Game Review - Dark Souls III on PC

Written by sullynathan on June 12, 2016 @ 11:15 pm

Dark Souls 3 draws inspiration from all of its predecessors by borrowing heavily from Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne and Demons Souls. I have played the first three of those game (never got farther than Father Gascogne), but I never played Demons Souls. The game has a lot of features from all those games but I can't say that I agree with all the features, areas and things borrowed from all those games.

The game doesn't run very well on my Mac. I am currently running it at 720p on the absolute lowest with a lot of framerate drops. The graphics are quite good though, I would say I was genuinely impressed with how beautiful the world was and a lot of the details in it. Fire and a lot of effects look very good in the game. The boss and menu music in this game is phenomenal. I swear, its the only main souls game that I genuinely like the music in it. Very epic and gets you into the mood of fighting. The rest of the game is typical souls affair and doesn't have any real background music but I don't really mind.

Dark Souls 3 plays very well and controls well. I primarily play with a controller for all the souls games, but for the short time I tried the mouse and keyboard controls, it wasn't bad. There are some new mechanics in the game that weren't there in past games like the ability to jump without rolling afterwards. Weapons arts is a new style of attack that depends on what type of weapon our character wields, they use focus points. Weapons arts seem to be more useful in PVP or one-on-one encounters with strong enemies. Dark Souls 3 also reverts back to a more traditional mana bar that lots of rpgs and Demons Souls had, than the use of charges for magic like Dark Souls 1 & 2 had. The game has a higher quantity of magic than in previous souls games but it seems like miracles, sorceries and hexes have been gimped while pyromancies have been improved. The former do far less damage than in both of DS3's predecessors.

Dark Souls 3 favors a hub world with mostly independent levels like Dark Souls 2, and less like Dark Souls. Dark Souls 3's level design is constantly good and I would say that there is no outright bad level. I would say that after beating the game, my favorite levels were Cathedral of the deep, profaned capital, grand archives, Anor Londo and Lothric Castle. They had a lot more shortcuts than the other areas and didn't rely too much on bonfires. That's another thing from Dark Souls 2 that has bled into this game. While I like the fact that the hub world brings in all merchants to one area and allows for upgrading at one location and it also has it's own secrets and loot, I do not like the reemergence of leveling by using the firekeeper at the hub like Bloodborne & Dark Souls 2 and instead favored the use of leveling at a bonfire like Dark Souls.

There is an abundance of bonfires in a lot of areas that could have done with more shortcuts. In general, the level design in DS3 is wide and less vertical unlike Dark Souls 1 and also unlike Dark Souls 1, you can fast travel from the beginning which follows in the steps of Dark Souls 2 and Bloodborne. This wideness makes a lot of the levels feel very large, which I liked but it cuts down on the amount of shortcuts in areas making me feel at times that certain areas like Undead settlement are generic. Most levels are not connected to each other like Dark Souls 1 either. Now, this isn't necessarily bad because I said that the moment-to-moment level design is good but I would have liked to see the series sort of return to the Dark Souls 1 level design in which a large amount of the main areas were connected to each other without the need of a bonfire. The areas I disliked were primarily Farron Keep. I am not a fan of the swamp areas in the souls series. I don't really like Blighttown or The Gulch. I really disliked that FROM still did not include a ring that allows the player to move at normal pace in the swamp. There is no real level that outright wowed me.

In terms of linearity, some have claimed that DS3 is more linear than previous entries but I beg to differ. While it doesn't have the luxury of allowing the player to approach the same location from different entrances like Dark Souls 1, there are still enough optional locations for the player to get side-tracked off the mandatory locations and it is possible to reach late game areas from early on in the game. The level design of Souls 3 does get a lot better as I progressed throughout the game. Less bonfires littered all around and more use of shortcuts, and some areas use vertical level design properly.

Souls 3 continues the tradition of having very good combat not only in the action or rpg genre but in gaming in general. It brings in some improvements the the existing formula but takes some rather large missteps. One of those missteps was the changing of poise to be pretty much non-existent like Bloodborne. This means that every weapon and every attack will stagger your character which is unlike Dark Souls 1 & 2. With the addition of faster combat than Dark Souls 1 & 2, this means that a large part of combat is either stun-locking your enemy to death or your character getting stunlocked till death. One or two particular bosses take this a bit too far with long combos and there a couple of enemies with long combos that don't give the player a rest which can get quite annoying. It is even worse in PVP with certain weapons that have good range and swing quickly. Another change that was influenced by bloodborne is the removal or armor upgrades and the increased use of rolling because of how little stamina rolling takes. I am not personally someone who plays the souls game in a very evasive manner. Bloodborne did it well being a new ip and having a more focused combat system, but I don't like it when Dark Souls 3 is encouraging and pushing me to play the game in a more evasive manner than when Dark Souls & Dark Souls 2.

More additions from bloodborne are also the visceral attacks that can be done on certain bosses and enemies once they've either taken too much damage or their shield has been broken. It's done as a way of punishing people who overly block.

New Game+ brings in new rings and new souls but isn't as robust as Souls 2. There are no new enemy placements, new boss-souls that bring new gear, or new red phantoms.

The bosses are also sort of a mixed bag. A good amount of the early - mid game bosses are either gimmick bosses or are just easy. The game saves itself by having a lot of good bossfights later on. Most bosses this time have a 2nd stage that either changes the stage, or the bosses attack patterns completely courtesy of Bloodbornes influence. I like this addition of having a 2nd stage because it mixes things up in the fights. The downside is that it takes out the surprise from some fights that do have very good 2nd stages. I'd say that the bosses I enjoyed the most were lothric, dragonslayer armor, soul of cinder, nameless king, old demon king and maybe champion gundyr in that order.

Covenants and NPCs don't stray away from what FROM has done in the past.Joining a covenant is now really convenient and only depends on getting a token from said covenant. Afterwards, all the player needs to do to switch covenants is to pick a different token in their inventory. It removes the "betrayal" system of Dark Souls and removes the need to fast travel back to a covenants area to rejoin.

Co-op is nice and fast to summon to summon people but I have gotten into connection issues in the past couple of days.
PvP is also a mixed bag. The push for a more evasive playstyle is there and everyone rolls around. Certain weapons are still there that stun lock the crap out of people and things like hit detection and "phantom range" are still very off in the game.

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Game Information

Platform
PC
Developer(s)
FromSoftware
Publisher(s)
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Genre(s)
Action, RPG
NA Release Date
April 12, 2016
EUR Release Date
April 12, 2016
AUS Release Date
April 12, 2016
ESRB Rating
RP
PEGI Rating
16
MVGL User Score
9.0
Composer
Yuka Kitamura
Official Website
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