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Bloodborne: Seeking the Blood Moon

So. Still sick with the chills and now sinus crap. I’m drinking my Simply Lemonade with mango and my ginger/lemon/honey tea like a boss as I’m hunkered down on the couch. May I say that getting the chills is terrible for me because I like being cold, so it feels like a slap in the face to me. I’m watching more Bloodborne vids because that’s how I roll. They’re ones I’ve already seen, but it’s more background noise than anything else. It’s blustery outside, and it snowed yesterday, even though it didn’t stick, and it’s gray today–which fits my mood.

In Bloodborne, I’m alternating between my tank playthrough and my NG+ playthrough for my arcane build, and I have many more thoughts on the game. I’ve already said how I had a more difficult time with the early bosses on melee than I did with my arcane build, and I think it’s because I don’t have my beloved Hunter Axe (which I just bought for this character. The damage is REAL, yo, as I have my Strength at 30. That’s already higher than for my arcane build, and I’m not even halfway through the game yet. My arcane is so sad for this character, but that’s the way it has to be if I want to beef up my other stats. I need two more Dex, er, Skill levels in order to use the Cannon, which will be exciting. When the game was released, apparently, you could use the fully-upgraded Cannon to kill bosses. Now, the bullet expenditure is 12 per use, which means you get one shot without using methods to increase your Quicksilver Bullet capacity (runes, blood bullets, etc.). I’m doing my best to do a Strength/Bloodtinge run, which means moar guns, yo! Or rather, stronger guns.

I’m also wearing the Hunter Set (without the bib on back. Hunter Set B in the link), though I recently switched out the Top Hat for the Yharnam Hunter Cap because the latter has better defense. I really like the Hunter Set w/Top Hat, however, so I might switch back. I do wear different sets for resistance, but I like having one main outfit that I wear throughout the game. It’s the Bone Ash Set with my arcane build, and Fashionborne is real, yo! I bought the Maria Hunter Set at the insight shop (for my arcane), and it looks cool as fuck, but the stats aren’t as good as the BAS. I like wearing one complete outfit, so it pains me when I have to mix and match. Fortunately, however, it’s usually a whole set that is best against, say, poison or other elemental effects. Also, I always play as a female character*, so I have all the female versions of the outfits.

Back to game difficulty on the second playthrough. I will say in general, the game is much easier on the second playthrough, naturally. Even though I’ve seen several Let’s Plays of the game before playing it, it’s still much different playing it. I got lost several times, and it doesn’t help that certain areas (looking at you, Forbidden Woods) look the goddamn same all throughout it. I can’t tell you how much time I wasted looping around, trying to find the right path, only to end up on the same goddamn path several times in a row. I have another problem on the second playthrough–skipping over areas. The first place of the Forbidden Woods is where I did my grinding run over and over again. I know it like the back of my hand, but there’s an area I skip when I do it (that takes you to Iosefka’s Clinic). When I ‘discovered’ the area on my tank playthrough, I had to remind myself that there was another area. I couldn’t find it, and I was wondering if I was losing my mind. I found it (and doggy town part 2, which I couldn’t find more than once in my first playthrough), and it was relief that I knew I wasn’t losing my mind.


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Bloodborne: Praise the Moon

This is the third post on my final thoughts (ha!) on Bloodborne. You can read part two here. What  was I thinking as I watched the credits roll? Not much, honestly. I was so emotionally spent from the journey, I just had to take a few minuets to absorb it all. This is how I am after beating any Souls game–tired, contemplative, slightly stunned, and relieved. I want to emphasize that this is normal for me, and that I consider it a part of the Souls loop. About two-thirds of the way into the game, I’m tired of it. I’m so sick of it. I want nothing more than for it to be over, and yet, I can’t stop playing. Even at the end of a frustrating session, all I wanted to do was continue playing (though I was sick of it), and I thought about the game when I wasn’t playing it. I thought about how I could have done this better or that better, and I reminded myself that I had to go back and do this or that. When I play a Souls game, I become obsessed with it. I immerse myself in it so thoroughly, I’m drenched in the good blood. Er. Come to think of it, it’s how I play games in general (probably because of my OCD tendencies). I try out several games until I find one I like, then I play the shit out of it. I did this with Torchlight (the first ‘hardcore’ game I played, plus its sequel); Diablo III; Borderlands (and the sequel); Nuclear Throne; Cook, Serve, Delicious! (and the sequel!); The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth; Assault Android Cactus; Salt and Sanctuary, to name a few. But, none of them have gotten under my skin the way Souls games have, and I’d like to talk about this a bit more.

