Postcards From the Abyss–Part 3: The Dark Knight (Artorias)
Holy cow, you guys. Soooo much has happened since the last time I posted. Remember how I said I’d spent 130 hours in Dark Souls? Make that 150 now. I have spent almost 20 hours with the new Artorias of the Abyss (minus a few for some side treks into the rest of Lordran), and I love everything about it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Last time I left off having just defeated an invader as I began my trek into the Royal Wood area. Scarecrows and Stone Guardians abound in Royal Wood, but you can avoid a good chunk of them if you’re not interested in treasure hunting. After making my way through the area, I finally arrived on the outskirts of Oolacile Township, a great hub that leads to a few different areas, kind of like the Undead Parish in Lordran. From there, you can travel down into a valley and fight a dragon, or move into the township proper by defeating Knight Artorias, which is the route I chose to take.
The story behind Knight Artorias is that he was a great hero who, along with his trusty wolf Sif, battled the forces of the Abyss, led by Manus, Father of the Abyss (more on him later) as they tried to rescue Princess Dusk of Oolacile. The task proved too much for the duo, and Artorias ended up sacrificing himself to protect Sif. He was corrupted by the Abyss, and his corrupted form is who you face as the second boss in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.
And what a fight Artorias puts up. The first couple of times I tried to battle him myself, just to feel him out and guage his attacks. He wields a greatsword and has some attack patterns that are similar to Sif, where he spins in an arc with the blade. He throws an inky substance (the Abyss itself?) in an arc around him, and getting coated in it saps HP. Neither of those is what did me in, though. I actually got in some good licks, and thought I was managing his attacks well, when he dropped the hammer on me. Artorias can charge up his power, then leap into the air and perform either a spinning attack or a giant slash. The giant slash was the one I got caught in a few times, and it’s a killer.
After seeing the range of attacks Artorias had to offer, I summoned in an ally and we were able to take him down. The key alternating attacks so he was always distracted by one of us. There were times where he would roll right into the other one. Even with two of us, it was a tough battle, and a leaping attack almost took out my ally in one hit. We managed to survive, though, and I was able to press into Oolacile Township.
But I didn’t. Not right away, anyway.
After beating Artorias, I spent some time helping others through the battle as well. That’s the great thing about the way multiplayer works in Dark Souls. It’s like an unwritten code. There will be times in the game where you will need someone else’s help to get through a tough battle. And when you are able to summon someone into your game, it’s because they are making themselves available to be summoned. They are putting a symbol on on the ground and then waiting for someone to reach out. Sometimes you get summoned two minutes after you put your symbol down. Sometimes it’s ten minutes, or twenty, or forty, or more. That means there are times in Dark Souls when you are literally doing nothing other than waiting to see if someone needs your help.
How awesome is that? I like to think of it as being “on duty.” Whenever someone helps me through a tough boss fight, I make sure to come back to that area and see if other people need help. Sometimes I’ll grab a book and read for a couple of hours, leaving my summon sign out and my character waiting. I might only get three or four summons in that time, but that’s okay.
When I do get summoned, my character bows to the person that brought me there, and then we go to battle together. It’s a beautiful thing. There are many times when we fail, either because I died or the summoner did, and I am sent home to my world, likely never to see that other player again. But when we succeed? It’s a moment that I’ve never experienced in any other series of games.
The whole summoning aspect of multiplayer also functions as a way of grinding for souls to level up your character and gear. With my first few forays into Oolacile Township, and the Chasm of the Abyss below that area, it became clear I would need to level up some before completing those sections.
But more about that next time…