As a huge fan of the Dark Souls series, the news that it would be coming to an end was rather difficult to hear. Having said that, nothing can last forever, and perhaps its better that the franchise takes a well deserved rest as opposed to releasing sequel after sequel.
What does seem to sting however, is the DLC that is supposed to be bringing the Dark Souls series to a close. With recent murmurings of the second of the two planned DLC add-ons for Dark Souls 3 scheduled to drop sometime soon, it forces a look back on what the first DLC addition brought to the game.
So far, we’ve heard that the second DLC could be titled ‘City of the Dead’, and could potentially explore the mysterious land of Londor. Given that this will be the last piece of the Dark Souls 3 puzzle to be introduced, we can only hope that it reaches the thrilling climax that it deserves. Yet these rumours don’t just bring excitement from the anticipation of what might be ahead, but also forces a look back on what Ashes of Ariandel achieved, which was unfortunately very little.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my short time within Ashes of Ariandel, but it certainly wasn’t without its shortcomings. For starters, it was ridiculously short. The overall playtime, including the optional boss fight took a mere few hours, polished off with ease in one sitting. That isn’t me tooting my own horn either, I was craving the kind of challenge that the likes of the Dark Souls 2 DLC brought to my door, such as the boss fights with the Fume Knight, Sinh the Slumbering Dragon, and the unforgettable battle with the Burnt Ivory King. Of course, boss battles with Dark Souls games are completely subjective, and some will do better against certain bosses than others.
But the boss fights in Ashes of Ariandel proved to be rather disappointing for me. I didn’t find Sister Friede much of a challenge, to the extent where once she was defeated it made me wonder if this was really the end, or something far more intimidating was lying in wait. The same had to be said about the Champion Gravetender, who was dispatched easily, and felt more like fighting a regular pair of enemies than a scrap with a traditional Dark Souls boss. As stated earlier, everyone has different experiences when it comes to bosses depending on your character build, but still, these two bosses provided little challenge compared to others throughout the three games.
What I did enjoy in Ashes of Ariandel was the snowy setting, which was then unfortunately let down by the amount of bonfires throughout. This inevitably makes the area feel smaller, and should you succumb to the ever-familiar death then you shouldn’t have to backtrack far.
The DLC has been out for a while, so by now we are already aware that it does have some shortcomings. Its the inevitable arrival of the next DLC that brings a reminder of what the previous one introduced. Perhaps my expectations were too high for Ashes of Ariandel, and that its maybe serving as an appetizer to the final DLC.
The incoming content looks set to explore the lore of Dark Souls 3 further, and the more we learn about it, the more exciting it becomes as its release date edges nearer. But at the back of my mind will be Ashes of Ariandel of how harrowingly short and simple it was. Fingers crossed that it was only the start of something big.