Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades Edition Review (PS4)

Introduction

This is the 'complete' edition of Dark Souls III, which includes the two expansions Ashes of Ariandel and The Ringed City. You also need to install a small update file if you want to play the game online. You can however, play the game in offline mode.

Story

Find the Lords of Cinder.

The story takes place in the Lothric kingdom. You are an Unkindled, destined to fight the Lords of Cinder and link back the First Flame. Throughout your journey, you will fight a variety of enemies as well as encountering different people who may help you in your journey.

Like the previous games' story, this game's story is interesting, but surprisingly underdeveloped. The writers do not make much effort to tie-in Dark Souls II lore to this game's lore well. Even as a standalone story, this game heavily relies on Dark Souls' lore, so new players may be confused with many of the game's implications of different characters and terms.

The characters in this game however, are quite interesting. My favourite characters include Siegward of Catarina, Sirris of the Sunless Realms, Karla, and many more. They have more interesting dialogues as well as personalities compared to previous Dark Souls games' characters.

Gameplay

1) Exploration and Progression Section

Traverse into different areas in the Lothric kingdom.

The game's exploration is similar to previous Dark Souls' games. You can freely explore in an area for items or treasures, as well as fighting enemies. In comparison to previous Dark Souls games, this game has more vast and open level designs where you can explore around a lot for new items. However, most of the time there are not many branching paths to different areas, as most only lead to only one new area when you progress in that area.

The progression is similar to previous Dark Souls games, where you must find and defeat the Lords of Cinder in the game. However, they are not easy to find, and you must traverse dangerous areas and fight dangerous monsters on the way to fight them. While the path to find to find them is quite linear, you can still get lost in the game unless you searched the exit in each area thoroughly.

2) Upgrading and Customisation Section

Upgrade your weapons and stats by spending Souls.

You can customise your character by equipping him/her with different armour sets. Different armour sets offer different variety of protection, such as protection against physical attacks or magic attacks. Depending on situation, you may want also want to equip light or medium armour set to keep your equip load from being overburden so that you can dodge roll faster or recover your stamina quicker.

You may also upgrade your stats by spending Souls, which can be obtained by killing enemies or using certain items. You will level up accordingly to how many times you increase your stat(s). Some weapons also require you to have certain amount of stats in order to wield it properly. For example, you need a certain amount of Dexterity stat to wield a spear. You may also upgrade your weapons by spending Souls and materials.

3) Combat Section

Use a different variety of weapons or magic to defeat your opponents.

The combat system remains the same as previous Dark Souls games. The Stamina system also return in this game, where various actions will deplete your Stamina, such as attacking, blocking attacks, and sprinting. Your Stamina will regenerate if you don't do any other tasking actions for a while.

Each weapon has different movesets, especially unique weapons dropped by NPCs or boss weapons. One new combat feature available in this game is the Weapons Art, where you can use special attacks using a certain weapon by expending Force Points (FP). The magic system is also changed to resemble Demon's Souls' magic system, where there is a separate special gauge for magic attacks and Weapon Arts.

Enemies come in different variety as well, such as undead soldiers, knights, lizards, and many more. Each of them has their own strengths, weaknesses, and attack patterns. Bosses are also tougher than regular enemies, with unique attacks, abilities, and appearances. Some bosses may have even different phases, with more aggressive attack style and new attacks.

4) Online Section

Invade other player's world, help fellow online players, or ward off online invaders.

In online mode, you can invade an online player's world and kill the host to obtain Souls and Ember. However, you need certain items in order to invade a player's world. You may also join different Covenants where you can actively fight against other online players. While you are playing, an online player may invade your game and will try to kill you. Sometimes, it is better to fight them, or just run directly to a boss room. You may also help fellow online players to clear an area or fight bosses by using an item.

5) Downloadable Content Section

Play the two expansions for new content.

There are two expansions included in this edition, which are Ashes of Ariandel and The Ringed City. Both expansions introduce two different locations, new enemies, new weapons, magic, and items. Not only that, you can interact with new NPCs in both expansions. The expansions also introduce an online PVP arena feature where you can fight against online players on an arena.

Both expansions do introduce a good amount of gameplay content to players, as well as expanding the game's lore to a certain extent. Both expansions also introduce the tougher boss fights in the series, which can be difficult for solo players.

6) Gameplay Conclusion

Excellent gameplay, but with some issues.

This game has excellent gameplay, with good improvements over previous games in many areas, such as more fast-paced combat, retooled magic system, tough and unique bosses, inclusion of Weapon Arts, more complex sidequests and others. However, this game has one notable downgrade compared to Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, which is the covenants. The covenants are not exactly distinct with each other, with many of them have the same invading feature with different name. Secondly, this game does not differ much over the previous two Dark Souls game in many areas, so expectations of something new in this game should not be warranted. Regardless, this game has great gameplay, but not without issues.

Graphics

Excellent graphics.


This game have amazing graphics, with great looking character models, armour designs, enemies, bosses, and level designs. The architectures designed in this game are simply breathtakingly good. This game do suffers some framerate issues while playing the game, so take note of that. No other bugs or glitches encountered while playing the game so far.

Sound

Great voice acting and soundtrack.

The voice acting in this game is great. Kudos to the whole voice cast. They are well cast in each role, and many of them have good dialogues as well. The soundtrack is also amazing, and in general, I prefer this game's soundtrack over Dark Souls II's soundtrack at least. A lot of the boss themes are excellent, such as Iudex Gundyr theme, Dragonslayer Armour theme, and many more.

Replay Value

High replay value.
With the inclusion of two expansions,  the game's replay value has been increased a lot. Even in the base game, it still has high replay value, as you can play the game again in New Game Plus mode where you can find new items and fight tougher enemies, create new characters with different build, or play online invasion against other player's world. 

Conclusion

Great conclusion to Dark Souls  trilogy.

This is a great conclusion to the Dark Souls trilogy, with refined gameplay, great graphics, excellent boss fights, great amount of content, more complicated side quests and dark story. However, this game still has some issues, such as the less developed story, weak tie-in to Dark Souls II lore, not many gameplay control changers, repetitive covenants, and minor framerate issues. This is still a great game, but I am looking forward to another title by FromSoftware that is more akin to Bloodborne in the future if possible.

Score

Story: 7/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 9/10

Score: 8.5/10 or 34/40

Pros and Cons

Pros

- Inclusion of two expansions.
- Good lore.
- Interesting and unique characters.
- Good tie-in to Dark Souls' lore.
- Great gameplay.
- Refined magic system.
- Interesting Weapon Arts feature.
- Better and unique boss fights than previous game.
- Great utilisation of online features in the gameplay.
- Tough yet rewarding gameplay.
- More interesting side quests.
- Great graphics.
- Good voice acting.
- Great soundtrack.
- High replay value.

Cons

- Less interesting story.
- Weak tie-in to Dark Souls II's lore.
- Poorly implemented covenants.
- Not many substantial gameplay changes.
- Minor framerate issues.


**Images are from official PlayStation page, Wccftech, and DualShockers.