“If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”
I want to preface this with something. I have one major, MAJOR, problem with Dark Souls: The game is absolutely, way too good. It is insane. I put about 200 hours into the game, and got all of the achievements except technically one. I was going through collecting all the weapons, then ragequit after a bad experience with Jay and Silent Bob. I swore that after dozens of playthroughs, hundreds of hours, and exhausting 3 separate podcasts, I would never play the game again.
Then I built a gaming PC. Then Steam had it on sale. Then Amazon. Fifteen dollars? For one of my favorite games this generation? With DLC? Of course I will! Better yet, I have had almost no exposure to the content - the only gameplay I saw was some of the fight against Artorias. Everything else is completely blind. And after getting to the point where I know Lordran better than my own house, that is refreshing to go into Dark Souls blind again. In addition, this is my chance at redemption..you see..I beat Dark Souls by crowdsourcing the answers to the internet. The first playthrough I used every guide and YouTube channel I could to win. I knew every trap, every boss, every jump, and...about half of the equipment. So today, I bring to you, my experience of playing the Dark Souls DLC blind. I do apologize for any moments that didn't receive a screencap. You see, it is hard to find F12 while you are receiving a proctology exam done with a rusty sword.
Also, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the PC version. I was getting 15 frames per second while playing at first, and it really sank my heart. My rig can run Team Fortress at like, 1000 fps, why would Dark Souls run so poorly? Turns out, the mods that people put out there made a HUGE difference. The game looks beautiful running at a smooth 60, and has really made me love all the more. Major props to the people who came up with the fixes for that, but rather discouraging from Fromsoft. I hope that there is a PC version for 2, as PC is now my preferred platform, but I will probably have to dust off the 360 to play that one. Another noticeable difference? Hardly anyone has summoned me as a white phantom. I must smell or something. Maybe when I praise the sun, people are warning me of 'be wary of deodorant'.
Hold on to your butts
When first arriving, you are greeted with a bonfire. This is standard, as I just beat the Painted World before getting here, so I wasn’t thinking too much of it. However, the first fog gate threw me off. All that exists in that hall is a bonfire, some tips from players (“Here!” - thanks asshole), and some trees. After rolling into all the walls, I decided to try the fog gate. Dicks on fire, a boss fight! I have to say, from a pacing perspective, I really dig that they threw it in right there. My plan was to tank for a minute or two and figure out his moves. His first moves involved shooting 3 lightning bolts from his face that I was too heavy to evade. Alright. Cool. I took some very greedy swings before I had a pattern figured out and was partially punished for it, but the next time he jumped away, I was back at full health with a swig of Estus (which I imagine tastes like Shasta). One charge left his back turned, so I took the biggest two handed swing I could, and, much to my surprise, his tail fell off. Neat! Five minutes in and I have a new boss and a new weapon. TIme to go home, right guys? Right? Unfortunately, the Guardian didn’t think so. He let out a mighty bellow that exhausted all my stamina. Now I was taken aback at this. I have the shield with the best stability in the game, and I have been pumping points into endurance so I can get a decent roll speed with it, and he took it all? Serious. Business. Then he charged in and killed me. C’est la mort. I switched to a slightly faster weapon so I could better punish his attacks, and we were on to round two. I found an attack that has a tell that he is going to attack four times, then pause. I tried to bait this attack, and use the opportunity to take a whack. After a few rounds of this, boss one was down. Hooray!
I bet something behind this wont try to kill me. Or not.
After wandering through the scenery some more (Ruby Rod would approve, this shit is super green), I encountered a second bonfire. Now, I know that the Souls series likes traps, but are bonfires always safe? I mean, I would think so. I panned around the entire area, and after being satisfied that it would take a background volcano to kill me, I lit it up. Thats when I noticed the giant mushroom. After murdering Eiyagi, I now know the tell tale signs of an NPC, so I approached and struck up a conversation. Hooray, I am talking to mushrooms! In the past! Moving on past Elizabeth, I started to notice that the theme is very similar to the area before you fight Sif. This was reinforced by the pitchfork demons. Their art and placement reminds me of the tree people from the same area, so I figured I could take them out pretty easy - which is true. Then came the stone giants. Well, way to keep the theme. After figuring out an AoE attack though, I was prepared. So far, this seems to be all the new enemies for the area, although the combinations make for some interesting fights. I also learned from the game previously! If an enemy runs away, do not be too fast to chase. I felt clever for about half a second on that one.
I'm assuming Ill be back for you later. Or more accurate 'you are going to kill me, aren't you?'
With that area cleared out, I saw something in the background. Something....horrifying. A grand coliseum. I knew this to be the site of Artorias, and I know him as being a certified player killer. There were signs all over the ground, half saying “illusory wall’ and the other half saying ‘liar’. After rolling into every wall possible (a common theme for this, I’m sure), despair got the best of me. I either had to die to Artorias, because I am not an optimist, or search elsewhere for a bonfire. I managed to split the difference by finding an elevator, which I assumed would act as a shortcut. Long story short, it does, but you have to do some cardio (Rule #1). Now, I was ready. After I take out my sidewalk chalk to write down a quick “Death?” on the ground in front of the gate.
First fight was basically the same as the Guardian, where I spent about 2 minutes trying not to attack, and just seeing what he did. His normal attacks seem very easy to chain together, so not much opening there. He has a thrust which seems like you could get in a hit if you had some reach. He has a spit attack that seems just plain dumb. I must be missing something on that one. After the initial period, I decided to see if I could finish him off by baiting thrusts, while avoiding the goo he shot all over the floor. I was able to use this strategy to some effect. When he would charge his AoE, I would use the change to cast heal, and save up on Estus. I didn’t realize two things though: 1. He isn’t just blasting the area, he is powering up. This is some DBZ shit right here. 2. His pouncing pose means he is going to try to make me a unicorn. This combination went through all of my stamina, all of my armor, and all of my pride. No beginners luck on this guy.
Cool guys don't look at explosions.
One corpse run later, along with upgrading armor and my butcher’s knife, I was ready for round two. This time, I had enough endurance, and not enough weight, where dodging was a viable strategy. After a few narrow misses, the battle was mine. The theme so far seems to be two rounds before I can take down the boss, and I am pretty happy with that. The downside seems to be that I am walking into the Abyss next. Not sure what to expect, but probably something that will steal humanity, and probably some more of whatever Artorias killed in that cutscene. What was that....gross. And that takes care of day one in the DLC. If people care (or maybe if you don't!) I will keep posting as I play.
You have to do the victory shrug, or the kill doesn't count. It's like tea bagging in Halo that way.