Review

Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Old Iron King Review

  • Game release: March 11, 2014
  • Reviewed: August 27, 2014
  • PS3
  • X360

Ashes to clashes.

The worlds of the Souls games have consistently excelled in conveying a sense of history. There's the impression that their castles and other fortifications have changed ownership by various invaders many times over. The kingdom of Drangleic in Dark Souls II not only feels ancient, but haunted as well. In the Crown of the Old Iron King add-on, the ashen bodies that litter the open spaces of Brume Tower effectively echo the flash-heated victims of Pompeii. Merely touching them casts their fragile shapes into the wind, which is inevitable given that they're littered around the game's fields of battle. Dark Souls might be punishing, but it doesn't punish you for disrespecting the departed, not surprising for a series that encourages the player to embrace death.

Whereas the South-American-inspired temple in Sunken King helped give the first DLC an aptly disconnected feel from the main game, there's a sense that Old Iron King is meant as natural extension of Iron Keep. It's as if Brume Tower were the original mine and furnace of Drangleic, and Iron Keep were built as the fancier upgrade. It explains the lack of moving parts in the map's various towers. In a land strewn with large misplaced gears and other clockwork pieces, Brume Tower is both antiquated and charming. It's of little surprise that recovering the towers' keys and switches make up many of this DLC's objectives. These towers, by the way, are impressively intricate and are more involving than Dark Souls II's other vertical areas, like The Pit. Brume Tower feels like a fortification built around its towers as opposed to the other way around.

Unlike the pervasively dark Sunken King DLC, Old Iron King offers sunlight and digital Vitamin D.

The settings of Crown of the Old Iron King are both fantastical and relatable, but nowhere near practical. Gigantic suits of armor hang inexplicably under elevator platforms, hinting that humans10 times normal size once protected Drangleic. A part of me laughs at the sight of enormous chain link bridges made of actual chains. I nervously get the camera angle just right so I don't fall off and wonder if I'll have to endure combat on these narrowest of bridges. From Software would be cruel enough to subject us to such tribulations. As it turns out, you won't have to fight anyone on these chains, unless you lack foresight and lure an enemy there yourself. At that point, any deaths on the chains are all on you.

Explore thoroughly enough and you eventually find Iron Passage. Given its cavernous, yet tight spaces and its deep roster of demons, this optional area is a clear follow-up to the Cave of the Dead from Crown of the Sunken King. These caves would be the most challenging sections of the Lost Crowns trilogy if not for the two helpful phantoms you can summon. This cavernous journey concludes with a duel against a blue variant of the Smelter Demon, further underscoring the uninspired boss designs of these expansions. Same goes for Fume Knight, a mandatory opponent in Brume Tower who dual-wields melee weapons not unlike The Pursuer and Old Dragonslayer.

If you seek variety, look to Old Iron King's lesser foes. Agile assassins exhibit talents with small blades, lightning spells, and short distance teleportation, so killing them feels all the more gratifying. The most frightening group of creatures appears around the DLC's halfway point: portly humanoids that crawl toward you due to their missing legs. They're especially creepy when they charge at you and self-destruct in an explosion of flame. Picture the legless T-800 at the end of The Terminator mixed with the fireballs in the Final Fantasy series.

In Iron Keep, there was an odd ease and simplicity in dipping a group of enemies into a lethal pool of lava by the pull of a switch. Similar conveniences appear in this DLC, provided you're able to spot these situational tricks before you fall victim to these traps yourself. Brume Tower is populated with mutants who carry barrels of explosive and flammable liquid. Their bow-legged movement makes them look scarier than they actually are. Their non-hostile behavior should be your first clue of their usefulness. Much like the windmill puzzle in Dark Souls II, this DLC provides its share of "Ah-ha!" moments, which almost always reveal themselves as you continue to explore and take stock of your surroundings.

