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In Defense of Dark Souls II

all my single ladies!
Me and the girls wrecking shit.

I’ve recently been playing Dark Souls II from scratch (both as a caster and as a melee character), and I have a few thoughts about it. It’s generally considered the bad child of the family–the one that drinks and does the drugs and is disrespectful to the entire family. Many people in the Souls community hate it, and while many people like it, there are few who think it’s as good as the first and very few who thinks it’s better. I’m in the camp of, “I think it’s a very good game, even if it’s not quite up to the original. It’s immensely fun to replay.” I’m also in the camp of, “It’s a really good game, but it’s not a great Dark Souls game.”

What do I love about Dark Souls the original? Sit back and let me count the ways. Also, let’s remember that I hated the original game by the time I was done with it, and I never wanted to touch it again. It’s only in preparation for playing DS II much later that I tried the original again and was blown away by it. I had enough distance on it to appreciate it, and I wasn’t as insistent that I beat every boss on my own*, so it was much more enjoyable. I will say as a point of pride that I’ve beaten every boss in Dark Souls solo, including all the DLC bosses. There are a few bosses I haven’t beaten solo in DS II because there are So. Many. Bosses., and the few that I haven’t beaten are early in the game (comparatively) when you’re relatively weak or in the DLCs. I’ve beaten every boss in the third game solo, except for a few in the DLCs.

Anyhoooooooo….what do I love about Dark Souls the original? Let me count the ways. Before I start, though, let me say that it being difficult isn’t one thing I loved about it. That’s the problem with many of the clones (including DS II); they think the difficulty is the end game, not part of the journey. What I do love about the difficulty is how good I feel when I beat the thing that I previously thought was unbeatable. Whether it’s a hard enemy or a really tough boss (looking at you, Nameless King), the exultation when they finally turn into white dust is indescribable.

What’s also good is finding a way to cheese a hard enemy/boss. There is a boss in Dark Souls II, King Vendrick, who is really…not hard, but sturdy. He has physical defenses that is berserker hard, and you have to get a bunch of giant souls (it makes sense in context) to make him easier. He’s so hard, you have to be able to do a certain amount of damage just to start the fight. I have a special fondness for him because he made me change the way I played the first time through (as a caster, of course). Here’s the thing. He hits like a Mack Truck. Even with my not-fragile melee character, he could kill me in two hits. With my caster, yeah, it was pretty much one and done. After dying to him many, many times the first time as a caster. So many times! I decided I had to get radical. I stripped off all my armor so I could have the lightest roll possible, and then I did the classic, “Stick to his left side and smack that ass!” This is what you do with large beasts, which he kinda was. Since I had my shitty Battle Axe as a weapon, it took forever to kill him. It was much easier with my melee character this time around, but it was still circle around the left side and smack that ass. Anyway, beating him melee as a caster while wearing no armor (since one hit killed me anyway, why wear armor?) is one of my fondest DS II memories.  Continue Reading

Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Five

Ed. Note: This is part five of my endless review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. I don’t want it to end, just like I don’t want the series to end. Read part four here

i'm sure we'll meet again.
Thanks for the tip, Uncle Gael!

So. Now that I’m done with the DLC, how do I feel about it overall? It’s hard to say. I played it one more time on my laptop* with the character I started while I was visiting Ian. She’s a strength/faith build because there’s a weapon, Morne’s Great Hammer, that takes 50/30 strength/faith to use, and I want to try it out. Unfortunately, it’ll take at least through the second playthrough to get the stats to use it, and then I may not have enough vitality to use it effectively. Right now, she has 29/40 and 13 vitality. The reason she has 40 faith is because I want to be able to use a lightning spell that takes 45 faith, which I can do with the Priestess Ring (adds +5 faith). The problem is, though, I’m not going to be able to add 21 strength (or 16. I can wear the Knight’s Ring to add +5 to strength) plus whatever vitality I need in order to wear decent armor and heft the MGH. What I might do is respect just so I can play around with it, then respec again to a saner build once I’ve had my fill of the MGH.

