Functioning as a grand send off of the Dark Souls series, The Ringed City is the final DLC for Dark Souls III, and probably the last DLC for the series, ever. Dark Souls is being retired according the game’s director, Hidetaka Miyazaki. As such, the DLC has the job of delivering the fitting send-off the acclaimed series deserves.
Like Ashes of Ariandel, The Ringed City is not for the faint of heart, much more so than the vanilla game. This is content that’s been designed for veteran players, and those who have already beaten the main game several times. Like Ashes, you’ll also have to progress through the base game before you can even access the DLC. FromSoftware doesn’t like to have a simple option menu to access DLC, instead preferring to hide it within the main game for players to discover. So, if you haven’t got a save file where you’re up to the point in the story where you can access the DLC, in this case, the last bonfire/boss in the main story, you’re going to need to plough through the core content before you can even step foot in the new DLC.
When you do, you’ll find a more substantial bit of DLC than the previous Ashes of Ariandel. Around two times as large as the previous addition, with twice the number of boss encounters, the story here really does give the series a great send off, and for fans of the series, it’s an essential piece of content.
At its core it’s more of the same, of course, but as this is Dark Souls, that’s exactly what fans of the series want. This time I have to admit the setting and general design of the adventure is better than the first add on. It’s more grandiose in scale, and the new content, including some great new foes, very tricky environmental hazard-laden sections, and some truly great boss fights, all create a far more substantial package, not only in pure content, but also in replayability.
Story wise I’m obviously not going to spoil anything, but it’s safe to say FromSoftware has stuck to its guns in terms of delivering the story in an intentionally vague way. Don’t expect a crystal clear wrap up with all the answers laid bare. This is yet another adventure where From makes you work for your understanding of the lore (either that of visit YouTube sites like VaatiVidya). It’s a great method of storytelling that, whilst not for everyone, only serves to draw you further into the world, even after you finish playing.
The gameplay of the content is, as I’ve said, more solid Souls stuff, but I’d argue that it’s possibly the hardest content in DSIII. This is really rough stuff, and you’ll no doubt be hurling expletives around with gay abandon. Yeah, don’t play this with kids around, folks. It’s after hours material if you’ve got even a slight temper.
There are some very tough sections on offer here, including a hefty bit of environmental danger as I mentioned before, and some very difficult boss fights that put your Souls skills to the test, including Dark Souls III‘s first PvP-themed boss. This is Bloodbourne DLC-level challenge here, and even if you breezed through the main game, don’t expect to do so here.
Because of this, and the story content on offer, The Ringed City is a truly great wrap up chapter for the series. The story does its job of sending the title off in style, and the gameplay represents the pinnacle of challenge, and tests the perfectly honed skills you’ve managed to acquire over your journey throughout the series.
It’s sad, in a way, to see Dark Souls come to an end, but, and I say this as a self-confessed rabid fanboy of the series, I’m glad. Dark Souls, as fantastic as it is, needs to stop lest it become trite and tired, at least for a few years (with one exception being a remaster of the first Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls – we want those, oh yes, we want those). Bloodborne, for me, is the current future of the genre in From’s hands, and I feel a focus on that and other titles would do Dark Souls more justice than any string of DLC, or another sequel that could end up making the series overstay its welcome. The Ringed City, therefore, represents a brilliant way to wrap up the series, and is a DLC that packs in far more than Ashes, and offers some of the most satisfying challenges yet.