Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel is Solid, but Underwhelming

Dark Souls 3

New DLC for Dark Souls 3 dropped on October 25th for PS4 and PC, the Painted world of Ariandel is certainly one filled with beauty and danger, of course there’s some of that legendary From Software difficulty in there too. But unfortunately – and this is rough to say – this DLC doesn’t impress like that of its predecessors.

The deep icy caverns and church-like peaks of Ariandel are certainly interesting. The DLC delivers a lot of challenges to the player and the familiar feeling of danger lurking around every corner is ever-present. There’s a some new spells, armors and weapons to choose from scattered throughout the frozen realm. But the feeling of exploration doesn’t last too long, as the DLC only took me about 4 hours to complete. From Software has never ceased to impress me with their DLC releases, they are – dare I say – legendary. Bloodborne’s The Old Hunters and Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin were both super expansive. Dark Souls 3’s DLC doesn’t really compare to the level of lore and depth/challenge we saw in Dark Souls 2’s first DLC, Crown of the Sunken King.  Of course this is the first piece of downloadable content from this title so we’ll just have to wait and see where it goes.

Dark Souls 3

Another feature added to the DLC is the Undead Match Arena. After the Ashen One burns an item called the Champions Bone in the Firelink Shrine Bonfire they will be able to participate in an undead brawl! The arena essentially acts as a hub for PVP placing you in a map to duel to the death, only now you can team up. Players can verse each other 3 on 3, 2 on 2, 1 on 1 or 6 man free for all. Your standard PVP rules apply in most matches, but for some fights you get a little ashen estus and regular estus. In a multi-man brawl you’ll die and be brought back to “enter the fray again,” the first team to ten kills wins or whoever has the most points when time expires.

This all sounds great, but when put into practice? It has some kinks to work out. Matchmaking can be a bit unfair as you never know who is going to be on your team, it seems that levels between players are varied quite a bit – or maybe I just suck. When you return to the fight after death you come back in a random location on the map, and if you spawn in the midst of the other team? That’s a shame. More than once I got ganked upon respawn because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Teammates and enemies in the arena are also pretty hard to keep track of, it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between the two and with so many fast-moving targets the lock on function is a sometimes going to feel useless.

Dark Souls 3

Most of this article sounds like negative whining on my part, what it’s meant to say is there’s nowhere to go but up. The first DLC map may have been a little short and the challenges may have seemed a little lacking, but the ambience was undoubtedly awesome and the boss fights are as fantastic as ever. As for arena, that was going to have to take some R&D anyway; most online brawl or battle systems do. I’m sure there will be balancing and stabilizing changes to combat in the future.

So, issues aside, Ashes of Ariandel is still well worth the $19.99 price tag for series fans – and a decent first step towards further Dark Souls 3 DLC.

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