Dark Souls III is developed by FromSoftware, Inc and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment ‘As fires fade and the world falls into ruin, journey once more into a universe filled with more colossal enemies and environments. Fans and newcomers alike will get lost in the games hallmark rewarding gameplay and immersive graphics. Now only embers remain…’
Dark Souls has became one of my most played games ever since I bought the original Dark Souls a couple years ago. From that day I found myself becoming addicted to throwing myself at the bosses and enemies that would pummel me to death over and over again and now, four years and two sequels later I’m still loving it! Before getting into this I will say that players of all the Souls series (including Bloodborne) will already have an idea of what to expect but for newer players Dark Souls 3 will be unlike anything else they have played, guaranteed.
Being an RPG the first thing players will do is create their characters after a quick cutscene introducing them to the world. The character creator offers multiple ways to make your character unique with fairly in depth options for the face, some body customisation and the all important class selection which will be the decider for the starting point for your character stats. To sum up the classes for newcomers to the series; each class specialises in different combat styles and has a slight advantage with the weapons using their base stats since these will most likely be the ones that players focus on. For example, you have Knights which are able to withstand a lot more damage at the start and have a decent balance in physical combat or you could be a Pyromancer or Cleric specialising in different spells to take down your foes. Each class has their individual advantages so it’s best to research them before diving in.
Now, weapons and Estus Flask in hand players will set off on their journey to Firelink Shrine. This will become the main hub area of Dark Souls III just like how the very different version of the same place was in Dark Souls I. Here you will find any vendors you come across and send back as you progress through the game as well as having some key characters which aid you in different ways. From the Firelink Shrine you are then sent off into the world. Dark Souls III’s world takes the feeling of a dying and chaotic world from the previous games but really improves upon and delivers with the focus on ash and a world that is still burning away yet on the verge of dying. Combined with the great enemy design the world really feels a lot better than before.
Despite the focus on flame and ash, Dark Souls III also has a lot of variety in its environments. Players find themselves travelling through old fortresses, onto poisonous swamps and frozen valleys. Some areas and items from previous games also make appearances and players that already know of these places/things will definitely get a deeper sense of understanding and importance from these items and locations. Speaking of items… Items are plentiful here, you have hundreds of consumables, each with individual effects as well as plenty of weapons, armour etc. to customise your character with and take you enemies down with.
Plentiful variety, brilliant level and enemy design is more than enough but those of you that hunt the lore of the Souls series will find yourselves spoiled with all the knowledge to find in this third instalment. A lot of what is known will be developed on, questions will be answered and knowledge of the older areas of the game that have been in previous games will be rewarded. While naturally in a game I would complain when a plot isn’t really explained, Dark Souls does it right when it comes to leaving everything down to speculation and piecing things together and Dark Souls III is no different with a lot more content for lore there to find than what was there for players in Dark Souls II.
Online has also been drastically improved in Dark Souls III with online password matching to allow you and friends to summon each other into worlds and play together. Connectivity and hit detection is near perfect as long as it isn’t cross region play and all the game’s covenants (online groups ran by in-game NPCs which award items that players can offer to rank up in for rewards) have their individual effects in online which gives players a more mixed experience but one that rewards them now no matter what path they take in the covenant. So, for example; a covenant that used to only reward co-op play now allows you to gain rewards from PvP.
Now, despite all of the good and improvements in Dark Souls III I cant help but feel like some of the bosses were quite underwhelming. At least, for a returning player. The soundtrack, design and look of them was all brilliant! The final boss is easily the best boss of any game I’ve ever played but some of the bosses felt too gimmicky when it came to beating them with a few of them having huge, obvious weak points that would end the fight very quickly when hitting them. Even one of the main bosses can be defeated in 5 hits just by using a certain weapon on him which was very underwhelming for a Souls game.
But, as I said; the final boss is easily the best boss I’ve fought yet in a game and will definitely hold a lot more value to players which beat the first Dark Souls and be more meaningful a win than it would to newer players. A very nice end to the game. Another downside is the removal of PvP arena matchmaking which was a feature in Dark Souls II where players could find 1v1 arenas in which to fight and test their skills. In Dark Souls III there isn’t this so gank squads are common and being a single invader getting killed by 3 players working together doesn’t really seem fair on those wanting to find a balanced PvP experience.