Review: Dark Souls III: The Ringed City


It's the end of Souls as we know it, and I feel fine

Well, it looks like this is it.

Although From Software is billing it as the "close of the age of fire," Dark Souls III: The Ringed City could be the last taste of Souls for a long while. It's a journey that's lasted over eight years, and it's only fitting that it would top Ashes of Ariandel.

Dark Souls III: The Ringed City review

Dark Souls III: The Ringed City (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Released: March 27, 2017
MSRP: $14.99

[To access The Ringed City you'll want to head to the last boss room in the Ashes of Ariandel DLC after talking to the painter in the attic, or the Kiln of the First Flame where a new bonfire will appear. From Software recommends a Soul level of 125 for the add-on.]

Unlike previous DLCs that tend to stick to a common theme, Ringed City works the whole "dark and light" angle really well. There's angelic imagery alongside of some of the darkest designs since Bloodborne, and they never truly feel at odds with each other given how strong the bonds of the lore tighten them up (just don't expect a grand finish or a nice bow to tie everything up -- par for the course for From Software). And when I stepped into the titular area, I audibly gasped -- something I can't remember doing since Anor Londo.

Since I know you're chomping at the bit to find out, there's four boss fights. Two for the main story path, one that's optional, and another that's more like a glorified NPC similar to the Old Monk in Demon's Souls. Of the four two of them put up a real fight and one, even though I did still one-shot it, managed to catch me off guard for the first time in a while.

If I have one complaint with From's add-on philosophy, it's that most of its supplementary work is too linear from the start. I mean I don't need a Firelink Shrine wheel with endless spokes, but something other than a guided intro would graft it directly into the game and make it feel more natural -- nothing after Artorias of the Abyss has gotten that right.

If you're really into gear (I'm generally underwhelmed when it comes to DLC loot) there's a few unique bits to find, including several swords, shields, and miracles. The standout for me as a big shield user is the Giant Door, a comically over-sized bulwark that's literally two doors that can be crudely placed together. Ringed City's Lothric Banner is a little cool looking with its momentary spirit banner animation, but ultimately feels like a standard spear and pales in comparison to the Ringed Knight Straight Sword, which has a flashy giant flame effect.

While most DLCs have weapon sets that make me want to immediately toss them in my stash and never see them again, From Software actually decided to put a little more effort in, at least when it comes to the meta. Projected Heal, a literal ball of healing, is also going to make a dent in PVP and PVE playthroughs alike. They're small baby steps in the grand scheme of things that only hardcore online players will care about, but welcome all the same.

Rather than giving us a half-assed PVP map, Ringed City also puts forth more effort for posterity's sake. Now there's password-based matchmaking for arenas, which makes deliberate one-on-one battles that much easier to initiate. The two arenas, based on both Lothric Castle and Archdragon Peak are rehashes, sure, but when coupled with the technical advancements that bring Dark Souls into the modern age they're easier to overlook.

Dark Souls III: The Ringed City review

If The Ringed City really is the end of Souls, it manages to hang its head high with the rest of the series. From Demon's to Dark III we have more than enough macabre settings to pore over in the years to come. They aren't all created equal, and some of them aren't even created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, but I'll remember each and every one of them for as long as I live. It's been a wild ride.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Dark Souls III: The Ringed City reviewed by Chris Carter



Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures



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