Did they fix poise yet? Just kidding. I’ve not played Dark Souls 3 a crazy amount since launch, but apparently I played the hell out of it when it came out, with my save file saying I had 160 hours. I imagine most of that was waiting for matches for Covenant items. Anyway. There’s DLC out now, the first pack. Let’s dive in.

dark-souls-3-aoa-1Ashes of Ariandel starts at the Cleansing Chapel, and once you talk to the NPC there, you’ll be swept into the Painted World. It swings hard and fast, putting you in a cave and making you trudge through the snow, haunted by the flames of the enemy’s torches around you as you fight your way through low visibility and plentiful Followers, ready to stick you with the pointy end of their weapons. As most players haven’t likely played Dark Souls 3 in some time, it’s a decent way to get back into the swing of things, not too hard but certainly not too easy.

You finally get re-acclimated to the controls, the blocking and dodging, only to find the ground literally dropped from under you (get used to this). The next enemy you’ll find are wolves, and did I mention I hate wolves? I hate wolves. They’re probably the most interesting enemy in the DLC, but that makes me hate them all the more. These bastards won’t come attack you solo, and they’ll try and stay outside of melee range if they’re not attacking. They also howl, which carries nicely on the wind and alerts all the wolves in the same area to your presence, which is nice for them I guess. It’s very quick to become overwhelmed fast with wolves, but they’re not crazy strong, so there’s that at least.

dark-souls-3-aoa-2Dark Souls veterans will remember the Painted World concept, from the Painted World of Ariamis back in the first game (Dark Souls game, not Demons’ Souls, cool your jets people). It’s pretty much a place for people who have nowhere else to go, a world away from everything else. This DLC is short, only having two bosses (one optional), but there’s a lot of lore packed in here around the enemies you fight, and around Frieda. I won’t spoil any, but if you’re a lore nut this might scratch some itches.

If you’re not a lore nut, the content of the DLC pack may not satisfy you. There’s a few areas to run through, sure, but they’re mostly pretty sparse. Snowfields, a small structure built into a mountain, more snow, a small ruined township, and the ruins of a fortification. I mean, it’s not a bad thing, it certainly does some good things in the way of environmental storytelling with all the bleak expanses, ruined structures and rot spreading everywhere, but there’s not really any crazy vistas to look at.

I will say this about the two bosses though. The optional one isn’t amazingly fun, a short stint against a person with some wolves as backup, but it becomes a lot more interesting in the second phase. Unfortunately it’s over as fast as it began, and left me wanting. The main boss fight though, man, what a doozy. It’s a three phase fight, sometimes against two enemies, and whilst we’ve seen that before in the main game, a big long fight with three full health bars and no breaks will certainly test your skills. I died to it around ten times before finally managing to get it done.

dark-souls-3-aoa-3All told, Ashes of Ariandel has two bosses, a new ring, a few new spells, around twenty new weapons (some of these are really damn cool, I’m looking at you Crow Quills), and few sets of new armor. There’s also a PVP arena, which has no rewards and loses the “fight club” feeling of Post-Pontiff, but it’s still enjoyable for those strictly looking for PVP. It took me around five hours to go through the content, part of that was me just being a trash player and getting used to it again.

Between the length and the lack of bosses, it’s hard to recommend the buying in price of this DLC pack. Maybe the second DLC will make up for it and this will become a much-needed pack, but for the price of admission and the wait since the release of the main game, I just can’t help but feel this was a bit of a miss.