FromSoftware announced their first DLC for the brutally difficult RPG Dark Souls 3 last month, but at 2016’s Tokyo Game Show, FromSoftware released a gameplay demo for Ashes of Ariandel. Some of the demos features may be a bit spoilerous in terms of bosses, but the trailer can be seen below. The DLC will release on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on October 25th.
What follows is an analysis of the trailer above, in order to share some of the more subtle features, as well as the obvious. As such, you should expect spoilers. The first thing to note is that the area is misty, as if to obscure enemies from the unwary and unobservant. This concept isn’t a unique one for Dark Souls, but has always been somewhat hit or miss in its execution, from the Tomb of Giants, and Shrouded Forest, which are considered some of the better executions of obscuring sight within the series, to the Frigid Outskirts, which has been criticized frequently. Enemies are clearly visible, if you keep an eye out, so observance will serve the player well it’d seem, as with all of the Dark Souls games.
The enemies populating the area are pretty basic in their functions, some work with projectiles, others with melee, and it appears that they can quite easily swarm you. Thankfully, the area appears to be pretty open, leaving you with plenty of space to deal with such issues. A torch blowing enemy also appears to control good parts of the field with a long spray of fire that moves side to side, as seen with the torch in the previous trailer. Again, the wide open spaces will help with dealing with these kinds of enemies, it seems.
The area also has a transition, similar as to the arena for the Curse Rotted Greatwood, dropping the player to a lower, different area. As to whether this prevents the player from getting back up there in that life is unknown, but one could imagine a shortcut could be opened so the player can further explore the area.
Another enemy is encountered, a big hulking warrior with an axe and shield, and a helmet with antlers stuck to it, very similar to a historically inaccurate viking. Interestingly he appears to have a jump, a charge and a roar attack that can stagger you slightly. We also see some architecture which does seem to have more similarities to Ariamis, as can also be seen in the original trailer.
The final thing of note is a section that is more red, and the ground looks a bit odd, as if covered in gore. The area is populated by bugs, who are susceptible to fire. Whacking one with the torch seemed to stagger it, and deal more damage.
When it comes to new weapons and skills, we see very few, but one example is from an enemy that appears to be a boss. Music starts playing, and we’re met with a humanoid figure, a similar size to the player, which would be a unique idea for a boss. Many of them tower over you. He also seems to be lacking leg-wear, an interesting choice to say the least. He seems to have a shield with a new weapon art. He begins by holding his sword up, as if it were a straight sword with the stance art, whilst still holding his shield. He then charges in, seeming as if he’d lunge, but instead, butts into the player with his shield, producing an animistic face effect, almost like a lion, and inflicts a guard break allowing the enemy to pick up a riposte.
The next, more exciting element, is that the warrior is accompanied by a wolf. There are dead wolves around the arena, but none the size of this. The wolf bears a striking similarity to Sif, the Great Grey Wolf from the first game, albeit slightly darker in the colour of its fur. Besides his appearance, he has other connections with Sif, those being him fighting alongside a human companion, similar to how Sif was a partner to Artorias, the Abysswalker. The music also has a lot of climbs and dips, similar to Sif’s original theme, but are a lot more frantic, and is performed on strings, rather than sung by a choir.
The second boss is fought in a hall, a lady with a scythe. She enters saying that her father can stay his flail, that the flame is simply quivering at misguided ash. She runs her hand down the blade of her scythe, as it glows blue. Her weapon choice, and location in what appears to be a painted world definitely creates some parallels to Crossbreed Priscilla from Dark Souls, but seems to fight and look a lot different. She lacks a tail, for example, and does not turn invisible. Her scythe also appears to have some crystal magic effects, very similar to Oceiros from the base game. In the same location, you find yourself fighting a figure with what appears to be black crow feathers, and a basin that looks very similar to the Lordvessel, filled with an orange liquid, akin to Estus soup.
This figure was also in the previous trailer. I have speculated that the figure had some ties to Velka, the Goddess of sin, and was seen flagellating. As to whether the character has definitive links to Velka is unknown, but he may also be the previous boss’ father, going by her voice lines. The figure, however, seems to lack a flail, so this could be disputed.
After this, the demo ends, displaying the original trailer. Once again, Dark Souls 3 Ashes of Ariandel will release October 25th, and will be available for $14.99 on its own, or $24.99 with a second expansion as part of the season pass. Nothing is known about the second expansion at this time.