I decided to take her through the DLC before writing this review so I could see if I still felt the same way I did when I first played it. This playthrough, I didn’t care at all about soloing the bosses, which made it so much easier, and, frankly, much more enjoyable. I ran through The Dreg Heap with little problem. It’s sounds silly to say, but knowing the way to go cuts out so much of the game’s difficulty. Not all of it, but a healthy portion of it. In addition, the patch that allowed Hidden Body to work was a godsend. The Laser Angels of Death (Technical name, Angels, but that’s my pet name for them) were incidental. They couldn’t harm me if they couldn’t see me, and I liberally used the Hidden Body spell to make sure they couldn’t see me.

Side note: I am not a stealth game player at all, but I love being able to stealth my way through the Souls games. I started another game (yeah, yeah, I know), another tank with a hint of dex, and I’m grumpy because I don’t have my Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo yet. I forget how much I rely on being able to sneak around and ignoring enemies that I don’t want to deal with. One of the reasons I use a 10/5 Estus Flask/Ashen Estus Flask split is so that I can Hidden Body my way around the game to my heart’s content. That’s another thing with being in the beginning part of the game–having to actually monitor my mana** use. By the end of the game, I rarely have to keep an eye on it unless I’m doing a specific mana-only fight, such as trying to kill the second wyvern in Archdragon Peak after first taking care of the Rock Lizards. Who, by the way, are probably the most adorable enemies in the game, even though they are so damn aggravating. They’re hardy little fucks, but I love the way they roll. Anyway, being able to run around an enemy unnoticed in order to backstab them is the best. There are a few enemies that are immune to the Hidden Body spell, which is infuriating. Is using the Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo (plus the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring to extend the length of Hidden Body) cheating? Hell no! It’s in the game.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Four

Ed. Note: This is part four (and hopefully, last) of my review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. Spoilers ahead, so don’t  read if you want to play the game fresh. Part three here

if only i could save Gael.
Uncle Gael is not looking so hot.

Once I finished everything with the DLC* with my two casters, there was only one thing left to do–confront Slave Knight Gael with my tank in NG++. At this point, I was rocking most of Havel’s armor set, the Black Iron Greatshield (BIG), and my beloved Quakestone Hammer +5 (found in the first DLC, and at its highest upgrade). I knew even with my tank, this was going to be a long and arduous journey for me, but I wanted to end the series on a high. Astute readers will note that I have not beat Darkeater Midir with my tank, and it’s because I don’t want to put the effort in to beat him solo, but there are way less summons in NG++ than in NG. Will I do it at some point? Maybe. But it’s not a pressing concern.

I can’t tell you how many times Uncle Gael wrecked my shit. I’m sure I lost to him in the first phase alone at least twenty times. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m old, and my reflexes aren’t great, so I’m not going to be able to roll out of the way in time if I don’t know the patterns. I heard a Dark Souls enthusiast disavow that the games are about rote memorization, but for someone like me, memorization of patterns is extremely important. I can’t just react to Gael’s movements because by the time I process that it’s happening, he’s already hit me. Once I can recognize his tells, however, then I have a chance of reacting properly.

You want to feel as if you’re making progress with each death, but I didn’t feel that way for a long time. At some point, I started experimenting with my armor, shield, and weapon. I knew he was weak to poison and frost because of my runs with my caster, and I decided to do something I don’t do much of in Souls games–infuse a weapon with a poison gem. The problem was, my Quakestone Hammer cannot be infused, so I had to choose another weapon. I mained the Greataxe +10 for most of the vanilla game, but the main drawback of it is that it has short reach. Gael’s weapon is really long, and his cape is even longer. I wanted a weapon with reach, so I bypassed my beloved Greataxe. The other problem was that I would want a fully upgraded weapon, of course, and I didn’t have very many of those. I did have a Greatsword that was either fully upgraded or nearly so, and I decided to go with that. I took it up to +10** and had Andre infuse it with poison. Then, I took it back to Filianore’s Rest to face Gael once again. Because it weighed more than my Quakestone Hammer, I had to lighten up my armor. I can’t tell you how much I fiddled with my loadout during this fight.

