Dark Souls III, as you may have read in my review of the base game, is one of the best games of 2016 and I was eager to get a taste of more, especially with developer From Software stating that this will be the last Souls’ game.
The DLC may be quite short but it’s a worthy add-on to Dark Souls III and Ariandel’s aesthetic is gorgeous, providing for some of the best scenery in the series. Thankfully, accessing the DLC isn’t half as much of a slog as it was for Bloodborne where I had to restart the game and progress past a couple of bosses, and it wasn’t long before I found myself accepting a quest and then awakening in the Painted World of Ariandel and fighting for my life.
Ariandel is home to many new enemies including packs of wolves and viking-like people who tower above you and yes, they are a pain in the arse and I found myself playing Run Away Simulator 2016 more than once! Don’t worry though, I handled pretty much all of the wolves and grew to strongly dislike one wolf in particular but don’t worry, you’ll know which one it is when you get there – unless you’ve already played the DLC then wasn’t that wolf a complete nuisance?!
The raw, sweaty-palm-inducing challenge is still present although I wish that there were more than 2 bosses, but otherwise there isn’t really anything to complain about gameplay-wise. The most exciting addition is the PvP Arena where you can set up battles against other players rather than having to invade or vice-versa. I’m not a big fan of invading or being invaded but it’s fun fighting against other players, so developer From Software’s inclusion of an arena mode is exciting and thrilling, providing some intense battles against the only people who can provide an even greater challenge than a boss battle. There’s new equipment and spells to get your hands on, some of which will prove very handy in PvP.
As mentioned earlier, Ariandel is gorgeous and one of my favourite areas visually in Dark Souls III – snowy areas are always appeal to me and Ariandel is no exception. If you don’t like snow then you’re out of luck as the majority of the area is covered in it, but otherwise it’s like a very dangerous Winter wonderland. Many of the buildings that remain are in ruins and Ariandel is portrayed as a harsh, barren world that’s not kind to anybody. Even some of the safe areas had me on my toes! From Software excel at creating worlds and creatures, and Ariandel helps to deepen the series’ already rich lore. There isn’t much in the way of music but, as expected, Ariandel is very atmospheric and being able to hear every little sound around you is immersing, and might even help you evade death.
Dark Souls III is undeniably one of the best games of 2016 and Ashes of Ariandel only further proves that point with another brutal adventure, with engaging enemies and spectacular, grand boss fights. Chances are if you’re a big Dark Souls fan then you already have the season pass but if not, then I have no hesitation in saying that I recommend it and I’m eagerly awaiting the second DLC, which may also be the last piece of Dark Souls that From Software creates.