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Dark Souls 3 Review: Kills and Skills

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I’ve always said that once you go beyond the follow-up sequel, any new installment to a game or film is for the longtime fan above anything else. I think this is very apparent in FromSoftware’s “Dark Souls 3,” which will release on multiple platforms later this month.

While the game offers fewer surprises than the sequel, I think fans of the series will find exactly what they are looking for in the famously brutal RPG series.

“Dark Souls 3” offers up many of the same fan-favorite scenarios that have made the franchise so popular with players, and while it does suffer from a few technical difficulties on consoles, none of them were enough to steer players away from jumping in at the start. The developers have already prepared a day-one patch for the game on platforms, and any leftover issues are already on the chopping block.

“Dark Souls 2” was a rejuvenation for the franchise, featuring stoic environments filled with overpowered beasts and ghouls. You’ll find the same beautiful scenes and haunting corridors in the new game, but they are more of a continuation than a reinvention.

The game’s designer, Hidetaka Miyazaki, has done a wonderful job in creating a dark and ominous presence throughout the entire game. From start to finish you are thrust into game that was carefully designed to stop you from continuing on your path, offering just enough hope of succeeding that you want to keep playing from bonfire to bonfire.

Players will once again take on the role of a reincarnated warrior in “Dark Souls 3”. Which type of character you choose will have a huge impact on how you will fight in battle. If you are new to series and find that it’s just impossible to move forward in the beginning, remember this tidbit and try out a few different classes. Not giving up in the face of adversity is really the best advice anyone can give to new players.

No matter what you choose, most of the game is dodging attacks and rolling about on the floor at first. You are underpowered and weak in the beginning, another trademark of the franchise, and the game is meant to be exceedingly difficult for everyone. “Dark Souls 3” is a learning curve brought to virtual-life, stubborn players will find themselves respawning at bonfire camps again and again, until they finally play by the rules of the developers.

While the new installment is very much the same mechanics and experience as “Dark Souls 2,” it’s not an entire copy-and-paste job. The game does offer a few new tactics for former players to master, along with new fights and new storylines.

These new additions include new weapon skills that offer greater attacks and specialties. They aren’t exactly game-changing for the franchise, more like added flare for players that have mastered the standard gameplay mechanics defined in the first two installments.

Stat points will help you define your character throughout the game, broadening your arsenal and making the character more specialized. These stats will decide on how well you cast magic, handle swords and shields, or how mighty your hammer-swing is in the game. The game does let you reset these points, so if your bow skills turn out to be fruitless, you can reset them into something more advantageous.

While the game isn’t open-world by any means, the divergent paths are rewarding. Secret areas, side-quests and general adventuring are well rewarded in the new installment, and only add to the fun of the main story.

Just like previous games, most of the larger bosses are well crafted, tricky and horribly unfair at first. The game does a great job at mixing up the fights, giving some bosses well formulated attacks and others a more sporadic style that hides their weaknesses.

How diverse the bosses are I think depends on you meticulousness. While you may fight similar boss-battles later on in the game, the level deign and differences in armor and player class does offer some variety.

Anyone could jump into “Dark Souls 3,” the story doesn’t need any previous knowledge going in. The designers did add a few easter-eggs, references and returning themes from previous games though, as a hidden treat for anyone that has played the previous two titles.

All in all, a well paced playthrough could easily hit the 35+ hour mark. You could rack up more beyond that if you search out the most secretive weapons and boss battles.

As a third-installment the game offers more “Dark Souls” content, while that may seem overly simplistic at first. “Dark Souls 2” already struck a chord with players and switching up the formula too much wouldn’t make sense from a design standpoint. The second-installment proved to be a hit with fans, so I think keeping the core gameplay mostly “as-is” was a choice not a crutch, and I think that freed up development to improve the level design and side-missions in the new game.

As I mentioned before I think third-installments are built for the predetermined fanbase, and overall I think that fans will enjoy slashing their way through everything that “Dark Souls 3” has to offer.