Evocative and visually inspired, Ashes of Ariandel is a brief but masterful amalgamation of the Dark Souls series' greatest strengths.
A decent enough expansion, but it doesn't reach the great heights of previous post-launch outings.
The Painted World of Ariandel presents a land that’s both enticing and dangerous, and there’s plenty of challenges to face even if you won’t have to face them too many times. However, unless you really love dueling in PvP arenas and can find sustained interest there, this adventure may serve as more of an appetizer than a full course meal.
Splitting half the content between a mode many players won’t be interested in is an odd decision, but short as it is the new area still has that classic Dark Souls appeal.
A new painted world serves as the setting for the first Dark Souls III DLC--with a new host of goals, enemies, and loot, but not much else.
Ashes of Ariandel is the best Dark Souls 3 has ever been
From Software once again serves up a solid piece of DLC with Ashes of Ariandel, even if it is a tad short. It's full of beautiful vistas and interesting levels, and the boss fight at the end is a good challenge for high-level players. But those looking for something new and innovative are apt to be disappointed, as this is all familiar territory for the series. Still, From Software's execution is strong in this first piece of Dark Souls 3 DLC.
This full-fledged expansion is no less than amazing and has delivered on many occasions through it’s addictingly raw gameplay. It holds some of the best boss fights in Souls history and the level design has improved from previous DLC entries. While I managed to gain a positive experience from Ashes of Ariandel, there were a few things that bothered me such as the lack of additional boss fights or the single arena given with Undead Match. I hope this is a taste of what’s to come with the second Dark Souls 3 DLC expansion, which is currently set to arrive early next year. For now, there’s plenty of reason to dive into the Painted World and face the challenges ahead.
You don't really need Ashes of Ariandel unless you've squeezed every ounce out of Dark Souls III already or thrive on PVP. I think the concept of splitting up their resources took away from the sum of both parts, but there's still plenty of challenges and surprises to warrant another bloody good time. Or a future Game of the Year version bookended romp.
The overall level design is, unfortunately, a bit more hit and miss than the enemy work. Ashes of Ariendal thrives on putting you into tight corridors filled with enemies, and it’s rarely a good time. The overall structure of the world is branching and open-ended, which provides the player with plenty to explore, but with the environments all looking so samey with their rocks and snow, it’s hard to tell where you are sometimes.
Ashes of Ariandel offers a satisfying blend of lore, boss fights, and exploration that Souls fans love, but fails to shake some of Dark Souls 3's problems.
The final boss fight is challenging and worth the DLC, while the PvP arena will keep fans busy for some time, but ultimately the world of Ariandel is bleakly beautiful if unsatisfying.
From Software plays to its strengths with Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel giving players more difficult content to progress through in a big new area to explore. While a little light on big boss fights, the new multiplayer Arena mode has the potential to keep the fun going long after players have mastered and discovered all the new secrets and items this content has to offer.
To me, Dark Souls 3 was a good curtain call. Ariandel, however, feels like perhaps the series has come out for one round of applause too many, and my hands are starting to hurt now from the perpetual clapping. The combat and visual design are fantastic – that was never in question – and I enjoyed Ariandel for its short runtime of four hours, but it’s engulfed in the shadow of its predecessors’ far meatier expansions.
Ariandel is polished, but the entire package can be sped through in a way that’s uncharacteristic for the series.
Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel misses the mark. It fails to fill a large, fresh environment with tangible reasons to stay there any longer than a few hours, and although the new weapons and gear are some of the best in the game, you'll want to play about with them somewhere other than The Painted World. Each boss battle feels generic and produces a dead end, feeling unrelated as a result. The experience constantly builds itself up but never climaxes, falling flat without spectacle leaving you to lug your new arsenal of weapons and gear back to the Firelink Shrine, your work in The Painted World apparently complete. The Arena finally constructs a functional environment for something long curated by the community, but removes something in the process thanks to reward-less matches that fail to emulate the underground fight club feeling found in the main game.
Some will be disappointed by The Ashes of Ariandel, for obvious reasons, but I relished jumping back in to a game I adore, with one of the greatest bosses of the series.
The new Painted World looks gorgeous at times and exploration feels rewarding as you discover more shortcuts and pathways. The multiplayer arena seems unusual at first, but it is an interesting take on the game's PvP. Only hardcore fans will stick around for the long haul, though, so the DLC's main appeal comes from an awe inspiring boss fight at the end.
Ashes of Ariandel is a good time for those looking to give themselves an excuse to boot up Dark Souls 3 again, as if that is even necessary.
Ashes of Ariandel is a well-designed, 4-5 jaunt through another painted realm, with a structured PvP annex that to some may be worth the admission price alone. But it’s missing the superlative spark of previous Souls DLCs.