Dark Souls III: The Ringed City DLC Review

By Marc Hollinshead, 1 year ago
The entire Souls series is known for its brutal difficulty, memorable boss battles and cryptic lore. The extra content of all the games in the franchise has expanded on all of this and it is regularly received very well. The first DLC of Dark Souls III, while enjoyable to play, felt a little thin in terms of content. Players were pining for just a bit more as it wasn't as vast as they had hoped. The second and final DLC of the game, and the final piece of original content for the series, is now available for all to play. The question is whether it is a worthy sendoff to this critically acclaimed franchise?

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"The Ringed City" is designed to be your final port of call when playing Dark Souls III. The DLC can only be accessed once you've reached the final boss of the main game, but once you make it to The Dreg Heap you will quickly realise that it's not a casual stroll to the other side. Death will be a common occurrence even to veteran players due to the new enemies and environmental hazards that "The Ringed City" introduces. Players can fall through floors again and regular enemy ambushes make a return, but the enemies themselves can be much deadlier if you allow them to be. Ringed Knights wander the city streets, gigantic flies with human-like heads attempt to impale you with their magic spears and hollow soldiers will amass all their energy to hurl the power of the abyss at you. It's refreshingly challenging and nothing feels recycled.

Arguably the all-important factor of Souls is the bosses. Fortunately, "The Ringed City" brings forth a number of memorable and tough fights. There are double the amount of bosses on offer here after "Ashes of Ariandel" and all of them present a great challenge. With the exception of one slightly lackluster, albeit still tricky fight, the boss designs are exceptional and will definitely have you sweating as you whittle down their health. Screaming "YES!" as the final boss fell gave validation to a long hour and a half struggle, and even after you are on the brink of giving up, one last try that leads to victory suddenly makes it all worth it. It's what Dark Souls, and especially "The Ringed City", does so well.

Be careful of these bad boys. Those swords pack a punch.Be careful of these bad boys. Those swords pack a punch.

Aside from the enemies that litter the area, there is an abundance of dangers throughout "The Ringed City". A lot of them will be recognisable from previous games, such as the classic dragon breathing fire on the very path on which you need to travel, but they still remain fresh in this add-on. The Blighttown-esque swamp will also have you racing through the poison to keep yourself alive and fans of the series will remember the thrill of that area all too well. The most notable danger, though, is towards the beginning where a mixture of stealth and incredible patience will be needed to bypass the most frustrating enemy in the DLC. While this brings back some of the classic Dark Souls challenge, be prepared for more than an ounce of frustration. Nonetheless, perseverance is the key to mastering the series, and with that in mind, the feeling of accomplishment throughout "The Ringed City" is immeasurable. There are constant obstacles that attempt to halt your progress but finally pushing through to the other side is a reward all in itself.

The environment in which these enemies reside feels much more varied and diverse than the snowy landscape of "Ashes of Ariandel". You'll be amidst the ruins of past ages, lumbering through poison swamps and spiralling through miniature catacombs before eventually making it to the Ringed City itself. The views hark back to the likes of Anor Londo so From Software has certainly let their creative side flourish in this one. You are never in one particular environment for too long either, so each of these are always paced well... that is if you're able to make regular progress, of course.

A simple stroll through the murky death lake is all it takes.A simple stroll through the murky death lake is all it takes.

Another trope of Dark Souls is the weapons and spells. "The Ringed City" continues to expand the arsenal available to you while even showcasing the new spells in fights with bosses and phantoms. These new additions are very creative and certain weapons and armour are very intricately designed. There's a lot to find so this gives even more incentive to brave the dark corners of every location. There are plenty of weapons, armour and spells for every class so no one is left out for new toys with which to experiment.

As you explore further into the fabled city and its surrounding areas, exciting new lore implications will present themselves to you. Anyone who has played any title in the series will know how confusing yet intriguingly cryptic the story is, and with this new content, lore fanatics will be overjoyed at the new information they get. With this being the final DLC, there is the potential for a lot to be answered if you search deep enough, and the link that this has with the previous DLC will entice you into trying to piece together the events that have unfolded.

Don't expect the bosses to be pushovers.Don't expect the bosses to be pushovers.

From Software either keep forgetting to add them or they simply hate the system, but achievements are nowhere to be found in "The Ringed City" once again. Playing the game for your own enjoyment is all that's needed here. Then again, the sheer reward of progress and gaining a new boss soul is a hugely satisfying achievement without gaining new gamerscore.

Summary

"The Ringed City" has been nicknamed "Dark Souls greatest hits" on the Internet, and that wouldn't be a far-fetched statement to make. A lot of the tropes from the series have been incorporated into the DLC, so you will find traps, ambushes and nail-biting fights within, but none of them feel overused whatsoever. Each location is a memorable one and the progress made past each enemy, boss and area will spur you on to keep going to the end. Those who make it to the end will want to piece together all the lore that has unfolded, as well as revel in the awe-inspiring bosses, but first and foremost you will be happy that Dark Souls III and the Souls series remains untarnished as it comes to an epic close.
4.5 / 5
Positives
  • Very challenging DLC both in environments and boss fights
  • Lots of variety in new locations
  • Exciting new lore implications
  • Fun new weapons and spells to play around with
Negatives
  • Frustration definitely imminent, especially in an earlier segment
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent 10.5 hours getting slaughtered by fire, swords, magic, poison, curses, lightning, arrows and much more. There was some actual progress in there as well. An Xbox One code for the DLC was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.