I've grown to be that person who can stand in an old building and envision the ghosts of those who have roamed its halls. It's an achievement when a digital environment can trigger similar meditations, something that the Souls games have pulled off time and time again. From Software is keenly aware of this, as evidenced by a memorable, and more importantly, playable flashback sequence of Dark Souls II. What is noteworthy about Crown of the Old Iron King is how it conveys a deep sense history without the help of a flashback. Its slumbering defenses await your arrival, just as they have for countless heroes before and for those who'll follow in your footsteps. It's these guardians who act as the connective tissue between past and present, formidable as always.

The Good
Feels like a natural extension of the main game
Rich in implied history
Environments are inspired by reality but still seem otherworldly
Abundant in challenging and enjoyable combat
The Bad
Like the last DLC, more uninspiring bosses
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Dark Souls II

About the Author

Having thoroughly played Dark Souls II, Miguel Concepcion felt that Crown of the Old Iron King was a proverbial old pair of shoes, one that he walked in for an additional ten hours. His appreciation for the history of places and objects hits close to his own home, a townhouse built on the former site of a newspaper publisher.

Discussion

69 comments
Abdulrahman1981
Abdulrahman1981

How do you play this game? I wanted to play the previous DLC and downloaded it but I don't know what to do next?

GunEye
GunEye

I have a questions guys.

I have yet to buy the DLC season pass, do you think it will be on sale sometime in the Autumn Steam sales or something?

Also, I am over SL 240 in Drangliec Castle, on my first NG playthrough. I will eventually progress to finish the game, I was thinking of saving the DLC for NG+ so I can concentrate on finishing the main story + making the DLC more difficult, what do you think I should do?

Dark_Rage
Dark_Rage

This game .. i just couldn't get into this game. I wanted to, by all means, but have been unsuccessful.

TheBruuz
TheBruuz

It actually took this dlc to teach me that summoning npc to help you out increases boss stats (more hitpoints for one, don't know about anything else), something I was unaware of before. 

I kept failing Fume with npc help, solo was the way to go.

neonmoss
neonmoss

I ridiculously enjoyed Dark Souls, investing around 800 hours in multiple characters of all classes to the typical PVP levels (75, 125, 200), and I proudly owned it on PC along with 360/PS3, but the 2nd was strangely uninteresting? Maybe I played the mechanics of Dark Souls 1 too much and 2 was boring due to that? 

devone23
devone23

This review could use some improvement in my opinion. I think this is the first article by Mr. Concepcion that I have read, but the abundance of actual game details (boss types, enemy types) is too much (again, my opinion only). It starts to sound a little like a walkthrough. 


I don't know what others think, but when I read a review I want to know whether I should buy the game while finding out as little about the actual detailed contents as possible. This is especially true for a game like Dark Souls 2, where the mystery is half of the fun.


Anyway, my 2 cents. I know you don't need to cater your writing to every single anonymous reader.

franzito
franzito

Much better than the first one. Fume Knight will give you nightmares.

Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

I heard Dark Souls 2 wasn't as good as Dark Souls so I felt worried to spend money on it (games are very expensive here in Australia)... can anyone convince me this is worth it? or should I wait for Bloodborne to (maybe... one day... come to PC).

I really liked Dark Souls too... particularly the intertwining, interconnected levels and I've head DS2 doesn't have any of that.

rasterorsoniu13
rasterorsoniu13

I loved this dlc, it's even better then the great Crown of the Sunken King. The environment is fantastic, and it is very creative in its design. And it's very challenging, at least all solo in off-line mode on NG+. 


**SPOILERS** Fume Knight is hard as hell, reminiscent of Artorias the Abysswalker in battle and difficulty, and is actually the dark soul of Raime. Sir Alonne was a unique surprise and fun, although a pretty easy boss, despite being optional. The arena you fight him is breathtaking. 


Really excited for Crown of the Ivory King!

