Dark Souls: Archthrones Preview

A New Era of Darkness – Dark Souls: Archthrones Mod

After more than two years of dedicated development, the much-anticipated demo for the ambitious Dark Souls III mod, Dark Souls: Archthrones, has finally been released, bringing joy to Souls fans on PC.

A Passion Project Turned Masterpiece

The development team behind Archthrones is a group of skilled and passionate Souls enthusiasts who have essentially created their own entry in the series. They’ve made numerous modifications, including enhanced graphics, revamped combat mechanics, and more customizable UI options. However, the most thrilling aspect of the mod is the new content. There are five new areas, eighteen new bosses, fully-voiced NPCs, and lore-rich new items.

Having completed Dark Souls III just before the Archthrones demo dropped on March 15th, I eagerly downloaded the mod files that night. Although I’ve only logged seven hours, I’m already captivated by what I’ve experienced.

A Nod to the Classics with Fresh Innovations

The journey begins with familiar character creation, a quick tutorial, and a face-off with the first major boss. The Archthrones team has skillfully blended elements from various Souls games, making the experience both nostalgic and novel.

For instance, Archthrones pays homage to the series by using the font from Demon’s Souls for the title screen. The new tutorial boss, Demon Vanguard, is a reimagined version of Demon’s Souls’ Vanguard, catching me off guard and resulting in my character’s demise.

Respawning in the Nexus of Embers, a lush re-imagining of Dark Souls III’s Firelink Shrine, was a delightful surprise. This area is teeming with vines and features both new and familiar faces, such as Stockpile Thomas from Demon’s Souls and Blacksmith Andre from the original Dark Souls.

Interacting with NPCs reveals that Archthrones is set long before the end of the Age of Fire, making it an unofficial prequel to Dark Souls III. The newly dubbed Archthrones serve as access points to distinct areas, allowing for nonlinear progression reminiscent of Demon’s Souls’ Archstones.

Immersive New Environments and Challenges

Taking a tip from the Archthrones subreddit, I ventured into the War-Torn Village via the Archthrone of the Bountiful Queen. This new area, with its blood-red sky, eerie houses, and worker hollows, repurposes elements from the Undead Settlement to create a fresh, atmospheric environment. The addition of floating autumn leaves and haunting choral music enhances the eerie tone.

Encountering new enemies like the Angelic Paladins and discovering new items such as the Apostle Scythe enriched the experience. These elements, combined with the familiar yet new boss fights, kept me engaged and eager for more.

The first area boss, the Angelic Siege Golem, is a towering foe reminiscent of Demon’s Souls’ Tower Knight, but with unique Angelic magic attacks. After several failed attempts, I summoned a fellow player for assistance, which led to a victorious and satisfying battle.

Rich Lore and Engaging Combat

The remaining bosses in the demo are equally challenging and innovative. The Pus-Ridden Beast, Angel of Gertrude, and Omen of the Eclipse each offer unique mechanics and multi-phase battles that test the player’s skills and strategy.

However, I found that many boss encounters ended in dead ends rather than leading to new areas, which was a slight disappointment. Despite this, these points often served as stunning lookout spots with new NPC interactions.

Technical Hurdles and Promising Updates

In terms of performance, I encountered some technical issues, such as players timing out during summoning, server instability, and occasional crashes. Fortunately, the development team has been responsive, releasing patches to address these issues. I’m confident that these problems will be resolved soon.

Exciting Prospects Ahead

With only seven hours invested in this expansive demo, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Archthrones has to offer. The prospect of exploring areas like Carthus of the Sands, with its colossal sandworms, is thrilling.

The full release timeline and content details remain unclear, but the demo alone offers plenty of exploration, discovery, and challenges. Dark Souls: Archthrones is shaping up to be a stellar unofficial prequel, demonstrating the remarkable potential of this ambitious mod.

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