The Con­tender

James takes on Dark Souls III in noth­ing but a loin­cloth

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Iam not a brave man. Hor­ror movies leave me quak­ing in fear. The witch­ing hour fills me with pro­found dread. And ev­ery night I in­sist on sleep­ing with the lights on, swad­dled in blan­kets and propped up in an arm­chair fac­ing my front door. And though I may slum­ber, my fin­ger rests on the trig­ger of a loaded ri­fle, ready to de­fend my­self from fear­some beasts and sin­is­ter in­trud­ers un­til rosy-fin­gered dawn comes to my res­cue each morn­ing.

So when I fire up Dark Souls III for the first time, I’m im­me­di­ately in­tim­i­dated. The open­ing area, the Ceme­tery of Ash, is home to with­ered crea­tures clad in moth­worn robes, and while they look more like con­fused geri­atrics than fear­some fight­ers, I’m not tak­ing any chances. My char­ac­ter (a war­rior by the name of Bin­bags) en­ters the scene, swing­ing his mighty axe to fell codger af­ter codger.

I’ve heard that Dark Souls III opens with a sur­pris­ingly dif­fi­cult boss bat­tle, and that’s where I’m headed. Hands trem­bling, I ap­proach Iudex Gundyr, pause for a mo­ment to tit­ter at his silly name, and then pull the Coiled Sword from his chest to be­gin the fight. Ninety sec­onds later, I’ve dis­patched the weedy Gundyr on my first at­tempt.

Putting the bins out

That was all a bit an­ti­cli­mac­tic re­ally, so I de­cide to amp up the chal­lenge. This time, at the char­ac­ter cre­ation screen, I choose the ‘de­prived’ class, and gaze de­spair­ingly at the wimpy form of Bin­bags 2. My proud war­rior has been re­placed with an ema­ci­ated weirdo wield­ing a prim­i­tive shield and wooden cud­gel. In­stead of sturdy ar­mour, he is clad in a grimy loin­cloth.

And as if to add in­sult to in­jury, the de­prived class starts the game at level 1 – for the sake of com­par­i­son, my war­rior was a mighty level 7. The dif­fer­ences im­me­di­ately be­come clear when I move to en­gage my first robe-geezer. Whereas my beefy war­rior could carve up th­ese hoary creeps with flow­ing combo at­tacks with his , Bin­bags 2 just art­lessly wails on the blighters, leav­ing me painfully open to en­emy coun­ter­at­tacks be­tween each and ev­ery swing.

I ad­vance care­fully, mak­ing sure to stop for a rest at ev­ery bon­fire be­tween here and Gundyr to re­fill my stock of restora­tive Es­tus flasks. Then, I take a deep breath and head into the ti­tan’s foul lair. The bout that fol­lows would prob­a­bly be best de­scribed as pan­icked. Bin­bags 2 rolls nim­bly be­tween Gundyr’s hal­berd strikes, har­ry­ing the beast only when the op­por­tu­nity arises. When the dust set­tles, Bin­bags 2 stands over his van­quished foe. I am once again vic­to­ri­ous.

Even more De­prived

Clearly, the prob­lem here is that I’m too good at Dark Souls, so I quickly head back to the ti­tle screen, cre­ate another De­prived char­ac­ter, and step back into the fray as Bin­bags 3.0. This time, I de­cide that I won’t use a sin­gle bon­fire. In­stead, I’ll clear the open­ing area, then head straight for the big bad and take down Gundyr with only a stock of three measly Es­tus to fall back on when I take dam­age.

By now, I know the Ceme­tery of Ash like the back of my grubby, de­prived hand, but I’m still a bit of a ner­vous Nellie. Af­ter all, a sin­gle lapse in con­cen­tra­tion could have se­vere con­se­quences here. Pre­dictably enough, dis­as­ter soon strikes – a crazed oc­to­ge­nar­ian gets the better of me, land­ing a flurry of strikes be­fore I can re­gain my com­po­sure and cut him down. I ner­vously eye my di­min­ished health bar, and ag­o­nise over whether to chug at an Es­tus or risk a one-hit kill from Gundyr. I de­cide to take a chance, and stride to­wards bat­tle with all the con­fi­dence of an 11-year-old at a job in­ter­view.

The en­su­ing bat­tle is a painfully tense roll-fest, but Bin­bags 3.0 proves wor­thy of the chal­lenge, emerg­ing vic­to­ri­ous af­ter three min­utes of jit­tery juk­ing. Truly, this is a new golden age for The Con­tender; an age of stag­ger­ing com­pe­tence. Who knew that could hap­pen?

You can ask the loin­cloth’d one how he’s get­ting on @james­nouch

“Clearly, the prob­lem here is that I’m too good at Dark Souls”

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