When the announcement came that there was going to be DLC for Dark Souls 2 I was absolutely ecstatic. This was going to be a huge test for From Software, the development team behind the game. Would this be a grab for players’ cash, or would this be legitimate material that would enhance the original game? Eventually From Software announced that there wouldn’t be just one DLC, but THREE! Thus was born the Lost Crown trilogy. Once again fans began to wonder whether or not this was going to be a good thing. Well I’m here to tell you that all three DLC’s are absolutely fantastic. They are worth the ten bucks apiece, and arguably the level designs are better than most if not all of the original game.
The first to be released was The Crown of the Sunken King. The level begins by leading the player down a winding corridor, and this claustrophobic feeling hints at what’s to come. The player then comes face to face with an ancient dragon, with a spear protruding from it’s poisoned flesh, it seems to be expecting you. It flies right over the player and the sense of scale shows just how gargantuan it really is.
The level design introduces a new concept in the form of movable platforms. The player can raise or lower these platforms by hitting a small switch-like stone. This was a really cool idea, as you can use these platforms to your advantage. If you find yourself swarmed by enemies, you can escape by running on a platform that raises you above your enemies. Likewise, you can raise a platform and send an enemy plummeting to their death. While I didn’t personally do much PVP (player vs. player) this would be a really fun playground for that.
The whole level has a lot of Mayan influences. It feels like an abandoned kingdom, gone to ruin long ago. While there were only a handful of new enemies to encounter, there was one that really stuck out. The player will eventually come across ghost like phantoms, each wielding two swords. Initially when I came across these foes I was shocked to discover that you couldn’t deal damage to them. There was a certain panic associated with this discovery. Once you agro these enemies, there is no escape. They will pursue you until one of you is killed. After dying several times I discovered that you have to destroy a tombstone first. Once the tombstones are destroyed the ghouls become solid, and combat can ensue. This was typical Dark Souls! Introduce a seemingly impossible scenario, and leave it to the player to figure out how to overcome the obstacle.
There were three boss battles in The Crown of the Sunken King, as well as an optional “challenge” path. The biggest complaint with this first DLC comes in the form of these boss battles. For starters, two out of the three boss battles were essentially re-skins of other bosses. One of the bosses is exactly the same as a boss previously encountered in the original game. One of the great things about a Souls game is the fog door that let’s you know that there might be a boss waiting behind. When you come upon one you can’t help but get excited/nervous and to enter only to see a boss that you’ve already come across before left me feeling a bit disappointed. However, the final boss was exquisite and arguably one of the coolest dragon fights I’ve ever encountered in any game.
One of the more frustrating aspects of the Souls series for me has been the very obscure lore. For the most part Crown of the Sunken King is something of a standalone story, and I found it refreshing. Reading the item descriptions and observing the surroundings it’s clear to the player that this was once a prosperous kingdom that fell into ruin. I was proud to have finally understood what was going on around me. There is a story to be found within this first DLC, and while it may not be the most original, it’s very well done.
There are a host of other things that could be mentioned. The surprise NPC encounter, the challenge route, the secret areas, the new weapons and armor, I could go on and on. All in all I spent about ten hours within the poisonous pyramid of the Sunken King. I think that ten bucks is fair for such a generously sized DLC, and I would remind people that some entire games are only ten hours long.
To conclude I think that this was very much a success and it feels like From Software wasn’t out to just grab our cash, but instead they wanted to give us another wonderful experience within Drangleic.
Level Design 8/10
Boss Battles 7/10