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On Dark Souls 3

May 4, 2016

I spent almost a month doing everything in Dark Souls 3. I’ve spent at least thirty times as long not writing about videogames.

So. Let’s do this. Assume spoilers.

Dark-Souls-III-6

I played the game as a sorcerer, like I have all the Souls games, which makes me a guy who really likes being a wizard or, in some corners of the internet, a filthy casual. Of course, it turns out in the third game, being a sorcerer is pretty damn hard. Your spells are slow. They do no damage. Magic scaling isn’t the best.

This is possibly where a lot of the easy mode dispute comes from. DS1 and DS2 have always had an easy mode: you could be a sorcerer. It wasn’t easy, but it made the game a lot more manageable. Now sorcery’s pretty much hard mode. You can’t wear as much armor, you need a lot of Attunement along with plethora of intelligence. You don’t have time for Vitality (I had eight or so for the entire game), too much health, or hitting high weapon requirements.

I missed having easy mode. I missed it a lot. Still beat the game, but I missed it.

That said: Dark Souls 3 might be the best one? It’s hard to pull it free of Dark Souls, though. So much of Dark Souls 3 is fan service. A lot of it is very smart fan service, like having an onion knight whose plot is the invert of his counterpart’s. And some of it is kind of incomprehensible, “Here’s a dude you liked” fan service. Did you like Andre? Here he is! Creighton the Wanderer invades you sometimes. Laddersmith Gilligan is dead in the Profaned Capital because…you liked Laddersmith Gilligan?

I don’t know how I feel about these appearances. Andre, especially. I don’t know why he’s here. He doesn’t have any sort of arc. He’s just a familiar face here to fix your weapons up.

That said, a lot of the new questlines are the most interesting in Souls. The Yoel/Yuria/Anri line is fascinating and terribly sad. All the wizard trainers are neat. Irina’s got a lot of stuff going on that I’ve only just barely unpacked in my mind. And Greirat, poor Greirat.

There’s a lot of esoteric plot lines meandering around the game, and that’s wonderful. I think they make up for the main plot line, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and involves a bunch of parallel worlds that I’m sure someone will understand on the internet six months from now after playing the game two dozen times.

In short: there’s a bit of Dark Souls 2 here. A lot of stuff happens because it worked so wonderfully in Dark Souls. Oceiros is Seath again. Aldrich wears Gwyndolin like a suit because Gwyndolin was good, right?

But I think Dark Souls 3 goes off into its own weird world more often, and its new ideas work far, far better than Dark Souls 2’s. It has a lot of my new favorite Dark Souls areas (Irithyll of the Boreal Valley, Cathedral of the Deep, the Catacombs of Carthus), and only one that’s on my permanent shit list (come on down, Irithyll Dungeon).

It also has Hidden Body, probably the most enjoyable sorcery in the series. You know, just letting you play Dark Souls like a stealth game.

God, I love Hidden Body. It does reveal that Dark Souls 3’s AI is broken and incompetent, but you know what? It’s a lot of fun. Sure, a lot of enemies died because I hidden bodied and then soul arrowed them from the edge of their radius, but that’s what they get for their wildly inconsistent lock-on range and making some enemies magically immune to its effects.

So, yeah: sorcerer’s still a bit easy mode. You just have to work for it.

If this is the end of the series, you know what? I think I’m okay with that. I don’t know if we need another one. As much as I’ve loved playing Dark Souls, I want to see what other sorts they can come up with. I doubt they’ll depart too much from the central ideas of the Souls mythos, and anything even partially Souls is always a good time.

 

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