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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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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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I Beat Dark Souls III: A Fitting Goodbye

boo-yah!
I. Win.

I beat Dark Souls III today.

That could be a post in and of itself, but of course, it isn’t going to be. Pardon me if I’m a bit more incoherent than usual because I still have adrenaline coursing through my veins from beating the Soul of Cinder, the last boss of the game, and a fitting end to the series. Oh, I know there will be DLC with tough bosses aplenty, but this was the end of the main game of the final installment* of the trilogy** that is Dark Souls. Once I killed the final boss, I just stood for a minute, savoring the feeling. It was mostly jubilation, but it was mingled with relief and sadness. Relief because I had finally done it and sadness because my journey through Lordran, Drangleic, and Lothtric is over. It’s bittersweet, and I’m not quite able to process it yet. I’ve poured so much time into these games; it’s hard for me to believe that there will not be another one. I’ll play this game again at some point because I’ve finished each game twice and because I accidentally chose the ‘dark’ ending (the non-main ending, in other words), but it may not be before the first DLC. Which, by the way, is slated to come out October 25th, 2016. There’s leaked gameplay footage, which means I have to studiously avoid spoilers again. I saw the trailer which made me squeal like a little kid, and the announcement of ice spells made me deliriously happy. I love ice, and the idea of alternating ice and fire spells makes me smile in gleeful anticipation.

I haven’t started NG+ because I’m hoping that I can play the DLC with my current character. One thing I don’t like about the Souls series is that the DLC is hidden in the main game and accessing it is always a chore. It’s one time when I have no guilt in using the wikis because I would never discover that shit on myself. At least with the first two games, there were wikis for it. If I want to do that with this game, then I have to wait a few weeks after release to play it. At least in this game, I wasn’t automatically sent to NG+ as I was in DS I and as you are in Bloodborne. That way, if the DLC is accessible somewhere in the game, I don’t have to start another character to find it. Yes, I’ll probably play this game again, but I don’t want to feel like I *have* to do it in order to play the DLC for which I paid. Rather, for which my friend, Ian, paid and gifted to me (along with the base game). It’s a pretty common complaint in the community–just let me play the goddamn DLC I paid for, but FromSoft continues to do it, not giving a damn about their fans’ feelings about it. Seriously, Google how to access the DLC from the first two games and tell me you would have figured it out yourself.

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Dark Souls III: I Got Gud, Part One

burn, baby, burn!
Meet Karla, my new pyromancy trainer.

I’m in the middle part of Dark Souls III, and I have to admit, I was starting to drag a little. This happened to me while playing the first two games, too, as the games are long, and I tend to gorge on them. The first time I played the original Dark Souls, I hated the game by the end of it. I just wanted it to be over, and I couldn’t be happier once I put it in the done folder. I thought I’d never touch it again, but I did, and now, it’s one of my favorite games ever, if not my most favorite game ever. Part of the problem is that I mainline these games, gulping down chunks of them at a time. It would probably be better if I parceled out the experience a bit more judiciously, but I can’t. When I sit down to play a Souls game, I don’t emerge until several hours later. Sometimes, I’m not even sure how much time I’ve been playing. The games really feed into my OCD traits, so it’s not really that surprising that I would experience fatigue while playing them.

A few days ago, I was saying to Ian that maybe I should take a break. Ever since I reached Irithyll of the Boreal Valley, I’ve felt under-leveled and not strong enough to take on the area. I felt all badass after easily dispensing of High Lord Wolnir, only to have my ass handed to me by the common  enemies of IotBV. I’ve complained more than once that I think FromSoft* hates casters, and it really felt that way during this section. It felt very Bloodborne-y (meaning faster action), which reinforced my belief that while I love watching other people play Bloodborne, I might not be as into playing it myself because my reactions are just too slow for that shit. I co-oped the boss of the area, though I hadn’t really meant to. I co-oped with someone else and helped them beat the boss, so I had my ember restored, which gave me almost twice as much HP. I decided to make a run at the boss so as to not waste the ember, and I summoned Anri of Astoria and a human phantom to help me out. I honestly didn’t think we’d beat the boss because the boss gets more HP in direct proportion to how many phantoms you summon. To my surprise, we beat the boss, much to my relief and slight disappointment because I like to beat bosses solo on my first playthrough. Relief because I was frustrated by how much I hated this section of the game. I went back recently just to see if I could kick some ass, and I could. That’s one of the best parts of Souls games–returning to a previous area that completely wrecked your shit and getting your revenge.

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