Side Note: One of the things Dark Souls does best is take you out of your comfort zone. I don’t always like it because I tend to glom on to one weapon, get comfortable with it, and take it through the game. I marvel at people who can switch weapons on the fly, but I’m not one of them. Part of my skill is knowing a particular weapon’s moveset well, and it takes me some time to adapt to a new one. However, when I’m able to pull it off, I feel like a god. For example, the infamous Ornstein & Smough fight. That fight almost broke me, and I nearly quit the game for good during the depths of my despair. I tried everything I could think of, but I could not beat that damn duo. In desperation, I did something I had never done before and would never do again: I put the Lightning Spear in my left hand and Quelaag’s Furysword in my right. I was maining the Furysword at this point, but I never used the Lightning Spear, and I never dual wield. Anyway, I took care of Small with my pyromancy, then girded my loins to take on Supercharged Biggie. I pulled out the Lightning Spear and the Furysword, and I swiped swiped left right when I had my chance. That’s how I beat Super Biggie, and it made me proud that I had adapted my playstyle to beat him. Them. Whatever. Granted, I never used that playstyle again, but still.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Three

Ed. Note: This is part three of my review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. There will be spoilers, so if you are going to play the game and want to do so unsullied, turn back! Part two  here

this can't be good.
Hey, Filianore. May I touch your egg?

Returning home from my vacation, I sat down to The Ringed City, determined to finish it. I still wasn’t looking forward to it, but I had already decided that I just wanted to finish it with my utility caster, no matter what. In addition, I wanted to see what my NG++ caster could do. She’s my darling, and I had her int/faith stats pumped up so I could use all the spells. I’ve complained many times about how people think magic is OP in souls games, but not in NG unless you pump one stat to the detriment of all the rest. In addition, in DS III, pyromancy scales with both intelligence and faith, but the faith perks don’t kick in until you hit 18 intelligence. I didn’t know this, of course, but I was wondering with my current character, the one I started on my laptop while I was on vacation, why my pyromancy wasn’t doing as much damage as I would have expected. I was gunning for a strength/faith build because there’s a weapon, Morne’s Great Hammer, that needs 50 strength and 30 faith. It’s similar to the Grant of the original game, which I could never use. It was such a weird build, I wanted to give it a try. However, there’s no way to reach those stats on NG. Well, very little. I’m currently level 84, and I started as a level 8 pyromancer.* Do the math. I was curious about the low damage output and Googled it. Found out you needed at least 18 int. for the faith perk to kick in. I pumped my int. to 18 and sure enough, that did it. I currently have 20 int.

Anyway, my first character, mulan (what I always name my first character), finally feels strong, and it only took until NG++. I wanted to take her through the DLC for a few reasons. One, she’s my girl. She’s been through everything in the game with me, and it felt weird not to play the game to completion with her. Two, well, I’ll get to that in a minute. I have to backtrack. I saw the next boss at Filianore’s Rest before I went on vacation. Much of this article is going to be devoted to him because he’s amazing, for many reasons. After I beat the Halflight, Spear of the Church with my utility caster, of course I went to the next area, which immediately transported me to a different place altogether. The fabled Ringed City in the title, the cutscene is breathtaking. I ended up at Filianore’s Rest, and I wandered through a beautifully terrible and desolated area. There’s sand. So much sand. And a furtive pygmy crawling on the sand, pleading for help from Filianore. He mentions something about the Red Hood coming to eat them, to eat their dark souls. As far as I know, this is the first specific reference to the dark souls of the titles, but I could be wrong.

I moved towards the obvious boss space and girded my loins. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the original furtive pygmy from the first Dark Souls seemed appropriate. Instead, it was someone eating the furtive pygmy’s dark souls, and that someone was…Slave Knight Gael????? What the hell? My buddy from the first DLC, the one who’s been guiding me every step of the way in this DLC, he’s the next boss? I have to say as much as I love the Souls series, there’s very little that surprises me any longer about them because I know them so well. This, however, surprised the hell out of me, and I applaud FromSoft for knitting the two DLCs together in such an ingenious way.

