Review: Crown of the Ivory King – Dark Souls II DLC

Review: Crown of the Ivory King – Dark Souls II DLC

Last updated on August 22nd, 2015

Three community members share their experiences, opinions and conclusions regarding the Dark Souls II DLC: Crown of the Ivory King

The final chapter of the Lost Crown trilogy “Crown of the Ivory King” is finally arrived. This time, it is set at the frozen kingdom, Eleum Loyce.  A kingdom covered with snow, blizzard, and the branch of Chaos throughout the city. Inside the city, it is covered with snow, massive scale of stone houses, creatures covered with snow, and a voice which sounds unpleasant… it turns out to be surprising.

Among the whole three chapters, this chapter has the largest and most dynamic map layout.  One can explore and revisit without getting bored. The DLC adds a large collection of weapons with sorcery based special attack, and above all the Bone Fist, which provides inhuman strength and martial art movements upon wearing it on the right hand. Which is good for dueling enthusiasts, a minor complaint would be the massive requirement of Twinkling Titanites which would make upgrading become tedious.  Other than that, the contents are plentiful and rich.

Bone Fist with Blast

Because the land is frozen in a blizzard, enemies are naturally covered with snow and crystals.  Note that crystals are associated with sorcery for those who are familiar with the past lores of Dark Souls. We have the Rampart Soldiers, who casts spell from their crystallized weapons, we have hedgehogs which adapted the notorious Bonewheel Skeleton’s nature through hard environment, and we’ll uncover the very origin of the Witchtrees in the Dark Chasm, and more. Could that mean Lord Aldia, the unseen figure who was behind the ecology of Drangleic as well as Vendrick’s elder brother, would influence the land continuously to some degree? Or the creatures of Loyce are entirely different to Drangleic and beyond Aldia’s influence? This leaves to you to explore.

A minor personal tip about those creatures is: they’re vulnerable to the Dark.

The bosses in the final chapter are a mixture, dynamic and yet somehow shallow. The Ivory King had seven pets for protecting his wife, Alsanna.  While we’ll encounter three of them at different areas, Aava will be the first one you’ll meet, while the other two are lurking at a place where you aren’t supposed to be. Aava’s no normal pet, Aava is an invisible figure who’ll utilize its raw power and sorcery.  Although it isn’t invincible, you just needed to explore wisely, and gear up your magic defense. Eventually, you’ll have a meeting with the Ivory King.  He’s corrupted, but not pale, and beating him solely is simply unwise, but where’re the allies? Can you reunite them? It’ll be up to you.

If you’re interested in the lore, then this chapter would be the best out of three, it’s somehow parallel to the events in Lordran, the Witch of Chaos, and the last daughter came from Manus, the Father of Abyss.

reindeer

The following content contains spoilers, you’re advised to view it after completing the journey.

Ivory King was once the highest ranking knight in his home of Forossa, famed for its god of war. After taking his crown, they say he was the first to swing his sword in times of need (be it for his homeland or his people), was ever merciful, and devoted himself to the protection of his great land.  Until he was devoured by the flames of chaos. Does it remind you of Gwyn? The Lord of Cinder who cast himself into the flame for his people? And
the Flame of Chaos, it is now left uncontrolled, plaguing the Loyce to a degree someone has to seal the land with ice.  Are the Witchtrees the branches of the Chaos? Regardless of the answer, the corrupted king’s story is rather tragic, and it’ll remind you of old memories.

Alsanna is another notable figure.  She’s the one behind the incident.  She was born from the Dark, the fragment of Manus’ Fear. However, she and Nadalia are not evil, and she’s the only one who’ll actively guide the Chosen Undead to undo the Chaos for the Ivory King and the Loyce Knights. And she’ll remain until the very knight is saved. By the time you accomplish her wish, I can assure tears will be inside your eyes, always.

