Ashes of Ariandel is the first piece of downloadable content for FromSoftware’s Dark Souls 3. When compared to any of the add-ons that Dark Souls 2 had though, it is an insanely short piece of content. Two bosses, a few new weapons/armour sets and some new enemies is all you get.
However, I would say that the final boss fight alone makes it an easy recommendation. Fighting through the game’s sparse but challenging levels, defeating tough NPCs to progress, all worth it for that epic final fight that has not one, not two, but three phases, each tougher than the last. It’s a fight that I admittedly had to summon for after losing for a good hour. The only other boss fight in Ariandel is mostly underwhelming, feeling somewhat like an inferior clone of Sif.
Like Ariamis in the first Dark Souls, Ariandel is also a Painted World, a world within a painting that allows the game to mix it up with world design and enemies outside of the base game. Ancient viking-like warriors, trees that fling magic at you, enormous wolves, plague ridden monstrosities, creepy bugs, all of them feel believable with their design and surrounding area.
Storywise, Ashes of Ariandel is classic Dark Souls, vague but with enough detail for you to get a good idea of past events that tie into the lore. It somewhat ties into the base game but Gael, the NPC who you interact with to access the content, is the only consistent link between the two, as well as the second DLC that was added later on.
But when you compare it to the sheer size of the downloadable content that the first two games had, it still comes up short. At least these bosses aren’t as frustrating though. The second piece of downloadable content that followed was overall bigger and had more bosses but Ariandel holds its own regardless of its overall length.
- Excellent level design
- Brutally tough final boss
- Tons of new items to acquire
- Only 2 bosses
- Short gameplay time