First, though, NG+ is ferreals*. Running through the opening section with my beloved Hunter Axe +10, it takes me three weak hits to kill an enemy, instead of one. The Executioner in Central Yharnam barely feels my Augur to the face instead of being killed by it. Apparently, from what I’ve read, the increase to health is greatest in the earliest areas, which makes zero sense, but whatever. The only way I can make it make sense is because you’re scaling up much less over time, but still–the leap is noticeable. That being said, because I don’t have any compulsions against summoning for bosses I’ve already beaten solo AND I have something like 75 insight right now (you need to spend one insight to summon a phantom), I’m anticipating summoning liberally during NG+. However, the fact that I’m playing it so late and I’m over-leveled *may* lead to difficulties summoning. I summoned Father Gascoigne for the Cleric Beast fight (also did the same in my tank playthrough), and we made short work of him. However, there are no NPC summons for Father Gascoigne, and I couldn’t get a human summon (how I figured out you get your insight back if you die before you get a phantom), so I fought him solo. Now, I beat him on my first try in NG by just smacking the shit out of him, but I was anticipating him to be much more difficult in NG+. I decided to get fancy and try to use Molotovs/Accursed Brew in his third stage, and I died several times to him with only a fraction of his health bar left. I did it by running around and jumping off the platform fruitlessly, trying to set up the perfect opportunity for me to Accursed Brew him from the rooftop where Viola’s body is with him below me. Late in the session, I decided to cut it out and just take it to him like I had the first time I fought him. I got him down to one hit left, and he caught me in a combo and finished me off.


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Bloodborne: Nightmare Slain

Still thinking how I feel about Bloodborne now that I’m done with it. I’m not done playing it, obviously, but I have FEELINGS about finishing my first playthrough. I’ve written about some of my thoughts and feelings here, and I’m going to continue ruminating in this post. I left off the last post after beating Lady Maria, on my own, with an unusual strategy, and it’s probably the boss I’m most proud of beating because I thought I’d have problems with her before ever playing the game.  After  beating Lady Maria, I knew what was next, and I was dreading it. The Fishing Hamlet is legend for being grueling, and that’s the last thing I wanted at that point. I decided to tackle Laurence first, even though I knew that would be a pain in the ass, too. Weirdly, I did really well the first time and got him down to half-health. As per usual, I didn’t do nearly as well after that. I gave it several valiant tries, then decided I just didn’t give a shit. By the way, I’ve said it before, but giving a boss monster health isn’t a fun way of making it hard. Letting them have one-shot kills isn’t great, either. Covering the floor in lava, not good, either, and Laurence has all three. During the same time, I decided to allow myself to be summoned because I wanted to get my five Vermins, and I was curious to see if anyone was still playing.

I rang my Small Resonant Bell, and I didn’t have to wait long. I was summoned in, and imagine my delight when my host used Accursed Brew on Laurence. As that is one of my go-to spells as well (which means I actually started the last section of the DLC because that’s where you get the Hunter Tool from an NPC right at the very beginning. I did that specific bit just to get the Hunter Tool, then turned right around), I was delighted to help another arcane build. By the way, Accursed Brew is the best Hunter Tool in terms of bang for your buck. Two bullets, 500+ damage. It’s very economical. Anyway, my host and I ran around the arena, pelting Laurence with Accursed Brew. I Whirligigged his ass whenever prudent, and I used A Call Beyond twice. We finished him off with double Accursed Brews, and it was glorious. I LOVE bossing a boss with magic/arcane, and I bowed to my host with utmost respect. My favorite time of being summoned in DS III was when I was a pyro, the host and the other summon were a sorcery caster and a miracle user (don’t remember which was which). We got wrecked the first time, but then by some miracle (probably because we were the only ones playing), we got grouped together again. This was for Aldrich, Devourer of Gods, who is MUCH easier as a caster. It was a glorious thing to see the boys firing off lightning and magic while I was hurling fire at the boss. We destroyed Aldrich in roughly thirty seconds, and it was the best feeling ever.

