Dark Souls 3: Ashes Of Ariandel Starts Off Strong Then Uses Tapered Strokes
The latest DLC for Dark Souls 3 has hit, and it’s admittedly left a bit of a mixed taste in my mouth. It brings us to the world of Ariandel, a painted world slowly being consumed by a rotting plague, with you being summoned to help burn it away with a grand, sweeping flame. It fits right into the world of Dark Souls immediately, and while this world clearly has a lot of polish, the Ashes of Ariandel is over before it feels like it even begins. There’s a lot to like in this DLC, but there’s also some big points that left me wanting more, because I know From Software can do better. The Painted World may be cool, but it feels like it was made via speed-painting.
You may recall my review of The Old Hunters, the sole piece of DLC that had come to Bloodborne. It was lovingly crafted, featuring plenty of new content, some top notch level design, and some of the most intense bosses of the entire series. I may be at fault for holding such high expectations of Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel, but it’s purely because I know From Software is capable of so much more. I felt Dark Souls 3 was an incredibly fitting end to the trilogy and was eagerly looking forward to what could be bought to the table for Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel. There are indeed some strong additions to the series in this case, as the bosses, new weapons, and general design of the area are all solid to excellent. The major gripe I have with the DLC area is the pacing, though. The wide plains of Ariandel leave a lot to be discovered, however, the abundance of bonfires leads to you being able to bypass a fair chunk of content to experience, which is something you won’t want to do. Ariandel is polished, but the entire package can be sped through in a way that’s uncharacteristic for the series.
The bosses featured in the DLC are both solid, featuring some excellent music, and they will unabashedly kick your ass if you are not careful. The optional boss admittedly feels a bit underwhelming when compared to the major antagonist of the Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel, but that’s just because the final boss is that good. It easily ranks up there in the upper echelon of bosses for the whole series and is a strong end to a campaign that feels too brief. The varied weaponry and new weapon arts, the challenging bosses and the new PvP-focused arena are all excellent additions, but Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel is just so confusing in terms of how it all comes together, in that it feels like a giant web without really progressing. You could argue that it rewards exploration, but you could also argue that there’s no sense of reward in conquering a difficult area when you can just run through a nearby path and bypass it. In this case, it feels like a cop-out and takes away from that sense of accomplishment that lead to Dark Souls’ meteoric rise in popularity.
“Ariandel is polished, but the entire package can be sped through in a way that’s uncharacteristic for the series.”
For the cost, there’s value in Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel. I just can’t help but draw the comparison to their previous instances of DLC that has me ultimately disappointed with Ashes of Ariandel, not for the overall polish, but for how much it left me expecting more. From Software has shown they are capable of putting out quality offerings, be it Artorias Of The Abyss, The trio of Dark Souls 2 DLC pieces, or Bloodborne’s outright stellar The Old Hunters. Ashes of Ariandel gives people more of what they love. From Software does get kudos for creating a full-fledged PvP arena, where people can lay into one another with the limited healing, allowing duels to evoke that visceral combat that people flocked to this series for. There are a bevy of match types, with “honor duels”, 2v2, 3v3, and full on battle royales, but all restricted to one arena. It’d be great to see From add more arenas in the future, as there are plenty of memorable points in the series that would serve for excellent battlegrounds. One part that seems strange to me, is that one of the bosses could have had a whole covenant designed around it, and it would be incredibly fitting. It feels like there are some ideas that could have been seized with much greater enthusiasm
Dark Souls 3: Ashes Of Ariandel is worth a look, but I sorely hope that From brings their A Game with the last piece of DLC for this incredibly popular series.
**PC Review Code was provided by publisher**
- New weapons are great
- Gorgeous world
- Challenging bosses
- Dedicated PvP Zone
- Strange level design choices
- Disappointingly short
- No new covenants