Review: Dark Souls II: Crown of the Old Iron King – Moving on up

The second of the Dark Souls II DLC  Lost Crown trilogy, the Crown of the Old Iron King has finally been released. Will it surpass the previous DLC, the Crown of the Sunken King or should this crown remain buried? Let’s go find out shall we?

PC version was used for this review *

PLATFORMS: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & PC
PUBLISHER(S): Bandai-Namco
DEVELOPER(S): FROMSOFTWARE
RELEASE DATE: August 26th
PRICE:
$9.99

The majority of this DLC takes place in a tower called Brume Tower which is full of corridors, ledges, and a mixture of open and closed areas that you’ll traverse on your hunt for the Crown of the Old Iron King. Just as the previous DLC explained how the Black Glutch ended up as a poisoned wasteland, this DLC will attempt to show have the Iron King ended up as the fiery demon that saw him as. Lore is a huge portion of the Soul series and I’m glad that FROMSOFTWARE has given us some insight into several of the more interesting stories from Dark Souls 2, just wish they would explain them all.

This is MY HOUSE!

This is MY HOUSE!

Oddly enough, when I first started planning, the thought that the enemy variety was pretty decent this time around with enemies that were dual-wielding axes as well as several more humanoid of which cast hexes to slow me, retreated to heal when damaged and even one type that could vanish in the middle of combat and appear behind you to back stab you. And of course those pesky Dark Spirits make their return to make your play through that much funner or frustrating, it depends on how much you like CPU induced invasions. Though the AI at times has it’s moments where it is completely dumb and enemies will try to get at you even if it means running into a fire or  maneuvering yourself as such that you can cause the enemy to either fall down a level or to their doom. Then there are times where you would think that the AI is an actual human player when it runs out of your way or heals enemies that you had already taken to near death. I’ve ran into several instances where I had to fight several huge mobs and nearly had them down only for one of them to cast an AOE heal and bring everyone right back up. While this likely wasn’t by design it’s pretty interesting to see it working out as if it was planned.

Still, it’s good to see that FROMSOFTWARE has listened to its fans and made the enemies a bit more challenging to ramp up the difficulty compared to what we experienced in the original Dark Souls II. Before it was easy enough to get away from the enemies but as proven in the last DLC as well as this one, the enemies are not a push over and they will demolish you if you don’t play it smart.

If you’re as fan of melee combat then you’re going to love it, out of all the new enemies many of them are strictly melee and will rush up and attempt to pound you. While others are a mixture of both ranged and melee who can dish out the pain from close and afar. There wasn’t a single enemy that I’ve encountered that was a magic / ranged only class, just mixtures of magic and melee. Not sure why this was done but I felt it was more engaging especially for me as I like getting in the face of my enemy while swinging a massive sword or dancing around them with two dual weapons in hand.

Oh what the hell man! How am I supposed to get past this?

Oh what the hell man! How am I supposed to get past this?

One complaint of Dark Souls II is that the levels didn’t flow as well as Dark Souls  or even it’s predecessor, Demon’s Soul’s. This is the complete opposite here! Even though this DLC is taking place in a tower, it’s a massive tower that spans several floors and has tons of places to explore. In fact the only way to get access to some of the optional bosses is to explore those floors. At one part once you reach a specific section and active elevators that are located towards the middle of the tower you’ll be able to ascend or descend throughout the tower and you can get a full view of the tower riding those elevators around. Though I can’t shake that feeling that all of this could have been part of the original Dark Souls II campaign, it all fits in so well I find it hard to believe that this was all created just for DLC purposes.

While the DLC does a great job of extending the gameplay value of Dark Souls II and adds some much needed lore to the game, not all is right with it. Truth be told this DLC is pretty short and most gamers will end up beating it in 3-4 hours unless they want to get all 12 pieces of the Soul of Nadalia, which when collected cab be turned in for either a chime or a pyromancy spell. In fact if you brave a specific set of dangers then you’ll even come into possession of a sword that grants you the move set from Knight Artorias from Dark Souls , though it’s not actually his sword since the two games aren’t related… or are they?

dark_souls_2_DLC_2_1

 

Summary

All in all I did enjoy this next chapter of the Dark Souls 2 Crown saga and I enjoyed the fact that we got to see what became of the Iron King and his servants. That said however I am a bit disappointed that FROMSOFTWARE is back to it’s old tricks and have introduced a *new* optional boss who just happens to be a re-hash of the Smelter Demon that you’ve previously encountered in the Iron Keep. Seriously the only difference between this Smelter Demon is that instead of a red flame imbue he’s rocking a blue one but he hits just as hard as the original, yet he the same strategy applies here to take him down. Also surprisely is the lack pf NPC’s which were usually used to tell a story to attempt to make the player feel more involved. This time around it’s just you and the horde of enemies that are ready to move you down.

Still those are my only complaints to an otherwise fantastic job from FROMSOFTWARE. Easy the best part of the Crowns saga one that continues to tell an epic story, should you choose to allow it.

Pros:

  • The level design is even better than the first part of the DLC and if you’re playing on a high end system you’ll be treated to some very nice lighting effects
  • More varied enemies that actually can cause you some grief
  • New rings and weapons to find, some of which are helpful for pvp sessions
  • Optional side quest that rewards gamers with a new spell or weapon

Cons:

  • Smelter Boss 2.0
  • More of the same attack mechanics used by the enemies and bosses
  • Two of the three bosses are optional which shortens the gameplay
  • 7.5/10
    Get outta my way I got a crown to find! - 7.5/10
Overall
7.5/10
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About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. You can find him on Twitter as @Shadowhaxor or you can email her at keith.mitchell@theouterhaven.net.