I’ve always been more of a Souls admirer than an active player of the series. Demon Souls’ was the first game that I’ve played that felt like it was only possible on that generation of consoles. Now four games later, Dark Souls III feels like the culmination of everything that has come before, taking on feedback without compromising on what has made the series resonate with so many people. Dark Souls III is the first Souls games that’s immediately clicked with me and just from the early moments, I’ve seen where I was making mistakes in previous titles.

Now I’ve already written about Dark Souls III’s early hours but not much has changed between what I played before and the final version aside from an slight increase in difficulty. I felt like enemies were more aggressive and I was taking more damage than I was before. Nevertheless, I still maintain this is the easiest Souls to get to grips with. The opening hours are tough but not punishing. You’re eased into the combat, learning what you’re capable of. The majority of enemies can be beaten without too much effort while every now and then you’ll come up a type that will require your full attention, treating it the same as you would a boss.

By the time you meet your first Lord of Cinder, you’ll be well prepared for it, having come up against a variety of bosses, that each that test your acquired skills in different ways. The variety of bosses was a nice surprise. When I think of the Souls bosses, I think of the these great giants that on first look seem impossible and these types are certainly well represented here. But there’s a good mix of smaller, more intimate battles that are just as challenging and impressive despite the difference in scale.

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The locations you’ll traverse though are full of branching paths and optional areas. Once you’re feeling confident, it’s worth fully exploring the early areas as they contain vital collectables such as the undead bone shards and estus shards which improve your estus flask which can heal your health and FP. It’s also worth mentioning if you’re planning to play using primarily physical attacks, by default you have 3 health flasks and 1 FP flask and by speaking to the blacksmith you can change your allotment so you have an extra flask which could easily mean the difference between life and death in a vital battle.

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If you’ve been sitting on the fence about getting into the Souls series or think it might be too difficult, Dark Souls III could be the one that finally sways you. While you’ll miss out on some of the series overarching lore, as you’re taking your first steps, it doesn’t feel as intimidating as previous entries felt. This is one that’ll keep you coming back for more. The one you’ll be constantly thinking about while you’re away from the game, planning a new strategy, wondering what’s down that next unexplored path.