Monday, 12 September 2016

Dark Souls 3

Gamespot Score: 8.0 (Great)

My Score: 9.0

(+) Pros: - Brilliant lore coupled with an expansive world, - Lots of nostalgia and tidbits from previous 2 games, - Improved gameplay that's probably the best of the franchise thus far, - Great focus on both PVE and PVP at the same time, - Great boss battles, - Multiple endings, much more than previous games, - High replay value.

(-) Cons: - Considerably less challenging than previous games outside of 1 boss (new game + also offer less challenge than in previous games).

Game Play Time: 100 hours+

And here we are with the final installment of the "Dark Souls" franchise. It's a pity really, but I'm actually kind of glad that "From Soft" decided to end the franchise here before it got too stale...with them releasing a new game once every couple of years, that wouldn't be too good (as it is now, its starting to become "From Soft"'s COD or Assassin's Creed). For all of your thirsting for more, there's still 2 DLCs on the way, and while the "Dark Souls" franchise is ending, it may actually spell hope for a sequel or "Demon's Souls" or "Bloodborne"...but I actually want Miyazaki to take on a new IP. Anyway, being the final game in the franchise, its pretty obvious that "Dark Souls 3" is pretty amazing. It is most definitely a worthwhile sequel to previous games and a wonderful closure to a series that's honestly starting to run out of ideas. So for the last time, it's time to plunge into a world of death and despair.

"Dark Souls 3" is the direct sequel to the original 2 games, featuring many lore bits and even characters from previous games. It stars you, not as a chosen undead this time, but as an unkindled one, a manifestation of ash from past fallen heroes...or in some cases, just a puny warrior on the side of the road. Anyway, you have the right to link the flame, but as an unkindled, nobody expects jack shit from you, especially when there are lords of cinder out there with plenty of power to link to flame if they tried. Unfortunately, they have abandoned their duty, and the firekeeper of firelink shrine has chose you as the next monarch to link the fire. Your duty? To slay the current lord of cinders, pillage their souls and ultimately go to link the fire yourself. Because f**k those guys.

When you march into a dance party uninvited. 

Well, there's quite a lot to talk about "Dark Souls 3", but its more or less the same game as before with improvements. With a brand new game comes a brand new world, and "Dark Souls 3" plunges you into the kingdom of Lothric, a new land built upon old kingdoms. With that taken into to mind, there WILL be plenty of winks towards the older games. However, even when taking into consideration the new locales alone, Lothric's world is amazing in both lore and just plain visual spectacle. From the towering castle, the tattered streets along the high walls to the lower wall slum areas and mighty cathedrals, there's A LOT to look at and get lost in.

In terms of lore though, its certainly leaps better than Drangleic in "Dark Souls 2" ever was. Item descriptions actually make sense to corresponding areas this time, and its much easier to link bits and pieces of the lore together. Hell, this time even if you don't look at item descriptions to squeeze out bits and pieces of the lore, you can pretty much tell what's going on. Not only that, you will very easily drown in nostalgia as there are plenty of throwbacks to the first 2 games. I won't spoil it here, but there area areas and NPCs from the previous 2 games, you will squeal like a fanboy if you're hardcore into the first 2 games like I am. 

Oh my f**k, what the hell is that?!

Now then, on to the game play. For the most part, its as you remember when it comes to the control. Since this is not "Bloodborne", there's no longer a dedicated healing button to inject blood vials, its back to the original item switching and manual downing of Estus flasks. Either way, managing your items during battle is slightly easier this time round, as you can instantly switch back to your estus flasks from other items by holding "down" on the D-Pad, rather than frantically switching during a fight. You can change weapons and spells as usual, like in "Dark Souls", you can equip up to 3 weapons/shields in either hand. Hitting X rolls, Triangle will let you hold your weapon with 2 hands, and circle simply lets you examine stuff. The trigger buttons are back to being used as attack buttons.

