Finally bought the Dark Souls 3 DLC and played through it in an evening. I’ll say right away I liked it overall, but I’m about to talk some shit.
First of all, yeah, it’s pretty short. Biggest area in the game, sure, but an experienced player can probably beat it inside of 2 hours. It’s a nice area though, lots of cool setpieces, excellent level design all around and the final boss is officially my favourite of its type (move over, Ornstein and Smough), but I could have done with a lot more surface area.
Second, the difficulty curve takes a detour through a few of those rolled up extra dimensions we can’t observe at normal energy densities. The introductory area is the hardest in the entire game, at least for my pyromancer, harder than Irithyll or even Archdragon Peak. I was pretty much beating my head against a wall until I thought to cross a ridge filled with annoying enemies (pro tip, large open areas full of fast, agile enemies do not mix happily with Dark Souls combat) and bypassed the worst part. But goodness me, the amount of bullshit there, you get attacked by a pack of wolves, then have to fight a massive one (yeah, you can pick them off, but it’s a pain), then round a corner and have to fight a bunch of huge, tanky (like, only slightly less HP than Vordt) barbarians who do insane damage per hit, and at one point a bunch of Anor Londo style archers start firing at you except the arrows are apparently filled with nitroglycerine, then you get inside the tower and kill one, climb up a Snake Eater ladder and lo and behold, the other one is red-eyed and can kill you in two hits and there is literally no room to evade him.
Phew. But then you enter a different area where for a good 10 minutes you’re just slaughtering reskinned Hollows basically on autopilot, and then a ridiculously powerful (and durable, again) crow knight shows up to relieve you of a few thousand souls. Fight your way through that, obliterate an NPC without even noticing him, and then it’s just fighting what are basically Hollow soldiers and insultingly easy fly monsters until the end.
See what I mean? The difficulty’s a complete mess. But I still liked it overall for the great level design and for just how beautiful it is (I’m a sucker for grim oop north settings). The new weapons are pretty good as well. The star of the show for me was the Onyx Blade, a greatsword with pyromancer scaling and Dark damage as well as an awesome-looking weapon art buff. I had enough titanite to upgrade it fully, and it’s a joy to use. The new sabre also looks amazing, but I’m not allowed to use it because it’s the meta cancer weapon of the month. The torch weapon I haven’t really used yet, but I have noticed the WA uses the dragon breath sound from Divinity 2. Yes, I actually notice that sort of thing. The rapier is deliciously anime and I’m almost definitely building a character around it and the javelin is a bloody javelin, of course it’s going to be cool.
Last of all, the optional boss. I’m a bit disappointed, frankly. It’s a cool concept, a PvP-style NPC boss with a big beast enemy for phase 2, but it’s just an NPC attached to a boss fight that’s already been done twice in the series. Haven’t tried the PvP arena yet, but now that pyromancers are apparently en vogue for PvP I might give it a bash.