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What Does Ashes of Ariandel Really Bring to the Table?

What can you expect from Dark Souls III latest DLC?

Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel has been out for a week, and many of us have experienced the newest entry in the Dark Souls universe. But what about those who haven't decided yet? What does the DLC offer them? Quite a few things. 

So let's look at the unique characteristics that Ashes of Ariandel brings to the game.

The Biggest Level in Dark Souls III

The Painted World of Ariandel is the new area introduced in the DLC -- and it's very reminiscent of Dark Souls' Painted World of Ariamis. It is not only the widest level in Dark Souls III yet, but one of the most beautiful. The snowy plains fit perfectly with the gothic style of the buildings we find inside, creating a new, exciting scenery to explore.

FromSoftware steps away from Dark Souls' usual, closed environments and presents wide, open portions of land. There are also parts of the DLC with more verticality, leading to the typical platform sections we are used to seeing in previous areas. The result is a unique expansion which takes between three to five hours to finish, depending on your play style and skill.

Original, Interesting, & New NPCs

The characters in The Painted World of Ariandel let us know more about the story of the painting and other aspects of Dark Souls' lore. Without getting into spoilers, there are some NPCs related to other ones we already know, making for some interesting discoveries.

There's one in particular that is revealed as a mayor player in all of Dark Souls III. Interacting with them will allow you to get new pieces of dialogue with some characters from the outside.

There are also hints scattered around Ariandel that imply a relation with The Pained World of Ariamis, as expected.

One of the Best Bosses in Soulsborne

There are two bosses in Ashes of Ariandel. One of them is just a glorified NPC with a big wolf, but the other one stands out as one of From Software's finest fights.

The first phase is a Dark Souls version of Lady Maria from Bloodborne -- a quick, exhilarating duel to death. The second one takes Ornstein & Smough and adds a little twist to it. And there's also another big surprise I prefer not to reveal.

The multi-phased DLC final boss, alongside its music and scenario, is a pleasure to grapple with -- and even more to defeat.

New Weapons, Armor Sets, Rings, Spells...

Like every other area, The Painted World of Ariandel contains new items. The DLC introduces 13 new weapons, 5 armor sets, 4 spells, 2 shields, a pyromancy flame, and a ring.

Many of the new items are so unique that they add new mechanics to the game. For example, there's a spell that allows you to throw an energy disk like a boomerang. Other interesting objects include a chandelier-like sword, a new torch you can fire-breathe with, and an ice spell -- among other things.

A PvP Arena with Multiple Modes

Finally, Ashes of Ariandel brings a new PvP arena, where players can engage into battle through three different modes. There's Duel, a one-on-one fight without Estus Flasks; Brawl, a free-for-all match; and Co-Op Match, which allows us to join team battles of up to six players.

Having an arena dedicated to PvP only is one feature Dark Souls III was seriously lacking. Now, PvP players have a place where they can enjoy fighting friends or randoms without getting interrupted.

Ashes of Ariandel brings something for everyone -- whether you are a single player or a PvP enthusiast. On one hand, The Painted World of Ariandel is an extremely polished area, with lots of content and lore implications. On the other hand, the PvP Arena is a welcome adition to the base game. FromSoftware keeps surprising us with their DLC content, something other companies and developers should strive for.

Published Oct. 30th 2016

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