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Bloodborne: A New Day (Game Plus)

I finished Bloodborne yesterday in one marathon session. I had one section and the final boss of the DLC plus the last two bosses (well, technically, the end boss and the secret end boss) of the main game to do, and I had only planned on finishing the last section of the DLC. Since I had watched umpteen playthroughs of the game, I knew what I had left to do (and boy, do I really wish I hadn’t watched them now. One of the best parts of a FromSoft game is to experience everything for yourself, but I truly never thought I’d buy a PS4 just to play BB. Funnily enough, I got Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain for free last month and just bought Until Dawn and Last of Us (remastered) plus the DLC for LoU at a steep discount, so I guess  I’ll have more uses for my PS4 once I’m done with BB). I also knew that the last boss of the DLC was considered by many to be the hardest Souls boss ever up until that point, so I was not looking forward to it.

See, it always happens to me at the end of FromSoft games. I get sick of the game during the last third or so, and I can’t wait to finish it. It’s harder when I play the DLC as I’m playing the main game because that’s just so much game. I did all the sideline quests and all the optional content, so we’re talking a Bloodborne immersion. By the time I started the DLC, I was ready for the whole thing to be done. That’s not a good attitude because the DLC is notoriously difficult. The DLC has always been harder than the main games in the Souls series, and this was no exception. My theory is that it’s to reward the dedicated hardcore 1%ers, the onebros who do Waste of Skin/Deprived runs using nothing but their bare hands to rip apart the enemies, which is great for them, but frustrating for the rest of us who love Souls games, but aren’t terribly good at them. I’ve mentioned that The Ringed City (final DLC for DS III) made my cry when I first played it, and I HATED it, even though I love Slave Knight Gael as the final boss. I’m neutral about the DLC now, but I don’t love it.

The problem is, the DLCs are too deliberately difficult. I don’t play Souls games because they’re difficult; I play them to explore the environments, to marvel at the grotesque settings/enemies/stories, and to feel a sense of accomplishment after finally beating an area, certain enemies, and the bosses. I feel the main games (except II (SotFS) in a several places) are well-balanced, and the difficulty stems out of the desire to make the player better. It’s not about brutalizing the player, but that gets thrown out the window in the DLCs. It’s as if FromSoft has started to believe its own hype and the tagline Prepare to Die (from the original game, PC edition). I can say that The Old Hunters (Bloodborne DLC) is objectively more difficult than the main game by exponential factors. I can also say that it’s objectively well made and the level design is terrific. But, I can also say that I did not enjoy playing it, and I summoned for three of the five bosses.

I did it for Ludwig only because I wasn’t even getting a hit in on him. I summoned Valtr so I could see Ludwig’s moves without getting smashed. I did it three or four times, expecting to die each time. The last time, though, we made it to the cutscene, and Valtr had only used one or two vials. Valtr is a beast, yo! Maybe my favorite NPC summon ever. Ludwig’s second phase is easier than the first, and we wrecked him in no time flat. I felt bad for summoning, but not that bad. With Laurence, I tried him several times solo and got him down to his broken legs stage two or three times. I could have gotten him if I faced him dozens of times more, but I just didn’t care at that point. I did allow myself to be summoned for the fight just to get a better handle on him, and my host was another arcane build, which was so much fun! We Accursed Brew’ed his ass, and I used A Call Beyond twice. We wrecked Laurence easily, and I got a Vermin for my troubles!


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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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