Remember the previous crowns you’ve obtained.  At the very last, they’ll now serve actual purpose once you’ve reunited four of them, as now you can finally uncover the cure of the Undead Curse.  It might seem petty, but we need to understand, we all fear the curse, Hollowing.  And now, we have the cure for it.  It may not be a great power, but a humble gift for the Chosen Undead. It is left to you to discover.

Despite the natural ending to the restless journey, there’re still a few mysteries left untold, which are disappointments. We now understand Ivory King is not Lord Aldia, the mastermind behind Drangleic’s ecology and Vendrick’s elder brother.  The worst above all, Aldia did not take a physical appearance throughout the trilogy, making a mysterious entity become a shallow being.  Not having his name mentioned, he’s now only an unseen bookworm without physical form rather than a mastermind, which is a disappointment. Another minor complaint would be Emerald Herald having absolutely no lore connection with the Lost Crowns, as if she’s unaware of everything and only acted as a mascot.

Overall, the pricing is moderate if downloaded separately and inexpensive under Season Pass. I highly recommend purchasing season pass instead of separate chapters for the full experience at half price, as well as the rich weapon and armor collections.

P.S.
Before 13th October, the Longsword with Moonlight Sword colour scheme can be acquired from Majula Mansion.  Although it is decorative and it served no purpose, for aesthetics it is simply beautiful, especially if used with Moonlight-type weapons together as a sidearm.

So we have come to the third DLC for Dark Souls 2. Crown of the Ivory King brings players to the snowy lands of Eleum Loyce. Players familiar with prior Souls games might think that Loyce bears eerie similarities to Lordran or Boletaria; a kingdom enclosed by great walls. Only the icy atmosphere of snow logged roofing and high, powdery slopes mark what would otherwise be a modest location.

The player’s quest through Loyce recalls challenges we’ve been faced with before in Shulva and Brume Tower. Like Shulva, our excursion is long winded and requires a taste for exploration. Like Brume, the player is confronted with boss battles which alter in the scenarios they are experienced according to what the player does (or doesn’t do) in the course of their affairs. Like both, the main horde of adversaries are drifting, mindless knights that haunt the grounds of their former kingdom. A co-op area again remains for expanded challenge, but is not essential.

I used the same Bandit character as the one detailed in my Crown of the Iron King review, now freshly armed from the loot acquired in the prior zone and now improved to soul level 105. I used no magic to complete this quest, relying on swords, shields, and bows. In my travels through Loyce I equipped myself with new pillages.  Though it should be stated that none of the new weapons predominated the ones I had before, with the exception of a new greatbow that out-scaled my trusty Alonne variant. What did find permanent homes on my equip screen were new outfits and rings that mirrored Brume for a variety of new benefits (though some also with balanced penalties). Mages and Clerics will have a few new additions, though sorcerers and hexers might be perplexed by some of the new choices presented to them. To round off elemental balances, players will find the last two clutch rings here, completing the set we’ve been collecting since Shulva.

DSII-DLC3-11-Sweep_Kick

A major change in this new world of Loyce are the ramifications facing dedicated co-op players. Immediately after locating your first bonfire you are presented with a clear path choice; left or right. Going left takes you straight to a fog gate, where you will battle the first boss. The surprise of an early battle is quickly filled with confusion, however, as it becomes apparent to the wise that a particular handicap makes victory difficult. To head right and explore the wintry kingdom of Loyce will give players a chance to summon other players via large soapstones,though many paths and treasures will be out of reach at this point. Only after defeating the area boss can players hope to properly map all the nooks and crannies, thus acquiring all the loot available. What this means for co-op is that players will be limited to their small soapstones for the return visit, where exploration truly matters. This is an interesting dynamic to the third DLC, favoring either the solo experience or a more limited cooperation with other players.