A little backstory: Slave Knight Gael is the NPC who tricks you into entering the Ashes of Ariandel DLC (through a painting) because he wants your ash to inflame the next painting of his niece or some such. (It’s more that he wants to end the endless cycle of flame.) That’s the condensed version of the first DLC, and at the end of it, his niece says, “Soon, Uncle Gael will bring me the pigment. I wonder if he has found it, the dark soul of man?” I also summoned him for the final boss fight of the first DLC, and he was invaluable in that fight.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part Two

Ed. Note: This is part two of my review of the Dark Souls III DLC, The Ringed City. There will be spoilers, so if you plan on playing it and don’t want to be spoiled, turn away now. Here’s part one

aw, hell no!
Yeah, I want to fight them. Judicator Giant in the background.

After the Mausoleum Lookout, I wandered around and ran into these weird clerics who looked like turtles. I just looked them up, and apparently they’re the Turtle Clerics. They do these weird AoE spells that heals their buddies and takes massive chunks of your health. They’re fairly easy to kill with fire and/or if you flip them on their back. They’re annoying, though, because their miracles track you, so you have to keep moving. I also ran into some ringwraiths! Not really, but they’re Darkwraiths with their orange darksigns very visible on their chests. They’re officially called the Ringed Knights, but come on. They’re ringwraiths. By the way, am I the only one who find the Nazgul to be cute? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I found my favorite armor set from Dark Souls II in this area, the Black Witch Set. It’s a set worn by the witch, Zullie, who was an outcast. It always amused me that the set is called the Black Witch Set when it’s actually purple, but I recently figured out that SHE’S the black witch, not that the set is black. Black meaning outcast, not the color. She first was mentioned in DS II, along with Alva the Wayfarer. At first sworn enemies, they became trusted compatriots. In Dark Souls III, he shows up as Alva, Seeker of the Spurned and invades you, which implies that they were separated at some point. He’s guarding Zullie’s set, which seems to imply that they were reunited at some later point. I also found the Black Witch Veil, which is what she wore while travleling to disguise that she’s a witch. I love the whole set, and it has decent defense stats for such light armor.

There’s a huge swamp in this area because of course there is, and there’s another Judicator Giant patrolling it because of course there is, and I stealthed my way throughout it because I just didn’t give a shit at that point. I wasn’t enjoying the game at all, and I just wanted to finish it. I hadn’t felt that way about playing a Souls game since the DLC from DS II, and I didn’t like it at all. I made my way to the second boss, and there was yet another dragon flaming up a bridge that I had to run over, and I felt nothing but impatience. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. All the set pieces of a Souls game that I normally find charming or that at least elicit a smile just made me roll my eyes. Another catacombs area that has a breaking floor when you chase a crystal lizard? Oh, please. I will admit when I followed Lapp’s questline and watched it morph into Patches’ questline, that was pretty damn satisfying. When he kicked me down the hole again, I just had to laugh and admire that Patches is Patches no matter what. That’s one standard of the games I really enjoy.

The second boss. Oh, the second boss. I found the coolest new weapon right before the second boss, the Ringed Knight Paired Greatswords, dropped by, you got it, a ringwraith. I can’t use it with my caster because you need 40 strength to wield it, but I love using it with my tank. It’s a dual wield weapon, so it’s best not to use a shield with it, which is not how I play at all, tank or no tank. I will say I love trying out all the strength weapons as a tank because I can’t wield them as a caster, not ever dual-wield, and they’re fun to play with.

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Dark Souls III, The Ringed City DLC: Part One

what a way to fly.
Batwing Demon transportation system still in effect!

Ed. Note: There will be spoilers galore as I delve into the final piece of the Dark Souls puzzle, The Ringed City DLC for Dark Souls III. I will be revealing locations, items, and boss names, so if you haven’t played it yet and want to be unspoiled, do not read this review.

I have finished The Ringed City DLC for DS III, and I have many complicated thoughts about it. I actually finished it a few days ago, but I’m currently trying to solo the final boss with my tank character who is NG++. I also have the optional boss to do with her, but I’m not sure I need to face that particular delight for a third time. I’m getting ahead of myself, however, so let me start at the beginning.

