Ahh Dark Souls, how much I love you… ahh, Dark Souls, how much you fascinate me… ahh, Dark Souls… HOW MUCH I HATE THIS FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT OF STUPID CRAPPY BULLS-
To begin this most likely pretty big post about the third part of one of my most favourite game series of all time, I want to talk about how I got into the series because I want to share with you how I got into this series.
Dark Souls – Prepare To Be Addicted
It began in a Steamchat of the website proxer.me, a german anime community site (which I left due to personal reasons), where I said that Dark Souls does not interest me because I’m not really into RPG’s. What I got as a reply was more or less a scolding about the difference between an Action-RPG and a “normal” RPG which I was fed up after a while and just said “ok, ok, I’ll check it out”.
So with kinda some expectations I started Dark Souls I on PC and turned it off after around 5 hours because the PC Port is an utter disaster. The community made a mod called “dsfix” which supposedly fixes all the optimization problems the port has. In my case however it made the game crash and thanks the frustration I also got from not being able to beat that first (real) boss I gave up.
So how did I end up loving the Souls Series? After a while I decided to pick up the game again. I should mention, that I played in offline mode and solo’d the whole game, not even once summoning help for the bosses, because I wanted to feel badass (the actual reason is, that I didn’t know you can actually do this… however I keep on playing Dark Souls always Solo, this never changed). I picked up the game after a while, slapped that Taurus Demons ass after some…few…. quite a lot of deaths and this marks the beginning of me slowly but surely getting into the game.
Then Blighttown (an absolute horror area with the biggest framerate drops in Dark Souls 1) happened.
I gave up again, since this area is utter bullshit. Fuck Blighttown. Seriously, fuck this area. However, soon I got a hint, that you can skip around 50% of Blighttown by picking the “Masterkey” as your gift at the beginning at the game. What happened then was obvious, New game -> Masterkey -> Skip the Bullshit Area of Blighttown as much possible.
After that everything went smoothly. After fighting Boss “Chaos Witch Quelaag” a friend of mine send me a video of VaatiVidyas “Prepare to Cry” Series, which explores the Lore in Dark Souls and thanks to this I got more emerged in the world of Dark Souls. Not only the pretty high difficulty but the immersive and spread out world where you can progress as you want and how you want.
The story itself is also a rather special thing, since the narrative is unusually indirect. What I mean with this is that most of story is not told to you directly. You have to interpret stuff out of item descriptions, the environment and the design of the enemies you encounter. It is amazing how the these things alone form the whole in Dark Souls and form an amazing story with stunning characters who each have their own story, which can have good or bad endings, depending on how you play….
I will make a special blogpost where I’ll go deeper in what I love about Dark Souls. Coming soon (TM).
I finished Dark Souls with around 50 hours of playtime, without the DLC area because I didn’t know how to access it. I played the DLC in NG+ and… I got completely destroyed by the bosses, they were the most difficult bosses in the game and I met them in NG+ FIRST so I had an even harder time.
After I finished Dark Souls NG+, the logical thing followed. I decided to take on Dark Souls 2.
Dark Souls 2 – Prepare To Be Underwhelmed
I started Dark Souls 2 and the first thing I noticed is that the PC-Port is really good this time as well as the Key Bindings which are completely different from Dark Souls 1. Thankfully Key Bindings can be changed so I made them similar to Dark Souls 1. In case you didn’t know, I play with Keyboard & Mouse… never played differently. I played through the whole of Dark Souls 3 with that. People say I’m insane for doing this.
I played through Dark Souls 2 and struggled with some pretty damn nasty traps and enemies. However, after a while I noticed that something was odd. I played through Dark Souls 1 with a rather tanky build. Havel’s Greatshield and Zweihander. I barely tried to evade since there was no need to, this Greatshield blocks almost everything. In NG+ I had huge trouble with the DLC bosses since they started to abuse it when you have your Shield up the whole time and drown your Stamina when you just rely on blocking.
In Dark Souls 2 some bosses are incredibly easy with that. I finished the Dark Sinner Boss in the first try while other people struggle, especially with Dex Builds since the attacks of this boss are pretty damn hard to evade. However, some enemies are ridiculously hard and in some cases I would even go so far to say that some are really unfair. For example, when we go to the Dragon Shrine we have some giant enemies who attack you, continuously, constant, without end as if they have unlimited Stamina. But this was still kinda fine, if it wasn’t for the optional Ancient Dragon Bossfight. This Boss one-hits you with almost every attack. And his attacks are pretty much impossible to avoid. This is the first and so far the only boss I ever gave up fighting.
