Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Dancer set is the lady armor we've been waiting our whole lives for.

Oh my God she's so powerful and cool she doesn't even need pants or a shirt in the traditional sense!

I like being mindful of objectification in gaming and culture, so I follow Bikini Armor Battle Damage pretty closely, as they call out pernicious examples of casual objectification in gaming, and hold up great examples of developers who are a bit more mindful of things.

Like many gamers, I've been rolling my way through Dark Souls III for the past few weeks - my gear was mostly dictated by my carry load (gotta' keep it under 50%!), and I enjoyed the furred collar, dashing cape and all-around Jon Snowness of the Drang armor - but finally, last night, I scored the Dancer set off the Handmaiden.

Dark Souls has always been ahead of the curve on this, if you don't count the unfortunately-designed Desert Sorceress from II.

This is an actual character (and armor) design from a Souls game.  To put it another way...

Maybe there's a lore rationale for a character in an essentially nonexistent bustier and thigh-high stiletto boots, but I'll admit I haven't researched this that thoroughly.  I'm just a guy who's played all those Souls games - Demon's, Dark, Dark II, Bloodborne and Souls III - and the games, aside from II's Desert Sorceress, are completely gender-neutral in terms of armor.

There's no boob plate, in Souls.  There are just suits of armor, collections of tattered rags and flowing magician robes.  That's classy, classic medieval style.  Female characters and male characters are indistinguishable in Souls until you strip them down to their undies or kill them to hear their manly or feminine screams.  Put on a suit of armor in Souls and you mostly just look like a badass.

The Black Knight set.

The Brass armor set.

But... and maybe this is just the result of a culture that equates badassness with masculinity, but none of them say badass and feminine, to me.  The lore entry for the brass armor indicates that it "suggests femininity," but I don't really see it.  It's troubling, but a knight in a suit of armor is always innately masculine.  See a person in a suit of armor, and one tends to just assume they're male - continues to assume they're male as we see them beat the shit out of foes - and then it's like some cool reveal when they pull off their helm and it's a girl?!

And that was... I don't know - not a problem with Souls, even as I've played as a female hero in every entry in the series - but just sort of something I felt was missing.  I like that my Souls hero is always a woman, but it kinda' bothered me a little bit that you could never tell.  Until she dies and it's like "man, that was a girlish scream."

Then I fought the Dancer of Boreal Valley.  Got her armor.  Put it on.

This.  Is.  Fucking.  Awesome.

I've since switched to the Black Knight shield and the Dark sword. 

It's amazing.  It's wholly... tough.  It's gorgeous - a bit opulent with the details - tiny, intricate chains drift along the pauldrons, and the faceguard is a mask of delicate but almost... evil-looking vertical wires.  It shines in the sun and firelight, but the part that just makes this is the cape.  It's an iridescent, translucent, lightly flowing shimmer of blue.

There's nothing blatantly, stereotypically feminine about the Dancer set.  Nothing problematic - and yet it's undeniably feminine.  This looks like a lady who stands at the head of an army.  She is, assuredly, a lady who walks confidently up to a boss that towers twenty feet overhead, raises her shield, and kicks that thing's fucking ass.

It took five games for Souls to offer a piece of definitively feminine armor, and man, this was worth the wait.

I feel like a Warrior Princess in this thing.

Yes, I know what I just said.  I'm comfortable with it.


  1. and dsII even played with that when lucatiel showed up.

    1. I wonder if Miyazaki woulda' been okay with it?

  2. I just found this while Googling "Boreal Dancer" (for the "Golfers of Boreal Valley" meme), but what about the Lord's Blade set?
    I'm playing through DaS1 for the first time and my character is female and I've been mostly treating armour as cosplay since my Stamina is so high and my Vitality so low that getting hit doesn't matter, and I've been playing around with different outfits and combinations. Lord's Blade is far less opulent and DaS doesn't have the same polish, but it's a pretty feminine while not being stereotypical outfit. Although the Porcelain mask is a creepy facemask that comes with a braid and looks like something a Dark Eldar would wear.

    1. Lord's Blade ain't bad, but it's also pretty darned creepy. My loyalty remains with the Dancer's set!