When The Ringed City released, I downloaded it immediately, but I hesitated to play it for three reasons. One, Dark Souls DLC are known to be brutal. Yes, I know the games themselves are renowned for their difficulty, but that’s nothing compared to the DLC, including the DLC for Bloodborne. Artorias of the Abyss, the DLC for the original Dark Souls, is legend for how much it will spank your ass the first time you play it. Many in the Souls community were not happy with the sequel, but they loved the three DLCs that came out with it. The first DLC for DS III, Ashes of Ariandel, was short and felt rushed, but the final boss of that DLC was phenomenal. I knew The Ringed City was going to be harder than the main game, and I don’t play the games for the sheer brutality of them. I hated DS II‘s DLCs the first time I played them because they felt hard for all the wrong reasons, and I was steeling myself for what The Ringed City would throw at me.

The second reason is because I’ve taken my two favorite characters through NG++ to the end, and the other two I had taken through NG were kinda hodge-podge characters. One started as a dex character, but I’m crap at dex and switched her to an all-around caster. The other is a faith caster, but with  enough intelligence to do pyromancies. In other words, they’re very similar. One I’d taken through the first DLC and one I hadn’t. The one I hadn’t ended up being the better overall character because she has the Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring, which masks her footsteps, and it’s essential to my play as a caster. I did try to take her through the first DLC at some point during the second DLC, but it was cut off to me. It’s unfortunate, but I’ll get into that later. I wasn’t going to play the DLC on NG++ my first time through, so I started with one of my utility casters. I had a hunch it wasn’t going to end well.

The third reason is purely a personal one. I hate the end of things, and this was the last new Souls experience I was ever going to have*. I haven’t watched the last season of Prime Suspect for this very reason, even though I love it and Helen Mirren. I knew once I finished The Ringed City, there would be no new Souls,** which was almost unfathomable for someone who’s been obsessed with the games for the past few years. Yes, I can keep playing the old ones and probably will, but this is the end. No more. It was hard to wrap my mind around that idea. I checked a few Steam reviews, and they were glowing. With that, I took a deep breath and took the plunge.

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Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel (DLC) Review, Part II

Ed. Note: This is part two of my review of the DLC for Dark Souls III. You can read the first part hereThere will be spoilers in this review. I feel the need to say that because the DLC dropped earlier this month and not months/years ago. If you are going to play the DLC and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this review. Then again, if you’re a Souls aficionado, you’ve probably already played it. If that’s the case, then let me know what you thought of the DLC!

It’s been a week since I wrote Part One of my review of the DLC for Dark Souls III, Ashes of Ariandel. In the meantime, I’ve finished both of my other two playthroughs, except for the extremely tough optional boss that I haven’t beaten solo. I beat him with a hellacious phantom (read about the amusing saga in my last post) in my miracle/pyromancy playthrough, but I haven’t beaten him with my melee character because I’m trying to solo him. He is the hardest boss in the Souls series, by far. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to pull it off. I’m not sure I want to continue trying. The third boss I hadn’t beaten solo in my first playthrough, I got him, well, them (Two Princes) with my melee character after much tears and anguish. I had to resort to watching videos for strategies on how to beat them, and one video had it boiled down to how you deal with most humanoids in Souls games; hug the side of the boss and smack that ass. In the first phase, it neutralizes much of his attacks. I face-tanked a lot of damage, but I had plenty of Estus to see me through this phase. The second phase is even more difficult because the younger prince climbs on his brother’s back and shoots magic at you while the older prince is whacking away at you with a big sword. Even with my fat health bar, he took off a third of my health with one swipe if I didn’t block it.

Once I learned the trick of sticking to him, that really cut down on the trouble his teleport caused me. Even when he teleported, I could sense where he was going to be. The time when I actually beat this boss, it seemed as if everything had slowed down and that the boss wasn’t doing his (their!) tougher attacks as often. That’s how it often is, though. I can feel like I’m flailing in my failed attempts, and then everything gels on the one successful attempt. I have no doubt that had I gone back for one more try*, I would have died again. Painfully. I will say that when I finally managed to kill him, I shouted in exultation. This is the second hardest boss in the game, including the first DLC, and I was pretty proud that I was able to best him on my own. Once I beat him solo, I had no qualms about summoning with my caster character. I used the two NPCs for one try, but that didn’t work well. One NPC and one human phantom did the trick, even though it didn’t feel as triumphant as beating the Two Princes solo.


