Back in April, I loved Dark Souls III. It had beautifully written but underwhelmingly less lore expanding story. Had some frustrating technical hiccups, but amazing feel and mechanics. And now when we know what poise actually does («hyperarmor» during attack and roll animations) a lot of issues have been fixed and some things rebalanced, the core game is better than ever. So what’s the first DLC all about?
It’s short. I cannot even begin describing it any other way. It is short and it feels short. And rather underwhelming too. Some joked about Dark Souls 1 that in today’s world the Painted World optional area would be a DLC. Well, no it kind of is. It is a different take on similar premise, like everything in Dark Soul III, and a really good one. But it’s under 6 hours of new content, most of which will be spent on the final boss.
Now, it looks beautiful. It really does. And the new enemies are interesting, with clever new AI patterns and group behaviours. New mini-stories are interesting and the ideas behind them too. They hint at some good continuation in the next and final DLC. Some things even feel like welcome subtle hints/subversions of Dark Souls II story points. But it’s also a bit of a mess.
Some parts of the map feel just fine, a perfect balance of caution and atmosphere building and tough rushing moments. And then others just overwhelm you completely with quick hard to kill enemies that combo 7+ hits in under 5 seconds. You have a really cool and simple to grasp optional boss fight and then incredibly tough and draining final fight. Which some people will find fun, but I personally didn’t.
There are new items, new things and all that stuff too, of course. But overall, the DLC feels more like a nice tease for something next. And I somehow doubt that that something next the final DLC will be is going to live up to all the expectations people have. Especially in terms of the story.
If you were craving for more DkS 3, or simply own the Season Pass anyway, you might as well play Ashes of Ariandel now. If you can wait until the next DLC, however, and see if it all pays off in the end, I’d suggest you to wait. Sometimes getting underwhelmed by good things is worse than not trying them out.