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Dark Souls III will make its way into our lives in just one week! For over five years, we’ve prepared to die time and time again. Each entry in the series greeted us with new lands, new monstrosities and new challenges.
In a heartbreaking turn, this may very well be the final entry in FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series. So, best to make the most of it! For those that have just joined us, it’s time to look back.
Before Dark Souls maimed its way onto our consoles, there was Demon’s Souls. Tricky on the tongue and painful to beat, no one could’ve imagined this game would spark the fire.
This Playstation 3-exclusive definitely didn’t look pretty (it’s hard to believe it came out a year after Final Fantasy XIII), but the beauty was in the content.
Featuring five distinctly different locations, each with a series of monsters more horrifying than the last, Demon’s Souls set the bar high for the series.
Though lacking in the open world Dark Souls fans have grown to love, Demon’s Souls is a cult classic among the fans. Though I initially gave up on it (I just couldn’t get my head around the difficulty), this ended up being the first Souls game I managed to conquer. Top tip: a heavy knight is a great way to start out for new comers.
The game also introduced us to the innovative multiplayer system. If Demon’s Souls detected your console being connected to the internet, you were thrust into the online servers. If you find yourself struggling, you can call in the help of other players, providing they’ve left a summoning sign.
Being constantly online comes with a curse – invasions. At any time another player can invade your game and hunt you down. Of course, you can do this back and the benefits of winning are great. But being on the receiving end is horrifically punishing. Nothing quite like being betrayed by another human . . .
Players could also troll one another by leaving notes. Often left in front of sheer drops, trying to con new players into ‘secret treasures’ by dropping to their deaths. You could even watch the events unfold – with each death leaving a pool of blood, through which other players could view a replay.
Dark Souls landed on all the current consoles, freeing itself from Sony’s hooks. Though it’s hard to identify the true high point in the Souls series, this is so far the pinnacle of Dark Souls.
Unlike Demon’s Souls, there is no initial fast-travel option. You’ll be dropped right in to the middle of a sprawling, open and very, VERY hostile world. Nearly everything in Dark Souls wants you dead, and even the NPCs seem dubious at best. And every time you want to get from point A to point B, you’re going on foot until you’ve unlocked the fast travel later in the game.
I tried my best with Dark Souls, I really did. For all the effort I put in, I rarely felt any reward. Bosses seem to require very specific tactics to defeat – it’s almost as if every boss is a superboss. By the time I finally reached the end of Dark Souls, I found myself completely unwilling to go in for the replay (that and I’d finally got my hands on Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin). And yet, I still feel the call, begging me to replay . . .
Dark Souls II
Dark Souls II was considered by many a low point in the series. I, controversially, see it as a favourite. Fans see it as no coincidence that Hidetaka Miyazaki didn’t direct this entry (the one and only time).
I never managed to try the original version of this entry, given my experience with Dark Souls. However, after experimenting with other entries in the series, I found myself hunting down the Playstation 4 re-release.
Though I was warned the Scholar of the First Sin re-release was much harder than the original, I found myself able to tackle it.
The world of Dark Souls II, though equally devoid of friendly characters, seemed somewhat more vibrant and welcoming. Though not in-keeping with Dark Souls tradition, I found this much easier to slog through. Despite that, there were plenty of darker places to explore.
Dark Souls II also had a much bigger world than we’ve seen before. To make up for it, fast-travelling was open from the beginning. Though many claimed this was a detriment to the challenge, I found this only made the experience a little more welcoming.
Sony latched their hooks into FromSoftware again, this time dragging out Bloodborne.
An easy favourite of mine, Bloodborne is the biggest departure from the series. Gone are the medieval castles and forests of giants. Instead, we find ourselves lost in the sprawling city of Yharnam – reminiscent of Victorian-era London.
Bloodborne lacked the class system of previous Souls games – no knights, sorcerers or pyromancers. Only hunters survive in Yharnam. Though your hunter could specialise in the arcane over physical strength, this was severely more limiting.
Whilst it was a shame to see a lack of variety, Bloodborne gave you true creative freedom with a whole range of hunter garments to find.
Bloodborne also lacks shields (with the exception of a joke shield and a DLC shield that only deflects arcane damage). To compensate, hunters are much faster than ever before. Dodging is the new shield and offense is the new defense here.
Instead of shields, hunters carry a gun which can be used to stun foes and go in for powerful hits. Going with the guns are a variety of hunter weapons. Each deadly weapon is unique, with its own set of attacks and animations. Adding to the depth of combat, each weapon also transforms in to a more powerful (usually two handed) version of itself.
Though Bloodborne lacks the ability to differentiate your hunter through a class system, you could truly vary up your play style. Secretly, every hunter is unique.
Dark Souls III
Dark Souls III looks to be an interesting combination of Dark Souls and Bloodborne. The world looks darker and bloodier than ever before. Both our heroes and enemies move faster than ever seen before in Dark Souls.
To top it off, Dark Souls III looks like it will be bringing back the story that seemed to abruptly end in Dark Souls. Even seemingly insignificant NPCs seem to be returning for this final entry in to the trilogy.
Prepare to die again. Dark Souls III is coming.
Dark Souls III will launch worldwide on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC 12 April 2016.