Crowns of the Sunken, Iron, and Ivory Kings
In terms of the Dark Souls 2 DLCs, Iron King is definitely my favorite, as it includes Fume Knight and Sir Alonne, my two favorite bosses in DS2. It also includes two of my favorite weapons, the Bewitched Alonne Sword, and the Majestic Greatsword. The Ivory King was my second favorite. I loved the lore and the look of Eleum Loyce, and the Ivory King boss fight, while it could be annoying to have to go through Horde mode over and over, the fight itself with the King was amazingly epic, and the King’s Greatsword was very effective with its interesting and powerful frost buff. However, the Sunken King is my least. That’s not to say it’s bad, though. I liked how some puzzle elements were integrated within it, but the bosses were pretty disappointing to me. Elana seemed to be based entirely on artificial difficulty, with the boss itself being simple and the enemies making it a challenge. I feel that bosses such as those feel cheap. Make the actual boss hard. Not the things around it. Sinh got boring, however the music and atmosphere made the fight epic. Sure, he’s a dragon, but on a melee build, it can be really annoying to get the boss to fucking go to the ground. It felt as if I was mostly running around trying to bait it instead of fighting it.
Artorias of the Abyss
The Artorias of the Abyss DLC provided a breath of solid fresh air considering the lesser design of most areas and bosses after Anor Londo. The Duke’s Archives, Lost Izalith, The Catacombs? They are nowhere near as fun or creative as Sen’s Fortress. So the intricately designed kingdom of Oolacile was a real benefit. New weapons and enemies were added, along with more in-depth lore that answered some questions fans had. The legend of Artorias the Abysswalker is still my favorite in all the games. It’s emotional, heartfelt, and complex. The battle with Artorias is one of the most memorable moments in the series. You feel like you are fighting your equal, and the fight is just as tragic as Sif’s. You don’t want to kill them, yet you have to. Black Dragon Kalameet is the best dragon fight yet, surpassing Sinh. Its attacks are both cryptic and predictable, and it doesn’t constantly stay in the air as opposed to Sinh. Manus, the final boss, felt like the early signs of a gradual turn to Bloodborne, with faster, more aggressive enemies and bosses that require you to constantly be on your game. Ultimately, the fresh style the DLC delivered, along with its excellent bosses and lore-building, Artorias of the Abyss is definitely one of, if not my current, favorite.
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters
Bloodborne is still currently my favorite game this generation. It was unique, fast-paced, and interesting, with a lot of atmosphere and cool Lovecraftian lore. The bosses looked terrifying, and didn’t mess around in their ferocity and determination to tear your character to shreds. I had such a fun time experimenting with different trick weapons, and learning the timing to counter with my pistol. If I needed any help before, The Old Hunters definitely put me on my game. The dangerous movesets and the very challenging nature of the Old Hunters forces you to play at the top of your abilities; otherwise you’ll be destroyed. The bosses featured within are definitely formidable, and unless you’re a skilled player, will take time to master. After all this time, I will always have trouble with the Orphan of Kos, a boss that I feel is the true test of a Bloodborne Hunter’s abilities, taking everything you’ve learned thus far, and putting it to the test in a boss fight that demands precision and quick decision-making. That’s not to mention the other bosses, such as Lady Maria, who is on an Artorias-level of awesome. You feel like you are fighting your equal in a proper duel where only one will be left standing. It feels different from Gehrman, as here, it feels more challenging and harrowing. Ultimately, through all the blood and sweat of The Old Hunters, it was one hell of an experience that’s definitely worth your time and money.
Ashes of Ariandel
When I jumped back into Dark Souls 3 after a few months of occasionally doing invasions, I was trying to prepare myself for the DLC Ashes of Ariandel by starting a new character and running through the game. I was able to create a SL 120 character that was ready for the New Game cycle of the DLC in no time. However, considering I had that option, I didn’t want to confront the depths of Ariandel on its base level. I jumped to my level 185 original character on New Game Plus 7, the highest enemy scaling in the game. It was the character I sunk more than 200 hours into, and had the best equipment all around. Despite his strength, though, the first few hours of the DLC annihilated me. Wolves, orbs of fire, and ancient warriors with javelins chased me down to tear me to shreds as I was frantically searching for a bonfire. This DLC is short, but every minute of it was filled with wonder and tension.
The value Ashes of Ariandel has is based on what you gravitate more towards in DS3. If you’re strictly a PvE person, you’ll have fun here with challenging bosses, but considering there are only two, you may feel disappointed. If you’re a fan of PvP, this DLC is a must-buy, as the new Undead Match mode drastically increases the longevity of the PvP in Dark Souls 3, because it was fading fast prior to the DLC. There are 3 types of matches. A Duel, where no healing Estus potions are allowed, a 3 player brawl and a 6 player brawl, where Estus is regenerated on a kill. I have had so much fun in these interesting and versatile arenas that keep the matches going, making them feel like awesome battle royales.
For any lore aficionados, Ashes of Ariandel is rich with dialogue, narrative, and new story elements that pose very interesting and complex questions that could provide hints as to the second, and final DLC. You’ll definitely find its story interesting here.
Ultimately, while the main line of Ashes of Ariandel is unfortunately short, the weapons, spells, and armor you can receive, along with two amazing boss fights (one of which is now in my top 10 of the series), make this DLC a worthy purchase for any type of Souls player.