We embark into a devastated land; a kingdom lay in decay over the course of centuries. The dying walk along the broken streets and the heroes crestfallen. Many a player continue to lay their cash down for new controllers upon breaking previous ones in fits of rage. This is the third installment of FromSoftware's Dark Souls and it's looking to be bloodier than ever.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, Dark Souls (2011) began as a spiritual successor to Demon's Souls (2009). Often labeled as some of the hardest titles of their time, the series found a strong following of fans that enjoyed the increase challenge. The second Dark Souls (2014) upped the ante even more with a stronger graphics engine and what many players consider an increased difficulty. In 2015, Bloodborne tapped into some of the potential but chose not to copy the iconic Dark Age/Fantasy setting that we've all grown to love (Don't worry Bloodborne, you are still a great game!).
The series has prided itself on it's punishing difficulty and real-time combat system. As the title entails, the level up system involves gathering numerous amounts of souls from your fallen enemies and expending them to either increase your stats or use them to purchase equipment, ensuring perhaps an easier time with the game's brutal monsters and bosses. Let an enemy get the better of you though, and not only are you kissing the ashes of your last bonfire, but you lose all of your souls too! This turns soul harvesting into a game of it's own. Do you commit to the grindstone and camp your bonfire, sweeping through lesser enemies for small, but assured payoffs? Or do you take the high risk, high reward route of throwing caution to the wind and venturing far enough away to make the bigger payoff, perhaps using your mass investment for bigger and better items or upgrades? Returning from the previous games are a myriad of classes to choose from alongside the various spells, armor, weapons, shields, and other equipment ready for upgrade.
Unlike previous Dark Souls installments, there are fewer maps in the third installment, however they are much larger and interconnected, which encourages exploration. Refreshing roots from Demon's Souls, the magic meter makes a return, enabling greater options with miracles and magic. Your magic meter also has an effect on the newly acquirable Weapon Arts. Once depleted, you can use the new Ash Estus Flask to replenish your magic points. Combat and movement is smoother and quicker, allowing your character to now perform backstepping and enable greater mobility if it's skilled that way. It is said that Dark Souls III will hold many elements from the previous Dark Souls games, but there are also many new surprises in store for Souls fans.
So here's what to expect:
During your travels in the kingdom of Lothric you will encounter many evils that will stop at nothing to hinder your progress. Most of them will be monsters and a few NPCs, but sometimes, it could be players just like you. Invading, however, is a bit more limited in this third installment. Like turning human in the first Dark Souls, you can only be invaded after using an item to engage cooperative play with another player. This means that PvPers will now have to risk taking on at least two people rather than one, as was previously the case. You can expect this particular change to curb a little of the heavy griefing that took place in previous games.
There are a lot of people upset about this actually as some believe it takes out the thrill of uncertainty. I will admit though that clashing with the red-hued warriors always got my blood going, so I hope it finds a way in!
A darkness is coming and a question for those who await to answer. Are you prepared to die? Dark Souls III is out on the 12th of this month!