Paoksis
Paoksis

I hope after the last dlc there is some sort of a big boss after you take all the crowns,that would be epic


Also i really liked the bosses in this dlc,all except the smelter demon which is the same from the basic game with different skin.They might not be spectacular to watch like Sihn,the Slumbering dragon but they are really fun to play against


Also i really liked the atmosphere and whole dungeon structure better than the previous.Crown of the sunken king went boring after a bit,while felt much more interesting with hidden treasures and small areas to explore.


I hope the Ivory King ends up even better and finishes to an amazing climax!

madara86
madara86

OH and Software STOP with the dam patches your killing the games for every 1 i'm level 400 and my chr feels like lv 50 thanks to your dam stupid way of thinking!!!!

madara86
madara86

DLC is a 4 at best. Environments are bland with bad level design and bosses are unimaginative.

its a good excuse to go back to play ds2 but nothing more, 'i'm hoping the last dlc will have more original, "how the hell am i gona take that giant Monster down" type moments. As apart from the Ancient Dragon every boss in Darksouls 2 was below imaginative standards.    

Darkmoone1
Darkmoone1

Just migrated to the PC version. I have ALOT of catching up to do!

Gomtor
Gomtor

This DLC is ... punishing.  The way its meant to be.

TheDarkNut
TheDarkNut

Damn excited but I have to wait for the 3 dlcs to be released.

I think I need to do another playthrough. I stopped for months, went back for a bit and i was rekt esp in PvP. Forgot all about my builds and play style. :(

diabloakaSAHA
diabloakaSAHA

Better dlc, an epic end boss, challenging difficulty that makes the vanilla game feel like a pushover. Verdict: BUY NOW!!!!!

Also has to be said, PRAISE THE SUN..

wexorian
wexorian

That last boss in memory was epic like artorias and gwyn. This dlc was better than sunken crown overall.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

The one boss I did like was the... Hmm (for no spoiler complaints) The one requiring Hidden Mist Heart. One of my favourite boss battles in a Souls game ever. Very rewarding when you beat him with taking no damage.


Otherwise yes, the DLC is actually worse than Sunken King in my view.

hector530
hector530

the bosses were awful, lazy design just plain lazy

fromsoft can seemly only make humanoid boss with big weapons

dominoodle
dominoodle

I found the first DLC to be a bit of a pain. Playing a sorcerer and i feel like i'm at a disadvantage compared to a melee character, where i didn't feel that way at all in the main game.


Maybe i'll give this one a shot.


Also, super excited for Bloodborne!

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

Its funny how game companies make the game all at once, than hold back some missions to charge you for later.

JRD1912
JRD1912

@Abdulrahman1981 There are statues you need to use to enter the DLC.  First one is in Black Gulch primal bonfire.  Second at primal bonfire in the Iron Keep.

kindlewithcare
kindlewithcare

@GunEye sl 240 on NG is a bit of an overkill. I would progress to NG+ to play the DLC's. They are a lot more fun after NG just like everything else in Dark Souls 2.

xzMasteRzx
xzMasteRzx

@neonmoss The first game was built with artistic story in mind. Churches and item descriptions told a myriad of stories. Hordes of enemies were not frustratingly hard. Contrary to popular belief, the theme of the game is not to die at every turn, but rather, being rewarded for being skilled enough to get in Death's face and laugh and you are now it's master. The second game...didn't really do that. Enemies want to kill you and the mechanics of DS2 are focused around dying than trying to outplay 100 enemies. In fact, the PvP is kind of destroyed, especially for DEX players. But it's still a great game. 

TheBruuz
TheBruuz

@Lord_Python1049 In Dark Souls, you couldn't teleport from one bonfire to the other, which you can in DS2. That explains the need for the interconnectivity in DS, and not so much in DS2. The layout in DS was nothing short of genius, and it improves immersion somewhat over DS2.


