Gabe Young ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Dark Souls series is a lot of things to a lot of people. The third one never quite lived up to the series’s legacy, but it was still a great game, providing a wonderful cap to the series. Now comes along the DLC. And how does it stack up? Well, that’s a tricky question to answer.
Your enjoyment of Ashes of Ariandel depends on a number of factors. If you’re a massive Dark Souls lore nerd, you’ll find plenty to be engaged in, seeing as the DLC just blatantly takes place in the Painted World of Ariamis (an area from the first game) except this time bigger and better than ever. However, if the lore implications don’t grab you, then the gameplay might. It’s more of the same brutal combat and intense action that people have come to expect from Dark Souls. Unfortunately, if the original Dark Souls wasn’t your thing, there’s nothing new in the DLC that’s going to suddenly change your mind.
Ashes of Ariandel takes place in a small, magical pocket dimension, separate from the larger Dark Souls world where snow fields and massive ice walls stretch on into eternity. The graphic design of Dark Souls developer FromSoftware was never lackluster, but they really pulled out all the stops for the final Souls game, at least graphically. Whatever issues the DLC may have, it still is pretty to look at.
Included in the DLC are several new weapons, magic spells, and miracles, all of which add a bit of flavor to the combat but are by no means to die for. The new areas and enemies included are a mixed bag. They move across the spectrum from amazingly put together to an utter mess. Some areas reach the peak of Dark Souls game design while others are jumbled, confusing landscapes. Some of the new enemies are complete joys to fight, some encounters seem twisted unfairly against the player. While there is something for everyone in the DLC, there is an equal amount of bad.
But maybe you aren’t in it for the lore, the combat, areas or any of that, and you simply love the feeling of a boss fight. Again, the DLC provides a double-edged sword. Ashes of Ariandel only has two major boss fights. Only one of them is good, but oh boy, is it good. Without giving away too many spoilers, it is one of the most enjoyable boss encounters in the game. Suffice to say, the DLC is nothing revolutionary. Unlike Dark Souls DLC of the past, the snowy fields and stark caves of Ariandel fail to outpace the base game.
The single, one hundred percent worthwhile addition included in the DLC is the new PvP suite, which essentially amounts to a multiplayer matchmaking service, something the Souls series has desperately needed for a while now. Provided that you have any interest in multiplayer combat, this new addition is a lot of fun. You can now easily enter combat against other players rather than messing around with the obtuse multiplayer system of the base game. It allows you to pick your poison, whether that be massive free-for-alls with up to six players, team based death matches, or one on one duels. Either way, the PvP has never been more accessible or more fun. Unfortunately, there is currently only one arena and players can only hope they’ll add more.
In closing, the Ashes of Ariandel is a uneven piece of content. Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad, all of it is Dark Souls. If you’re taken by PvP or simply the promise of an extra couple of hours trolling through the world of Lothric, then it’ll be worth your time. But if you lack interest in the multiplayer and don’t particularly care for the lore of the world, then this DLC is nothing near worth the fifteen dollar price tag. If anything, wait for a sale, if those actually exist, before purchasing. Besides the PvP, the one fantastic boss, and a handful of well crafted areas, Ashes of Ariandel is too short and too lopsided to be exactly worth its full price.