We had a chance to explore the content of The Crown of the Sunken King in its entirety, and it’s exactly what you’d expect from a piece of Dark Souls DLC content. While the size and scope of the new areas are smaller than what was offered in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC for the original game, The Crown of the Sunken King is only one of three pieces of new DLC coming to Dark Souls II.

We’re discouraged from talking about bosses, traps, or specifics so that players won’t be spoiled on the new goodies, but the new areas are dangerous, winding, and labyrinthine in nature. There are three new areas to explore in the DLC, two large fleshed-out areas with three bonfires each and a final encounter that makes Nashandra look like an innocent puppy. New weapons are available from Ornifex from several new boss souls (There’s a pretty sweet new halberd!). It’s a bit tough to get an exact handle on the difficulty of the new content since we played through the content on a premade character provided to us on New Game++++, but mechanically things are fun – Dark Souls-style fun.

While it was almost painful to have to go back and play the new content on PS3 after being spoiled with the PC version, (this isn’t a PC superiority thing, the game just doesn’t look or play as well on last-gen hardware), the new areas differentiate themselves from the rest of Dark Souls II admirably and bring a handful of new and terrifying enemies to the fight. Don’t forget to bring your friends along for the ride, as players who don’t purchase the DLC can still be summoned into the worlds of players that have access to the content.

I completed the content at a leisurely pace in around five hours and more than a few deaths, but I’m sure that I didn’t explore behind every nook and cranny as much of the new area is housed in a mazelike pyramid structure where the walls can begin to blend together and every drop leads to some form of terrifying new horrors. There are strange pyramid enclosures, a huge amount of vertical space, traps around every corner, and a lake. A lake filled with dinosaurs.

I spent a lot of time running, and in one area there is a cave that will turn even the most hardened Dark Souls II veteran into a gibbering, mewling kitten the first time they wander in. This area is likely one of the new “challenge routes” that are included in the new DLC offerings and it is some of the hardest content I have ever faced in a Dark Souls title.

It was great to revisit Dark Souls II and I can’t wait to see what new encounters and mysteries the next two pieces of the trilogy unlock. Crown of the Sunken King will be available on PS3, Xbox 360, and Steam on July 22.