Dark Souls III

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Dark Souls III
Dark souls 3 cover art.jpg
Developer(s) FromSoftware
Publisher(s) Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • JP: FromSoftware
Director(s)
Designer(s)
  • Shigeto Hirai
  • Yuya Kimijima
  • Hiroshi Yoshida
  • Junya Ishizaki
Programmer(s) Takeshi Suzuki
Composer(s)
Series Souls
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release
  • JP: March 24, 2016
  • WW: April 12, 2016
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Dark Souls III[a] is an action role-playing video game developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. The fourth entry in the Souls series,[1] Dark Souls III was released in Japan in March 2016 and worldwide in April 2016.[2]

Dark Souls III was critically and commercially successful, with critics calling it a worthy and fitting conclusion to the series. It was the fastest-selling game in Bandai Namco's history, shipping over three million copies worldwide within the first two months after release. A complete version containing the base game and both downloadable content expansions, titled Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades, was released in April 2017.

Gameplay[edit]

Dark Souls III is an action role-playing game played in a third-person perspective, similar to previous games in the series. According to lead director and series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, the game's gameplay design followed "closely from Dark Souls II".[3] Players are equipped with a variety of weapons to fight against enemies, such as bows, throwable projectiles, and swords. Shields can act as secondary weapons but they are mainly used to deflect enemies' attacks and protect the player from suffering damage.[4] Each weapon has two basic types of attack, one being a standard attack, and the other being slightly more powerful that can be charged up, similar to FromSoftware's previous game, Bloodborne. In addition, attacks can be evaded through dodge-rolling.[5] Bonfires, which serve as checkpoints, return from previous installments.[6] Ashes, according to Miyazaki, play an important role in the game.[7] Magic is featured in the game, with a returning magic system from Demon's Souls, now known as "focus points" (FP). When performing spells, the player's focus points are consumed. There are two separate types of Estus Flasks in the game, which can be allotted to fit a players' particular play style. One of them refills hit points like previous games in the series, while another, newly introduced in Dark Souls III, refills focus points.[8] Combat and movements are faster and more fluid in Dark Souls III;[9][10] several player movements (such as backstepping and swinging heavy weapons) can now be performed more rapidly,[11] allowing players to deal more damage in a short period of time.[5]

Throughout the game, players encounter different types of enemies, each with different behaviors. Some of them change their combat pattern during battles.[4] New combat features are introduced in Dark Souls III, including weapon and shield "Skills", which are special abilities that vary from weapon to weapon that enable unique attacks and features at the cost of focus points.[4] The game places more focus on role-playing; the expanded character builder and improved weapons provide the player with more tactical options.[12] The game features fewer overall maps than its predecessor Dark Souls II, but they are larger and more detailed, which encourages exploration.[6] The adaptability stat from Dark Souls II was removed in Dark Souls III, with other stats being adjusted.[6] The game features multiplayer elements like the previous games in the series.[13]

Plot[edit]

Set in the Kingdom of Lothric, a bell has rung to signal that the First Flame, responsible for maintaining the Age of Fire, is dying out. As has happened many times before, the coming of the Age of Dark produces the undead: cursed beings that rise up after death. The Age of Fire can be prolonged with the linking of the fire, a ritual in which great lords and heroes sacrifice their souls to rekindle the First Flame. However, Prince Lothric, the chosen linker for this age, has abandoned his duty and instead chooses to watch the flame die from afar. The bell is the last hope for the Age of Fire, resurrecting previous Lords of Cinder (heroes who linked the flame in past ages) to attempt to link the fire again; however, all but one Lord shirk their duty.

The Ashen One, an Undead who failed to become a Lord of Cinder and thus called an Unkindled, rises and must link the fire by returning Prince Lothric and the defiant Lords of Cinder to their thrones in Firelink Shrine. The Lords include the Abyss Watchers, a legion of warriors sworn to protect the land from the Abyss and linked by a single soul; Yhorm the Giant, who was once a conqueror of the very people for whom he then sacrificed his life; and Saint Aldrich of the Deep, who became a Lord of Cinder despite his ravenous appetite for both men and gods. Lothric himself was raised in order to link the First Flame, but rejected his destiny and chose to watch the fire fade.

