I can’t remember the last time I’ve died so many times in a video game.  I had barely any problems beating the Ashes of Ariandel DLC so I figured this would be a cake walk.  Well, I was terribly wrong.  From giant angels that fire bolts of light at you (they can also curse you), to the first and last boss, this DLC destroyed me.  With that said, it was totally worth the pain.

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As with other Dark Souls content, it’s all top notch and well crafted.  From its opening moments you can already tell it’s going to be something special.  To access the new areas, there’s a bonfire you need to use to teleport there.  This can be found directly behind the Kiln of the First Flame bonfire, the one outside the final boss.  Once you’ve entered, you’re presented with a beautiful view.  There are little messages left just beside the edges of giant drop off points that urge you to “Take the plunge”.  You’ll spend the first quarter of the DLC falling, which actually looks really cool.  It puts everything on a much larger scale.  The detail in all the areas is something you’ve come to expect from developer From Software.  It’s filled with gorgeous vistas and locations to explore.  A city sitting on the clouds, giant mountains ruled by a dragon, a vast desert.  It’s all gorgeous.  The enemies are different variations you’ve seen from the previous levels, except for these giant robed ghouls that can summon archers to fire at you.  There are new weapons (Ringed Knight Paired Greatswords are insanely powerful) and armour to find (the Iron Dragonslayer set looks especially bad ass).

There are a total of four new boss fights (three are mandatory, one is optional) to drive you insane.  The first and last ones are the most memorable.  In typical Dark Souls fashion, the first boss you go up against is actually two bosses that when killed, become one….. with full health (of course).  My only gripe with the update is it’s fairly short.  There’s some exploring I still have left to do but I can’t imagine it taking up a ton of my time.  Most of the longevity for me was from dying, again, and again, and again, and again.  If you’re a seasoned pro, then you’ll probably just breeze right through this.  Rounding out the package are some new PVP areas to battle in, for that extra replay value.  There’s also some interesting story points that demand further exploration.  There’s much talk of Gwyn, and the Ringed City is decorated with statues of that weird looking monster called Frampt from the original Dark Souls game.  Who knows what secrets you’ll uncover the digger you deep.

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If you already own Dark Souls 3, you should absolutely pick this up.  If you don’t, then what are you waiting for?  Test yourself.  It’s one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming, with a vast story and lore just itching to be discovered.  While the DLC is not as long as I had hoped, which makes the $20 price a bit steep, it is top quality stuff and provides everything you love about the Souls series.  It’s a worthy send off.  Now, bring on that Bloodborne 2 please. – NVJ

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