Dark Souls 3 Review – The best yet

I am addicted again. For some reason every Dark Souls game has done this to me as did the original Demon’s Souls. Even thought I have just finished my first play through I still find myself going back to areas I’ve missed. All I can think about in Dark Souls 3 is staying alive and improving my character. I’m 70 hours in and feeling pretty fatigued. I have just defeated the final boss, which wasn’t even the end game boss but an optional one. I am exhausted.

Those of you who have been playing this brutal series since the beginning will know what the latest Dark Souls game has in store for you. Those gamers who have never played a Dark Souls game, this would be a good one to start as it is the most refined of the three. I have thrown in a couple of clips to show just how easy it is to die, just like the earlier two games.

There is so much to try and take in with a Dark Souls game; tricks to learn, enemies to master. But that is what makes Dark Souls 3 the best in the series to date. The game is huge and the level design is absolutely outstanding. Co-operative play is now completely refined too and has taken some of its queues from Bloodborne. You can now password match so that friends can be summoned a lot easier, without any level or gear limitations. If your friend is really high level, they will get scaled down automatically to keep things interesting. This is a much better way of providing multiplayer as opposed to having to be within a few levels of the host player.

Dark Souls 3-1

There is fantastic variety in the environments.

Just like previous games you can join various covenants that reward you with spells the more reputation you grow with that covenant. For example I am part of the “Warriors of Sunlight” covenant that focuses on co-op play and allows people to summon me into the game to help them fight the monsters that are plentiful. Whenever I help defeat a boss or complete a co-op session successfully I receive a “Sunlight Medal”. I can give these to an altar, which in turn increases my reputation. Over time you receive spells and other gifts from that covenant. It is a neat idea that works well. This also encourages players to help other players. I certainly had to call in some friendly randoms to help fight some of the bosses throughout the game.

You can of course join other covenants that aren’t quite as cooperative. You can invade other player’s worlds to steal Embers. With the previous Dark Souls games whenever you died you became Hollowed (undead). This has changed quite a bit with the latest game. Now you are one of the “Ashen Ones” who can store fire within. Embers are the commodity in Dark Souls 3 that allows you to light up and absorb flame. When you are “Enkindled” you can summon other players. The Embers you collect are not an unlimited resource but with every successful co-op or invasion session you’ll receive one.

Dark Souls 3-2

To the right of your equipment is where you equip the covenant trinkets you pick up.

Aside from the Estus Flask (health) you now have another flask that can restore your focus points. Focus points can now be used for melee character builds as well by doing a specialist attack (usually done by going two-handed with the weapon and Left Trigger on the XB1). To be honest I usually went for weapons that had better overall damage for the quicker, standard attacks, but the special attack is handy when you need to walk up and back stab one of the more powerful standard enemies. You can also distribute how many flasks are to be used for health and focus now via the blacksmith, which is a nice touch. As my shield and weapon warrior I usually left all my flasks allocated to health and didn’t use the special weapon power at all.

Rolling and evading enemy attacks is more important than ever. One of the great new subtle additions to Dark Souls 3 is the ability to move (fast walk) and drink your Estus flask at the same time. This subtle improvement has made quite a bit of difference in staying alive and generally your character seems a lot more responsive this time round. Graphics are pretty damn amazing, both with the environments and the creatures. I’ve been playing the XB1 version which is reportedly the least attractive version of game game and I can understand that the 900p upscaled to 1080p does look quite jaggy at times. My problem is I love the Xbox One controller and ease of just loading the game up via a console. Apparently this game looks even better on PS4 and the PC.

Dark Souls 3-3

How can you not play a game that makes you look this imposing? There are heaps of armour sets to collect, as well as weapons.

This is old school gaming at its finest. You can even bring a friend or two along to help and it is a lot easier due to the password system now (introduced in Bloodborne). If you want to be rewarded with excellent combat, a huge variety of amazing creatures to fight, amazing level design and at least 60 hours of play during your first play through, this is your game. Just be aware that there is a lot to learn about the mechanics so expect a fair amount of wiki searches.

Reviewed on the Xbox One. In the next couple of weeks I also plan to add some tips and tricks on how to best approach the game.

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