Dark Souls 2 had also other problems. The world felt too linear, barely any alternate routes or areas. The world isn’t nearly as interconnected as in Dark Souls 1 and some areas don’t make sense.
The bosses are also a point of critic. The least of them were really memorable (I have not played the DLC’s). It had some ridiculously easy bossfights. One of the biggest disappointments was the Dragonrider who you fight twice.On the second encounter I was really excited to see what surprise the Dragonrider has now for me but then it was just another Dragonrider with a bow who annoys you. You could have made him ride a dragon… LIKE THE NAME SUGGESTS (If you look for this Dark Souls 3 will not dissappoint, just saying 😉 ).
Even though this was mostly negative just now, Dark Souls 2 is still a really good game that is better than most AAA-titles you see out there. However, compared to the first Dark Souls it is really underwhelming and disappointing. I was still excited as fuck for Dark Souls 3, hoping they will fix all the errors they did in Dark Souls 2. And yes, they fucking did.
Dark Souls 3
And now here we are at Dark Souls 3. With Hidetaka Miyazaki as director again (he was the director of Dark Souls but not of Dark Souls 2, a lot of people are convinced that this is why Dark Souls is a disappointment in comparison to Dark Souls 1). The first thing I noticed when I first started the game in excitement…. Framerate: 20 FPS… promised were 60 FPS….
So I looked up what the fuck was going on here. It seems like Patch 1.03 has fixed most of the issues but my PC is actually not good enough. All Recommended Requirements are met…except for one. I use a AMD Radeon HD 6850, the Minimum Requirement on the Graphic Card is a AMD Radeon HD 6870, so this is where my trouble most likely comes from. Still, it’s endurable and luckily the framerate isn’t too important in this game unless the game cuts down to 10 FPS…. like in specifically one Bossfight in the lategame.
Starting into the Game the tutorial area was of course, as expected of a tutorial, rather easy. The Crystal Lizard which you enounter in a little room on the side of the area is managable if you are careful. The first boss with the name of “Iudex Guynir” was way more impressive than the first bosses in both Dark Souls 1 and 2. Also, the Soundtrack is so beautiful.
However, the boss turns out to be rather easy, since he is of course the Tutorial boss… I still died 2 times though. I’m using the Knight Class and never use anything magic throughout the whole game. Not even weapon buffs or something like that. This boss was still pretty cool. Just if he was more aggressive and had attacks that hit harder, he probably would be one hell of a boss…
After this boss, your Ember gets restored. “Ember” is the equivalent to “Humanity” in Dark Souls 1. It restores your maximum health and you start to glow a bit. It can be used as a final method of healing if nothing else exists. However when you’re in Ember form you are exposed to invasions by other players. Furthermore Ember can only be used once as a healing item before you die and not if you’re in Ember form, this is the main difference between this item and “Humanity” in Dark Souls 1.
I came to the Firelink Shrine, killed that Katana Bastard at the tower to get his Uchigatana which I used for quite a while, met the firekeeper and met Andre of Astora. We already met him in DArk Souls 1, and if you have played Dark Souls 1, you’ll find many surprises and references here that are just lovely and also some really sad ones that brought me to my tears. It begins already with that you’re at Firelink Shrine there is a lot more to come.
Design of the Environment: Connected, Open, Good.
The Firelink shrine is disconnected to the rest of the world and you can access Lothric castle only by teleport. The whole area of Lothric castle including the late game area is disconnected to the rest of the world as well, same goes for the Archdragon Peak (my favourite area of the game) and the final Area. The rest of the world is interconnected with a lot of alternate routes, shortcuts and beautiful scenarios.
Thanks to that I got lost sevevral times in the world of Dark Souls 3 not knowing where to go. When I entered Irythill of the Boreal Valley, you can only go to a certain point without a “Doll”. I didn’t knew where to find the doll so I explored and noticed that I skipped 2 whole areas on the way there. One of them is the Smouldering Lake which is optional, the other one is the Cathedral of the Deep which you have to go to since you find the “Doll” there which is needed to further progress through the game.
The first real area of Dark Souls 3 is the High Wall of Lothric. This is the area which was shown in a lot of Gameplay Previews and trailers and features some surprises. For example the very first chest you can find in this area is a mimic. Players who are Dark Souls newcomers will absolutely freak out when the first chest they find actually eats them.
What is interesting about this area is that the one of the toughest enemies are introduced here, the Lothric Knights. They will come back later in the Lategame and will be even tougher then. However to get into the lategame area, with a lot of cool weapons and tons of Titanite Chunks which you need to upgrade your weapon to +9, you need to defeat the “Dancer of the Boreal Valley”, a boss that usually appears after you beat the third Lord of Cinder and get warped into the church building in the “High Wall of Lothric” area. Thankfully (?) you can initiate this bossfight early. By killing the woman in said church when you’re there you’ll get the “Basin of Vows” which you’re supposed to place on the Statue of the Beheading Knight in the same building. When you approach it, the Bossfight gets initiated.
