Final verdict: B+
Final playtime: 131 hours
Ariiiight, finally a good game! I was getting tired of all these low tier ass games for bitches. So whadda we got here? You want me to tell you if Dark Souls 3 is good? Come on bruh. I don’t need to tell you that this game kicks ass. We already know From can do no wrong. Long as they keep doing what they’ve been doing this entire time they can keep making these games forever as far as I’m concerned. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. Why reinvent the wheel when that wheel is working wonders, nam sayin’.
Even in terms of graphics they still haven’t changed anything. This game only looks a tiny bit better than Dark Souls 2. It looks most similar to Bloodborne but probably doesn’t quite reach the visual heights of that because Bloodborne was just on a whole other level of art direction. That being said, there are definitely places in this game that give it a real run for its money. Almost certainly preeminent among them is Irithyll. Holy shit that place looks so sick. I wanna live there. It’s got a bit of Bloodborne in it (the moon especially is pure Bloodborne) with a dash of Eleum Loyce and a little bit of Drangleic Castle. The ethereal quality of the town kinda reminds me of Folsense in Professor Layton 2. Bah, whatever, y’all niggaz probably never even played that game.
Although I will probably never be a big fan of Souls music in general, I have to say that the music in this one is probably the best of the whole series. Among the songs, special mention must be given to the Abyss Watchers theme and the main theme. They’re only rivaled by the theme of Saint Astraea in Demon’s.
As should already be known, the main draw and the strongest point of the Souls games is their top notch level design, and I’m pleased to announce that this latest one is just as great as the rest. As if there was ever any doubt. THESE are the kinds of levels and areas that are fun and rewarding to thoroughly explore. Not the ones in these garbage ass bullshit Open World games that are currently poisoning our world. From understands true quality game design, unlike all these other hacks and frauds who steal our money and waste our time with their sorry excuse for games that deserve nothing but to be flushed down the toilet.
Aside from that, Dark Souls 3 plays exactly the same as the previous games with very, very few differences. The tightness or responsiveness of the controls feel very subtly improved in little things like how it’s harder to miss the jumping attack or kick input and get an accidental regular attack instead, which I feel happened a little more in Dark 2. Or how it seems that you no longer roll on landing after making a big jump, which improves the platforming. Interestingly, bullshit platforming sections are significantly curtailed this time around. I didn’t find myself dying over and over from trying to make a shitty jump just to reach an item, which definitely was a thing before.
The return of an MP bar is kind of weird since that hasn’t been a thing since Demon’s. I don’t feel like it’s necessarily better or worse, but what is more interesting is that now MP is a useable resource by anyone, not just magic users. That’s the case because there are now special skills unique to each weapon that require MP. It’s kind of a fun addition since it expands the moveset for all weapons and now every time you find a new weapon you’re gonna be wondering “I wonder what the weapon skill for this is”. So that’s cool. But in terms of practical use, I feel like the weapon skills are generally not all that useful. Obviously it depends on the weapon; some might have a good skill and for others it might be trash, but I don’t see putting points into attunement for higher MP being that great of an idea for someone who only uses weapon skills and not spells. Most of them aren’t good enough for that and you’re gonna be better off using regular vanilla attacks most of the time and investing somewhere else. Another interesting new mechanic is that they’ve divided your available estus between HP and MP restoring ones, and they let you choose how to divide them yourself. You can go 100% HP estus and 0% MP estus, or 50/50 or 95/5 or anything you want. At first I thought that this might be a nerf to magic since it’d force you to carry less healing in order to keep your MP up. But in reality it’s probably not a big deal because you quickly amass such a stupid amount of estus that you will always have far more than you need.
Leveling has gotten significantly slower and it feels like it’s gone back to Demon’s (possibly Dark 1) leveling pace. Enemies and especially bosses give far less souls than before, and each level up seems to increase the required souls by a lot. I like leveling up so I actually prefer the more frequent leveling of Dark Souls 2, but whatever, it’s not a big deal. For reference, you will finish this game at about half the level you finished Dark 2. And just in case anybody is thinking some horse shit about how faster leveling would make the game easier, come on BRUH. That’s not how it works. A game’s difficulty is balanced based on its leveling pace. The leveling pace comes first, and the balancing comes second. If you’re going to be leveling twice as fast in a game, then obviously enemies should be twice as strong to compensate. Leveling being slower or faster has no bearing on a game’s difficulty.
They’ve removed the adaptability stat and made the roll go back to maximum level strength and estus back to maximum level healing speed because apparently all the haters bitched about it. I don’t know why. I kind of liked that stat. It’s another thing to work on and consider when you’re leveling up. That’s the whole point with RPGs, right? You start out weak and shitty and as you level and work your way up your characters get stronger and better! That’s the fucking game! Niggas tryina turn this into more of an action game even though it isn’t. STOP IT. The combat isn’t good enough to hang with the likes of Bayonetta and it never will be. Bloodborne showed that. On the plus side, they’ve added back the old luck stat, which, while not as impactful as adaptability (it affects item drop rate and strength of status effects), at least it’s something more that you can consider when leveling up.
