NetGuide's James Fraser puts on a brave face and delves into the PC version of the unforgiving RPG Dark Souls III.
I personally have never been much of a Dark Souls fan. I did try out Dark Souls II at one point, but got bored pretty quickly, as I found the unforgivingness of the series to be a bit too much for me. That said, Dark Souls III had me captivated with its atmospheric visuals and fast-paced combat. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future I might pick it up and have a bit more of a play.
In the beginning, Dark Souls III appears to be much of the same. It has a beautiful, atmospheric world, and seemingly never-ending, extremely difficult enemies to kill. However, once you attack your first enemy, a lot changes. Just like the previous games, you can dodge and side-step almost every attack. As well as this, you can also dual-wield a weapon, which grants you access to a range of different attacks that let you do different things. For example, if you dual-wield a short sword-type weapon, you can then perform different lunging attacks towards the enemy, rather than just swinging.
These special attacks use both the stamina bar and focus points. This replaces the set number of times you could cast magic in the previous games. And don't worry about difficulty; it definitely had me dying over and over again, with just as little mercy as the previous entries in the series, if not even less. And it wasn't just the bosses, there were also very difficult smaller enemies mixed in with the standard mobs.
As expected, the controls for a controller were far more intuitive than keyboard and mouse. This sort of thing has become a given for this series, though, since the ports have always had some issues with controls/control layout. I started with mouse and keyboard, but very quickly switched over to controller, and I found it far more comfortable.
Now for the visuals and performance; I'm running an Intel Core i5-4590, GTX 970 and 8GB RAM. The game ran very well on my PC, but I've never really had too many issues in performance with the previous games on this PC either. That said, I expect it will run pretty decently on most rigs that meet the requirements.
The visuals were definitely one of the strongest points, as expected for a Dark Souls game. When I first loaded in, I started off in a sort of swamp, as the game walked me through the controls one-by-one, and introduced me to a couple of the standard weak enemies. Once I had gotten through the tutorial, the swampy scenery gave way to a beautiful, vast expanse of ruins on the edge of a cliff. I made my way through, cutting down enemies and collecting souls. It was the atmosphere of the first boss that made my jaw drop. I entered the ruins and started the boss fight. At some point during the fight, the boss transformed to become even more powerful, and the atmosphere and sense of scale that transformation gave me literally made me utter under my breath in pure awe. I continued fighting the boss, dying again and again, until I figured out how to beat it, and left that zone wanting to fight more bosses, just to get that sense of awe again.
The combat in Dark Souls III is very fast-paced, which is something I like, because not only does it provide a challenge trying to dodge and block numerous blows in rapid succession, but it also allows you to take down enemies quickly with your own rapid blows once you make them stumble. This means that if you make a mistake, you will feel the consequences of that misstep. However, if you can successfully break through your opponent's defences, you can get a good number of hits off on them before they recover. Obviously, you're not going to get away with it that easy. The more difficult enemies have a considerable amount of HP, so a few hits aren't going to do much, and you're going to have to be ready to dodge or block when your opponent recovers and counter-attacks before you even realise what's going on.
Overall, while Dark Souls III appears to be much of the same on the surface, there have been a number of new features and changes added, as well as some improvements. On top of that, the atmospheric setting and visuals, as well as the fast-paced combat and hyper-difficult enemies, will leave you craving more the more you play.
If you or someone you know is having trouble with Dark Souls III, please check out the special Bandai Namco ANZ tutorial video, below.