Protip: Don’t do that if you’re a newcomer. THIS BOSS IS A HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS. At the state you’re in when you can first initiate this boss it is almost impossible to beat the Dancer since almost every attack one-hits you and your weapon does close to no damage to the Dancer. Better go with the flow here and go down the Valley to fight Vordt of the Boreal Valley.
The enemies of Dark Souls 3
Talking about bosses, almost all the bosses are memorable and great. Unlike Dark Souls 2 where there were mostly big knights as bosses we have quite the variety in Dark Souls 3. We have a giant tree as a boss, an armored beast and we also encounter a giant blob that devours gods. I will go through my experience with all the bosses in Dark Souls 3 in a separate Post. For now I’ll just say the following: The bosses are some of the greatest ones in the entire series, some of them are really fucking hard yet it feels so rewarding to take them down.
Typically for Souls games, some of the “normal” enemies which you encounter on the road to the bosses are almost more dangerous than the bosses themselves. There are a lot of situations where you’ll be punished, most of the time with your death, if you’re not careful. This is the typical play style of Souls. It rewards players who think carefully about what they’re doing and pay attention to their surroundings. A lot of deaths can be avoided if you recognize possible traps and dangerous enemies luring behind corners.
For example in the “Undead Settlement” the area you’ll go after “High Wall of Lothric” there exist an elevator which will bring you to the “Road of Sacrifices” which is the next area you’ll need to enter. However, one door before this area there is a large room with a single item in the middle. Souls Veterans senses would now be on full alert since this just screams “TRAP”. And indeed, if you run towards the item one of the toughest enemies in the game will jump at you and tear you apart if you don’t expect him.
Throughout the game there is a lot of variety in the enemies. There are these awful mutations between human and crows, these really annoying Priest guys who shoot fire at you, Giant Crabs, Black Knights and Silver Knights from Dark Souls 1 are back and more. Each require a different approach and never feel the same. Some enemies have glowing red eyes which indicates that they’re tougher and more aggressive than their normal versions. There is one right in the first area and I died around 20 times to this guy.
However, there is a little downside in comparison to Dark Souls 2. When you started a New Game + in DS2 you were surprised directly at the beginning where you get absolutely obliterated by enemies that shouldn’t be there. The bosses sometimes played a bit differently and new enemies spawn in certain locations. This is unfortunately not the case with Dark Souls 3, where NG+ only improves the health and the damage output of the enemies. At least that’s how I experienced it so far, maybe with NG+10 something will change?
How hard is Dark Souls 3?
All the bosses up till the first Lord of Cinder are rather easy to take down. However from that point on all bosses will be pretty difficult unless you figure out what to do, but even then some of the bosses are still pretty damn hard. For me Dark Souls was always about how Difficulty is handled. You have tough but fair fights where you can use openings or your environment to take them out one by one. Traps can be identified when observed.
You need to manage your stamina or your guard is broken and you receive massive damage or you can not evade an incoming attack. Stamina recovers slowly when you have you shield up so only block if it’s really necessary! Estus Flask are limited till the next bonfire and Embers and Divine Blessings can only be used once! Stamina and Health management are 2 key things to master Dark Souls and thanks to this makes the fights in Dark Souls an incredible Rollercoaster of “FUCK YEAH I DID IT” and “GODDAMNIT I WAS SO CLOSE” or “Fuck, I didn’t even do one bit of damage…”
Furthermore the game barely tells you anything about what you’re supposed to do, you’re overall goal of the game as well as to handle certain enemies. You have to figure out everything by yourself by exploring for example and in the case of enemies by observing or dying because you got obliterated by unexpected attacks. This is what makes especially the bossfights so damn rewarding when you finish them, because you figured out how to defeat the boss by yourself and only by yourself unless you summon a phantom to help you or to a lesser extent read a hint on one of the messages. The latter one helped me a lot with Pontiff Sulyvahn, one of the hardest bosses in the game which still made me mad after the hint cause he’s just so damn challenging.
Multiplayer: Assholes and occasionally a nice person
Let’s talk about the Multiplayer of Dark Souls 3 since I mentioned helpful Phantoms just now. When you fight a boss or have trouble in a specific area, you can summon a phantom to stay by your side and engage in jolly co-operation. If you’re playing with a friend, you can set a network password so you can see only the summon sign of your friend and the other way around, Dark Souls 3 is the first game in the series where I actively played online so I don’t know if this is new or was always there, but this is a great feature. When I played online I saw tons of summon signs and thought at first “How the hell do you want to find your friend in there!?” but this feature is solving this problem.
