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Dark Souls III
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xtal
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October 26, 2016 - 12:00 pm
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Yep, I finished it a while ago. I haven't gone to NG+ yet because there's one boss (that I know of) I have yet to defeat. I think some DLC is coming out this week or next week? I haven't really looked into that. I'll read some reviews when they pop up.

I'm no longer part of this agency. You there, get my shoes!

Steerpike
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October 26, 2016 - 12:00 pm
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Xtal, have you finished the game?  Steerpike?

Not me, I'm in Irithyll dungeon. I was held up for a long time in the village. Now I'm taking a short break to get through Uncharted 4, but then I should be back into it. 

I've definitely missed a lot of the story stuff. Characters, motivations. It makes me sad but I don't think I'd play differently if I started clean, so I'd probably just miss everything again.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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October 27, 2016 - 2:55 pm
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Yeah I seem to be messing up a lot of NPC quest lines too, but these seem even more obtuse than usual.  Greirat is dead, and so is Anri.

I just reached Anor Londo after near constant invasions by Aldritch's henchmen.  A lot of them were scrubs and went down almost too easily, which is saying something since my dueling skills are average at best.

Rule #2: Double-tap

Steerpike
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October 28, 2016 - 11:24 am
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I lost Greirat pretty early as well, which sucks because he was my "good" arrow guy. Now I have to buy crappy arrows from the old lady.

Irithyll Dungeon is easier (for me at least) than Irithyll village was, but it's still a slog to get through to open up those shortcuts. One wrong move and the health-diminishing wizards -- they remind me of the bell-ringers from the Tower of Latria -- whittle you down to just a speck.

With Uncharted 4 finished the day before yesterday, I'm back to Dark Souls 3. Onward!

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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October 31, 2016 - 10:10 am
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You can find his ashes, and give them to the merchant at Firelink.  She will then sell you better arrows, along with a whole host of new things (some very useful).  Look in that sewer-like area with all the long-haired centipede monsters.

I finished Uncharted 4 as well.  Wow that game was much longer than I expected (all good).

I'm playing a lot of Bloodborne, which I honestly prefer in many ways to Dark Souls III.

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Steerpike
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November 3, 2016 - 3:31 pm
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Thank you Botch! I didn't know that. I'll poke around that area more thoroughly. In fact I should revisit it on general principles, since I always avoided the roaring electricity monster (the one that first appears on the bridge) rather than fight him, and he probably drops some good loot.

Did we ever figure out if there's a Rusted Iron Ring equivalent in DS3? It would sure be handy down there.

I want to circle back and start Bloodborne again, possibly with more wiki-usage to make sure I don't miss as much. Its setting and flavor were awesome, and while it's a more limiting game in many respects, it also felt like a great new experience. While I can't say I'm getting "tired" of Dark Souls, it's definitely true that a bit of sameness is seeping in to the experience.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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November 7, 2016 - 9:32 am
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I was referring to the mechanics of Bloodborne vis Dark Souls, but I do agree with you about Souls fatigue in general.  In addition, the further in I get, the more the fan-service seems to be piling up.  I'm ambivalent about it all, but am also definitely looking forward to something new from the mad mind of Miyazaki.

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xtal
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December 7, 2016 - 12:50 pm
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I've been back to Dks3 for a bit now and am about to finish the game on NG+ and go through it for NG++ because masochism.

I'd say I'm now at the same level of familiarity of Dks3 as with the other games and..well..it's conclusively more Dark Souls. Great game on its own merit, fun as hell, I don't think it has any overly unfair sections, but like every other Souls game (except Demon's) I think it's just too long, and most of the weak parts are in the middle to back end.

I want to dive deep into this some time and deconstruct all the levels and bosses I can think of; think I'll do that soon.

