Dark Souls II "Crown of the Sunken King" DLC Review
PLATFORMS: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & PC
RELEASE DATE: July 22nd, 2014
PRICE: $9.99 (or $24.99 if you pre-purchase all 3)
If you're like me and have played through FROMSOFTWARE's Dark Souls II multiple times--to the point where you simply tired of playing it and are looking for some new content from the series--then you're in luck. As of today, the first of a three part trilogy DLC for Dark Souls II titled "Crown of the Sunken King" has been released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. But you already knew that, I mean that's why you're here? Right?
In this first DLC, the player is tasked with locating and retrieving the crown of King Vendrick that was lost quite some time ago. Your adventure will ultimately be filled with deadly new locations and even more deadlier enemies, but of course you're a Dark Souls fan so you laugh at this kind of stuff, right? Right???
But before you decide to drop some money on this DLC, please keep in mind that you must have already played Dark Souls II, made it to the Black Glutch area and have defeated The Rotten, the area's boss. So if you haven't already done this, then you should get cracking, since the area you need to access for the DLC is in the bonfire area behind The Rotten.
When you first start playing the DLC, you aren't magically transported to the new area. Instead, a new item is dropped into your inventory--the Dragon's Tooth--which reveals a hint into where you must go to access the DLC. Keep in mind that if you've already beaten this boss and you've found the hidden bonfire before the boss then you can use any bonfire to warp there.
Legend has it that in the deepest reaches of the Black Gulch, behind a door locked from the inside, is a magnificent city built for a great sleeping dragon.
So Where Are We?
You'll spend the majority of your time in several new areas which consist of multiple danger zones such as environmental damage, steep ledges, puzzles that need to be solved in order to access hidden areas or to proceed onward and switches that cause the very land to reshape beneath your feet. The level design is leaps and bounds better than Dark Souls II, forcing you to think about where you're going, instead of running head first into an area. You're still welcome to do it, just don't complain when you run off a ledge or into a room of enemies where one of the them breaks your gear. But the level isn't just there to drive you crazy; it has a purpose. Master the level and you can even use the area to inflict damage on your foes or to unlock treasure that's ripe for the taking. The exploration factor that was so prominent in Dark Souls is also back. Inter-connectivity is the name of the game as you process deeper in your search for the Sunken Crown and the factor of "Oh shit--what's going on" is around each corner. This is something that I missed in Dark Souls II, but thankfully has made its return.
I'm So Tired of Dying Over and Over
One of the main issues with Dark Souls II that I've heard mentioned over and over again was that it was too easy when compared to the original Dark Souls or it's predecessor, Demon's Souls. I'm happy to report that FROMSOFTWARE has ramped up the difficulty with this first bit of DLC, as if to say to everyone "Shut up--we know!" The mobs that you face in the DLC are pretty brutal and there's more than just a few of them, forcing you to retreat and re-think your old tactics. Sure, you can still use the old tactics, but they aren't going to help you get very far. I don't even want to talk about the damned ghost enemies that seem immune to everything but magic based attacks, and even then those are pretty weak.
I learned the hard way that enemies tend to chase you further and aren't tethered like they were in the main game, and they will also hunt you down if you get the step on them. I don't how many times I thought that moving above or below an enemy wouldn't attract them, but that wasn't the case. Instead, I usually took an arrow to the face or worse. If you're someone that can beat Dark Souls II without dying, you're likely not going to be able to do the same thing with this DLC. But you're welcome to try and try and try...
Also, watch out for those Sanctum Knights--they're mean!
But What About the Loot?
Ah, it wouldn't be a Souls game without loot to collect, and there's much to be found this time around. There's a host of new items to find, either via loot drops from enemies or hidden items, that range from armor sets to weapons, a new shield that let's you cast both spells and miracles and even four new spells that can be acquired. There's even a weapon that does fantastic damage, but also poisons the player while being used in combat. See: this DLC is so hardcore that even your own gear wants to hurt you! And what about that crown? Can you wear it? Yes, my Dark Souls loving friends, that crown is totally wearable, so you can break out your King's Set and add your newly found crown to it.
All in all, I'm impressed with this DLC, more so after playing it and dying countless times. I had expected a short 3-4 hour play session but I was wrong, as multiple enemies and bosses proceeded to curb stomp me numerous times. The environments feel exciting, bringing back the feeling that I had when I played Dark Souls, which has forced me to proceed with caution. After playing this DLC, all of my original conceptions that the content could have easily been part of the main campaign have been put to rest. I definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the series, even those who tend to find issues in everything that Dark Souls II does.
I can't wait to see what FROMSOFTWARE does with the second and third parts of the DLC entries.
Crown of the Sunken King offers an extra 5-6 hours of enjoyment and takes us back down the FROMSOFTWARE rabbit hole, slashing and hacking away with a host of new enemies and some much needed new areas to traverse. As an added bonus, the DLC seems to have upped the difficulty a notch or two, which will satisfy those Dark Souls purists whom complained that the sequel lacked the harder difficulty. However, some will find that the increased difficulty may be a bit too hard and may cause several sessions of raged induced controller tossing.
With the addition of several new spells to uncover, 3 new areas, new enemies and two new boss of which one is a kick ass dragon (who doesn't like dragons?) this DLC is worth the $9.99. Bring on the next part of the DLC, I'm suffering from withdraws already!
+ It's another fun romp through the lore of Dark Souls II.
+ The new enemies make the new environment fun as they force you to think how to approach them.
+ Level design that actually made me care about exploration.
+ Puzzles! It made feel that i was playing Legend of Zelda with the puzzle rooms.
+ Two new bosses and one optional (Co-op).
+ A lot if content for just $9.99.
Cons: - If you're not familiar with the original Dark Souls the difficulty may frustrate you.
- While the level design is a notch up from the main game the color palette is still very dark and drab.
- Being forced to use co-op. I won't say more as it's a spoiler but you'll find out.
-Bosses are a tad on the cheap side (Screw you, Elana).
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