Top Critic Average
Dark Souls II: Crown of the Old Iron King is even better than its predecessor. The fact that it's so close to perfection only makes it more painful that they marred such an excellent scenario with an uncharacteristically lazy decision for an optional boss.
Crown of the Old Iron King is another accomplished and well-constructed addition to Dark Souls 2, with a pair of bosses who rank alongside the best the series has to offer.
Outside of the repetitious boss, there's very little to complain about with Crown of the Old Iron King. As you descend deeper in Brume Tower, there's much to uncover and you're often given multiple paths to explore. Regardless of how you progress, that familiar sense of dread will plague every step. Crown of the Old Iron King only gets more insidious as it goes on and we wouldn't have it any other way.
If you're on board for another round of Dark Souls DLC, you know what you're in for: A few interesting twists here and there, and a revival of certain elements from the last game, but nothing revolutionary. If you simply want more Dark Souls 2, Old Iron King delivers just that, and with all the thoughtfulness you'd expect from its developers.
Crown of the Old Iron King is a showcase of Dark Souls II's aggressive enemy encounter design. It folds a few other cards in favor of its ace, but such is the endearing nature and defining risk of inspired post-game content. Applied to Dark Souls II, Iron King stands as a thoughtful one-off that fits neatly alongside Sunken King.
For those that have yet to venture into Drangleic, this updated release might just be the best opportunity to jump in. Meanwhile, fans that have already conquered Drangleic may find it a convenient excuse to tackle it all once again.
The most disappointing area is tied to another optional boss, accessible only after you gain the titular Crown using the 'enter memory' mechanic. It lacks any of the distinct qualities of the Iron Keep or the Brume Tower, consisting of a series of windowless iron rooms and arranged ambushes.
From Software is able to create an eerie tower to climb down, but at the same time, doesn't really deliver on anything that we haven't seen before. The formula has changed slightly, giving players a little more freedom in what they want to do, but at the same time, pacing in how bosses are introduced could have been structured better and more varied.