If you haven’t heard, Dark Souls 3 hit shelves and digital store fronts on April 12th and despite some performance issues among some of the pc and console players I’ve been enjoying it a great deal.
The game opens in the Cemetery of Ash and I am unkindled – a worthless undead so low in stature in the world I was tossed away, forgotten. Stripped of my possessions and deprived of any equipment beyond a loin cloth, a club, and a wooden shield.
Leaving my grave, I make my way towards the exit stumbling on a robed figure who quickly tries to return me to my rightful place of death, but I easily crush his skull a couple single handed swings of my club. Switching between holding a weapon in one or two hands opens up different attacks and also has the potential to deal more damage.
As I advance through the cemetery I stumble on one of the latest editions to the series, the ash estus flask. Estus as in previous games is a limited heal item that you can use between bonfires, with Dark Souls 3 removing spell charges and adding the flashy battle art system your special attacks and spells are now drawn from your Focus Points pool. Estus is now split between two types the standard health recovery item and ash estus which recovers your focus points.
Messages on the floor teach me the basic mechanics things are mostly the same though you can now do a special attack with certain shields and with all weapons by pressing the left trigger. These battle arts make each weapon a bit more versatile and can also being incredibly powerful to use. My club can buff my damage for a short time and also gains a combo attack during that buff.
Eventually I find a bonfire and I recover my estus and health, exploring so side paths reveals items such as fire bombs sure to be handy in an imminent boss fight. I finish up my exploration and walk through an archway into a very scenic arena, in its centre is a statue a man knelt to the ground.
I see a coiled sword, like the one sticking out of the bonfire stabbed through his shoulder and I am draw to take it and pull it from the statue. Black ooze pours from the neck of the statue as it animates getting to its feet Judge Jury and Executioner ready to fight.
Bosses in Dark Souls 3 often have a transition of some sort around the halfway point whether that’s transforming, powering up or changing move set. This transition can be brought on quicker by doing more damage which has been made easier this time round with a number of bosses having clear visual cues to their weak spots. The game is also generous in providing items in the nearby area that can also be of help. That’s not to say you won’t be dying just as much as before, but I found a lot of these decisions reduced my frustration with the game as bosses where possible work out with a little analysis.
On PC I’m getting a solid 60 frames per second and the combat feels incredible, I feel in control and there are many options to choose from the early game areas has provided me with a large selection of weapons and plenty of upgrade material to test out a variety. Each weapon has a battle art that provides it with an extra attack some of which are unique to individual weapons and allows for you to be creative in how you approach situations. I’ve used clubs, swords, spears and magic so far and each weapon tends to work well in most situations allowing you to play with whatever you want.
Unlike Dark Souls 1 each area doesn’t have some grand interconnection but the world still manages to feel very dense especially in the early areas, where in dark souls 1 areas often linked up in interesting or obscure ways, Dark Souls 3’s areas have more shortcuts and side areas as you look around the scenic backdrop is full of areas you can go if you explore an area enough and so the reward of exploring is bigger than ever.
I’m ten hours in and the game keeps throwing greater challenges my way, the world is full of ambushes and beasts ready to mess you up and this has meant I have had walk the same path a fair few times. If you get this game, you have to be willing to put in the time to learn it, like a puzzle you can crack it but it’ll take some time.
I’ve already encountered a great deal of references to the earlier titles and that interconnection, the dialogue, and the item descriptions are all allowing me to try peel back the truth on the always obfuscated lore.
I’m going to keep writing about my experiences in Dark Souls 3. Next week I’ll be discussing Covenants and the Multiplayer systems. Have you been playing Dark Souls 3? Let us know on Twitter or down in the comments!