FromSoftware's epic series of challenging action RPGs has supposedly come to an end with this latest DLC. The Ringed City is definitely a memorable albeit brief adventure so let's journey forth to the land of ash and see what it has to offer.
That's right; The Ringed City is quite possibly the final piece of content that'll ever release within the Dark Souls universe. As a huge fan ever since Demon's Souls, this makes me somewhat saddened but on the other hand, many developers have said that their series were over only to announce another sequel later on. Wait, isn't this supposed to be a review? Let's discuss what's included in this DLC pack.
You basically get two new locations, four boss battles (one of which is optional), many equipment pieces and spells, a chance to enter the Spears of the Church covenant, and plenty of enemies and NPCs that'll likely haunt your nightmares. Overall, it's a comprehensive package that should satisfy any fan's craving for more tough-as-nails RPG action. In fact, it may even be a bit too difficult for some fans, but I'll get into that later.
The Ringed City begins with you taking many leaps of faith as you fall down from high up ledges while descending The Dreg Heap. Thankfully, you'll land on enough ash to cushion your fall. Along the way, you'll encounter many enemies; the most notable being laser-shooting angels that can kill you almost instantly. These portions require stealth which is something that's rather unique for a Dark Souls game. After finding and killing the beings who summon these angels of death, you'll be able to explore much more freely. The boss of this area consists of two demons who spawn another one after you defeat them. This fight can be super-frustrating seeing as the final form will jump around shooting fire everywhere which makes trying to hit it with melee attacks very tricky.
After beating it, you'll finally enter The Ringed City. Then, you'll die from hundreds of arrows being shot at you simultaneously from dozens of ghost-like archers. Once you figure out that you have to hide behind some tall stones, you'll take on a giant who summons the archers. I'm starting to see a theme here. Anyway, you'll then traverse a dimly-lit castle and run through a swamp all while battling massive and dangerous foes only to run into an easy boss then face the final boss shortly after.
The best aspect of the journey for me was seeing all of the parts that were clearly inspired by previous entries in the Dark Souls series. Having a dragon breathing fire down a path that you're trying to run across, carefully navigating through a murky swamp, and ascending a spiral staircase in a dilapidated tower should all be familiar to series veterans. These moments may be nostalgic but there are many fresh sequences that are sure to wow as well. From falling and crashing through a window of an old castle on its side to battling the insanely twisted last boss (and one secret that'll blow your mind), there's enough here to make your jaw drop.
As with previous DLC, you'll acquire many new pieces of equipment here. Probably the handiest is a set of +3 rings. Of course, there are tons of weapons and armour, too, so if you enjoy dressing up then there are some cool pieces to be uncovered. My favourite is the Ringed Knight set (with matching swords and a spear) as the neon eclipse and mysterious hood look badass. Moving along, a handful of spells are welcome additions, especially the couple of Pyromancies. On top of all this, you'll be able to battle in a couple of additional arenas and can take advantage of a new password system that should help you meet up with friends online.
Finally, I'll get to the aspects of The Ringed City that disappointed me. As a Souls fan, I love a challenge. However, the constant tricky situations here are a bit much. I felt like throwing in the towel far too many times which rarely happens to me when playing a Souls game. Going from the angels of death to a boss who jumps around everywhere to ghost archers to massive enemies who kill you in two or three hits to an incredibly unfair final boss makes for one brutal journey. I hate to say this but I preferred the more open environments in Ashes of Ariandel. Exploring the vast snow-filled plains was more enjoyable to me than the linear and mostly frustrating offering here. Back to the last boss, there's a part where lightning randomly strikes the arena that can end your life easily which makes that boss far too luck-based. There's nothing more annoying than almost beating him then being electrocuted and having to try again.
Dark Souls III: The Ringed City is a worthwhile expansion for fans of the series but it also frequently devolves into a controller-throwing nightmare. That being said, it is a fitting final chapter of the Souls franchise but let's just hope that turns out not to be the case.
- + Some truly awesome moments, many of which are inspired by previous Souls games
- + Plenty of new goodies and equipment
- + Nifty multiplayer options
- - Mostly consists of tricky scenarios that'll surely test even the biggest fans' patience
- - Environments are mostly linear
- - The final boss is too luck-based