DS2 has it's own unfrogettable moments though. I especially liked the fog-zone with ghostly, near invisible enemies, making for intense exploration and jitters when one of them backstabs you out of nowhere ;P

Also, fighting the biggest frigging dragon in the history of any game I can remember. It's an optional fight, but that thing is just awesome.

Darkmoone1
Darkmoone1

@Lord_Python1049 Trust me, it's not only a worthy Dark Souls game, but a worthy Sequel as well. Almost everything has been improved from the combat to the ever maintained difficulty, or the different weapon variations and many ways to fight enemies. The only thing that did not improve was the atmosphere, but that doesn't hold Dark Souls 2 back from being a great installment in the franchise.

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

@Lord_Python1049 I have over 500 hrs put on the game and Im still enjoying making new builds and playing through the DLCs. The game is totally worth every single penny,dont listen to the idi0t whining l0sers, they probably suck terribly at the game anyway.

franzito
franzito

@Lord_Python1049 Dark Souls II is not as epic as the first one but it never feels cheap or a big expansion of the first one. Although many bosses lack imagination, they continue to be hard. There is also a lot of reuse of previous equipment (weapons, armors, rings etc.). But in the end, new things like using Estus Flask Shards to enhance the Estus Flask healing power, little less stones are required to level up weapons and such, new intriguing characters and the decreasing number of enemies after some kills make a solid game.


It goes without saying that the punishing difficulty is what makes all the Souls series' games special.

Paoksis
Paoksis

@Lord_Python1049 indeed as the guy above me said,the first installment had more immersion,and while the new dungeons in DS2 are really great,they feel like they've been put there for the purpose of being there,rather than they were made altogether as a whole....Still if i would rate the first Dark Souls a 10/10,i would rate Dark Souls 2 a 9.5/10


Also dont forget that the combat has been imroved greatly and the online PVP,co-op and covenants are better than ever


Bottom line,it is worth 100%.It feels like Dark Souls,it plays like Dark Souls so you'll certainly enjoy it.If i were you I'd buy the season pass for the DLC once the last one is released

dietc
dietc

@Lord_Python1049 i personally feel like DS2 is lacking credibility. Where DS offers what feels like an evil world that has its own purpose, or at least makes some kind of sense on its own, the world of DS2 feels like a series of dungeons that look like they were only made for the player character to struggle through and lack that sense of, i don't know, maybe authenticity. the world in DS was much more believable and therefore more immersive. that also lessens the sense of exploration, as each new location feels just like another meaningless place that only exists in order to throw some obstacles in your way. at least that's what i felt was the reason why i found DS2 much less enchanting than DS.

rasterorsoniu13
rasterorsoniu13

@Lord_Python1049 If you loved Dark Souls, you'll love Dark Souls II. I prefered the first installment overall, but DS2 is fantastic with refined and polished combat, same tense exploration and new and challenging enemies. It is also directly connected to the first game, in a way. 


Bloodborne isn't coming to PC, so enjoy Dark Souls 2 and the great dlc. 

96augment
96augment

@madara86 What about the Demon of Song, Darklurker, Mytha the Baneful Queen, Smelter Demon, and Nashandra? Their designs are pretty interesting. 

Darkmoone1
Darkmoone1

@madara86


A dragon? Imaginative?


Sir no offence, but I think we have different definitions on the word imaginative.

Sound_Demon
Sound_Demon

@hector530 This is one of the main good traits of dark souls 1. We never had repetitive bosses! The bosses of Dark Souls 2 beat these DLC bosses.

DuaMn
DuaMn

@dominoodle Welcome to the world of melee characters. Now you feel a glimpse of the pain we've been through entire game.

Gomtor
Gomtor

@dominoodle I am also a pure sorcerer and felt exactly the same.  Even more here.  You will see that the amounts of spells you can carry was drastically decreased for this DLC.  Although I still love the challenge, it is almost if they want you to be a melee character for the DLC's.  It is a stupid seeing that I have put in almost 200 hours with a character.  In the main game you had choice of your favorite character, and by putting thought you could excel with any character.  Fromsoft should not take this choice away.

wexorian
wexorian

@dominoodle Yep, especially fuuma knight and Final boss fight's were meant for melee more likely, Playn with casters was always pain.

