The final piece of downloadable content for Dark Souls 3, The Ringed City is a bittersweet sendoff for a series that many have grown to love over the better part of the last decade. In true From Software fashion, this expansion serves up some of the best add-on content we’ve seen in the series to date. Knowing that they may not retread this territory for a while, if ever, The Ringed City seems to take from every trick in the dirty Dark Souls book — checking each box on a list of “features” that we’ve come to expect from a Souls game. Labrynth-like levels that must be navigated with care, new enemies meant to halt your progression around every turn, secrets and surprises tucked in the most obscure places, and big bad bosses to fight.
Yes, The Ringed City is a good piece of DLC for Dark Souls 3. It holds up well against even the best that Miyazaki and company have delivered throughout the years, and it’s a worthy pick-up for anyone that is, or ever has been entrenched in the series. Not for the feignt of heart, The Ringed City plunges high level players into a couple of brand new areas, that newcomers to the series would wring their fists at, while offering old hands a challenge still.
That said, The Ringed City isn’t going to bring any closure to the obscure and cryptic story of the series. It’s really been all over the place, with very little explanation in-game, and From Software isn’t starting now. You’ll meet a few new NPC characters, be treated with beautiful cinematics, and incredible vistas that will make you ponder what it all means, but that’s about it. The real treats are the incredible boss fights of this DLC and it’s well designed levels that beg to be explored if you want to grab all the hidden goodies The Ringed City has to offer.
The Ringed City seems to take from every trick in the dirty Dark Souls book
The Ringed City hits all the high notes that the series has in the past. Each and every new level in the Dark Souls series has been a mystery to unravel. Each attempt at said level allows you to progress a little further than before, taking what you learned from your last run and putting the pieces together is the only way to make progress. Once you do, your reward is more challenge, naturally, in the form of yet another learning experience with a fierce boss battle.
Level design feels less linear in The Ringed City, while there’s truly only a single path, discovery of that path is challenging due to some new enemy types that’ll hassle you throughout. A winged angel that constantly barrages you with lightning bolts, a magician that can summon ghostly archers and warriors are two that can pose a huge threat in two of the DLC’s main areas. This mechanic keeps the action tense, keeping players on their toes while searching for solutions. The reward for solving each complex level in The Ringed City allows you to explore more freely, picking up new armor sets, weapons, and an abundance of Titanite.
While the levels themselves can be tough, each area of The Ringed City features a challenging boss fight. The Ringed City truly does feel like a hit parade when it comes to these as each boss of the downloadable content feels more powerful than the next. The Demon Prince kicks things off, having you fight multiple big bads at once, while then having to finish off a single more powerful version of the duo. There just aren’t any pushovers in The Ringed City. It’s a gauntlet, and in my opinion they’re some of the toughest that we’ve seen thus far. There’s even an optional boss (if you’re into that sort of thing) if you veer off the main path ever so slightly. Sure, I could explain these fights in detail, but if you’re thinking about purchasing this DLC these secrets are best left uncovered in this review.
If you can knock The Ringed City and Dark Souls in general for anything, it’s that so much has been left untold. So many obscure references are found in this DLC, it’s hard not to have questions when it’s all over. The payoff isn’t a grand conclusion, so much as it is a sigh of relief.
Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City is a worthy finale for this game and the series in general. Taking every trick that they’ve learned over the course of the series and seemingly packing them into one final journey, The Ringed City is sure to please if you’re into the masochistic nature of the series.