Monday, February 27, 2017

Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City Hopes/ Expectations

Dark Souls 3, and Dark Souls as a whole, looks to come to an end this month with the final DLC, The Ringed City, on March 27th. There’s already been some buzz that this DLC is massive. Perhaps it’ll match the Artorias DLC or the Bloodborne DLC in size. Surely, if they want to add to the story of Dark Souls III, it’ll need to be. My hope is that it’s huge and then some.

Ashes of Ariandel left a lot to be desired in many core aspects of the game. Enemies were either way too easy to dispatch or were practically impossible. The optional boss was inconsequential in the grand scheme of things—despite his name which could lead one to believe he is in league with Champion Gundyr, but that’s not the case—and the final boss is so difficult I’ve given up trying to defeat them. (THREE. STAGES?)

The story is basically an incredibly condensed version of the main Dark Souls III story: Flame is killing the world, so you have to do something about it. It gets interesting if you’ve chosen to become the Lord of Hollows, since there are a few more interesting dialogue bits dispersed, but not enough to reconcile the DLC as a whole. The best parts of it, like most of Dark Souls, was the environment. The winter landscape was great to navigate and felt nice and tight, adding to that foreboding sense of dread each Dark Souls entry has done so well.

But it didn’t feel like a Dark Souls game beyond that. It was small, enemies weren’t too threatening, areas that should normally have had traps were just pedestrian places for rewards, and the overall design of some NPCs was “meh.” The themes share the same as the Dark Souls overworld but you don’t even discover that until you get to the end, as The Painter talks about the biggest mystery of the series: the Dark Soul of Man.

What The Ringed City must do is take the Dark Soul and make it the focus. We know that Father Gael is going in search of the Dark Soul into the Ringed City, which, by the sounds of it, is that city we see near the Kiln of the First Flame. You know, the one with all of the areas of the game basically bunched up together? That one.

I’d always hoped to go into that area and traverse it. Maybe not even fight anyone, just go through the area and reminisce on the beatings I took before challenging the final boss, the Soul of Cinder.

One big thing the Ringed City has going against it is bosses. The Soul of Cinder is the ultimate cap boss of the series. It is the Soul of all previous Lords of Cinder, the only thing that’s topped that as a “final boss” is Gwyn or Manus. So how would The Ringed City final boss get ahead?
Make it the Furtive Pygmy.

Simple as that. Not only would that put a cap on the Player, if they’ve gone through all three games, killing the four original Lords, but it’s also the logical conclusion of the story. The Furtive Pygmy created the Dark Soul that Gael is looking for. It’s implied that he’s not dead—though it is implied that the Player themselves is the Pygmy—and that the Dark Soul is still around. Having the Furtive Pygmy be the final boss leads to a mirroring of the Player choosing for denying the Flame: should they choose to absorb more of the Dark Soul they’ll inhabit more humanity and possibly find a new form of humanity, and if they deny the Dark Soul then the Dark Souls splinters even further (or something like that). Add on the idea that the Player is already the Lord of Hollows and if they choose to usurp the entire Dark Soul, what does that mean? How does it affect Hollows? Could spreading the Dark Soul perhaps create less Hollows or more?

The Church of Londor, one of the least explored ideas of Dark Souls III, could be illuminated on here as well. We know that there is a third sister that we’ve not met, and perhaps she could be a boss midway through as well, trying to test you as the Lord of Hollows or to stop you from claiming the Dark Soul/ destroying it. The ending you chose in Dark Souls III, if you’ve gotten that far, need to have some sort of consequence. If you choose the Lord of Hollows ending, The Ringed City has to shed light on what that means and what a world without flame looks like. We’ve seen worlds, or at least areas, without flame before: recall Oolacile, New Londo Ruins, and to an extent, Ariandel. The Flame in Ariandel had corrupted the world so they hid it away, only for The Painter to need it so she could burn the world asunder.