Speaking of status effects, MAN. From really fucking sucks at properly balancing status effects for some reason. Bleed is the only one that is any good. Poison is so fucking pathetic in this game, I cannot believe how weak it is. You can just completely ignore being poisoned in this game. It doesn’t do SHIT. Then they added a new status effect called Frostbite which is supposed to do a chunk of damage and fuck up your stamina. And when enemies do it to you, it works well. But when YOU use it on enemies it does shit all to them. Great. You’re better off just going straight damage than wasting your time with these shitty ass status effects.
Anyway, I’ve been getting at this but here’s the weird part about this game: even though it preserves some of the many gameplay improvements from Dark Souls 2, such as 4 ring slots and 3 weapon slots in each hand (thank god) and more generous checkpoint placement (hail satan), it inexplicably forgets just as many of them and ends up taking steps backwards. For example, you can’t run up ladders anymore. Why is that gone? Okay, that’s a tiny thing and not a big deal. You wanna talk about the big shit, fine. One of my favorite new mechanics in Dark Souls 2 was how if you killed enemies enough times they would eventually stop respawning. I loved the concept of being able to kill enemies so many times that they go extinct. Especially as someone who doesn’t like running past enemies and likes to always kill everything, it was cool how as you went through a place multiple times and killed the same enemies you felt like you were always working your way towards a big and permanent change in the state of the game world. But this is now gone, for whatever reason.
By the same token, bonfire ascetics are also gone in this game. That was another mechanic that I really loved in Dark Souls 2. The ability to fight bosses again in the same playthrough, to be able to play the NG+ or ++ or +++ versions of whatever you wanted without actually doing that many playthroughs, to be able to get as many unique upgrade materials and items as you wanted without having to play the game over again. Bonfire ascetics were amazing and they are not in this game.
I also miss armor being upgradeable. It was fun to have much more things to work on making stronger through the upgrade system. It made finding materials more meaningful when you needed so many and for so many different things. Yet another thing that they seem to have forgotten and now it’s back to only weapons being upgradeable.
Anyway it’s these kinds of steps backward that are kind of inexplicable to me. I bet the explanation is because of all the assholes and haters bitching about Dark Souls 2 being bad when in reality it was secretly the best Souls of them all! Bah. Still, despite these things this game is still really good, as all Souls games are. I mean, when your foundation is this good, details like this aren’t going to make a huge difference.
Now, how’s the difficulty in Dark Souls 3? Answer: still too easy, as usual. Yep, as old and tired as this subject is I gotta talk about it because even now there are countless pussies out there who don’t know how to play, or more likely, didn’t really play the games, and buy into the false hype of this series’ difficulty. Seriously, I’ve even seen idiots discussing whether the series should have an easy mode. Are you fucking kidding me? How is that even a topic of conversation at all? If anything the conversation should be whether it needs a hard mode. I’ma lay it to you straight: this game is very easy and very accessible. I’m sure it’s this way by deliberate design. Do you honestly believe that this series would be as wildly popular and successful if it were truly difficult? Of course it wouldn’t be. But the astounding thing that From has achieved with this series is a game that is very easy while at the same time maintaining an illusion of difficulty (at least to the blind and ignorant masses). Essentially, a glamour of the highest order. This is a strong recipe for success because while playing the game presents little challenge, which can be easily overcome by anyone with little skill or effort, it manages to fool a lot of people into thinking that they’re doing something difficult.
As I’ve said many times in the past, the difficulty in Souls games isn’t “real”. First of all, any challenge the game presents can be almost entirely negated simply by being careful and cautious. Sure, if you play like a reckless madman, yolo style, you’re probably gonna get fucked sometimes. But that just means you fucked yourself. Willingly. Almost every death in a Souls game is a direct result of recklessness. Second of all, another large amount of deaths are a result of “gotcha” situations, or what I like to call good old fashioned bullshit. These are situations that kill you not because they were legitimately difficult, but because it was something unexpected. Once you have seen it, it won’t get you again.
I have heard the Souls games described as more of a type of puzzle game, where the difficulty doesn’t come from doing something, but from figuring out how to do it. This is an interesting idea, as it meshes well with what I just said in the previous paragraph that once you have seen something it won’t present a problem to you again. After all, the difficulty in a puzzle game completely vanishes once you know the solution. The problem with this, however, is that if we accept Souls games as a puzzle game, then what we have is a puzzle game with extremely obvious and easy solutions. So this game is neither difficult as a puzzle game, nor as a skill based game.
