It’s here; the not-so-long awaited release of Dark Souls III. I say that because it was just last year that DS3 was announced – off the heels of Bloodborne no less. Regardless, the third (fourth? fifth?) installment of FromSoftware’s iconic action RPG series is now available worldwide and I’m one of many to adopt it during launch week.
So what are my thoughts on Dark Souls III thus far? The game is a little underwhelming, to be honest. You have to understand that I’m incredibly partial to Bloodborne. I own and have played every ‘Souls’ game to date from Demon’s Souls to DS3. 2015’s Bloodborne still takes the cake for me.
If I had to put it simply for someone who hasn’t tried the latest installment yet, I would say first and foremost that Dark Souls III looks good and feels even better. From where the series began, whether we’re talking about Demon’s or the original Dark Souls, this game definitely feels like it has a fresh coat of paint on it. The combat in this game is the best of any game in the series thus far, minus Bloodborne of course. Bloodborne’s influence can definitely be felt by the increase of speed. I also really like the ‘Ember’ system that has replaced the old ‘Humanity’ system.
However, I’m not a fan of the level design, which is most similar to Dark Souls 2. It’s hard to put into words, but the games that had been directed by FromSoftware’s Hidetaka Miyzaki prior to DS3 all had a certain mastery to the way their levels were put together. Rather than multiple checkpoints, the areas were designed in shortcuts so that there would only need to be one bonfire/lamp post for the player to use. It was DS2, which was supervised but not directed by Miyazaki, that had a messier system of having a bonfire every so often due to the levels just continuously branching out further and further. It was a system I was never fond of and sadly, it remains present in DS3 to my surprise.
As of this moment, there are also some performance issues as well. The second true area of the game has a lot of frame rate drops that are very noticeable, which is disappointing for a game running at 30 FPS. I never consider myself a stickler on frame rate consistencies, but the fact is Bloodborne didn’t have nearly an area as bad as this despite that game being capped at 30 FPS. Hopefully performance will be addressed shortly because I’m sure this game has a lot of updates in its future.
Yes, it’s still early for me so the game can go a lot of ways from here. Right now, I’d put DS3 above Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls II – making it roughly on par with the original Dark Souls, a widely regarded masterpiece (not bad for a game I said is underwhelming). It just goes to show how high the bar is for one of the most critically acclaimed series of the last ten years. Plus, in DS3’s defense, it is having to followup Bloodborne – a game that I consider to be one of the best ever made.