Dark Souls III: The Ringed City
|Dark Souls III: The Ringed City|
|Publisher(s)||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|Release||March 27, 2017|
Dark Souls III: The Ringed City is the second of two downloadable content packs for the 2016 action role-playing video game Dark Souls III. Released on March 27, 2017, the content pack was developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It drew favorable reception from critics, with several seeing it as a proper end to the Souls series.
Unlike previous games in the Souls series, Dark Souls III was launched alongside a season pass, confirming that two downloadable content packs were planned from the beginning. On January 3, 2017, Dark Souls III: The Ringed City was announced. The Ringed City and the preceding content pack, Ashes of Ariandel, were conceived as the final entries in the Souls series.
Hidetaka Miyazaki, director of Dark Souls III and creator of the Souls series, said that the story of the two Dark Souls III packs was intended to cover the primary themes of the main game from a new perspective rather than wrap up the series at large. The pack sees the player pursuing a character known as Slave Knight Gael to the end of the world while he hunts for the titular "Dark Soul of Humanity".
Setting and gameplay
Dark Souls III: The Ringed City features two primary locations: the Dreg Heap and the eponymous Ringed City. The former is a burnt-out, ash-smothered sprawl of castle and cathedral wreckage comprising the smashed constructs of different ages. The Dreg Heap is a gray, charred confluence of ruined civilizations all slowly sliding and crumbling and decaying. Areas from previous games (like Earthen Peak from Dark Souls II and Lost Izalith's roots from the original Dark Souls) can be seen here. The design of the area is uncommon for the Souls series, focusing on vertical navigation and avoidance of long-ranged enemy hazards that incentivize a restrained, cautious pace for the player. Some critics praised the employment of these angelic enemies that require exploration to defeat, while others judged the game unfit for such an inclusion.
The Ringed City is the more expansive of the two locations, with three of the pack's four bosses dwelling within. Partially encircled by a ring-shaped wall of rock, the city is a bright area with shimmering domes, low gardens, massive buildings, and an expansive purple swamp dotted with sinking structures. Julie Muncy of Wired called the Ringed City "beautiful, strange, and mysterious" and wrote, "I've never been anywhere quite like this before". The first required boss in the city comes in the form of an enemy that other real players can control. Some critics saw this as a positive move to increase player versus player activity and heighten the pack's longevity, while others thought it was a "throwaway" confrontation that felt "out of place". The final fight of The Ringed City is against a character named Gael who was introduced in the previous content pack.
Dark Souls III: The Ringed City received "generally favorable" reception, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Writing for IGN, Chloi Rad said the pack has "found a way to revisit the past without a cheap reliance on nostalgia, wrapping up the story of Dark Souls in a way that will be satisfying for fans who enjoy digging into the rich lore the series has been building for the last few years." Daniel Starkey of GameSpot thought the pack ended too quickly, but praised its locations, themes and enemies. Push Square's Ben Tarrant wrote, "It's a meaty installment and a welcome deviation from the practices seen in Ashes of Ariandel, while still interlocking with and continuing the complex narrative." Jeffrey Matulef of Eurogamer especially lauded the pack's boss fights, and Steven T. Wright of Rolling Stone appreciated its difficulty. In a more lukewarm review, James Davenport of PC Gamer wrote, "Gorgeous but empty, challenging but not always fair, The Ringed City is a weak reflection of the series' best traits." William Hughes of The A.V. Club called The Ringed City's locations beautiful and lush, but thought that the Souls formula was growing stale.
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