Part 39: - Corvian Settlement
We're gonna go to an interesting bit of the DLC today and below I'll give you my thoughts on the rest of the DLCs, which were the best parts of their respective games.
Crown of the Iron King
After the first Dark Souls II DLC did so well Crown of the Iron King needed to live up to that. For me personally it didn't, but I've heard quite a few people naming it as their own favorite. The area itself is very long and quite big. First we are working ourselves down Brume Tower, finding several Ashen Idols of a child of dark along the way. The challenges are relatively varied but I'm not that big of a fan of the areas itself. It's a good jump up in difficulty from Crown of the Sunken King. At some points I felt that the enemies were too plentiful and what could have been an interesting part of the level became more tedious as a result.
For all my gripes with the level design, which I don't really want to go into much further, it also falls a bit short in terms of two of its three bosses (if you want to count the blue Smelter Demon). I've gone on record saying that I don't really like Fume Knight. I always found the fight kind of bland. Don't get me wrong, it's one of the hardest fights of the game, but I never really found the boss very interesting.
However, this DLC also has my favorite Boss Fights of Dark Souls II: Sir Alonne. It's set up nicely, has cool music and feels very dynamic. It's a shame the area leading up to him is a slog and not worth actually fighting through. Just running to the boss is basically the way to go. It is one of the co-op areas, Iron King having two of them, and all of them are very bad. However, it's also the only co-op area with a unique boss (The others feature straight up NPCs, a palette swap, and two of another boss we already fought).
Crown of the Ivory King
This one takes us to the frozen over city of Eleum Loyce with a blizzard raging. At release a few people thought it was supposed to be Anor Londo. While that turned out to be false, considering that Irithyll is also a frozen city, it wasn't too far off. The area itself is fairly straightforward, but pretty long. And that's just the first run through it. Because unless you want to either fight an invisible first boss or a second boss with powerful adds you'll have to go through it twice. The second time with the blizzard gone. This removes some of the chunks of ice that either hid paths or additional enemies. There's several lenghty new paths that unlock at this point. As a result this DLC is definitely the longest. I might even say too long. But it also has a part where you roll a snowball down a mountain and it grows large enough to kill several enemies on a bridge and fill a gap within said bridge so you can cross it, unlocking a shortcut back to a place you don't wanna go back to anyway (But you totally could).
The incentive for going through it all again and explore all the additional parts, of course, is to find Knights to assist you during the final boss of the DLC. Otherwise the fight would be you kiting up to four enemies. The idea being that you find the Knights who then sacrifice themselves to shut three portals that constantly spawn tough enemies with a fourth Knight (that is unlocked from the start) being there to help you out with the boss if they're still alive. If you have all the Knights the actual boss will only come out once your Knights have either died or sealed the portals, which can take several minutes. The actual boss fight is actually cool but what comes before every single time you want to fight it is... meh.
Artorias of the Abyss
To many this is the holy grail of Dark Souls DLC. The area itself is solid and more Dark Souls, back when it came out there wasn't much more to ask for besides that. We explore an area we've technically already seen in parts only now we've travelled to the past and it looks quite different. While the initial area is a pretty forest we soon see signs of the Abyss running wild and over the course of the DLC we go deeper and deeper until we eventually end up in the Chasm of the Abyss.
On the way there we have to fight what many find to be the best boss in the series: Artorias of the Abyss. While I disagree on the "best" part it's definitely a great fight and I have to relearn it at least partially every time I play the game again, which is a good thing. The other three bosses aren't bad either. The Sanctuary Guardian greets us right at the beginning of the DLC and with it's aggressiveness is a sign of things to come. Manus is a larger but still very ferocious opponent while Kalameet slows it down a bit again but is still tough and feels like a climax of its own, despite being kind of a bonus fight.
The plot, funnily enough, is a mushroom telling us to save a princess. When I first played this I was half expecting there to be a reference to Bowser instead of Manus at the end.