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Dark Souls III in itself is a loaded experience. Players can spend hours upon end, crafting their perfect warrior and fight against bosses larger than life. The most avid of fans, by now, would’ve exhausted Dark Souls III of all of its content. Yes, the game is huge but it isn’t without its ending. That’s where DLC comes in. For a small price, players can access more content in the form of DLC. Even after learning every bosses’ tactics and crafting a perfect build, there is more content to be found in this lovely package. Unfortunately for fans, the latest content for Dark Souls III is rather lackluster, leaving me feeling empty.
To access Ashes of Ariandel, players will need a high-level, late game save for Dark Souls III. Players must find a new non-player character in the world, a sketchy figure who will pull players into the Painted World of Ariandel. This is where it all begins.
The Painted World features a large snow-capped area filled with all sorts of new enemies to encounter. Sure, the locale is quaint at first, but it isn’t long before danger rears its head. Norse-inspired warriors march through the fog filled forests and wolves howl as they circle their prey. Even the very trees themselves spring to life and pepper players with painful magic spells. These new enemies can prove challenging, but don’t move in ways that fans haven’t seen before. I encountered a giant wolf early into the DLC and his attack pattern resembled Vordt, an early boss from Dark Souls III. Once I noticed it, I remembered my old tactics and quickly countered his every move.
Outside of the wandering enemies, there are two new bosses (Yes, only two) and one is completely optional. These new bosses offer another reason to test your mettle again, but doesn’t offer as much challenge as previous bosses. The centerpiece boss, which you will be spending your time working up to, pulls a couple of new tricks and can be exhausting. This boss has three phases so stay alert, or you’ll be sent to your last bonfire before you know it. The optional boss is a bit simpler since he fights like a typical player. Players who have experience fighting invaders will have an easy time with him.
Defeating this optional boss unlocks the new Arena mode. Here, players can bring teammates and fight against others in a more conventional way to PvP. Players can pick the type of battle (2v2, 1v3, etc.) and even set a password for private matches. This proves to be easier way to play competitively, but I don’t understand who this is really for. A player who wants to fight competitively already have ways implemented into the game. There aren’t even any special rewards that would sway players from using the Arena instead of just dropping a sign in Anor Londo.
The beautiful new snow area is the biggest new addition here with its chilly, winter forest setting. This fresh concept comes with its own death traps, including avalanches and collapsing snow platforms. It makes Ashes of Ariandel feel like something new. With the amount of new foes, the layout of the land doesn’t let players put their guard down for a second. Challenge here is lost due to plenty bonfire checkpoints spread throughout the DLC. Exploring and memorizing every nook and cranny was fun, but the environment wasn’t big enough to hide enough secrets.
It’s all good content, there just isn’t much of it. New enemies, bosses, weapons, and armor is great, but there isn’t enough. I uncovered most of the DLC’s secrets in a single playthrough without any real difficulty. Players who have spent a lot of time playing Dark Souls will do the same. I remember finishing the boss and being surprise that I completed it so quickly. I searched online for everything I missed along the way and it wasn’t much.
For those who care about achievements and trophies, the DLC doesn’t provide any for some strange reason.
Other than the short length, the real disappointed was how easy the DLC turned out to be. I was able to finish it in a little over an hour with a little less in ten deaths in total. It’s disappointing especially considering From Software’s last DLC, The Old Hunters for Bloodborne was so filled with content. Say what you will about Bloodborne, but I enjoyed the experience and its DLC left me sweating after each close encounter with a new boss. Ashes of Ariandel fails to invoke those emotions. The experience left me feeling disappointing overall.
On its own, it doesn’t provide a compelling reason to return to a game that already had a satisfying ending. If you’re a fan of Dark Souls, you aren’t missing much in this new DLC.