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Political Stress Getting to You? Take a Break!

The elections are less than a week away, and if you’re a political junkie at all*, you’re probably feeling stressed as hell. It doesn’t help that you can check stats every second of the day if you want to, and while I wouldn’t recommend it, I know many political junkies can’t help themselves. I see tweets all the time about how we can’t be complacent, how we have to be STRESSED OUT AS HELL ALL THE FUCKING TIME. The implication is if you’re not freaking out about the elections 24/7, you’re helping Trump become the King of Trumponia, and you should be deeply ashamed of yourself. It’s been that way for almost a year, and that kind of anxiety simply isn’t sustainable. Well, it is, but at a serious cost to your mental (and physical) health.

I have had to pull way back from politics this year because every time I think about a President Trump, I start hyperventilating. That’s not an exaggeration. My heart clutches, and my breathing becomes very shallow. It scares the fuck out of me to contemplate going from an Obama presidency to a Trump one, so I stopped following politics so closely because I don’t need the nightmares. There is only so much I can do in the area I live, so keeping myself constantly agitated isn’t helpful to anyone. Minnesota is going to go for Clinton. I will vote for her. The end. I’m more perturbed by the fact that no other race is being highlighted at all. The Dems have a real shot at taking back the Senate and a longer shot at flipping the House, but i don’t hear about that at all. As important as it is to make sure that Trump doesn’t become president, it’s even more important to give President Clinton (please, please, please) a Congress with whom she can work. The current Congressional Republicans vowed to block PBO at every turn, and they’re already saying they’ll do the same thing to a President Clinton.

I can feel my heartbeat quickening as I type. I don’t appreciate being told I have to be anxious from now until Tuesday because I can do that on my own, thank you very much. In addition, it’s a misbegotten sense of self-importance to think that any one person makes a difference. Yes, it’s true that if everyone thought that way, it would change things drastically. However, if I decide not to vote and everything else remains the same, it won’t matter at all. We Americans have a weirdly-inflated sense of ego, and it bemuses me every time it flares up. ONLY YOU CAN DO THIS THING! WITHOUT YOU, WE’RE NOTHING! The DNC sends me emails like this all the time, which I stridently ignore, but I do see the subject lines, which alternate between sheer despair and an appeal to my ego. MINNA WE ARE LOSING AND ONLY YOU CAN SAVE US. I’m not fucking Wonder Woman, bitch. There’s only so much I can do, and my fifty dollars isn’t going to get you very far.

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Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel (DLC) Review

Ed. Note: There will be spoilers in this review. I feel the need to say that because the DLC dropped this week and not months/years ago. If you are going to play the DLC and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this review. Then again, if you’re a Souls aficionado, you’ve probably already played it. If that’s the case, then let me know what you thought of the DLC!

don't look at my health bar
I had it in the bag the whole time. No Estus? No problem!

I just beat the DLC for Dark Souls III, and I have many thoughts about it. This is the first of two DLC planned for DS III, and I was curious what they were going to do with it. I thought the ending to DS III was fitting, and I must admit, I had a hard time imagining that the DLC could improve upon it. I also was experiencing Dark Souls fatigue near the end of the game, which is very common for me. I’m not very good at Souls games, so I take much longer to get through them than do most players*. What is easy for others is a struggle for me. Still. I doubt those who breeze through Souls feel the same satisfaction I do when I finally, finally, beat the boss I’d been killed by a dozen times prior. I have been doing two more playthroughs of the main game, one melee and one caster, based on miracles rather than magic this time. Let me just say that all the Souls players who hate on casters without ever playing as one can go jump in a lake. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that magic is the easy mode when I watch Souls content. “Magic is too OP.” Blah, blah, blah. Now that I’ve played as a pure melee character (with a Greataxe, bitches. I’ve never had my strength over thirty, and now I have it up to forty), I can say with authority that being a melee player is much easier. MUCH. Oh my god. Strength and poise for DAYS. Health up the yin-yang. So much damage. I will definitely write a post about that, maybe when I’m done with my melee playthrough, but suffice to say that I solo-killed two of the four bosses I co-oped during my first playthrough. I have three bosses left, and two of them are the other two I co-oped on. I’m going to take them on solo, and I anticipate that I’ll have less problems with both of them.

