Until I installed the Ashes of Ariandel DLC for Dark Souls III, I didn’t realize how much I missed the game. When I wrote my review for the main game, I was 30 hours in. After that, I put in nearly another 70 hours, not including this new DLC, but I wrapped up that time with it many months ago. I didn’t explore every corner of the world, but I visited many, battled many a bad guy, and loved every single minute… except for some of the boss fights, they are difficult in a way that I don’t enjoy as much.
Picking up this first bit of DLC, I was worried that my skills may have gone rusty, but Ashes of Ariandel is easy enough to get comfortable with if one has played the much of the main game, and the entry point is relatively late in the game, making that something of a necessity.
The story for Ashes puts the player, essentially, inside of a painting (even if the place looks similar to any other Dark Souls land). There are new enemies, a couple of boss fights, and well, just more of the game that is Dark Souls III. There is some mythology, yes, but it’s all twisted up in the same way that makes the whole of the franchise’s mythology interesting and obtuse. That is, it is great to read all about it (or as much as the game will say about it), the tale sounds interesting, but when most people are done learning what there is to be learned it they will be able to recite back the broad strokes but nothing more.
This is all sort of begging the question of what DLC is – is it something that should just be a continuation of that which has come before or ought it be entirely new and different. I argue the former. I think it needs to expand and deepen a game, but that straying too far from the main storyline is a mistake. Ashes of Ariandel utilizes this exact same philosophy. It is a new place to explore, it is a new thing to do, but each and every piece of it operates in the same way that everything else in the game operates.
That last statement applies equally to the bad as well as the good. The exact same things which frustrate me about the main game, frustrate me here – I find the boss fights annoying and overly difficult. I constantly feel like there is a trick to them and that not finding the trick (e.g., the place you can stand, strike, and never get hit back) is asking to get killed over and over again. Beyond that, I am regularly aware that sometimes arrows that look like they should have a clear path to an enemy get stopped on a tree or other obstacle which ought not be in the way. But, warts and all, I think the game is fantastic.
All of that is to say that if you liked Dark Souls III and have been itching to have the character you’ve worked so hard on go on a new adventure in the same world, Ashes of Ariandel offers exactly that. If, however, you never enjoyed the game, or feel like you simply can’t bear to hang out with your character again, it isn’t for you.
It is most definitely for me.
Dark Souls III is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox One and Windows PC.