Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel DLC Review - "A Short but Satisfying Romp Through the Snow"
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"A Short but Satisfying Romp Through the Snow"
It only took me 4 hours to beat the snow-filled DLC, but it was still a very satisfying 4 hours for the admission price of $15 (or $25 with season pass). From the moments of entering the beginning area, I knew that the playing field must be handled differently.
The opening environment is very wide open, but the snow impairs your ability to see far away. This can easily cause some enemies to sneak up on you if you are not paying attention to your surroundings. If you are one to pick off your enemies, you may need to change up your tactics as I found I never fought any enemies by themselves. Pairs seems to be a recurring theme through this DLC, from the way the two boss fights are set up, to how enemies are together in pairs or groups, to the new multiplayer PvP mode.
Titled Hollow Arena, players can compete in a variety of player-versus-player combat under two categories: duels, that are single life to-the-death game modes, and brawl, which player respawn and try to get the highest amount of kills before time runs out. While fun, I personally am not sure how long this will last. I am not huge on the game’s PvP mechanics since I tend to favor jolly cooperation in PvE. That being said, I am sure some people out there will funnel plenty of hours into this. I tend to favor the campaign mode, which feels like it is taking a back seat this time around.
Unlike previous From Soft DLCs, this one tends to be in a single area, though large. The level design makes it feel layered though, as you basically go up, down, and all around the blue-hued Ariandel before coming to the end. It is a lot of blue and a lot of snow, so environment variety is sparse unless you go indoors.
Once you arrive to the main area of Ariandel, Dark Souls players will no doubt feel a bit of nostalgia. While not exactly the Painted World of Ariamis, Ariandel still manages to form a personality of its own, while still honoring the first painted encounter. For myself, two bits stood out the most as the most nostalgia-heavy, and I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers (STILL, SLIGHT SPOILER TERRITORY, SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH TO AVOID), when you cross a rickety bridge and behold a familiar-yet-different sight that serves as a main hub, and a huge parallel in the quest line that involves a wheel being turned and a statue moving to reveal a new location.
As for the two bosses, I tend to favor the story’s endgame fight that I will say nothing about to leave the surprises be. Yet, it is an enjoyable one and evokes the times I fought Lady Maria from Bloodbourne, and Ornstein and Smough from Dark Souls
The new enemies, wolves and viking-like warriors and grotesque monstrosities, litter the frigid landscape. Wolves will call for others to join, the vikings will breathe fire, throw spears, or charge with sword-and-shield. Unless you can find a way to pick them off one by one, it will get crowded fast.
As for loot, there are only a handful of new items with their own interesting lore that explains what has transpired to cause Ariandel to become what you see. As as strength build, I did not find myself a replacement for my current load out, which is actually disappointing. From the looks of playing with others, however, the new spells and miracles are a bigger draw for the armory, while strength characters are given some good armor that does not weigh much.
As for a score, out of 10 it would be a 7.5. While fun, the story itself is very short and you may not get many hours with this DLC unless you farm bosses or play the Hollow Arena. Ariandel is beautiful and the new music is fantastic, yet still terrifying as you make your way around. New enemies are a joy to die against as you learn their moves. The final boss fight is great and I will continue to help others on it. Yet as for how long this DLC will hold my attention I will not know and the lack of new gear is a bit disappointing. The PvE mode is fun, but I cannot say how long it will be until it will be a barren battlefield.
Review by: Theron Hollenbeck