Anyway, the DLC. Ashes of Ariandel. First of all, I had problems with installing it. Ian bought me the season pass along wit the main game, which means the DLC should have automatically installed. It didn’t. I was playing the main game when it dropped, so I checked when I was done. Not installed. I looked at the forums, and there were several people having the same problem. I looked at the DLC page on Steam, and people had already left angry reviews in the vein of, “I bought the season pass, but still have to buy the DLC? WTF?” I shook my head at how impatient and childish people were being. I mean, I understand being upset about not having something you paid for–I was unsettled myself–but chances were that something had gone wrong–not that we couldn’t actually access the game. I read the forums some more, then signed out of my Steam account and signed back in. Nothing. I verified the integrity of my game cache, but still nothing. I started the game and quit. Somewhere along the line, I got the DLC. I didn’t play it that day because I was Souls out by that point, but when I went back to it the next day, it was installed.

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Dark Souls III: My Final Thoughts (For Now)

soul of cinder defeated
I. Win.

It’s been two weeks since I beat Dark Souls III, and I still have feelings about it. In the meantime, I’ve started two new playthroughs, one as a cleric/pyromancer and one as a tank. A warrior to be specific. While the cleric/pyromancer is similar to my pyromancer, the warrior is completely different. I’m mostly pumping levels into vigor and strength, and it’s quite exhilarating to be able to kill enemies in one or two swipes of my Battle Axe. It’s funny that I’m mostly using the same weapon that I did as a pyromancer (and that I am as the cleric/pyromancer), but doing considerably more damage. I also have an ice sword that I use which is badass as well. Oh! I also put in enough levels into dexterity to use a long bow, which takes care of my range problems. The bow is good for drawing out a single enemy at a time, and it actually does noticeable damage in this game. It’s weird not having spells, but at least I have my basic Fireballs, though they don’t do nearly as much damage as they do when I’m a pyromancer. I’m digging playing as a tank, especially when I see how big my health bar is. I started my tank after killing three bosses as the cleric/pyromancer, and I already have more health as her than I do as the cleric/pyromancer. I find that as the warrior, I’m more brazen than I usually play. Normally, I hang back and take what I’m given. As a warrior, I go in and tank the hits. Crystal Sage, a boss that has given me some trouble as a caster, was cake as a tank. Granted, I used an ember and summoned Eygon of Carim, who wields Morne’s Great Hammer, but he refuses to attack the boss unless I do, too. Therefore, he wasn’t useful to me as a caster because he stayed glued to my side. When I rushed in as a tank and whaled on the boss, however, he was right there bamming along side me.

I’ve thought about uninstalling the Souls game from my computer because I can’t stop playing them. In addition, when I start playing, I can’t stop. I keep telling myself, “Just a bit longer,” and it’s three hours later before I know it. I’ve tried to play half a dozen games since I beat DS III, and none of the hardcore ones have really held my attention for very long. I’m not sure why, but it probably has something to do with what draws me to the Souls games in the first place. I’ve given a lot of thought to this, and while I’m not exactly sure, I’ve come up with a few good reasons. One, the combat. You *can* just approach an enemy and flail aimlessly at it, but the end result probably isn’t going to be beneficial to you. If you have good reflexes, you’ll probably have an easier time with the games, but even then, you have to react with precision. When you’re a scrub as I am, you have to plan your actions a bit more carefully. I can’t get away with just swinging away, even as a tank. In the aforementioned Crystal Sage fight, I got impatient near the end and took one too many swings. I lost nearly all of my health, and I had to back away so I could Estus up. Then, once I was back at full health, I finished the job.

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