So why am I saying all this? Well, first of all because I’m sick and tired of idiots buying into the hype of these games being difficult when they’re so easy. But second of all, and more importantly, because I think the games would be a lot better if they were more legitimately difficult. They could go from being good and great games, to possibly being amazing games. So, with that in mind, I’m going to explain to you a couple of key issues that make these games too easy. Fixing these key issues is a fundamental step towards legitimate difficulty and making these games better. Not commercially better, because they will lose their popularity and mainstream appeal once they start to require actual skill and effort, but artistically better. Better as a game, not as a money-making machine. So here it is:
1) Cheesing is too easy and too prevalent. You can trivialize just about everything in the game with good old fashioned cheese. Some of the more common and obvious examples: getting enemies stuck on terrain. Always easy, always effective, always dumb. Sniping enemies to death from positions where they can’t retaliate. The classic. Causing enemies to leash by dragging them far enough from their spawn point. Running past enemies entirely without fighting them. Ah, my favorite. Not. Anyway, these are just a few examples. Obviously, it’s impossible for developers to foresee all of the ways that players might break their game. And even the examples I mentioned do not have easy solutions. Not at all. But jesus christ, can we at least TRY to address the most obvious and egregious ones in at least some capacity?
2) Healing is too fast, too easy, and too plentiful. One of the (many stupid) reasons I’ve heard for why Dark Souls 2 is worse is because it gives you both life gems and estus for healing options. Morons argue that this gives you infinite healing and thus makes the game too easy. Supposedly Dark 3 is better because it only gives you estus. This is hilarious to me because estus by ITSELF is ALREADY too much healing. As I’ve said before you very quickly amass far more estus drinks than you need. You’re not going to run out. So giving you even more healing isn’t going to make any difference when it was already too much to begin with. I mean seriously. I never used life gems because I could never run through my supply of estus. What kind of a fuckin’ noob do you have to be to even get to the point where you’re using life gems? What are you doing, facetanking everything?
No. This is a ubiquitous problem in all of the Souls games and none of them have handled it better than the others. As I said, the healing is far too quick. So quick that you can easily heal in the middle of a fight and there is nothing anyone can do to stop you. The speed of healing reached peak levels of absurdity in Bloodborne. It was INSANELY quick in that game. I’ve seen PvP battles extended to excruciating lengths because neither player could stop the other from blowing through his stockpile of blood vials. But PvP doesn’t matter. What matters is the real game, and the AI enemies DEFINITELY cannot stop you. This goes for all the games. Sure, it may have been the fastest in Bloodborne but the rest of the games aren’t that far behind at all.
This presents the biggest problem in boss fights, because I feel like Dark Souls 3 has really cool and fun bosses, but they are always so easy that you don’t really get to appreciate them. It’s not uncommon to beat bosses on the first try without ever dying, and this is just a huge and sad waste of potential. Hell, even with how easy they are, I still felt that a lot of bosses in this game were really cool and fun to fight. They are probably the most visually impressive that they have ever been in the series, and this is great, but I just wish that they put up a challenge rather than getting mauled like bitches. A lot of bosses actually have a lot of cool and interesting moves and nuances that you never get to see because they die so quickly and easily. It’s honestly tragic, and I feel like the developers are doing a disservice to themselves by not allowing players to fully experience the work they’ve put into them.
For that reason, these are the fixes I propose would make these games better: a) Completely disable healing during battle. This can be done by either literally disabling the option during fights or by increasing the startup time on healing that it becomes impossible. In Bloodborne it takes about 1 second. In this game it takes about 2 seconds. I propose increasing the startup on heals to 15 seconds. That should give even the slowest and stupidest of AIs enough time to interrupt you out of it and make it impossible to heal in the middle of the fight. b) Give bosses double the amount of health that they have to prevent them from dying so quickly. Give them two health bars, and give them the stats of their NG+ version in regular NG. Of course it’d still need some testing to find the sweet spot but that’s just a general target that should hopefully prevent the rather common occurence of bosses dying before they get a chance to shine.
3) NPC summons and co-op is completely unfair (to the enemies). As if these games weren’t already easy enough as it is, on top of that they EVEN give you the option of summoning NPCs to help you in fights or even other players to play co-op. And people STILL have the gall to act like these games are tough? Give me a fucking break. It pretty much gives you the option of just letting the game beat itself with this feature. The answer is clear: REMOVE NPC SUMMONS AND THE ABILITY TO CO-OP. We don’t need that shit here. A game that has co-op needs to be properly balanced around it. This game is clearly not designed to be played that way.
So anyway, those are some of my ideas on how to improve these games. Obviously, my ideas are too smart, too legit, and too awesome to ever catch on. So we’re just gonna have to take what we can get. And what we got here is pretty damn good, even if it’s not a masterpiece, as it would surely be if I had designed this game.
In any case, as usual and as always, From makes another winner. Souls games are great and this one’s no exception. The core components haven’t changed and quality is still high. We been through this so many times. Do I even need to keep saying this? You know what you get and what you get is some good shit.
Final Verdict: B+
Final Playtime: 131 hours