Once the Ashen One succeeds in returning Lothric and the Lords of Cinder to their thrones, they travel to the ruins of the Kiln of the First Flame. There, they encounter the Soul of Cinder, an amalgamation of all the previous Lords of Cinder who had linked the flame in the past. Once the Soul of Cinder is defeated, four endings are made possible based on the player's actions during the game. The player can attempt to link the fire, summon the Fire Keeper to extinguish the flame and begin an age of Dark or kill her. A fourth ending consists of the Ashen One taking the flame for their own and becoming the Dark Lord of Londor.

Ashes of Ariandel[edit]

Ashes of Ariandel introduces a new area, the Painted World of Ariandel. On arriving at a location in the base game, the Ashen One meets a wandering knight, Gael, who implores him to enter the Painted World and fulfill a prophecy to bring "Fire for Ariandel." Inhabitants of this world variously beg the Ashen One to burn the Painted World per the prophecy or leave it to its slow rot. A painter girl tells the Ashen One of "Uncle Gael"'s promise to find her dyes to paint a new world. The player's decision to proceed elicits first coldness from the world's self-appointed guardian and then a boss fight, in which Ariandel is ultimately set on fire. The painter thanks the player for showing her flame and paints her new world.

In keeping with previous franchise DLC, Ashes of Ariandel introduces not only a substantial new area, with two boss fights, but also several new weapons, spells and pieces of armour. On completing the DLC, the player has the option of proceeding to The Ringed City DLC, if owned.

The Ringed City[edit]

In The Ringed City, the Ashen One begins their journey to an area known as "The Dreg Heap", a region where ruined kingdoms of different eras are piled upon each other as the world draws to a close. From the Dreg Heap, after battling through the ruins of Lothric Castle, the Ashen One encounters the amnesiac knight Lapp, who cannot remember his past. The Ashen One traverses the Earthen Peak, an area encountered in Dark Souls II, before fighting a boss known as the Demon Prince. Victorious, the player travels to the Ringed City, an ancient city of the Pygmies, the ancestors of humanity, which has fallen into the Abyss. After defeating the guardian of the Church of Filianore, the player's actions transport him to a ruined wasteland of ash, ostensibly in the world's future. There, the Ashen One meets a dishevelled Gael, from Ashes of Ariandel, who has begun killing and looking for the souls and blood of the Pygmies for the painter girl to use as ink.

Development[edit]

The development of the game began in mid-2013, prior to the release of Dark Souls II, whose development was handled by Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura instead of the series creator, Hidetaka Miyazaki.[14] The game was developed alongside Bloodborne but was handled by two mainly separate teams. Miyazaki also returned to direct Dark Souls III, while Isamu Okano and Tanimura, the directors of Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor and Dark Souls II respectively, served as co-directors for the game.[15] Despite Miyazaki originally believing that the series would not have many sequels,[16] Dark Souls III would serve as the fourth installment in the Souls series. Miyazaki later added that the game would not be the last game in the series, and instead would serve as a "turning point" for both the franchise and the studio, as it was the last project by FromSoftware before Miyazaki became the president of the company.[17] Multiple screenshots of the game were leaked prior to its initial reveal at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015.[18][19] The game's gameplay was then first shown at Gamescom 2015 in August.[20]

Miyazaki said that Bloodborne's limitations made him want to return to the Souls series.[21] According to him, the game's level design was created to become more of another "enemy" the player must face.[22][23] However, just as how the former Souls games narrate their stories, Dark Souls III unfolds the plot with strong vagueness: players can learn the storyline merely through the conversation with non-playable characters (NPCs), art design, and item flavor text.[24] Due to this, Miyazaki states that there is no official and unique story, and his intention of designing this game was to not impose his own viewpoint, with him stating that any attempts to discover and understand the plot and that world are encouraged.[24] The improvement to archery, specifically draw speed, was inspired by Legolas from The Lord of the Rings franchise.[7] The game's visual design focuses on "withered beauty", with ember and ash scattered throughout the game's world.[13] The game's original score was primarily written by Dark Souls II and Bloodborne composer, Yuka Kitamura, and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Additional music was written by Dark Souls composer Motoi Sakuraba, with a single boss theme each by Tsukasa Saitoh and Nobuyoshi Suzuki.[25]

Dark Souls III was released in Japan for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 24, 2016,[26] and released worldwide, along with the Microsoft Windows version, on April 12, 2016.[27] A stress test for the game, which allowed players selected by Bandai Namco to test the game's network functionality before release, was available for three days in October 2015.[28] The game has three different special editions for players to purchase, all of which cost more than the base game. Players who pre-ordered the game had their game automatically upgraded to the Apocalypse Edition, which has a special case and the game's original soundtrack. The Collector's Edition contains physical items such as the Red Knight figurine, an artbook, a new map, and special packaging. The Prestige Edition features all the content in The Collector's Edition, but has an additional Lord of Cinder resin figurine, which can form a pair with the Red Knight figurine.[29]