Secrets await to be unearthed, though more interesting is the continuing trend of clever invasion scenarios. As if to mock (or pay homage to) certain player tropes oft of the troll variety, particular phantoms appear in Loyce to match certain behaviors best seen on youtube. It all adds for a more dynamic invasion experience with NPCs. In my own game I only found myself invaded by one player, who met a fierce death thanks to the benefit of a new ring. Enemies themselves have their tricks and a revision of the golems from Drangleic castle make certain rooms more risk heavy if a player is careless, but generally tried and true tactics prevail whereas encounters in Brume Tower forced players to think outside the box. This is perhaps a little disappointing, though these adversaries are still stronger than most from the main game. Still, it was clear to me half way through that Crown of the Ivory King is perhaps the easiest of the Dark Souls 2 DLCs.

Of note is a final boss that rivals Shulva’s slumbering dragon in terms of presentation. This adversary presents a showdown denied to us in the last two DLCs, but is dependent on the player’s ability to locate certain NPCs throughout Loyce. The concept of building an enclave of knights to fight alongside the player and circumvent a pre-boss battle is new for Dark Souls. The subsequent final enemy itself is perhaps unremarkable when compared to those in Brume Tower, but the presentation itself is a fitting locale for what is likely to be the last major battle in Dark Souls 2.

Eleum Loyce Coffin

There is also the inclusion of a speaking NPC in the form of a fourth child of dark. This former queen is unique for being the only speaking character in all three DLCs as well as being more benign than her sisters.  She serves by providing more dialogue and revealing much about the complicated fates of Manus’s offspring. The exchanges are arguably the most interesting sequence of story available in Dark Souls 2 as a whole and are perhaps the strongest links to the first game.

In other respects, the third DLC is perhaps slightly less compelling than its predecessors. In this player’s opinion, I found myself more content with Brume Tower in terms of overall challenge and more enamored with Shulva’s tone and atmosphere. What is true is that all three kingdoms, Loyce, Shulva, and the expanse of Brume Tower are stronger and more refreshing than any presented in the core game. Replace any three areas from Dark Souls 2 with these and the retail experience would have been better for it. This reveals a disappointing aspect of the main game, in that it took three DLCs to scale new ground and not just rely on trends set from Demon’s Souls. I enjoyed the game immensely upon release, but It was not until I purchased these DLCs that I found myself experiencing locations that were better than those of the first Dark Souls.

Important reasons for playing Loyce are for additional items that will better your pvp experience or embolden you to start new characters. Being the weakest of the three DLCs is no reason not to try it.  This is for the same reason that the weakest DLC in an exceptional game like Fallout: New Vegas is still better on its own than many other standalone games. My point of view is this; if you’ve stuck by the game up until this point then you have no good reason to stop short of experiencing Loyce. If you’ve been dissatisfied with many elements of Dark Souls 2 up to now then Loyce will not be the panacea for your ills. For everyone else, enjoy! For we have time yet until Bloodborne.

As a fan of From Software’s RPG titles since their debut of King’s Field in 1994, there is no doubt that they are the champions of setting the dark mood we have all come to expect and enjoy in their most recent franchise: Dark Souls. Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 have pioneered a new path in immersive, seamless gaming environments, capturing the essence of despair in a brutal setting leaving players wanting more and more.

From Software heard the cry and has developed 3 add-on DLCs for Dark Souls 2.  The latest and final being the Crown of the Ivory King. I say the word ‘add-on’ because each part is really not what I would consider an expansion pack as they do not require the player to have completed the game nor give a balanced reward for post game level equipment. Overall, for $9.99 apiece I found the first two expansions satisfying, but unfortunately the Crown of the Ivory King just felt like a ripoff.

The setting: a snow ravaged kingdom set upon the cliffs of an arctic wasteland.  This is From’s first real dabbling into this type of environment, and I can say I feel they pulled off the look and feel of a frigid wasteland quite well. The snow blinds you as you explore the depths of the new areas and the new enemies, and lore and equipment are suitable for this ice blasted hell. Most of the environments in this add-on pack are well made, constructed of unique models jammed with nooks and crannies in a sort of maze like feel.

