This is the end of the line for Dark Souls.
A couple weeks back, the final piece of content we’ll ever see (for the time being) of the Dark Souls series was released. The Ringed City was the second of two DLCs for Dark Souls 3, the first being Ashes of Ariandel back in October. Much like the first DLC, The Ringed City comes with a $15 price tag.
For starters, I think The Ringed City was definitely better than Ashes of Ariandel. My biggest gripe with Ashes of Ariandel was that it was too small and that was slightly improved in this DLC. The Ringed City introduces a pretty decent sized new area. However, the problem here is I didn’t really feel compelled to explore it. There’s effectively an instakill mechanic in quite a bit of the new areas that requires you to move through them more stealthily. Basically, if you don’t dip behind rocks every ten feet you die.
I honestly just hated this mechanic. I want to fight my way through areas collecting as many items as I can find and exploring as much as I can. When I play Dark Souls, I want to fight my way through everything because the combat is the driving force behind this series. I don’t want to just run by everything. Basically what I did for the majority of this DLC was running from bonfire to bonfire killing the bosses. Then I would have to work my way backwards to do some exploring and I just wasn’t a fan. This resulted in me finishing The Ringed City much more quickly than I probably should have (~four hours).
The bosses are the bread and butter of this series and they were a clear improvement in this DLC from what we got in the first DLC. In Ashes of Ariandel, there were two bosses and one of them really doesn’t even count. In The Ringed City, there are four bosses; one being optional. I’m a little mixed on how these ended up.
The first boss fight is solid. It starts out as a gank fight and then turns into a standard one on one boss fight. Overall, I think it was a pretty decent boss fight and I had no issues with the mechanics. I also really liked the final boss in The Ringed City. I didn’t think it was Orphan of Kos or Nameless King hard but it was challenging and definitely one of the better bosses in the series. I like to play at a really fast pace so I struggled with his slower movements a little bit before I was able to grind him down.
I hated the second boss in this DLC. FromSoftware tried a concept way back in Demon’s Souls that revolved around a PvP boss fight and they brought that back in The Ringed City. In the second boss fight, an actual player is summoned alongside regular enemies that heal that player and fight you at the same time. The actual player is the boss. I had to continue repeating this boss fight until I got matched up with someone who wasn’t cheesing me down while I was harassed by the regular enemies in the room. I’m sure you could disconnect and fight a regular enemy in the player’s place but I was going to conquer that fight one way or another. I’m just entirely against this concept in general because it’s just not a fun experience for me. I don’t mind Dark Souls PvP, but I don’t want it in my boss fight.
There’s one optional boss in this DLC and I still haven’t beaten it. It’s not that it’s a particularly hard boss fight; it’s a very large scale fight with a wonky camera and I’m still learning the moveset. My biggest issue is one that I had in the Ashes of Ariandel DLC and that I had again with bosses in this DLC; they have way too much health. It’s like FromSoftware just decided that in order to make a boss hard, they have to inflate its health pool. It drives me nuts because I think the mechanics for all of the bosses in these DLCs were good and this contrived difficulty garbage is weighing it down.
My biggest gripe overall with The Ringed City is that it’s an underwhelming conclusion to the series. Dark Souls is over and it doesn’t really feel like it. When I beat the last boss, nothing happened. There was no cutscene or dialogue or anything. It just… ended. I just expected a little more but I guess an incredibly empty ending is fitting for this series. But if you want more specifically on the lore from The Ringed City, VaatiVidya is that way.
Ultimately, I like The Ringed City and I would recommend it to fans of the series for the same reasons that I recommended Ashes of Ariandel. Is it worth $15? Maybe not. But the real value for me in these games is the boss fights and the ones in this DLC are very good overall. I like being able to say that I beat all the bosses, so that’s what I do. Unfortunately, neither of these DLCs lived up to The Old Hunters DLC from Bloodborne. If you haven’t played Dark Souls 3 and are interested in giving it a shot, I would hold off a few weeks for the Dark Souls 3: The Fire Fades Edition which releases on April 21st and includes both DLCs alongside the base game.
So this is it. This is the end of Dark Souls. Will we ever return to the series in the future? Maybe sometime down the line FromSoftware will decide they want to make a Dark Souls 4 or something but until then, the series is over. For now, it’s time to wait for Bloodborne 2.