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Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Ivory King DLC impressions
The last in Dark Souls 2‘s triple DLC release has finally come out in the form of Crown of the Ivory King. It is with a heavy heart I played through this, because in the back of my mind I was worrying that there may not be any more DLC for this game, since FromSoftware is shifting attention from this game to Bloodborne.
**NOTE: This article contains spoilers**
So what’s new and what’s familiar in this latest DLC? This time around instead of using a boss area to warp to the new DLC area, we use the Shrine of Winter as our point of entry. Yes, it’s time for that zone which had little to do with anything to have a use outside of being a roadblock. It opens up the path for us to Frozen Eleum Loyce, an unsurprisingly cold and frozen land that is as unforgiving as the weather that constantly bombards it.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the new areas of Crown of the Ivory King was that the weather is constantly raging and blizzards pelt the landscape. This lends itself surprisingly well to the atmosphere. It’s weird in the strangest way we never had a snow area for Dark Souls outside of parts of the Painted World of Ariamis from the first game. The blizzards and barrenness add a different atmosphere compared to the normal leg of the game, to the point where I’d say that Crown of the Ivory King has a much more atmospheric tone than the other DLCs and the base game, which is odd considering I greatly enjoyed the ironworks of the Old Iron King DLC.
Outside of the atmosphere, what’s new in this DLC? New bosses and a whole lot of new gear to fiddle with. So par for the course with what we’ve come to expect from these DLCs, although I am happy to say we get more than two new areas like what the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC did to us. There are three boss fights that I encountered while going through the DLC; two of the three involved fighting giant sabertooth cats, and the second boss fight is pretty much copy-pasted from the first, except now you fight two of the bosses at once and they cast magic and rage out to deal more damage. I’m not one to complain too much about copy-paste bosses and I didn’t even whine about Smelter Demon in the last DLC, but Lud and Zallen just felt like a clone of Aava.
The last boss fight—the Burnt Ivory King—is a much different monster. The Ivory King is a bit of an oddball fight, in the same vein as the Fume Knight and his healing AoEs from the last DLC where things you do outside of the boss area carry into the boss fight. This time around you aid several knights throughout the game, and if you do they will start the boss fight with you and greatly reduce the difficulty of the fight. To start with, when you enter the area the Ivory King isn’t there and it’s just a bunch of his mooks popping out of portals. It’s up to you and your own set of mooks to put down enough random baddies in the area to get the boss’ attention and make him spawn. This is misleading, as I found out your knight buddies shut down the portals as well, so what actually ends up happening is you want to take your time killing the mooks so your goon squad can seal off the portals that spawn more baddies. Eventually he does spawn, and it’s up to you to fight the Burnt Ivory King. He isn’t that hard and fights fairly close to how Sir Alonne fought in the last DLC: he rushes you and leaps about as he tries to impale you on his sword and ragdoll you. The fight itself was fun, which was great.
Moving on, we get some neat gear that opens up some interesting ideas, but that’s almost par for the course now for a DLC, so let’s run through a few of the items. We get rings now that give stats in inverse proportion to how high the respective stats are, a boss soul weapon that heals and favors dexterity so heavily there is no point to putting points in strength outside of the minimum requirement, more fist weapons which are always fun, and more rings that increase your attack rating with certain elements, which ends up making a lot of weapons that weren’t super great before a lot better now. It’s important to note that once again FromSoftware has made certain items only drop through co-op, so if you want some copies of that fancy Bone Fist you just found then you better start co-op and kill some Ice Stallions.
It’s important to note there is incentive to beat this DLC outside of the usual new fancy armor and weapons. When you beat this DLC as well as the two other DLCs which preceded it, something magical happens. As most people who play Dark Souls 2 are aware, when you beat a DLC you receive a crown of whoever the king of the area was. and this crown gives you further dialogue with Vendrick when you travel into the memory of the king. With this last DLC you complete the set and get the last bit of exposition on Vendrick to explain what happened to this land in the vague way that can only be found in a Souls game. The real treat, however, is Vendrick’s Blessing. Now whenever you wear one of the crowns of any of the kings on that playthrough, when you die you won’t go hollow. It’s time to wear a crown and not give a crap whatsoever because there are no repercussions to your actions. That’s quite an incentive.
I liked this DLC a lot. The atmosphere helped push it above the Sunken King and Old Iron King DLCs. If I were to make a complaint about this DLC, it is that Aava, Lud, and Zallen were not that impressive as far as boss fights go. I would much rather have had Aava been entirely invisible like Priscilla as opposed to what we got. If you’ve already got the season pass or you like Dark Souls 2 enough to read this article, then give it a go. At only $10, it’s a small investment.