Ashes of Ariandel is the first of two planned expansions coming to Dark Souls 3. Much like the Painted World of Ariamis in Dark Souls 1, players step into the alternate reality that is the Painted World of Ariandel.
A gloss of snow encompasses the mountainous area that Ariandel created, with chapels and church imbued with Gothic architectural influence. Packs of snow-white wolves dot the landscape, with hulks of men waiting to drive you from their painting. The wolves will wait and gather into packs as you approach them. The tattered shrouds of men assault you with vigorous strength from afar and up close. Even though the player may access this expansion early on in the game, it is only for the faint of heart to go in unprepared.
Experienced Dark Souls players will make quick work of these enemies, but the D.L.C.’S bosses pose a bigger challenge. At the bottom of an icy gorge lies the Champion’s Gravetender and his/her great wolf. The Champion fights like any other NPC in Dark Souls, but is equipped with a new weapon set that players will need to adapt to. When the Gravetender is almost defeated, the great wolf will come at the player with a fighting style akin to the wolf Sif in Dark Souls 1. A greater threat is found in the confines of the large chapel at the top of the gorge you find the Gravetender in.
Sister Friede is the main boss of the expansion. She wields a move-set that slightly mirrors Lady Maria’s in another game made by From Software — Bloodborne. There is a constant need to stay on the defense when challenging her due to her constant sweeping attacks with her scythe. However, she is able to be parried, allowing for short pauses in the fight.
New sets of armor and weapons make fights all the more interesting, especially so in the new player vs. player arena. The player can match-make into one of three different modes: duels, brawls, or versus game modes. This can all be done at the Firelink Shrine bonfire; however, players must defeat the Champion’s Gravetender to access this portion of the expansion. Dark Souls 3 was in desperate need of something extra that would keep players interested in the game itself, so a new P.v.P experience with matchmaking is a welcome addition.
Ashes of Ariandel gives new life to an otherwise fading game. The Painting of Ariandel teems with challengers yielding rewards, with new weapons and armor that suffice. Area bosses have interesting move-sets that cause the player to think on their feet. A new P.v.P. mode allows for easier access to compete with other players. As a long time Dark Souls fan, I was overly pleased at what Ashes of Ariandel had to offer me.