I’ve been playing a lot of Dark Souls 3 lately, after getting into the series two years ago. The Souls series offers a hefty challenge for players, especially found in the bosses, that will more often than not, grind your bones into dust. Before the game released though, a buddy of mine posted on Facebook that he would be playing the game offline, much like he did with 2015’s Bloodborne, so that he could experience the game without seeing messages or hints about where to go, or any secrets that are hidden.
It hearkens back to schoolyard discussions, when you would tell your friend to play Saria’s song to Darunia and he would dance and give you the means to access Dodongo’s Cavern. Dark Souls 3, along with it’s predecessor’s, features a message system with pre-set configurations or phrases, that you can lay on the ground and it will appear in someone’s game. Messages can include “Trap ahead”, warning you of a particularly nasty trap. Or “Try lightning” to indicate that the boss or enemy is weak to lightning. These messages can also tell you about any hidden walls, or secrets in the area. It’s a neat little feature, and something that I always take part in whenever I play.
To see these messages though, you have to be logged in online. The game also features co-op play, where it will pull random players into your world to help with the boss of an area, when you touch their summon sign. There’s also PVP in the form of invasions, where players will hunt you down to impede your progress, and earn an item to further their standing in a covenant. With all these features being online, you might ask “Why would you want to play offline? You can have help with the boss, and find out where the secret areas are. Invasions sound like they suck, but everything else is just a bonus!” The answer is simple: discovery.
The Souls’ games are all about discovering things; items, secrets, boss strategies, the tidbits of lore that the game tells you, what elements are good against what enemies. You’re constantly discovering new things in the game, hidden walls, a new weapon that will become your favorite, crafting materials to strengthen that weapon, optional bosses, completely missable areas. The games are packed with content that’s just waiting to be discovered.
Playing offline lets you truly be the Christopher Columbus of Dark Souls, and there’s no feeling quite like making these discoveries on your own.
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