With Dark Souls 3's Newest DLC, The Series Finally Says Goodbye

Dark Souls 3's final DLC, The Ringed City, seeks to close the curtain on the series. With some of the best environments in the series and imaginative boss fights, it feels like a fitting end. Even as I shed no tears at the passing.

The Ringed City is the last piece of content for the Dark Souls franchise and it's a suitable send off. The preceding DLC, Ashes of Ariandel, felt light and aimless. Its snow-swept world was confusing and while it culminated in a strong final boss fight, it couldn't compare to stronger outings like Artorias of the Abyss or Dark Souls 2's stellar DLC collection. The Ringed City is a gorgeous and surprisingly intelligent entry into the series. It is exactly what Dark Souls 3 needed.

Players find themselves descending into the Ringed City in search of the elusive dark soul of man. Along the way, they will explore a setting that takes previous games and throws them into a blender. The world is the real star here. It is evocative and grabs attention far more than any boss.

The first area is the Dreg Heap and it is something truly special. A burnt out world filled with ash hills stretches for eternity, high towers and castles bursting out like blighted tumours on the horizon. This is where worlds come to die and it pulls liberally from across the franchise to create a stunning image.

The old ruins of Dark Souls 2's Earthen Peak intermingle with tree branches from Dark Souls' Lost Izalith. A poisonous swamp cuts through ash mounds and old ruins. Angels soar the skies above and rain holy judgement upon any foolish undead. It's a meta-texual graveyard where the loose detritus of previous games comes to fester and decay. The Ringed City itself mixes elements of Anor Londo and Drangliec into a golden and majestic wonder. Moment for moment, The Ringed City is beautiful.

You don't want to rush into this DLC unprepared. It's stuffed with some of the hardest hitting enemies around. Even the smallest foes can drag you to death. It was recommended to me that I enter this area with a character that was at least level 125. I explored with a character at level 75 and while it is possible to conquer the DLC at lower levels it isn't easy. This is a final culmination, one last test to see if you are worthy. Don't take it lightly.

There's much better bosses here than in Ashes of Ariandel. From massive demons to a final duel that recalls some of the series' best clashes, The Ringed City is definitely swinging for the fences. Of particular note is the second boss fight, which contains a twist that cements it as one of the best encounters throughout the games.

However, returning to Dark Souls after some time only stresses just how hostile and contemptuous these games are. They weave a web of arcane systems and clumsiness that feels outdated with the arrival of faster peers like Nioh. The Ringed City appears to know this as well, pulling out trick after to trick to invigorate combat and surprise the player. It's appreciated but I'm glad to leave it all behind me as the ash settles.

The Ringed City revels spectacle and mystery. The world drips with the blood of past games, involved story arcs resolve the fates of beloved characters, and combat encounters are impeccably staged. In the end, it manages to distil some of the best core gameplay in the series. This is a final hurrah but it's also a welcome end to the madness. "Very good."


Comments

    Until Dark Souls 4...

    Sorry I know they're saying it, but Kojima and others burnt me on the idea a franchise can ever eloquently be 'done'.

    Last edited 30/03/17 10:13 am

      When a franchise makes as much money as Dark Souls has, why would you close it off?

      Simply wait 3-5 years and bring out a sequel. The hype and nostalgia will cause the game to sell millions.

        Exactly. Even if they don't call it Dark Souls, they can make BLOODBORNE 2 for example, which is all but Dark Souls except in visuals, and they'll sell a bucketload anyhow.

      There's a lot of theories out there about Demon Souls, Bloodborne and Dark Souls being in the same universe and I've believed in it for a long time.
      I think they'll either make a Bloodborne 2, or make a new series that's "definitely not in the same universe" but has vague links and the same kind of set up as the previous games.

      Or they could just straight up make a game that's clearly in the Dark Souls universe, but is set before the first game at humanity's peak. I'd love something from a demon's perspective where it's trying to kill some sort of human tyrant or something.
      Or even just a human soldier that gets separated from their human soldier friends and fights alongside big armies and stuff.

    Nioh does have faster combat, but the enemies never really have that sense of majesty souls enemies do. I've grown to hate Nioh's loot system, even if it has a lot of concessions to try and make RNG appealing, like soul matching.

    Dark Souls has a special place in my heart but I'm ready for good send off. Hoping there would be a new Bloodborne game, but hoping more the next thing From Software does is a new Shadow Tower game. The world is ready for a new Arx Fatalis with guns. Or my world is, anyway.

    If I don't play the last DLC I won't have to say goodbye, right?

      *spoilers*

      the great end of the series is in no possible way able to be counted as an end. it just leaves it there and makes hints at either a new game related to ashes dlc or a new dlc all together

    I would happily play any FROM game which uses the framework of souls/bloodborne. Maybe something futuristic/cyber punk? Or one about pirates?
    TBH bloodborne isn't my fav FROM game but yeah it's bloody good.

      Personally I really dislike the magic system in Bloodborne and how little variety there is in having different skillsets. The level design is great though, especially the first one. I have no idea how many times I've ran around the streets killing stuff, it's so fun.

      I hope they make it a big more like Dark Souls if/when they do make a sequel.

      But yeah it would be so cool to have something futuristic or pirate themed.

    To think, i was thinking "hey Nioh is as tough as darksouls".

    Go to Ashes, enter bonfire, spawn in the Dreg. Step out. See some bony guy with a staff in the distance. Just stood there going "oooooo~". See him summoning monsters. All good i thought to myself. Ran towards him, bony guy starts shooting a small ball of something at me, dodge... and laugh. Then some big snaky apparition bellowing a sound that shook my earphones emerged and i screamed. Got hit hard, all the summoned monsters are jumping on me like a wild mob. Roll, roll and roll some more. See a ledge with a soul on it. Go for it, it breaks away, i fall through a cathedral. Same things happening down here. Monster upon monster coming out of nowhere. Snaky apparition projectiles flying at me from all directions. No choice but to run... Run like my life depended on it. Everything is so confusing now. Walk onto a ledge. See an angel being. This is not good. Wings spread, friggn laser beams start shooting like a gattling gun. DIE.... confused questions running through my mind. I have no idea what happened. I have no idea how I am going to get through this. All notions of Nioh being like dark souls has disappeared again as I am reminded by the full force of confusing punishment that just occurred to me in the last 3 minutes.

    Dark souls... its good to be home.

      Yeah, Nioh made me complacent.

      Those angels though, that was some hell before I figured it out. The rage that DS brings out is my comfort rug.

    I'm loving the ringed city so far. The Demon Prince is probably one of my favourite boss fights in the whole game, maybe even the series. The way it flows, it's playable solo for a full intelligence build but it also isn't extremely easy.

    It's really fun playing through the second bonfire area too and helping people kill the angels. The amount of happy emotes used when the Host of Embers sees you standing right out in the open not getting killed is hilarous.

    They said the same thing about the neverending story...

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