It starts strong (mostly) like the others and has some seriously unnecessary levels later on. You got that High Wall of Lothric; definitely challenging, but not the best beginning level. But then the Undead Settlement which I loved for its Bloodborne flavour. Road of Sacrifices and Farron Keep were excellent and a bit different from what we've seen in the past. Then the Catacombs of Carthus which is a nice tight area.

Where it starts to fall apart for me is this game's "Anor Londo," Irithyll of the Boreal Valley. First of all, what the fuck is with that name? There are bosses named Vordt, and Dancer of the Boreal Valley, and then an area that's "...of the Boreal Valley." What?? It says to me that pretension is creeping in. Get outta here with these silly names! Names are so important to me that I would regard the area more highly if it was just called The Boreal Valley. That's a cool name. When those Dark Souls area names pop up it can sometimes be really cool. But Irithyll of the Boreal Valley? Come on.

Anyway, actual things that matter, this place more than any I can think of highlights the often goofy weird architecture in a Souls game-- walls and corners that serve no purpose, bizarre dead ends, weird asymmetry.

Then the surprise zone after the Boreal Valley, which I won't name. It's short and seems mostly like fan service. I much preferred the brief creativity of Heide's Tower of Flame in Dks2, which seemed to be a nod to that place we loved.

Back to criticizing Dks3 areas: the Cathedral of the Deep is just a chore. I don't like it at all. It's where Unbreakable Patches shows up and its his most tiresome appearance yet, not at all surprising or interesting. Smouldering Lake is one of the lousiest and more pointless optional areas. Lothric Castle is another chore, not that interesting, it has very pointless and strange shortcuts. Poor design. Consumed King's Garden is one of the worst areas ever in a Souls game, purely existing to show off the "H4RDC0R3!!!!!11!!" aspect of the game.

Irithyll Dungeon is good, and is a nice homage to the Tower of Latria. Archdragon Peak is a highlight with a few annoyances. The Grand Archives is another place with nonsense design that just feels like busy grind work. The Profaned Capital is pointless and contains a terrible boss fight. Untended Graves is interesting from a lore perspective; in every other way it's devoid of anything good.

 

Hmm, writing all those out, I realize that more than half of the areas in Dark Souls 3 suck, according to me. Here is my tighter, resigned, better Dark Souls 3:

First of all, forget the Cemetery of Ash and Iudex Gundyr; don't like that as a tutorial boss fight at all. Start in the cemetery, make it shorter, straight to Firelink, then warp to the High Wall, but even then, get rid of most of that zone. Or hell, re-do it so it resembles the Undead Settlement so we have two zones with those enemies. So warp to the High Wall, maybe straight to the boss, then truly start the game in the Undead Settlement.

Undead Settlement > Road of Sacrifices > Farron Keep > Catacombs of Carthus >

Now at this point cut off the first half of the Boreal Valley. It's not great. After the first boss fight it gets way better. Start it there instead. So:

Second half of Boreal Valley > Fan service place > Irithyll Dungeon > Archdragon Peak >

Then go back to Firelink and open the Kiln of the First Flame.

 

You cut the length of the game in half and it's a way better time. This is the exact thing I wished for before Bloodborne, and that game actually got pretty close to my desires there (like buying everything in the game from the one vendor at the fountain).

Am I wrong? Do the Souls games have to be painfully long. It may be too short to get this wish anyway, as the series might be done. Although I would be surprised if Bloodborne 2 never came to pass. That seems like the most likely future of Souls.

I'm no longer part of this agency. You there, get my shoes!

Steerpike
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December 7, 2016 - 2:45 pm
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You're not wrong, and though I'm still plodding through (Irithyll Dungeon, the village took me ages) overall I agree with what you're saying on the design. As the RPS review said, there's a point in DkS3 where it begins to feel like it's going through the motions.

The High Wall of Lothric is a great concept, but in the end I don't feel like its design is good. It's awfully difficult for a starting level, the vertiginous structure is never really taken good advantage of, and in my opinion it includes a LOT of setpieces that seem to assume a degree of familiarity with how a Souls game is played.