While dual wielding has been removed from "Dark Souls 2" (which is a damn shame), weapon arts have been added into the game. Instead of your regular health and stamina bar, "Dark Souls 3" returns to the root of "Demons' Souls", by adding a 3rd resource bar known as "Focus". Just like mana, you require FP to use weapon arts and magic, however, unlike "Demons' Souls" where you can just hoard a bunch of spices and never run dry, you'll require estus flasks to heal FP as well. You'll need to choose to distribute your flasks into regular health restoring estus flasks, or ashen estus flasks which heal FP. It's a tough choice, and it slightly punishes casters this time around, as they felt far too safe and had too much of a power spike previously, they'll need to choose between survivability instead of over-relying on magic. 

Ladies and gentleman, everyone's favorite ass in the franchise.

Speaking of that, the ashen estus flasks also apply to those who rely too much on weapon arts. These are skills that are attached to each weapon in game. While there are a small minority of weapons which lack weapon arts at all, most of them do, and they give you a slightly new approach to battle. For example, the Greatsword weapon art gives you a massive temporary boost in poise for a powerful strike, the dagger weapon art gives you a swift dash, some bows let you fire on and so forth. The better the weapon, the more effective the weapon art, and boss weapons usually give you sick attacks. However, its sometimes better to not rely too much on as a melee fighter, since duking it out with bosses in close range is still the most effective way of getting things done.

With the new game comes new ways to improve the gaming experience. PVE, while still the main focus of the game, is still a blast. As usual, the game mixes in some brilliant enemy placements, while things can get incredibly ridiculous at times, it never feels unfair or cheap. There are ways to deal with all types of enemies, and while some might seem overbearing at first, always take note that there are ways to deal with them (except for the triple golden fat angel knights towards the end game, those guys are BS if you take them all at once). As for PVP, covenants make a triumph return to the game, and as you'd expect, a lot of these babies focus solely on fighting other players.

"Disney World!" - Videogamedunkey.

There are covenants dedicated to summoning you into other players' worlds just to kill them for trespassing on a certain in-game area. There are covenants that get you automatically summoned into a world if someone is invaded (as you guessed, its the blue dudes again). As long as you actively play into the covenant, there will be tons of battles, ESPECIALLY if you joined the accursed "Aldrich Faithful". If your SL isn't that high, prepare to be plunged into battle every 5 minutes. There will always be PVP weapon tiers and the like, but the game is fun enough for you to be able to win with every possible weapon....if you're good at the game, of course. Obviously, insane boss battles make a return as well. While most of the bosses should not phase veteran players to the franchise at this point, they are still incredibly fun and some even make use of unique mechanics to spice up the fight (like Yhorm and Abyss Watchers).

I won't spoil these bosses to avoid spoilers, but I'll just say that they are a massive improvement over "Dark Souls 2" bosses. What else does this game have over the rest? Endings, multiple endings. While past games have 2 endings at best, "Dark Souls 3" has 4, and out of those 4, one of them is incredibly hard to get. Not surprisingly, that is the most satisfying ending of them all. Just on the endings alone, the game has a high amount of replay value if you intend to get all of them, but of course, that's not all there is to the game. As usual, there are a multitude of builds and character possibilities that can keep you glued to the land of Lothric for a long, LONG time. Oh yeah, fashion souls too, its always fun to play a new game just to make a brand new character cosplay.

Yeah...that IS a gigantic alligator dog.

As for flaws, I can only think of 2 things. The major thing is that the game isn't nearly as tough as previous offerings. While there are some annoying areas, outside of 1 boss, there isn't one part of the game that really causes me to die multiple times in a row. Maybe its just me hardening up to the "Souls" games already, but there really isn't a MASSIVE difficulty spike in the game. Other than that though, its basically just New Game + and beyond, there didn't seem to be too much of a boost in the enemy numbers, so the game is basically easier beyond that.

"Dark Souls 3" is a nice way to conclude an amazing franchise. I don't think that the franchise is dead for sure, I think Miyazaki is going to re-use the engine to make a better IP like "Bloodborne". This may be the last of Gwyn's arc, but I think there will be more to come. For now, let's just wait on the DLC, its going to be good for sure. If there's anything about the "Souls" DLC, they are always tougher than the main game, so let's hope its the "oompf" that "Dark Souls 3" needs.

Happy gaming!