Dark Souls III: The Ringed City (DLC) Review
The perfect way to close out the Dark Souls world.
If From Software is to be believed, the Dark Souls series is officially in the record books. The series, which started out as the beloved Demon's Souls, had three additional main games (1, 2 and 3 ' duh) and a spiritual spin-off successor, Bloodborne. Five games and it all comes down to this; the final piece of DLC for Dark Souls III ' The Ringed City, as it's called ' is finally out and available. After playing and finishing it, I took a step back, breathed out and realized that I'm completely convinced of two facts: The Ringed City is the best DLC ever offered from the Souls series and I'm as sure of that as I am that From Software isn't really going to retire the Souls series any time soon. Let's humor them and say that, sure, The Ringed City is the last Souls content we will ever see. If that turns out to be the case, this DLC adventure is the best way to cap off a great series that has become so much to so many. I'll do what I can to avoid spoilers, but know that no matter how much or little you want to know going in, know this: if you have Dark Souls III and enjoyed it, The Ringed City is absolutely essential gaming.
Like all Dark Souls DLC, simply paying for this new adventure isn't going to cut it; you are going to have to find it as well. In a somewhat ingenious move, you can actually make your way to The Ringed City one of two ways, depending on whether or not you purchased and finished the first Dark Souls III DLC pack, Ashes of Ariandal (you can actually read our review for it HERE). If you have finished the Ariandal DLC, you can find a new bonfire in Father Ariandal's room once you've killed him and Sister Friede. Simply talk to the painter in the attic here and off you go. If you haven't got or haven't finished the Ariandal stuff, simply make your way to the Kiln of the First Flame near the Soul of Cinder boss fight and check out the new bonfire that has appeared. Once you do manage to find the gateway to this new world, you should also be aware that The Ringed City will chew up and spit out players who aren't at around level 125 or higher. Unless you want a couple of tough, possibly unwinnable-at-your-low-level battles ahead, you may want to pad out that 125 with a few more levels before attempting this. Once you do get strong enough and make your way to this new place, take a second to look around. This is it, the final Souls world. You've earned it, so enjoy it.
If you played Ashes of Ariandal or read my review, you already know that DLC pack had a disappointing lack of actual story and almost no lore to speak of. Not so in The Ringed City. I can't and won't go into specifics ' I'd hate myself if I ruined the series' end for even just one person ' but let's just say that the story here wraps up a lot of the loose ends left at the end of the Dark Souls III main game. The final boss will hold great meaning for fans who really know the lore and history here. While some dangling plot points still aren't resolved after this, the majority of them are and it puts a nice little bow on the package.
The Ringed City itself needs to be addressed as well. You can probably tell from screenshots that this area has crumbling castles and infrastructure; a forgotten wasteland, essentially. Standard, right? Not in this case; this area plays completely differently than pretty much every other one. It has a more vertical structure than a horizontal one, so blind jumps are the name of the game. The switch up is cool and actually forces even the best players to re-evaluate how they approach obstacles and enemies, but it's also going to be directly responsible for your death on more than a few occasions. Some developer notes do point you to the right spots to throw yourself off of, but it isn't foolproof. This is plenty frustrating and will really turn some folks off. When I was stuck in a rage hole over a particular jump it was the refreshing level design kept me going, death after death after death. Different is cool, but it's almost never easy.
Though the jumps do grate on the nerves a little, the most annoying part of The Ringed City is a new enemy type ' some king of angel. I am not a good enough writer to find the words I'd need in order to tell you how much I loathe this enemy. The angel just hovers at a vantage point until it sees you. Once it does, it lets loose a barrage of spears/lighting/lasers - whatever you want to call it. These are tough to dodge, so you probably won't fight an angel without taking a little damage yourself. But what really got me is that the angels themselves are 100% invincible. You'll need to find an enemy around who is controlling the angels and kill him, all while dodging his puppet angel's attacks. With the controller dead, the angel simply disappears. The worst part is that it is actually MORE annoying to do it in the game than I was able to convey here.
And we come to the bosses. This will be among the shortest paragraphs you've ever read as I want to avoid spoilers. This DLC comes with four new bosses to take on, and each fight is fantastically fun and instantly memorable. The boss fights here are top notch, and that is really all I can say.
So that's it; the series that started in 2009 with Demon's Souls is coming to a close. The Ringed City has its share of annoyances, but the story, lore and bosses make any complaints null and void. This really does feel like 'the end' but games are like Marvel characters; no matter how or why they die, wait a few months and ' surprise ' they are alive again. I highly doubt From Software is done with the Souls series forever, but if I'm wrong this is the perfect way to cap off the last eight years of living in a Dark Souls world.
Final Rating: 93%
Transmitted: 2/21/2018 4:06:16 AM