The Undead Settlement is great. Huge, sprawling, tons to explore, lots of secrets, excellent layout, all the best elements of a Souls level, AND it's not a rehash of environments we've already seen. From there the level design is "okay." Many of the "whoa" moments I've had aren't tied to actual level design, but to a specific visual. Seeing Irithyll of the Boreal Valley, it's like a gorgeous snow globe. Actually being there is much less impressive.

There's also the fact that the Boreal Valley IS NOT A VALLEY. So far as I can tell, it's on top of a mountain. Boreal Promontory? Boreal Pass?

The world would rebel if a Souls game were short, but you're right, there's stuff (in all of them) that's... maybe not bad, but middlin' enough that it might be better off cut, especially since for a lot of us it's our third trip to Lordran. If the well is dry for really energetic new environments and everything's a rehash, personally, I'd rather just play through DkS1 again.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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December 9, 2016 - 11:03 am
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Well I wrote my short comment about Dark Souls 3 in the Bloodborne thread before I read Xtal's and Steerpike's most recent ones here.  So i think we're pretty much in agreement about 3 (assuming not much changes from now until the end for me).

Going through the motions.  Yeah, I think that pretty well sums it up.  Mechanically polished; takes some good cues from Bloodborne; tired and ready to be retired story.

I would also agree that my favorite area as well (so far) is Undead Settlement.  It's got that interesting, dense, and varied level design that we all love.

I don't like over-long Souls games either.  But I think the biggest mistake is not so much length, as having too many areas.  Variety is good, but constantly moving from one area to the next makes things feel unfocused and disconnected.  That was one of Dark Souls 2's biggest problems.  at least 3 constantly makes areas you've previously visited, or will soon visit, visible in the distance.  That helps create the feel of an actual place and not just a string of room, corridor, room, corridor, etc.

Rule #2: Double-tap

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xtal
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December 9, 2016 - 11:56 am
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You guys always manage to put my chaotic thoughts into much neater paragraphs!

I'm still going to play a bit more Dks3, but once I put that away I'm ready for a Souls break. I could go for a Bloodborne sequel in two years. If anything, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about Dks2. I love that game, in spite of its many flaws, and as you said Botch, its too many levels that feel all over the place. And of course none of us will ever forget what has to be the goofiest thing in the series: the elevator from Earthen Peak to the Iron Keep. What were they thinking???

I was listening to one of my new favourite gaming podcasts recently, Waypoint Radio (from the new Vice gaming site, Waypoint) with Austin Walker and Patrick Klepek, both of whom I admire greatly, where Walker put my thoughts about Dark Souls 2 into words better than I could ever have managed. He begins by comparing it to another sequel, KOTOR 2, which happens to also be one of my favourite games, and explains that his love of each of those (over their predecessors) is rooted in how they work to undermine the game that came before.

This! This is something I'd never put into words that is exactly how I feel. KOTOR 2 was so influential for me in 2004; it became my favourite game ever at the time of playing it. I think it is the best Star Wars story not named The Empire Strikes Back. And what it did so often was undermine the world and characters of KOTOR 1. The Jedi master Kreia was an intriguing morally gray character long before that was a thing we saw regularly in video games. I'd be lying if I said that game didn't change the way I thought.

Dark Souls 2 is the same; the most surprising aspect of it I loved was the lore, which seemed to hint at the futility of the whole Linking the Fire struggle of the first game (and evermore). Dark Souls 2 seemed to say "you did what in Dark Souls 1? Eff that nonsense! It's time for the Age of Dark; you don't matter!"

To the contrary, I couldn't dislike the lore of Dark Souls 3 more; it all but forgets 2, save a few references, and tries to re-position the "trilogy" as an epic tale where some conclusive end was always foretold. No! Bad Dark Souls 3!

I'm no longer part of this agency. You there, get my shoes!

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