In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Andy lends a hand in Dark Souls 3.
I’m bad at Dark Souls, and that’s why I’ve always avoided co-op. If anyone summoned me into their game, it would probably be a waste of time. But after fifteen hours with Dark Souls 3, the longest I’ve ever lasted in a Souls game, I’m starting to feel like I might be of use to someone. I still suck, but I can kill most things, and I know the High Wall of Lothric inside out.
The first real boss, Vordt of the Boreal Valley, is pretty easy once you learn its attack pattern. And I know it well enough to beat it without taking a hit, so I thought, why not help some players who are having trouble? Dark Souls is a game filled with misery, death, and despair. If I can provide just one faint ray of sunshine for someone, surely it’s worth a shot?
I drop my soapstone at the entrance to Vordt’s chamber. This makes a white sign appear in other people’s games, giving them the option to invite me in. Seconds later a message tells me I’m being summoned. A burly knight is waiting for me, and bows as my shimmering phantom form materialises in front of him. He passes through the white fog, alerting the boss to his presence, and soon we’re in combat with the beast.
Dark Souls has, until this point, been a rather lonely experience. But sharing the world with another player, it doesn’t seem so dark. Vordt doesn’t stand a chance against our combined might. It falls, and as its body disappears and the game prepares to transport me back to my own world, we bow again. It’s the first time Dark Souls hasn’t felt utterly oppressive to me.
And that’s it. I’m hooked. I must have fought Vordt 20 times today. I like how the battle is slightly different each time depending on how many players are summoned and what their particular skills are. But mostly I just like the idea of helping someone who’s finding the boss too challenging. This will be a lot of people’s first Dark Souls experience, and even though veterans will breeze through Vordt, it’s a trial by fire for some.
And, of course, the fact that I’m earning souls for each victory sweetens the deal. This is a much more enjoyable way of farming souls than running solo through the same areas over and over again. I’ve levelled up several times and stockpiled a decent amount of embers, which are awarded every time you successfully vanquish a boss in co-op.
I’m sure people have had much more interesting, challenging co-op experiences than this across the Souls series. But this is my very first experience with it, and it’s a nice change of pace. As well as the practical benefits like souls and embers, I find the ability to bring some positivity to the gloomy world of Dark Souls equally rewarding.
It’s also a great opportunity to experiment with the game’s expressive, often hilarious gesture system, which Tom wrote about last week. I love communicating with players using this, and you can tell a lot about the person who’s summoned you by their in-game body language. Anyone who bows is, in my limited experience, a decent sort.
As I get better at the game and master more boss battles, I’ll be making it my sworn duty to place my soapstone and help struggling players. It makes me feel like an armour-clad superhero, spriting between worlds, lending a helping hand to those in need. I’m glad I gave co-op a chance in Dark Souls 3, and it’s made me appreciate the game on a whole new level.