Dark Souls - Artorias of the Abyss DLC Review
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
North American Release Date: October 23, 2012
European Release Date: October 23, 2012
Dark Souls, the spiritual successor to 2009's phenomenal hardcore RPG Demon's Souls, was one of the best games to come out in 2011. With its deep and intuitive gameplay, fascinating lore, and immense replay value, I was certainly wowed. Now, a year after release, Dark Souls receives some additional content. It's definitely intriguing, but is it worth your time?
Dark Souls has always been a hardcore gamer's heaven. Combat is satisfying, character customization and progression is wonderfully deep, and above all the game is infamous for its insane levels of difficulty. None of this has been fundamentally changed in the DLC. The gameplay is still amazing, though long-time players will find it lacks refreshing elements.
Everything burns! (Including new foes.)
New weapons, spells, armor, and other items have been added in the DLC, and while they don't add anything game-changing, they're definitely a warm-welcome. Trying out new items, adding them to your arsenal, and then using them in combat is fun and adds to the experience. In addition, a specific ring - the Calamity Ring - can be used for the ultimate Dark Souls fanatic to truly change the way you play the game, effectively doubling the already difficult gameplay.
Otherwise, few things were changed or added here. Dark Souls' gameplay was already about as polished as it gets, so it's not a surprise that very little was expanded upon for the DLC.
The Artorias of the Abyss DLC adds a substantial amount of new content. It's by no means lengthy, but can provide players with a good excuse to return to the land of Lordran for extra hours of content.
Taking place in the past, directly after the fall of the city of Oolicile, the world is in danger of falling to the darkness that is the Abyss. The plotline, as with the rest of Dark Souls, isn't very straightforward, but nevertheless the lore is extensive for those who care to look into item descriptions and draw their own conclusions from them. Any player that has sunk many hours into Dark Souls will definitely appreciate the attention that was given to the lore here. Characters only heard of in legend make appearance, and it's awe-spiring to see them in action and even fight them.
Boss battles are plentiful and offer increased challenge.
In total, there are three main areas offered in the expansion, each filled with new enemies to battle and secrets to discover. Making it to the end of each area will lead to one of the coveted boss fights. Climactic in style and incredibly difficult, the boss fights here once again pose serious challenge and are incredibly fun to fight. This is Dark Souls at its best. If you can get past the subpar length, the DLC definitely has a lot to offer.
Dark Souls' unique multiplayer experience has been expanded upon with the DLC. Old options return, as invasions and cooperative play are still viable here. Playing with friends is still difficult due to poor matchmaking because of the game's numerous servers, but the patient-minded duo (or trio) can still get together to slay foes.
However, the main attraction here is the arena. A place for fun and fair duels to transpire, the arena is an amazing addition that keeps duels fair and fun. A true PvP-er's heaven, most of the DLC's replay value will come from this. Leaderboards flesh out the experience, and with the new DLC items, there's definitely a freshness that hovers over the PvP and its arena mode. You can choose to play 1v1, 2v2, or free-for-all with four different players each going up against each other at once. It's true chaotic fun.
Dark Souls has always looked sharp, and has always boasted impressive artistic design and dark music. All of this carries over into the DLC. The new areas have a certain allure to them, drawing me to search in every nook and cranny to find what FromSoft hid there. Technically-speaking, the game is impressive as ever.
New areas look great, and the art design is impressive.
My main gripes here come with the recycled environments. The first area you venture to is basically a re-skinned version of the main game's Darkroot Garden and Basin areas, and the last level is very reminiscent of the Tomb of the Giants. It's frankly disappointing to see, especially when FromSoft is capable of making amazing new environments that could've added so much more to the presentation of the game. Granted, this all makes sense in the context of the expansion's plot, so the blow is easier to take.
Still, the game's technical prowess is undeniably strong. Enemy, weapon, and armor designs are intricate and look amazing, and thankfully there aren't any game-breaking bugs or glitches here.
Dark Souls' Artorias of the Abyss DLC impresses and gives an excuse for fans to come back and enjoy this astounding game once again. It's short, and not necessarily a must-buy for everyone, but what it offers to the table is exceptional. Those expecting loads of new content will find themselves disappointed, however. It's just a little something extra for those who crave it.
Solid as ever, Dark Souls is as equally difficult as it is satisfying.
New areas, new bosses, and new items. It's well-done and fun while it lasts.
The addition of the arena is a true game-changer, and makes PvP fun again.
What's here is done well, but the recycled areas leave me unimpressed.