief as the health bar went down to zero. I had done it without using even one Estus Flask! I immediately lost most of the animosity I had felt towards the game during the run (which is where my title comes from), and I was tremulous with emotions. I teared up, and I set down the controller as I watched the cutscene. I didn’t have my usual cuss out the boss reaction (had plenty of that earlier), but there was almost a feeling of reverence. I wanted to cry in elation, and I did share a tear or two. After the cutscene, I went and got the ring (although I had a bit of trouble finding it), holding my breath as I did. Once the achievement popped, I swelled up in pride and joy. When the second (and last) achievement popped, the tears welled up again. I took a picture of The Dark Soul in my Steam launcher and DM’ed it to Ian on FB saying, “Gotta admit, I’m teary right now.”
Circling back to my first paragraph, getting the plat in Dark Souls was wearying, but not nearly as aggravating as this game. As a result, I felt relieved to get the plat, but not much joy or pride. It was just being OCD and pushing my way through. This game had a lot of that, but in addition, I actually had to fight my biggest nemesis from this game until the DLCs in NG++. I hated it, and I would still argue that it shouldn’t be in there–but I have to admit it makes me much prouder of this plat than the first one. I’m spent, though. I am taking a break from Souls games for the foreseeable future because I’m weary. But, I have the two plats, and I never thought I’d be able to say it.