Game Info:
  • Xbox One
  • Action RPG
Release Date: 12/04/2016
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

A few days ago I had my first Dark Souls 3 rage-quit. While fans of the franchise will tell you that a rage-quit is a very common thing in Dark Souls; mine happened roughly 38 hours in. Compared to my experience with Dark Souls 2 I’d say I’ve gotten better at playing Dark Souls.

However I almost didn’t buy this game. My reason was that I never finished Dark Souls 2 and the price of Dark Souls 3 was literally R999,00. Yes that is how much games cost now days on console. I spent almost a week deciding if I should get it. In the end I decided to get it. The launch trailer practically convinced me to give it a chance. The direction of the story was interesting and the graphics of the little bit of gameplay I had seen looked way better than previous titles. Does that mean Dark Souls 3 better than Dark Souls 2?

dark souls 3 bonfire

Yes and no, but before getting into that I’m going to assume that you don’t know anything about this game. Dark Souls 3 is a 3rd person action adventure game. It’s notorious for its steep learning curve and devilish difficultly level. This game does not baby you in any way. You either learn how things work or you will die over and over again until you get kicked out the house for screaming or you break your controller out of sheer anger and frustration. You might scoff at that but trust me, play the game. You will eventually lose your patience.

As for the story of the game, nothing is laid out for you. You need to listen to every single piece of dialogue you get as you go along. Everything feels like a riddle. I’ll be honest, I currently have a very basic understanding of what is going on but majority of that comes from the launch trailer. As you progress through the game you will come across various character who add context to the story. It’s all very confusing but you will spend more time trying to mentally figure out how to get past that one boss that you have been trying to kill for the last week than worrying about the story. That being said, if you are interested in the overall story, make sure you talk to every single NPC (Non-playable character) you come across.

dark souls 3 level

Dark souls 3 does not follow the current trend in games and offer a very nice checkpoint system. Instead, there are a few bonfires placed in specific places within each area. When I saw “a few” I mean one every hour or more. You will often struggle for a hours before finding the next one and when you do you will breathe a heavy sigh of relief. These bonfires serve as a checkpoint but it also has other functions. They allow you to teleport to any of the other bonfires you have been to or go back to your main hub area as well as replenishing your health.

One thing to note is that every enemy (besides bosses) that you killed along the way to that bonfire will respawn if you use it. That means that if you manage to kill a bunch of really hard enemies after hours of playing but you are low on health; running back to the bonfire will reset the entire area and you will have to do it again…and again…and again until you make it to the next bonfire. You also get a limited amount of health potions called Estus. Once you have used them all to replenish your health that’s it. You either make it to the next bonfire or you go back and try to do the area again without losing all your health. You can increase the amount of Estus flasks you carry by defeating specific bosses and exploring. Be warned that the game will make you work for it.

dark souls 3 level up menu

One last bit of info you will need to understand is that the game functions around a currency of souls. You get souls from killing enemies. You can use these souls to buy items, upgrade weapons, armour and also level up. Each level will require a specific amount of souls. To level up you have to teleport back to the hub area called Firelink Shrine either by using specific items or making it to the next bonfire. There is a specific NPC who will level you up. Here’s the catch. If you die, you lose all your souls. You can work your way back to where you died to reclaim those souls, essentially giving you double the amount you had before you died. BUT, if you die on the way there, you lose everything. All of it. You will start again at the last bonfire you used with 0 souls.

Let’s start with the problems I have with Dark Souls 3. This game has major frame rate issues. I don’t mean a bit of lag here and there. I’m taking about situations where it’s your 6th attempt at a boss fight and you have managed to whittle his health down to less than 50%. All of a sudden the boss transforms into a weird creature and you are hit in the face with ten tons of lag and you die. Rinse and repeat another 5 times. Yes. Dark Souls.

dark souls 3 bonfire

The reason for this horrible lag is due to a specific transformation that certain enemies might go through. They burst into this weird black/grey mess and that causes the frame rate to drop right down. It’s manageable once you figure out which of the enemy characters transform because you can rush in and attack them before they transform but you are pretty much screwed when it comes to boss battles. Unfortunately it’s not only the weird mess that causes lag. Large amounts of fire and smoke can cause the same problem to occur. It’s horrific and really ruins the experience.

Fans of the franchise will rejoice in tears because the difficulty level has pretty much remained the same. I feel like the only reason I am doing so well is because I know how the level up system works as well as the other gameplay systems. As per usual, it did take a couple of tries to get use to how combat works but once I got the basics it wasn’t too bad. Then I fought the first boss and I got my ass kicked many times. It served as a brutal reminder that you are playing Dark Souls and not some hack-n-slash game.

dark souls 3 boss

The basic mechanics, menus and items are the same as the previous title. There are a few new things here and there that keep things interesting though. Combat is amazing and a challenge to master but once you figure out which weapon you want to use and how to use it, the game becomes a ton of fun. Basic enemies become pretty easy to beat after a couple of tries but I learned the hard way that you should never get to confident or lazy. I had a couple of times where I had a large amount of souls saved up only to be beaten to death by a very basic enemy.

The bosses are epic. No other game give you that feeling in your chest where you know there is a boss battle coming up but you have absolutely no idea what to expect. Every single boss encounter has made me go “Oh Shit!” shortly followed with a “Ah Fuck!” as the text “You Died” shows up on the screen. The boss battles are the reason why people play Dark Souls. It’s a challenge to figure out the attacks that the boss has and to try and figure out where your chance will be to attack it. It’s a tried and tested formula that just works, however Dark Souls 3 is different.

dark souls 3 boss level

Unlike boss battles in the previous titles, if you manage to learn the moves and whittle the health of the boss down to 50%, the boss will undergo some form of transformation and his move set will change. This means that even if you tried 15 times to get the boss down to 50% health, you will definitely die because now you have to learn his move set all over again. Currently I have managed to kill only 1 of the 5 major bosses in this game, but I have killed at least 10 other mini bosses who are equally difficult. This game is extremely hard.

One aspect that I absolutely love are the environments within Dark Souls 3. While you will spend more time concentrating on enemies that are attacking you, every now and then you are treated with magnificent views and scenery. Boss areas are often the best looking and  help make that extremely difficult battle even more memorable.

dark souls 3 city

Now, those of you who are still reading will still be asking why I play this game. Why put myself through all of the frustration? Well, the answer is very simple. Let’s imagine a scenario. You’ve died 10 times trying to kill a boss. You even managed to almost kill it but you slipped up and died. After a few more tries you come close to killing it again but you just can’t find that tiny window to deal the killing blow. Your heart is pounding, your palms are sweaty. “This is it” you tell yourself as you get ready for another attempt. You stick to your strategy and you finally see your opportunity and you go for it. The words “Victory!” blasts across your screen, your soul meter fills up and the boss collapses.

The adrenaline rush that you get after the above scenario is crazy. You will scream from happiness and everyone living with you will think you have finally lost it. It is unbelievably rewarding when you defeat a boss and you are literally the happiest person in the world when you activate the bonfire. No other game has ever been able to give me this insane sense of satisfaction. That is why we play Dark Souls 3.

dark souls 3 level

// I bought the Prepare to Die edition. Need I say more? Play where no one can hear you scream. //