The game's first downloadable content (DLC) expansion, titled Ashes of Ariandel, was released on October 24, 2016.[30][31] The second and final DLC, titled The Ringed City, was released on March 28, 2017.[32] Both DLCs added new locations, bosses, armors, and weapons to the game. A complete version containing the base game and both DLCs, titled Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades, was released on April 21, 2017.[33]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
MetacriticPC: 89/100[46]
PS4: 89/100[47]
XONE: 87/100[48]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid8.5/10[34]
Edge9/10[35]
Famitsu38/40[36]
Game Informer9.25/10[37]
Game Revolution4.5/5 stars[38]
GameSpot8/10[39]
GamesRadar+4.5/5 stars[40]
IGN9.5/10[41]
PC Gamer (UK)94/100[42]
Polygon7/10[43]
The Daily Telegraph5/5 stars[44]
The Guardian5/5 stars[45]
Edit on wikidata Edit this on Wikidata

Dark Souls III received "generally favorable" reviews according to review aggregator, Metacritic, with praise given to the game's visuals and combat mechanics, reminding reviewers of its faster paced similarity to FromSoftware's previous game, Bloodborne.[34][37][38][41][49] Chloi Rad of IGN awarded the game a 9.5 out of 10, stating she thought that "If Dark Souls 3 truly is the last in the series as we know it, then it's a worthy send-off."[41] Rich Stanton of Eurogamer rated the game as "essential", calling it "fabulous" and that it was "a fitting conclusion" to the series.[49] Steven Strom of Ars Technica wrote that he thought the title still had the "smooth and impressive rendering of the series' signature style" and some of "the best boss fights in any Souls game".[50] Simon Parkin of The Guardian gave the game 5 out of 5 stars, and wrote that while Dark Souls III "may not have the novelty of the first Dark Souls", it was "the more pristine and rounded work" of the series.[45]

However, criticism was directed at issues with the game's frame rate and performance,[43] linear map design,[38][50] and the way Bandai Namco handled the Western launch.[51][52] Philip Kollar of Polygon rated the game a 7 out of 10, stating disappointment at the lack of surprises and the arbitrary nature of the game's design, writing that "in so many important ways -- its world design, its pacing, the technology powering it - Dark Souls III falls short of the mark."[43] A later patch, released on April 9, fixed some of the technical issues reviewers had with the game.[53]

Reception to Ashes of Ariandel, the game's first downloadable content (DLC) expansion, was generally positive. Brendan Graeber of IGN enjoyed what the DLC offered, enjoying the introduction of a dedicated player versus player (PvP) arena, as well as the new enemies and bosses, but criticized the length, stating that Ashes of Ariandel served more as "an appetizer than a full course meal".[54] Kollar of Polygon considered the content of the DLC to be "great", but agreed with Graeber's criticism of the length, saying that there was not much of it.[55] Reception to The Ringed City, the game's second and final DLC expansion, was also generally positive. Chloi Rad of IGN praised the overall level design and boss fights, adding that the DLC was a "satisfying" conclusion to the trilogy.[56] In contrast, James Davenport of PC Gamer was less positive, calling the DLC "gorgeous but empty", adding that it was a "weak reflection" on the series' best traits.[57]

Sales[edit]

In Japan, the PlayStation 4 version sold over 200,000 copies in its first two weeks of release.[58] It became the fastest-selling video game published by Bandai Namco Entertainment America, becoming the company's most successful day-one launch.[59] On May 10, 2016, Bandai Namco announced that Dark Souls III had reached three million total copies shipped worldwide, with 500,000 in Japan and Asia, 1.5 million in North America, and one million in Europe.[60] It was also reported that Dark Souls III was the best selling software in North America in the month of release.[61]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award event Category Result Ref
2016 Golden Joystick Awards 2016 Best Visual Design Nominated [62][63]
Best Multiplayer Game Nominated
Best Gaming Moment Nominated
Game of the Year Won
21st Satellite Awards Outstanding Action/Adventure Game Won [64]
The Game Awards 2016 Best Role Playing Game Nominated [65]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ ダークソウルIII (Japanese: Dāku Sōru Surī)

References[edit]

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External links[edit]