Dark Souls III PvP: Opinions also Change…

Okay, I haven’t posted anything in awhile because… I’ve been playing Dark Souls 3. Like, a lot.. I also I went on a minor vacation!

Currently with Dark Souls 3 I’m up to about ninety hours on my ‘main character’ and three or four on my ‘side’ character(s). And while I still feel the same way about the PvE aspects of Dark Souls 3 that I mentioned in my review… My opinion on the PvP has changed.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that the PvP in Dark Souls 3 is bad, but I will say that it is in a bad place…

Here’s why:

Invading has been changed for the worse, the current system is not fun.
Currently there isn’t much weapon variety, everyone is using the same weapons.
And poise is broken… A critical system to the game’s combat.

Now, over the course of this post I’m going to say invasion a lot. If you’re unfamiliar with what that means, here’s a quick run down.

In the Souls games there has always been an item that allows you to connect to another player’s game as a hostile entity, and then fight them to the death. One of you lives, the other dies. This can happen at any time that you are in a ‘powered up’ state such as: Alive, Human, or in Dark Souls 3’ case ‘Embered’. This state allows you to have full access to your health pool and to summon other players to help out. You gain this state after beating a boss, helping someone else beat a boss, or using an item.

Being invaded like this has been a mechanic since Demon’s Souls back in 2009. That is to say, seven years.

Ya good? Good!

In Dark Souls 3 Invasions have undergone a major change that render them almost futile. I’m only exaggerating a little bit. Currently the way invasions are coded gives players (Hosts) who have summoned other players (Phantoms) precedent to get invaded. Meaning that playing by yourself gives you a lesser chance of being invaded. Which is a rather positive change, I guess.

Here is where the issue lies. Most people who summon Phantoms don’t stop at just one; players tend to summon two, sometimes three, Phantoms at a time. So, as a Dark Spirit, when you invade someone– there is a very high likelihood of you running into a two, three, or even four on one fight. Which sucks. Some people argue that invaders deserve it.

I think they’re stupid, but that’s another topic altogether.

Now, it doesn’t end there. There is an item called “Dried Fingers” which allows you to increase the number of Phantoms you can have in your game at one time. This is what allows players to summon a third Phantom.

This item simultaneously increases the likelihood of being invaded, and allows for additional concurrent invasions; up to two at a time. By using the Dried Fingers you’re literally asking to be invaded, this is the intended mechanic. The game specifically states that you should use it “with great caution.”

The use of the “Dried Fingers” allows the opportunity for someone to gather three Phantoms, wait for invaders to attack, and have everyone jump the Dark Spirit all at once. This is known as a “gank”; a portmanteau of the words “gang kill”. And as you would expect “ganking”, the act of a ‘gank’, has become common in Dark Souls 3.

Thankfully running into premeditated ‘Gank Squads’ isn’t extremely prevalent; but you will find yourself invading into worlds with at least one, but usually two, Phantoms incredibly frequently. To the point that I can’t honestly recall the last lone Host I invaded.

“Second-degree ganking” has become the norm when it comes to invasions.

You might be wondering why this is an issue. Well it basically comes down to “I don’t like change”. The previous games did not have this problem, and player’s have plenty of ways to avoid being invaded by other players. And the current system present in Dark Souls 3 has Hosts, with reinforcements, asking to be invaded. While invaders, sans reinforcements, aren’t asking to invade multiple people. You can definitely argue that invaders need to “get with the times”; however, the changes FROM Software has made are jarring to say the least.

This becomes more of an issue when the Host uses an item called “Seed of a Tree of Giants” which turns the enemies in the area against the invading Dark Spirit; which are usually their only advantage. Meaning you can find yourself in a 3v1 fight and have to fight ‘the environment’ as well.

Also, as mentioned previously, if the Dried Fingers are in effect another Dark Spirit can invade alongside you. However, they’re not guaranteed to help you. And in many cases are just as much a threat to you as everyone else. Blood for the blood god, and all that.

This issue is exacerbated by the fact that it is incredibly difficult to punish healing in this game. You can get a player one hit away from dying, only to have them run away and heal to full health repeatedly. This can happen many times during a fight, prolonging the experience for everyone involved. You can see this in action in this video, where everyone involved almost dies and fully restores their health multiple times. Sometimes it’s thrilling, other times it’s just a slog.

Invasions were the thing that made the Souls game’s truly unique. They were something that no other game had done before; and it bothers me that they’re currently in such a bad way…They’re not nearly as fun anymore. Hopefully once the newer players move on 3v1 fights won’t be as commonplace. Not to mention that invasion covenants are broken at the time of this writing.

In my opinion it’s a poor system overall when invaders consistently and find themselves in stacked fights. Rather than letting it be luck of the draw, like in previous games. Most people I have talked to about this agree that the system currently broken. Fighting multiple people is definitely fun. But not every single time.

When it comes to PvP as a whole there seems to be a massive disparity between the sheer amount of weapons that are available, and the amount that are actually used.

It seems like everyone is running around using the Dark Sword, the Estoc, the Dragonslayer Greataxe, or the Dragonslayer Swordspear– among other weapons. Eventually you begin to despise these weapons just from seeing them so often… Or maybe that’s me.

You’ll most commonly see people using about thirteen weapons for PvP. From a selection of approximately 150 weapons. Now of course the best of the best are going to rise to the top… But less than one tenth of the overall selection seems relatively low. It’s just boring to see everyone using the same weapons all the time. This will definitely change as the game matures, thankfully.

Currently the PvP scene just feels a bit stagnant.

But the Dark Sword and Estoc also bring up my final point. Poise is missing from the game.

If you don’t know what poise is, I’ll fill you in:

Poise is a system that gives you the benefits of heavier armor. Heavy armor has higher poise than light armor. Light armor give the player more mobility, while heavy armor gives the player more poise. Poise allows you to take more hits, or larger hits, without staggering. It’s the difference between beable to avoid one hit before flinching, or taking a few to the face and not flinching.

Currently the files that manage the poise system are disabled. Meaning it’s completely useless. Bandai Namco released a statement saying this was not supposed to be the case. And have apparently notified FROM Software.

As it stands since poise is currently disabled it’s incredibly easy to get hit, become ‘staggered’, and then get hit again before the flinching animation finishes. Effectively locking you into an animation and allowing your opponent to keep hitting you. The Dark Sword and the Estoc are the biggest offenders here. They do massive poise damage and swing incredibly fast. It’s not uncommon to get nipped by one and then get ‘stun locked’ to death.

This becomes a larger issue when three people are all swinging at you at once giving you literally no way to escape. The lawn mower of doooooom!

All of these things add up to a rather unfun experience. But I will reiterate: the PvP itself isn’t bad, it’s just in a bad place. When it’s good, it’s gooooood. When it’s bad, it makes the burning rage of a thousand suns well up inside me.

At this point I would still definitely recommend the game, but maybe with a qualifying statement.

“Dude, totally get Dark Souls 3. Just know that the PvP is kinda crap right now.”

It’s not fun to invade into another player’s world, get attacked by three people at the same time– all of them swinging their Dark Swords with reckless abandon which pushes you into a tight corner giving you way to escape because you literally cannot move.

I made this little video that basically summarizes all of these points in about 20 seconds.

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