A fitting end to my beloved Dark Souls series

The long-awaited conclusion to not just Dark Souls III, but the entire Dark Souls series, has arrived. The Ringed City, the place where we’re supposedly going to find some closure amongst all the chaos that we’ve endured. The final stop on a journey that has spawned two sequels and numerous expansions.  Sadly, the final chapter in the series that I’ve fallen in love with more and more, over the ages. 

Is Dark Souls III: The Ringed City the expansion that the series that sends the series out with a bang?

Game Name: Dark Souls III: The Ringed City
Platform(s): PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco
Developer(s): FromSoftware
Release Date:  March 28th, 2017
Price: $14.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)

Right off the bat, the expansion assumes that you’ve either played Ashes of Ariandel or have beaten the game. As you’re only able to access the new expansion via two specific bonfires; one located at the end of the game, the other in the prior DLC. Of course, if you haven’t done either of those, you won’t be able to partake with this. But for this review, we’ll assume that you’re done either of the two. I mean, you’re a Dark Souls player, so surely you’ve at least beaten the game at least once. Right?

Dark Souls isn’t exactly known for being gentle or holding your hand, something we’ve learned the hard way. It’s punishing, almost to the point of being abusive. Yet, in The Ringed City, the design confuses me. There are several sections of the game where you’re left scratching your head as to what you need to do or go. But instead of the typical fashion, the developers (FromSoftware) have left messages directing you to your next step, which felt sloppy to me. After all, this is perhaps the first time I have been told to jump off a cliff from the developers. Sure, we’ve seen troll messages from those who like to see other people die. But from the people that made this game? I would have rather a scripted sequence, such as getting to a point and then being pushed off or the area collapsing/falling apart.

Ringed City Knights

The Ringed City knights, will hunt you down without mercy. Cool blade, though.

Players diving into this new expansion will no doubt be divided. Those who enjoy the challenge of that has become the trademark of the series, while others are simply here for the lore and the possible closure. There may be those are firmly in both camps, as I was. Thankfully, The Ringed City does provide plenty of challenge with the addition of several new enemies which haven’t been included in the game before.  I’m especially grateful for that as FromSoftware has been known to recycle previous content into their expansions from time to time. And seeing how we’re in a brand new location, that meant we wouldn’t see the old ones. Well, for the most part, that is true. I say that as there are a few familiar faces that you’ll encounter. That said, they didn’t ruin anything and only served to push the game’s narrative. 

If you played Ashes of Ariandel and were disappointed with the length of the content, this expansion makes up for it. A beautiful new location to explore and conquer, even if the game seems to want to push you through it. Several new weapons, spells, and armor to acquire, including the armor of a certain boss from the original Dark Souls III. Of which, the Ringed Knight Straight Sword and Ringed Knight Paired Greatswords are easily my new favorite toys. 

And what good would it be without the occasional boss encounters? Definitely not a Dark Souls game, that’s for sure. There’s more than enough here with three mandatory and one optional. Now while that may not seem like a lot, these bosses will have entertained for hours on end, with either enjoyment or a rage induced frenzy.Without spoiling too much, that optional battle is truly breathtaking, yet a complete pain. I really, really hate dragon fights and this one was no different.

If you though the Nameless King fight was bad at first, well, let’s just say this is worse.

For those who are more interested in PVP than PVE, there’s new stuff here for you as well. There’s the password-based matchmaking for arenas, which serves to set up battles much easier. The inclusion of two new maps; Archdragon Peak and Lothric Castle, which are based on previous locations. Lastly, one of the new spells, Project Heal, which available in PVE, is definitely viable in PVP. With this spell, you can conjure balls of healing and direct them to your partner, who’s getting his or her teeth kicked in. Just be prepared to run, everyone wants to kill the healer. It makes things easier.

In the end, I have more questions that need to be answered, which will likely come from various forums and subreddits. All of which I’m used to, however, seeing how this is the final piece of Dark Souls content, I would have rather come actual closure. Instead, we’re treated to the typical “You Defeated”, acquired some souls and were left wondering what to do next. Honestly, I feel a bit slighted as we didn’t even get a cinematic ending here. Part of me is immensely sad as this is the final piece of Dark Souls content that we may ever get again. Adding to that, the ending of the game didn’t really fulfill me. I don’t why I was expecting someone to sit me down and explain everything that happened up until this point. That simply isn’t something you’d expect from a Dark Souls game.

dark_souls_3_ringed_city_screen_swamp_knight_1

Crap, I knew I made a wrong turn back there.

That said, if you enjoyed the original Dark Souls III offering, but was expecting more from the first DLC, you’ll be happy with this one. But enjoy it while for as long as you can, for this is the last we’re ever going to get. And that gives me profound sadness.

*Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City Review was provided to us by Bandai Namco for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.

Summary

Dark Souls III: The Ringed City is a fitting end for the series that has been my go to for years. A nice selection of enemies, bosses, as well as a nice bit of exploration and items. Definitely an improvement over the previous  Ashes of Ariandel, something that should make fans happy.

Sadly, this is the end of the road and I firmly believe that FromSoftware has ended not only Dark Souls III, but Dark Souls on a positive note. It’s never a good thing to say goodbye, but this is the end of the road (cue Boys to Men: End of the Road). Definitely one of the best expansions in the series, and one that can hang it’s head high, even at the end.

  • A fitting end to my beloved Dark Souls series
Overall
4.5

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. Available for podcasts upon request.