Sound_Demon
Sound_Demon

@dominoodle Go Paladin! Faith + Strength FTW!

I might actually buy a PS4 just for bloodborne eventhough I've never bought a nintendo console in my life.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Please try to actually do some research, before making a fool out of yourself.

Stebsis
Stebsis

@dannydopamine8 It's funny how paranoid some people are, would make comment sections involving dlc a lot duller without tin foil hats

Naylord
Naylord

@dietc I agree; still from a gameplay perspective DS2 is filled with numerous small improvements.

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

@Sound_Demon @hector530 Dark Souls 1 no repetitive bosses? Capra Demon, Tauren demon are all ''bosses'' you end up fighting as normal mobs. You kill the Asylum demon 3 t imes throughout the entire game.  Half the bosses dont even have the time to hurt you before theyre dead. Demons Souls and Dark Souls 1 are wayyyy to overrated when talking about DS2.  DS2 is by far the greatest game of the serie.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Yep, I'm insistent on playing melee, sorcerer is almost like cheating most times.

golfpanther
golfpanther

@Stebsis @dannydopamine8 Well, considering the download file for both DLCs was something like 100KB it's pretty clear the content was in the original game and DLC merely "unlocked" it. So in this case he's not being paranoid, although I'm not sure his point makes much of a difference when it comes to DLC in general. Whether the content is already on the disc or completely new doesn't change the fact that a full game ships and has content added later. I'm not debating the merits or pitfalls of that (or DLC in general because that's a can of worms I don't care to attempt to debate), just pointing out there is a little material difference.

96augment
96augment

@gameroutlawzz A lot of things you can call Demon Souls and Dark Souls. But overrated? I don't think so.

hector530
hector530

@gameroutlawzz why "cuz itz hard mode make me pro"

too bad the guy who made the souls games isnt really fond of people just thinking hes games are all about difficulty

Stebsis
Stebsis

@golfpanther @Stebsis @dannydopamine8 Recently they released about 1gb patch to Dark Souls 2, I think this was couple days ago, everyone got it, even people who haven't bought the DLC. It was not in the game from the beginning, the content was patched in just recently so that everyone basically have it but locked probably to make things easier when/if people buy it

Sound_Demon
Sound_Demon

@hector530 @gameroutlawzz The reason we like it is not cause it's hard lol... It's because the game is a manifestation of what a game is all about, a challenge. Most games like GTA and idk Watch Dogs or Assassin's Creed CoD, whatever floats your boat is filled with cutscenes, cinematics with a cheesy story. They literally spoonfeed you these elements till the game is over.


In Dark Souls 2 you had to kill the dragon not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times in total... Flexile Sentry twice, those tall skinny guys with circular shield and halberd was overused to the point where everytime I saw one it was just redundant. You had to fight Dragonslayer Ornstein again in the 2nd game, why? I don't know why he was even there. Then you had 3 dragon rider bosses, you fight him 1v2 the second time. Moreover my argument was that DS1 bosses> DS2 bosses> DS2 DLC bosses...

Renunciation
Renunciation

@Stebsis @golfpanther @dannydopamine8 Yeah.  That's how it works to allow non-DLC players to "engage in jolly co-operation" with DLC players who are using some of the new spells, weapons, armor, and other items.   A 100 KB patch alone isn't going to do that for anyone.

Dark Souls II More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Dark Souls II is a sequel to From Software's critically acclaimed title Dark Souls. The game with feature a new hero, a fresh storyline, and an "unfamiliar" setting.
    8.1
    Average User RatingOut of 867 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    From Software, Namco Bandai Games
    Published by:
    Namco Bandai Games, Bandai Namco Games, From Software
    Genres:
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Violence