REVIEW: Dark Souls III: Ashes of Adriandel

Monday, October 31st, 2016

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Dark Souls III Ashes of Ariandel Title Image
Title Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel
Developer From Software
Publisher Bandai Namco
Release Date 10/25/2016
Genre Action RPG
Platform PlayStation 4
Age Rating ESRB M for Mature
Official Website

One thing you should know before diving into this review is that I’m a total Souls (and Bloodborne) fanboy. I’m rather proud of the fact that I’ve been aboard the hype train from the very beginning. I had a decent amount of disposable income at the time so I was purchasing every ATLUS game that was released. So I actually bought Demon Souls on day one. I liked it a lot to start with, but it took me a week or two to really realize what I had in my hands. Then I started to wonder why the hell no one was talking about this game. Eventually we all found each other online and formed the communities that you still see today, but it was the Wild West in the beginning. I didn’t review Dark Souls III for the website, but I would have definitely given it 5 stars and it’s very high in the running for my game of the year. I actually really like the direction that they took with the game.

Dark Souls III Ashes of Ariandel | Character

This is my character. I’ve spent a lot of time with her.

After achieving the Platinum Trophy for the game, I have not had much time to play it since but Persephone is quite the badass. For perspective on my review, and the challenge of the DLC, it’s important to state that, not only is my character Level 254, but I was playing it on NG +3. Eventually I would like to go back and level her up to the max, but I’ve been waiting for both time and for the rest of the DLC content to be released. From the perspective of someone with that completion trophy and with that powerful of a character, I have to say that the Ashes of Ariandel DLC was actually a little bit more difficult than the basic game.

Dark Souls III Ashes of Ariandel | Start

This is where the adventure begins.

An important part of any From Software DLC is finding where to access the new areas. That hasn’t always been very easy in the previous games. But this time around they made it a little easier, as you only need to reach the Cleansing Chapel in the Cathedral of the Deep area. For those who haven’t purchased the basic game yet, or haven’t played much, that means that you only really need to beat the first two required bosses and then the optional Crystal Sage boss to access this content. However, as the game will warn you (with notes on the ground), you are strongly advised to not even try this content without being at the end of the main game. If you’ve already beaten the game once, you can feel free to try, but just remember that everything gets a lot more difficult with each NG playthrough. So unless you are strong enough to beat the game at that difficulty level, I would advise you come back to this one.

Dark Souls III Ashes of Ariandel | Ice Surfing

So, ice surfing is a thing. Too bad it doesn’t appear more often.

The Painted World is a tie in to the DLC from the first Dark Souls game, and they do a good job balancing the hooks back to that story for longtime fans, but also providing enough new to satisfy new players. This time around the Painted World is quite a bleak and snowy land. The new music tracks composed for this content really fit the atmosphere, which was a really nice addition. With the new graphics engine the weather effects look really nice, even as terrible as the conditions are. And the wind is actually an important effect not just for the aesthetics, but the tree creatures behave differently in the wind than normal trees do. So you can use that to your advantage and take them out before they get the drop on you. They are one of many different new enemies that are added into the world.

Dark Souls III Ashes of Ariandel | Brutal Peons

These torch bearing peons may not look like much, but they can be brutal.

The Faron warriors scattered all around are the largest addition to this content. Even the weakest members can be rather dangerous, the torch bearers. When they spit fire at you is the best you can hope for. If they come at you with a sword, watch out, don’t even bother blocking because they have insane amounts of stamina and can wear you down no matter how much you have yourself. So you need to either dodge or parry in order to take them out. The shield ones can be even more annoying, and the lance throwing ones are only rough if they start charging at you, but none of those are the real concern. There are giant versions of the Faron warriors, called the Millwood Knights, which have greatbows that fire AOE effect arrows, giant 2 handed mace wielding ones, and worst of all is the one with a 2 handed axe that creates AOE earthquakes. They can be really brutal, even at my character’s strength, and I would stack them against any of the trash enemies in the basic game, even the Winged Knights.

Dark Souls III Ashes of Ariandel | Disgusting

Some environments are so disgusting that you’ll look forward to the snow.

There are also a wide variety of other additions, such as the disgusting giant flies who are consuming the rot of the world (this is a very important story point), the ice crabs, and the snow wolves. The snow wolves represent an interesting new mechanic where they can call out and a whole pack of new wolves will appear to attack you. Even worse though, are the giant snow wolves, which are extremely dangerous and very fast. Thankfully they only appear one at a time and cannot call for backup. Unfortunately, one of them does appear during a boss fight, so get used to their attack patterns.

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About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.

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