The Let's Play Archive

Dark Souls III

by IGgy IGsen

Part 2: - High Wall of Lothric Part 1

For those curious, I will not include item descriptions with every update, I'll save those for when we've cleared an area, or most of it. I will, of course, also only include info about the boss if we actually face one, duh. Sometimes I may find something else to talk about, like today!

How the Level design in Dark Souls III guides the player
I briefly touched on this in the video but didn't feel like it was a good idea to elaborate on it right then and there in the interest of pacing.

There are quite a few tricks Dark Souls III and some other games use to guide the player without literally pointing an arrow towards the general direction of the objective or having a neat line on the floor show you where to go. Let's take the spot I briefly talked about in the video, for instance, and go all the way to the bonfire from there:

You're standing on on a ledge near a ladder, looking down. You see there's an enemy but he doesn't move or even seem to be looking in your direction. So you are climbing down the ladder and you'll most likely be facing towards the wall, which will allow you to spot a path right next to the door. Because the level designers want you to know there's a path. However, they think it's better for you to go there later since it's actually a much longer and somewhat more difficult route through the level. And here comes the hollow from before, shooting you with a crossbow, which does relatively little damage as rangers are mostly used to put pressure on the player, not necessarily to kill them.

Since the enemy is very hesitant to move you'll just move in to kill the single enemy. Only around the corner there are more enemies who are now about to attack. So you move in to fight and once you're done you'll probably spot another ladder. You are likely to just go down to what appears to be a single small platform, maybe hiding an item but there's a path further on. Since you went this far already you might decide to just move on that way, which is the short path through the level. And from here the game tries to guide you to the shortcut back to the first bonfire.

You may be low on Estus at this point if this is your first run, maybe even out of it. So the next, more powerful, enemy is easy to avoid, just patrolling around a well. In fact. It's a simple matter to just run past him as long as you have a little patience. You're even able to pick up the treasure without drawing his attention. Once you left this room again your gaze is directed towards an important looking church-like building and the really tough knight enemies are patrolling around in a pattern that would make it impossible to just sneak by. You know they are tough because there was one right in your way before you reached the second bonfire of the level. So maybe not a good path to take. But where to go?

Without having to look for a path you get hit in the back with a crossbow bolt again to show you a path... again. So on you go, to kill that enemy. But even though this game is incredibly nice to you doing that, without you realizing it, it also makes sure you know it's not your friend by placing an enemy in a way so it can attack you from behind easily. It's a tough kind of love. In this example, after all, you get guided by being shot in the back. But since you probably don't want to deal with the Knight that patrol the church you'll check that other path out and are on your way to the shortcut, with just regular hollows in the way, though, there is an ambush on the way there, but it only feature four of the weakest enemies you can find in the area.

The most obvious tools the game uses to subtly guide the player are:
Enemies: Monsters established as dangerous may make you go the other way, a lack of enemies altogether may make you favor a path etc.
Items: Their glow is quite eye-catching, it's used both to draw your attention towards certain spots, often to reveal paths that you can't reach yet but the game wants you to be aware of. Sometimes they are also just a trap, of course)
Light sources: There is some lantern or fire near a lot doors or ladders or other points of interest. Sometimes just for flavour, obviously. But remember Blighttown from Dark Souls and the Valley of Defilement from Demon's Souls? Both of those areas guide you simply by making you follow the light in the most literal way.

I think this type of game design is great as it manages to hold one's hand without insulting one's intelligence, but it also sometimes gives you a slap on the wrist just to remind you who you're dealing with and if it's feeling particularly devious it may just clothesline you face first into a wall if you don't pay enough attention. It's a though kind of love that rubs some players the wrong way. One drawback of this kind of design that I can think of is that not all pieces fall into place every time because different people just play games differently. For instance, that path down the ladder from the beginning of our trip? I didn't even see it on my first playthrough, because I was too focused on the enemy facing away near the corner down the ladder. But that still made me go down the easier path, I simply missed out on the optional, longer, route for the time being, though, I did find it during a second run I did to make sure I didn't miss anything.


Wayne posted:

Looks like you're on the PS4 version, which figures; last time you were on PC and I was on console, now it's the way around! Guess there's no hijacking the LP this time.
Nah, I was on console last time too, for the LP at least. This time I just play the PS4 version because I can't record the PC version without some serious framerate issues.

Klaus88 posted:

Am I a bad person for ignoring all the Dark souls lets play until Iggy got around to doing his lets play?
That's sweet, I didn't know there were people who were actually holding off on LPs of the game for this reason. It feels... weird.

Skippy Granola posted:

Kickin, I actually just finished re-watching your Dark Souls II LP and I'm oh about 3/4 of the way through this game as of right now so I'll be glad to see the correct way to get through this mess.

I am amazed that people would actually rewatch my LPs, to be honest. This too feels somewhat weird.