Dark Souls III Review (PS4)

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Dark Souls III – Launch Trailer | PS4

Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco

Main Review

Review Context: I have played all of the Souls games and Bloodborne. I have completed Dark Souls III and am nearing the end of new game plus.
Date of Playthrough: April 12, 2016

If you were asked what the hardest game you have ever played was, then your answer may be Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, or Bloodborne. Dark Souls III is the newest entry in the Souls series from From Software. Like the entries before it, Dark Souls III doesn’t pull any punches. It can be tough and unforgiving, but that’s what makes the games so fun and addicting. These games are about learning from your mistakes and improving upon them.

Dark Souls III is a game that has very much learned from its history. It takes all the greatest things about its predecessors; the grand open world of Dark Souls, the beautiful vistas and levels of Demon’s Souls, the faster more intense combat of Bloodborne, as well as returning mechanics to this entry. The difficulty returns in full force and is not taking prisoners. The Souls series is famous for it’s “brutal difficulty.” Although this is a bit of a misconception, these games are difficult and offer a very healthy challenge, but as you learn and progress they become easier. The difficulty is fair and unforgiving if you charge into areas without thinking. In Dark Souls III there was nothing that felt unfair. The challenge was there, and you can bet even the best players will die a lot. It’s the game’s nature but that is what makes the game so good.

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In proper Souls tradition the story of the game isn’t spelled out for you. It gives you an explanation of why the world is the way it is and it gives you purpose as the Ashen one. There are some cutscenes before and after some boss fights, primarily the main bosses of the game. As for the rest of the story, the game encourages you to find out the details through weapon and item descriptions, as well as talking to NPC characters and help them progress through their story in the game. The game is rich in lore and those interested in finding out the details of the world will not be disappointed.

From Software has always done a good job with the music but Dark Souls III is on top of things when it comes to creating atmosphere and engaging the player in the scene or battle. There have been times I just let the menu sit so I can listen to that piece. There are no surprises with the controls, as they remain the same.

The levels in the game are all very well thought out, with beautiful eye-catching views for you to enjoy. All the levels are very natural to progress through. In all my time playing through the game there was one area that was only slightly confusing on how to complete the tasks it asked in order to continue. Enemies are placed accordingly, but give you clear signs that a mob of enemies or a really tough enemy is close as long as you pay attention to the environment. If difficulty brings players into the Soul series then the bosses are what keeps them coming back. All of the games have had really well designed boss fights and Dark Souls III is no exception. On top of that, Dark Souls III probably has the largest grouping of bosses that are unique. Bosses that take a little effort outside of the box to defeat instead of the hit and dodge tactics of some previous games. With proper balance as well, I don’t think there is a single boss fight in the game that you can call unfair. Replay value in the game is very high, as you can create a new character that is completely different from your first, as well as having the new game plus modes to increase the difficulty.

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One of the biggest things Bloodborne brought to the table besides the fast paced combat was the ability to play with friends via a password system. This made it super easy to play with friends and eventually they gave an update that lifted the password system level cap for coop. Traditionally there is a range of ten levels up or down from your own that you can call in players for help, but with a password there is no level cap. Dark Souls III brings that password system back, and from the start there is no level cap. However with bringing a higher level player into your game they will be scaled back to your level, which helps balance the game so new players can still have some of the challenge. On the topic of summons and coop, Dark Souls III raises the level. Past games allowed for two coop summons and one invader, but in this game you can now have up to three friendly summons and two invaders for a total of six players in the game. This expansion can be great, sometimes. There are certain areas of the game that players aligned with the right covenant will be placed in other player’s worlds. These people do not count as invaders and they expand how many invaders are entering your world, breaking the balance and occasionally making things seemingly unfair.

Of course no game is perfect and Dark Souls III certainly has its fair share of flaws, mostly on the technical level. There have been a few times I have experienced crashes, as well as other small glitches like going through walls. As much as the game looks great, there are some textures that did not get much attention, but are also out of the way and hard to notice. The frame rate of the game does drop occasionally, and the biggest issue so far is despite having dedicated servers there are some areas that get congested with people trying to summon and be summoned that connection errors are quite frequent. Even the sanctuary of the password system isn’t immune from this error. Of course most of these errors could possibly be fixed in a later update, but at the time of this review these are the ever-present ones.

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It’s been seven years since Demon’s Souls was released and created a very special series. Dark Souls III is a fantastic addition to the series and really shines as it takes the best of the previous games and gives a rich and rewarding experience. Souls fans should have no doubt in their mind whether they should buy this game or not. Any RPG fan or gamer looking for a challenge outside their ‘comfort zone’ should check this game out.

Similar Games Liked:
Bloodborne (PS4)
Dark Souls (PS3)
Demon’s Souls (PS3)

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