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Software & Web Development

Dark Souls III (PC) review impressions: Die in 60 glorious frames per second

Dark Souls III doesn’t officially release until April 11 but for whatever reason the review embargo lifts today. I haven't come anywhere close to completing it, having spent most of the last two weeks with various virtual reality headsets strapped to my face.

I did emerge from my VR chrysalis for a few hours this weekend to give the PC version a shot, though—just a quick “It runs and it looks beautiful” look at the game. I didn’t make it very far past what I’d already played in previous press demos, but the difference playing on a PC is stunning, particularly after struggling through the last press event on an Xbox One.

The 60 frames per second, incredible draw distance, and jaw-dropping lighting effects make this easily the prettiest Souls game on record. I’ve always been fond of the world-building in this series, and it’s clear the commitment to a new console generation this time around has done wonders for the scope of not just boss encounters but just the general openness of levels.

And unlike the Xbox, the PC version looks great without compromising performance. I’ve been pushing the game at maximum on my GeForce GTX 980 Ti and it’s generally maintained a steady 60 frames per second, though I’ve noticed a few loading stutters occasionally. Never anywhere important.

So yeah, it seems solid on the technical side.From Software really put the work in on this PC version, though I’ve yet to see how the servers hold. I’m technically connected to the Internet but few people are playing, which means few people are leaving messages and nobody is really invading/partnering up. I’m looking forward to the online population filling out a bit in the near future.

As for the game itself? Coming from a casual admirer of the series, I’d say it’s fairly unforgiving from the get-go. If you’ve never played a Dark Souls game before...well, you probably just aren’t interested. But if you are interested then you’d be better off starting with one of the others, as Dark Souls III seems like it expects some general level of competence out of players almost immediately.

I’m also not a fan of the new “corrupted” enemies, or whatever they’re officially called—low-level creatures that then mutate into what looks like a big ball of black cancer. They give a good “Oh #@&$” scare the first time you see one transform, but they have a tendency to clip through walls and hit you when it should be impossible (standard Dark Souls annoyances), and up close they become an unreadable, camera-filling mess. Given that I appreciate Dark Souls largely as a puzzle/action blend, this sort of enemy just strikes me as obnoxious.

Maybe this is the challenge people need though, for all those poor souls still chasing that first Dark Souls high. Look for the game to release next Monday, April 11. I’ll be here punching holes in my wall.

IDG Insider

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