Quite some people out there may call you a “filthy casual” or something like “Noob”when you beat bosses only with allied phantoms. And well, to be honest, it is a real thrill to solo all these bosses and I think that going through the whole experience adds great to the experience of playing Dark Souls in general. If you beat the bosses with help, you don’t have the feeling of accomplishment as much as when you beat them alone which is in my opinion pretty lame. Still, Co-Op is pretty damn fun with a friend and you can do tons of bullshit if you want.
Talking about Bullshit, let’s talk about PvP. I’m pretty sure a lot of people hate it when they get invaded and get killed by another player, but I honestly don’t mind it. The duels I have are pretty intense and fun and I had some really great moments when I got invaded. However, when I myself invaded another players world the experience is often not that great…
For newcomers, PvP works like the following: You can invade the world of other randomly chosen players by using a Cracked Red Eye Orb or a Red Eye Orb. You can not go in there in your Ember form and when you’re in Ember form it is disabled for the Invasion. In other words, healthwise your opponent will most likely have an advantage since he’ll be in Ember form (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to invade him).
Problem is, when I invade a world in 70% of the cases it goes like this:
Get Summoned in -> look for the enemy -> See that he has 1-2 phantoms by his side -> get ganked to death -> Host makes a gesture thinking he’s the greatest.
That’s unfortunately how it goes most of the times and it’s really pissing me off. Sometimes other invaders join in and it becomes a massive fight which can be incredibly fun… if the others invaders don’t attack you instead of their actual target, the host of this world, making this a possible 5 vs 1 fight.
In very short, there are roughly two types of PvP-Players in Dark Souls, the honorable duelist and the dick… I will make another blogpost about that.
However, PvP changes with the Covenant system in Dark Souls 3 and this mixes things up a lot. For example, when you’re in Farrons Keep in Ember form chances are, that you’re invaded by a member of the “Watchdogs of Farrons” covenant who invade trespassers of the area. That’s why barely anyone walks around in this area in Ember form and also why you’re almost immediately getting invaded when you enter this area in Ember form. They also invade when you’re already getting invaded by another dark spirit.
This may end with a “mad spirit” a player from the new “Mouthmaker” Covenant invading. a mad spirit is a player who can attack both enemies and allies as well as the host himself. When you invade as a mad spirit the game prioritizes worlds with a lot of players for maximum chaos. Thing is, you can use the “Untrue White Ring” which changes your appearence to a white Phantom to make yourself look like an ally. If this works and you gain the opponents trust, then you can backstab them when they’re not looking. Believe me one thing, this feels pretty amazing when you kill the host out of nowhere and he dies probably thinking “YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE” or something like that.
These are only 2 of the existing covenants in Dark Souls 3, you can get new items from them as well as some interesting PvP adventures, check out this video to discover all the covenants of Dark Souls 3 as well as some information about them.
Connectionwise I encounter close to no problems. Sometimes the players lag around a bit but there has been only one case where this was really annoying, but I got ganked to death there anyway.
The ears play with you: The Soundtrack
The last stop before the conclusion of this boss will be the Soundtrack and it is incredible. The Soundtrack only is active in-game at the following locations: Main Menu, Firelink Shrine, Credits and Bossbattles. Everything else has no background OST. This is something which makes the bosses even more meaningful and intimidating, furthermore the OST gives the bosses so much character. The Abyss Watcher fight has an amazing Soundtrack in the background which almost narrates you the tragic tale that the Abyss Watchers have faced in their lives along with the battle itself. Just listen to it.
Conclusion: Dark Souls 3
According to Miyazaki Dark Souls 3 will be the last of its kind. Dark Souls 3 will end the Dark Souls Series and FromSoftware will now develop another game. So is it a worthy finish? Dark Souls 3 is worth being called the last installment. It brings back all the great things from Dark Souls 1 and corrects almost all mistakes Dark Souls 2 did. Unfortunately it didn’t bring back the actual good things about Dark Souls 2 like the PvP arena but maybe we’ll see this in the DLC in Fall. It is a great experience with some amazing and challenging battles, which will make you tremble in excitement when you’re close to defeating a boss or make you throw your Controller around, depending on what happens. The game finishes wih a last boss that can be really called the “Final Boss of Dark Souls” in both difficulty and character.
With that I finish my really big article about Dark Souls 3. I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this post and come back to my blog again when I add a new post. More Dark Souls will come soon, I just realized I promised you 3 upcoming posts in here…. I hope I can keep that
See ya, Bye Bye then~