Snowy field

This DLC consists of three areas: The Castle and Ramparts, the lower suburb and the frigid exiles. Your progression through the areas is mostly random, the only thing keeping you from completing this expansion is the need of a key (which isn’t a key at all but just an item that lets you see invisible mobs) which you can find within the first 10 minutes of exploration.  After that you can simply teleport back to the very first bonfire, finish two back to back bosses and get congratulated with a lack luster thank you from the queen of old Eleum Loyce. This unfortunately was my experience as I found myself looting the Ivory Crown in under 45 mins of starting the expansion and wondering what on earth I paid $9.99 for?

Of course this isn’t really the end…right? Well From did intend for you to spend a bit more time roaming the areas of the castle rescuing 4 knights that will battle the King boss with you if you so choose, but I can say their help is totally unnecessary to burn him down. There is also some nonsense about farming 50 knight souls (which will take you probably 40+ sessions of fighting and retreating to get) from the boss room to exchange for a rather ho-hum set of armor from the queen.

But that is not all folks…oh no, it gets worse. What can we do to the player as a final thank you for purchasing and enduring all of this otherwise amazing game has to offer? The Frigid Wastes my friends, the absolute most annoying and poorly designed environment in any RPG in my personal opinion.

Now before you go say that I am a cry baby and that Dark Souls 2 is for real gamers, note I am on NewGame +5, so I have had my fair share of difficult situations, cheap gameplay and so on from this series.  But none of that compares to the Frigid Exile area of the game.

golem kicking butt

If being snow blind 55 out of every 60 seconds wasn’t bad enough, add in a continuous stream of annoying reindeer enemies that come out of nowhere and harass you constantly as you try to make your way across a white out environment toward an unknown destination. Throw in two worthless summonable NPCs who typically go wandering off into the distance or fall off the ledge before the boss door and you have recipe for disaster.

I wish I could say the disappointment ended there, but no, beyond the boss door fog comes probably the biggest let down of the entire game. Earlier on I mentioned fighting two bosses back to back, well they now make you fight two more bosses at the same time, but they are cheaply made reskins of the same first boss of this DLC. Once these optional bosses are defeated don’t expect a cut scene or even good boss soul loot.  This is probably my biggest disappointment about the whole DLC of Dark Souls 2.  The fact the gear is not of a higher quality than what you already have going into the DLC areas in the first place.

All in all, to get the most out of the DLC’s, you have to purchase all three.  The final reward requires all three king’s crowns otherwise I would definitely give Crown of the Ivory King a thumb’s down. To me it was not well thought out and probably should have been a cheaper DLC. Overall I believe From Software should have released the Crown trilogy as a single DLC for $15 and it would have been worth the cost.

If you like cheap game play, uninspired and mish mash story archs, mundane loot tables and an excursion of life as a penguin, then this DLC is for you!

 


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7 comments on “Review: Crown of the Ivory King – Dark Souls II DLC”

  1. Avatar TheManWhoLaughs says:

    Cool to see these up, interesting views expressed from everyone else involved. I really enjoyed contributing.

  2. Avatar Praise-the-sun says:

    I cant be arsed to gather all the white knights so i keep soloing, subpar dlc imo.

    Thief edit Image

  3. Avatar Thief says:

    Nice review, Haz! Thanks for putting all of that together from a Souls gamer’s point of view.

  4. aceluby says:

    Very nice reviews everyone. Well done!

  5. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Reviews shared to tweeter and such – feel free to re-share if you liked it so more people get a chance to read :)

    It’s been great reading everyone’s reviews. I’ll try and come up with some article open calls for other stuff too! As usual, remember the blog is open to all contributions :D

  6. Avatar Mhazard says:

    A minor correction: it’s 13th October, not 15th, so be quick for your Moonlight Longsword.

  7. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Updated the date for Moonlight Sword :)


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