The latest Dark Souls debuted six months ago and now its first DLC pack is available. You may be surprised by how much content is included so let's relight the flame and prepare for another epic (albeit shorter) adventure.
The Painted World of Ariandel
The most significant part of this pack is the enormous new area known as "The Painted World of Ariandel". Upon starting your trek through the frozen lands, you'll quickly run into a few unfamiliar enemies. Having wolves circling and intermittently attacking me as they howled for backup reminded me of that movie The Grey but I think my character is a bit more capable than Liam Neeson. Anyway, you'll eventually work your way through many varied locations such as a dark and disturbing pit of mutant insects, a frozen lake with a couple of giant enemy crabs, an abandoned village, many hillsides and valleys, and finally an eerie chapel which houses the end boss.
Speaking of bosses, there are two to take on here. The main boss consists of three forms and it can be quite a challenge if your Dark Souls skills are a little rusty. On top of that, there's a hidden optional boss in the form of a Gravetender and his giant pet Greatwolf. This fight wasn't as epic but it was still definitely worth seeking out. Neither of the two bosses gave me that hard of a time although I did have to give the main one a couple of attempts. Unfortunately, it definitely doesn't take long to completely finish The Painted World of Ariandel which will make many fans thirst for more, but overall; the impressively large new area is a thrill to explore while the two boss fights are unique enough that they'll satisfy any Dark Souls fan's bloodlust.
New gear for an old soul
Although I don't think I uncovered all of the extra equipment that's featured in this pack, I can safely say that there's enough to delight fans. The Pyromancer's Parting Flame is a great addition to any pyromaniac's arsenal while those who prefer fast-paced attacks will love the Crow Talons. One of the niftiest weapons is the Earth Seeker which has a weapon skill known as Earthen Wrath that makes your character stab the axe into the ground to set off devastating tremors. A few spells are introduced, too, such as one that infuses your weapon with frost and a pyromancy spell to summon an orb that spits fire at enemies. Of course, there's a ring to help you deal with the cold by increasing your frost resistance. In the end, I'm very happy with the selection of additional equipment.
Undead Match at the Kiln of Flame
Finally, a new PvP mode known as "Undead Match" is included. After finishing The Painted World of Ariandel, you can dive in to this structured mode which feels more arcade-like than Dark Souls aficionados are used to. This is because you go through a menu to setup a match then just start fighting. There are both team and "every man for himself" match types with varying numbers of players. Considering there is only one arena so far (the Kiln of Flame), the replay value isn't quite there yet. After a few matches, I got bored and decided to experience my multiplayer someplace else. Don't get me wrong; it's cool, but I hope they expand on it soon.
Ashes of Ariandel is an impressive first DLC pack for Dark Souls III. If you're a fan then downloading it is a no-brainer. Just make sure you're ready for the journey to not last over a handful of hours.
- + Massive new area with varied locations and a couple of epic boss battles
- + Plenty of additional equipment pieces
- + Undead Match makes PvP more arcade-like
- - The Painted World of Ariandel doesn't take long to completely finish
- - New multiplayer options are rather limited which decreases its replay value