The Ringed City is the final piece of DLC for Dark Souls III, following on from Ashes of Ariandel. To access this, you need to have completed the Ashes DLC, or literally be at the bonfire, just outside the final boss of the the main game. This, as you may well gather, isn’t for the faint-hearted. You need a pretty strong character to actually get anywhere and finally unravel the mysteries of The Ringed City and what has been going on in the world for hundreds of years.
The Dark Souls series has been a long journey over the course of three games, each with their respective DLC and characters, feeding us little bits of lore through item descriptions, conversations and whatever else you can find to cobble together just what has happened to the world.
As with DLC in the ‘Souls‘ series, you get a large new area to explore with hidden secrets, new weapons & items, shortcuts and, of course, a few boss battles. Ashes only had 2 boss fights, while The Ringed City gives us four, one of which is optional after the first encounter, but if you want to unlock and join a new covenant you need to tackle that second encounter.
The area you are navigating and your descent into the city, I found, is more linear to what the Souls games usually offer. There are no major branching paths or hidden areas to search out as such (bar one that requires you to turn into a spirit to open a door after reading an inscription on a wall). You, literally, search about small areas off a main path, maybe taking out a stronger enemy to get some new loot or item. All the way, it feels like you’re being pushed along a path with a phantom of Gael pointing you in the direction you need to be going.
The new enemies you encounter can be quite interesting: there’s your usual large monsters with even bigger weapons, reminding me of the Executioner you come across at Hemwick Charnel Lane on Bloodborne, alongside smaller faster creatures which a few hits to kill. There are a few areas where you get mobs of enemies, and whom may only need a few hits, but too many get close and you can be in for a world of hurt to the tune of YOU DIED! Of course every death is there to teach you something so usually moving back through a choke oint can help you out.
On the flip side of the coin though, you do have a few areas where you simply have to move as fast as possible before you get taken out. A new enemy you encounter, as an example, are the angels. These monstrosities fire a volley of magical arrows for the want of better description. You cannot hit them with melee weapons, given the are hovering way above head height, but can try taking them out using arrows, although the damage is minimal and they have large health bars. To take them out, you have to dash from cover to cover and find their host creature, kill the host and the angel gets removed from the world permanently… problem with this is, that there are usually enemies in open spaces.
This can be quite annoying, at times, as a later angel requires you to run across a toxic swamp and up some branches to find the host. You are exposed and have to make the run perfect, or one volley can kill you and send you back to a bonfire. There’s also a section after the first boss fight where you have to hide behind grave stones while the area fills with phantom archers. Said archers are summoned by a creature at the far end of the area. To stop them and collect the loot, you need to dodge the volley of hundreds of arrows and take out the summoner. Needless to say, I avoided the summoner and ran past him to get to the next bonfire – just thought it was a bit cheap as fighting while exposed gives you little chance of success.
The boss fights feel like you have seen them before, the first boss you encounter is two demons. Once the first phase is done and you kill one and the second is low on health, he bulks up into the Demon Prince with full health bar and is similar to the Old Demon King at Smouldering Lake. Thankfully, you can summon help – beside the bonfire you have an NPC and others players putting their summon signs down.
Another boss, which grants you access to a new covenant you meet on a bridge, is a huge Dragon and after hitting it a fair bit, it falls off the bridge but you get no souls. You need to fight it again but in a huge cavern. This creature is a sponge for damage with a HUGE health bar, possibly one of the hardest fights I have ever encountered. If you do win, though, you get access to a new covenant which ties in with the next boss. You enter an area and a player from the covenant you unlock is summoned alongside a computer controlled enemy, similar to the original Demon’s Souls Old Monk fight at the end of World 3 (Tower of Latria) where a player is summoned to fight you as a PvP boss.
Your final boss, here, is the Dark Soul. Without giving to much away, he’s similar to the final boss of the main game from, both the first and third in the series in the way he attacks and moves.
All in all this is a fitting end to the Dark Souls series as From Software are putting the Souls series on hold and working on a new I.P.
I do feel this is a good thing, as this DLC – albeit very good – just feels a bit like steps retread. There is no fanfare or proper ending, as such, nor explanation, but you can draw your own conclusions – either that, or watch a few videos on Youtube explaining the lore and what other players think it all means. You certainly won’t get a definitive answer from the developers!
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Developers: Developer: From Software
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Players: Single, Co-op & Multiplayer
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!