The end of a cycle.
It was over eight years ago that I first encountered the souls series with Demon’s Souls, and since then the series has become something of a phenomenon, going as far as coining a genre on its own. However, all good things must end- lest they overstay their welcome.
The Ringed City marks the second downloadable content for Dark Souls 3, and possibly the final Dark Souls content we’ll ever see. The question is, does this prodigious series go out standing tall, fighting to the bitter end, or just die off like a chump by falling off a cliff?
Platforms: PS4, X1, PC
Multiplayer: Souls jolly co-op and versus
Length: 5~ hours
As is the case with most of the DLC for the Souls games, this content is appropriately enjoyed after finishing the original game. It’s also worth noting that the Ringed City can be enjoyed without having to own the previous DLC “Ashes of Ariendel”. However, there are story connections between the two, so for the best possible experience, playing the content in the order that they were released is the smart choice.
The new areas featured in the Ringed City feels decidedly larger in scale, mostly thanks to its emphasis on verticality. There was an undeniable feeling of falling deeper and deeper the more I progressed, and thanks to a number of sections where I would take no fall damage, I often found myself jumping head first down the abyss not knowing what I would find.
While there are certainly gorgeous vistas to take in as well as a good number of new enemy types to encounter, I felt there was a lack of creativity in the new areas, and even with some stand-out locations, as a whole I was underwhelmed by the level designs.
Many of the enemies felt more annoying to deal with than they were challenging, with the nod going to the new angel type monsters which made the first hour of the DLC feel like a small slice of hell. They weren’t the only offenders, as the optional boss is hands down my least favorite boss in all of Dark Souls 3, with an overinflated health meter and boring attacks that had me chasing it down more than I was actually fighting it.
Luckily, the final encounter is truly something special, with some amazing visuals and an attack pattern that had me audibly yelling, “what the hell!? When I claimed victory one hit away from death, without a single estus charge to spare, I could hear my own heart beating loudly in that moment of silence. It’s culminates in a single fight what I love about the Souls games, and honestly, there’s no better way it could have gone out.
As for the loot, there’s a nice variety of armor/weapons for those looking to play Fashion Souls and get in on the meta so they can dominate in PVP for a little while until people figure out how to deal with those giant dual ultra swords of death.
With some notable flaws and lack of originality, the Ringed City is a bit of a mix bag. Even so, the new areas are fun enough to explore, and the epic final encounter is something that absolutely needs to be experienced by anyone that calls themselves a Souls fan. It’s unclear if this truly marks the end of Souls as a series, but if it is, it can rest well knowing it has left an indelible mark in gaming that will never be forgotten.
Fun Tidbit – There’s already an outcry in the community about how overpowered those paired ultra swords are but after seeing them in action, I’m not 100% convinced.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.