I’ve been thinking a lot about Dark Souls III recently. The expansion, Ashes of Ariandel, comes out in a little over a month and I’ve been getting hyped. Anyone who is familiar with the series will know that the expansions are something to be excited about. The first game gave us the Artorias of the Abyss DLC which included one of the coolest and most compelling characters of the game’s lore, Artorias, and the chance to explore Oolacile, which no longer exists in the present timeline of the game – however fluid and open the concept of time is in the Dark Souls universe.
Then there were the expansions for Dark Souls II, which fundamentally improved and reinvigorated that game for me. The Scholar of the First Sin bundle of all three expansions shipped as an entirely different game than the vanilla version. The new locations and boss encounters were incredible, and a step up on pretty much everything in the original game’s content. The game was good, but the expansions and optimisations in Scholar made it exemplary.
Now we are on the cusp of a new generation of DLC. Dark Souls III was incredible. I loved it. It shared a much more significant connection in the lore with Dark Souls, which was fine by me. There are loose connections and references to characters and events in Dark Souls II but the original game and the third are inextricably linked in ways that I found incredibly compelling and enjoyable.
The lore, and From Software’s unique narrative devices are irresistible to me. The game’s narrative, or lack there of, is elliptical and vague. Some lore and backstories are completely relegated to item descriptions. The games continuously rewards the player for exploring, collecting and reading item descriptions. From Software are masters of this style. The forlorn, isolated and desolate landscapes evoke a world falling apart, a world of dead gods and fallen giants. Our playable character, the chosen undead, the ashen one, explores their dead cities, the decaying landscapes and the detritus of what remains, foraging for treasure, meaning and purpose. This also includes brutally difficult enemies and towering titanic and intimidating boss encounters.
I loved the stories and world building of the first game best of all, so the allusions and connections in the third game were fantastic to encounter. From Software have stated that this is the last Dark Souls game, so I can’t wait to see how they further develop the story, the world, the lore and the characters in the DLC instalments. I seriously cannot wait to go back and explore more of it. If you enjoy games with a steep but rewarding difficulty curve, along with a truly unique, compelling and distinctive story structure, then you should jump in too.