Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City – First Impressions

dark souls 3 ringed city

I confess, when I first downloaded Dark Souls 3‘s Ringed City DLC, I had yet to finish the Ashes of Ariandel DLC. For those who followed in my footsteps, you have to have completed the Painted World of Ariandel before you can access the bonfire that will grant you access to the latest content. I apparently wasn’t the only one lax in my content completion, as the final boss fight in Ariandel was jam-packed with summon signs and online activity as I rushed to finish the frozen world myself.

With altogether challenging yet unfulfilling Ashes of Ariandel behind me, I prepared myself for what is likely the last Dark Souls content we will ever experience.

The Ringed City appears to be well aware of its own finality, harkening back to a few enemies and locations from previous games. Earthen Peak, for example, makes an appearance early in the DLC, quickly reminding me how much I’d forgotten from Dark Souls 2. The quintessential massive tree roots, poisonous bogs, and difficult enemies abound within the first 20-30 minutes of your trek through the DLC, showering you with all the familiar Souls-isms you can muster.

dark souls 3 DLC

After 20-30 minutes, I nearly switched back over to playing Nioh (a game that is not at all Dark Souls). Despite a set of mysterious, recurring falls that send you hurtling across a dilapidated landscape in fantastic fashion, I wasn’t enjoying much of this new environment. Drab, grey, and devoid of many interesting, lore-filled finds, the DLC’s opening did not grab my attention. The bizarre and mottled environment reminded me of the Untended Graves or the Nightmare Frontier, places that never ranked highly for me in previous games. If this DLC was going to be a send-off to the series, why stuff it with the more frustrating elements of the series?

Thankfully, I stuck it out to the first boss. I don’t want to give away too much of the fight if you haven’t experienced it yet, but it emphasizes what has made Souls boss fights memorable for the past 8 years. It rewards timing, caution, and strategy reminiscent of one of the most classic bosses in the series, the Bell Tower Gargoyles. While not making a dent in my top 5 or even top 10 bosses in the series, it tugged my mind away from Nioh and enticed me to delve further into this dark and damaged world. For those still suffering from how difficult the first boss in the Old Hunters DLC was, rest easy. Within two or three attempts, you should have this fight sequence down pat.

dark souls ringed city

Your reward afterward? You’ll receive a familiar entrance into a beautiful and bizarre new environment, rich in its color palette and striking in its buenavistas. Every inch of grey in the Dreg Heap and Earthen Peak Ruins fades to give us a look into a once-great civilization much like Irithyl, Drangleic, or Anor Londo. If part one was Souls at its most frustrating, the Ringed City itself feels like Souls at its most engaging. I long to explore this place, uncovering its treasures and mourning its sorrows along the way.

I haven’t made too big of a dent in exploring this brassy and verdant new environment, but I’ll be back to update you with a comprehensive overview once I’ve finished. That Nioh Ninjutsu build will just have to wait.

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