The Painter and Gael should also be critical characters on your quest through the Ringed City. We don’t know what the Painter’s deal is, or even her friggin’ NAME, but we do know that she requires the Dark Soul to paint over Ariandel. Is that all, or does she have power beyond that with the Dark Soul? This could lead to the final confrontation with the Furtive Pygmy, who wouldn’t trust anyone else with the Dark Soul after what happened with Gwyn. Remember, he didn’t know that Gwyn could reignite the flame. Gwyn just did it in an act of desperation and foiled the Furtive Pygmy’s plans.

Now, keep in mind that this is all mostly just speculation. We don’t know much about the Furtive Pygmy beyond the fact that he inhabited the Dark Soul and gave way to the first wave of Humanity. When Gwyn reignited the flame, he created Hollows.

But do you see the possibilities with that idea? The Flame is dying and the age of Dark/ Humanity is upon us. It’d only be natural for the Furtive Pygmy to come out of hiding, if he’s still alive, and try to consume the world. There’s even potential here for a reversed boss-fight. What if Gael seeks to destroy the Dark Soul and the Player has to make a choice between fighting Gael to preserve the Dark Soul or fighting the Furtive Pygmy to destroy it and try, in the most desperate of moves, to keep some semblance of the Age of Fire going? Or, perhaps, it’s not Gael but someone else.

I read up on someone playing through the first few minutes of the game and they claim that Prince Lorian, of all people, is mentioned. But why him? Prince Lothric was the real threat…wasn’t he? Well, maybe not. We know Prince Lorian killed a demon prince (quite possibly the kin of the Old Demon King) and his flame was eternally scarred, but not much is known regarding his crippling outside of implications it was a part of Oceiros’s experiments. But what if there’s more to his story? It’s told that Lothric was swayed from the flame by Scholars, possibly even Aldia from Dark Souls II…but what if it were Lorian? What if Lorian discovered the Dark Soul and told Lothric that this was the better method?

Dark Souls is notorious about travelling through time and different dimensions, so what if we encountered a different, more proud version of Lorian? If you fight him in “the past,” it makes the original battle with him all the more emotional. When he swings, desperately, to crush you it’s not only to keep Lothric safe but to stamp you out of his memory as the…one that crippled him? Remember, it’s only rumored that a Demon crippled him.
Regardless, I think Lorian’s role will be that he learned of the Dark Soul in the Ringed City and informed Lothric on it.

I expect The Ringed City to capture as much of the trilogy as possible in its level design, so it’d be natural for bosses or important NPCs from across the games to appear. Lorian might be representative of Dark Souls III in some capacity, who knows.  The level design itself seems more representative of the original Dark Souls, with verticality being a key component. The original Dark Souls took us from the heights of heaven all the way into the depths of Hell, and possibly even below that (with The Great Hollow and Ashen Lake suspected as the lowest points of the series in terms of geography). The Ringed City is all about a descent into madness, sort of symbolic of how the player feels playing the game.

This reinforces the idea of the Furtive Pygmy being the final boss, as he was no doubt hidden underground along with the wisps of the First Flame. I’ve always been fond of the idea that the Kiln of the First Flame is not where we see the Furtive Pygmy in the opening cutscene, it’s just the kiln where Gwyn linked the Flame. That, at least, explains why it’s always moving around. In Dark Souls II it’s in a tomb and in Dark Souls III it’s out in a giant field. Plus, the First Flame was discovered deep underground beneath a giant tree. It’s likely that this is where the Furtive Pygmy has been and if The Ringed City truly is about going down as far as the Player can, it makes sense for them to end up there, where the series actually got started.

I don’t expect all the loose ends of Dark Souls III to be wrapped up here. We likely won’t get an explanation for the Profaned Flame, for the war between Angels and the Knights of Lothric, or whatever the heck really happened to Ornstein. It’s likely we’ll discover the final bits of information necessary on the Sable Church of Londor and that’ll be all before we continue the lore ofAriandel and the grander lore of the series. I hope we do learn more than what preliminary information is leading on, of course, and I hope for an incredibly fun, incredibly emotional ride. Dark Souls III is riddled with really great moments and some truly standout moments for the series. Hopefully From Software brings it one last time for the “Souls” series with The Ringed City.

Social media: 

No comments:

Post a Comment