Dark Souls III has had its second and final DLC released in the form of “The Ringed City”, moving away from the snowy climates of the previous DLC. Finishing our journey with the Ashen One, we will be travelling through the ruins of an old city along with the marshes that now take it over. Starting off in a similar manner to the first DLC, we are transported to a new land with a single NPC giving us cryptic messages, it’s time to take this place head on… oh I died.
In this final DLC we travel to the end of the world, in search of the Ringed City, which shows the culmination of all previous Dark Souls games. From The Dreg Heap to The Ringed City itself you will wade through hollow humans, with the task of dealing with the last Demon, the last Dragon and the last boss. This DLC ends on a high note with the final boss, which I won’t spoil here, but again it is the feeling of “the end” that really makes it a poetic fight and one to remember.
I can’t give a good estimation of time for this DLC, as with it being the final DLC and entry in Dark Souls, the developers made it harder than all I had faced till this point. It feels longer then the last DLC which sat around 2-4 hours, but that could be due to all my deaths.
(If you want a more in-depth look at the mechanics of Dark Souls 3, then read my previous review)
The Ringed City brings with it some new enemies, from crawlers that deal a lot of damage to their upright forms that summon shadowy beasts to hunt you down. There are also new flying enemies, similar to the beasts that attack you in the Dragonslayer Armour boss, that shoot light beams at you. The level design has also taken a huge step up, from its beautiful aesthetic to the gameplay elements of huge drops, verticality and mazes.
Difficulty wise, the DLC is much harder than Ashes of Ariandel, with swamps full of status effects and kill zones scattered around. The boss selection is also top notch, offering a taste of all different styles, as well as being difficult they are made with great detail and design. It also includes several new weapons, shields, bosses, npcs, enemies, armour, items, spells and covenant. Along with all the material goods it adds in another PvP arena.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
After my disappointed over the previous DLC I wasn’t expecting much from this one, I did hope for it to be a high note for the series to end on however. Loading it up, I died within 10 minutes, exactly what I wanted. DS3 felt difficult again and the aesthetic of the area suited me a lot more than the snowy hills of Ariandel. It does play off of nostalgia heavily, so if you’ve not played the other Dark Souls games it might not meld well with you.
The DLC can feel infuriating at times, from the branches you need to traverse to the placement of enemies and the sheer number of them. It felt like a gauntlet at times, wading through 20 walkers and 4 casters to having to dodge light beams from the sky. The level overall feels shorter, contrasting my actual play time, as the ideas and mechanics in place are great but are underused and underutilized.
With double the bosses of the previous DLC, a game time lengthened due to difficulty yet level design feeling smaller, this DLC has its highs and lows. The difficulty jump can feel jarring, especially if you are coming straight from the last DLC. It leans a bit too much on its dropping mechanic and mad dashes to cover, while a refreshing change of pace it feels overused at times.
Overall The Ringed City gets a 9/10, it got rid of almost all my complaints of the first DLC and improves the base mechanics greatly. It does overuse some of its mechanics, while underusing the whole level itself. The bosses are varied and difficult, along with the DLC in its entirety having a high difficulty. The ending is great, the items amazing and overall presentation is lovely. It can put off casual gamers due to its shift in design and difficulty, but for hard-core fans of the series it is a must buy. Dark Souls may be over, but our repeated dying will not!