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Now only embers remain.

"The fire fades, and the lords go without thrones..."
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Dark Souls III is the third and final game in the Dark Fantasy Action RPG Dark Souls series, developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. This entry also marks the return of Hidetaka Miyazakinote  as game director, after an absence from Dark Souls II. The game was released in Japan on March 26, 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, with an international release on April 12th. The first DLC, titled Ashes of Ariandel was released on October 25, 2016. The second and final, The Ringed City, was released on March 28, 2017.

Once, there was fire. And with it came disparity. Heat and cold, life and death, light and dark. But now, only embers remain. In a world of ashes, those left journey North, to the birthplace of fire: Lothric, where the transitory lands of the Lords of Cinder converge, bringing disparate kingdoms only a few steps apart. In venturing North, the pilgrims discover the truth of the old words "The fire fades, and the lords go without thrones." For when the link of fire is threatened, the toll of a bell unearths the lords of old from their graves. Only in truth, the lords, in their madness, will abandon their thrones, leaving the world to suffer.

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You take the role of an Unkindled, a nameless accursed undead unfit to even be cinder. In this purgatory abandoned by lords, it falls to you to take the souls of those once great heirs of fire... to either link the flames yourself, or bring the world to its final end. And so it is that ash seeketh embers.

Gameplay is a "best of" the mechanics from the previous Souls games and Bloodborne. Combat borrows heavily from the first Dark Souls, including many of the player animations, though some features from Dark Souls II return, such as Skill Point Reset items and optional voice chat. Co-op and invasions work similarly to how they did in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, using soul level range rather than the soul memory system from Dark Souls II but with an added adjustment based on how far the player's weapons have been upgraded. Mechanics from Bloodborne include chargeable heavy attacks, faster, more aggressive combat, and a weapon dependent Stance System. Dark Souls III also replaces the Vancian Magic system from the previous games with a "Focus Meter", a la the Magic Meter from Demon's Souls.

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Previews: Only Embers Remain, The Fire Fades, Darkness Has Spread, Opening Cinematic, DLC #1 Announcement Trailer, DLC #2 Announcement Trailer


Dark Souls III contains examples of:

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  • Abdicate the Throne: The Lords of Cinder, with the exception of Ludleth. To be specific, the Abyss Watchers and Yhorm do so by accident, Aldrich and Lothric willingly.
  • Aerith and Bob: The names in the game vary from exotic, like Greirat, Leonhard, or Sirris to familiar ones like Andre or Emma. Probably the most out of place is Archdeacon McDonnell.
  • After the End: All of the kings of yore are long dead, the world has been burned to ashes, and only embers remain of once (comparatively) great eras. The Untended Graves are an even worse version, as they take place in a time where the Fire has completely gone out, leaving the world shrouded in darkness.
  • Anti-Climax: The Link the Fire ending is deliberately one of these. At the end of all your struggles, if you choose to link the First Flame once more, the flame is so weakened that it barely even covers your character, and you simply sit down quietly as the screen fades to black. The implication is that you're only pointlessly delaying the inevitable, and your Heroic Sacrifice is a completely futile effort.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • In really out-of-the-way places, there is usually a Homeward Bone or two lying on a body. This is so you don't have to teleport out using the Darksign and lose your souls if you're in no shape to continue on. Near the start of the endgame, you can also pick up an item called the Coiled Sword Fragment, which works just like the Aged Feather from Dark Souls II.
    • Using a Homeward Bone or the Coiled Sword Fragment gives you the choice of either warping back to the Firelink Shrine bonfire or the last bonfire you rested at.
    • Returning from II, resting at a bonfire repairs your weapons to full, making constant trips to a blacksmith no longer necessary unless you break them. However, the rate of weapon degradation is much slower, closer to what it was in the first game, which means you'll virtually never be forced to swap. The only time you might actually risk weapon breakage is if you overuse a weapon that loses durability with a special attack.
    • Homeward Bones now activate much faster than they used to.
    • Some enemies will occasionally give extra doses of Estus upon death, alleviating the need to constantly backtrack to a bonfire to refill the Estus Flask.
    • You don't need to play online in order to get the covenant rewards, as some enemies in the world will have the covenant items as a rare drop. Granted, that presents its own headaches, but it's better than being locked out of the covenants due to poor internet connection.
    • Combat items such as Firebombs and Throwing Knives have stat scaling, just like in Bloodborne.
    • You can toggle whether or not certain consumable items (throwing knives, homeward bones, bolt/arrows, etc.) will refill when you rest at a bonfire.
    • Picking up special ashes in endgame areas allows the player to buy the high-end crafting materialsnote  in unlimited quantities, as long as you pony up the souls required. There are also 8 Titanite Slabs per playthrough, with three more in the first DLC area, as opposed to 1. There are also 4 Titanite Slabs in the second DLC, resulting a total of 15 Titanite Slabs per playthrough. This is better than the old systems, where you'd be lucky to upgrade more than one or two weapons to 10+ per playthrough.
    • For players without online access, NPC summon signs are available for many more boss fights than the first game (though not quite as many as the second). This is especially useful for mage builds, allowing the phantom to keep the boss busy while you pelt it with magic.
    • Titanite from Crystal Lizards now appears in the inventory directly, as it did in the original game but not the second. This means no more lost Twinkling Titanite because it ran off a cliff or you died before picking it up.
    • Unlike II, where merchants willing to buy your spare crap were as rare as hen's teeth, you have reliable access to a merchant who will pay for Broken Straight Swords, pairs of Deserter's Trousers and suchlike from the moment you gain access to Firelink Shrine.
  • Arc Symbol: In Demon's Souls we had fog and demons, Dark Souls I had fire and darkness, Dark Souls II had memory and cycles, and Bloodborne had blood, eyes, and dreams/madness. This game's symbols are embers/cinder, ash and ice.
    • The DLC also contains their own symbols, with frost and rot for Ashes of Ariandel, and rings and blood for The Ringed City.
    • Many powerful bosses will wield flaming swords to represent their power. All of the Lords of Cinder, for instance, will wield some sort of flaming weapon midway into their boss fight.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • Certain enemies have unique moves that prevent you from fishing for backstabs. For example, shield-wielding enemies will try to anticipate your movement and will use a backwards shield bash to knock you away. Some bosses (the first boss in The Ringed City DLC, for example) gain entirely different movesets depending on whether you're taking it on solo or with summoned help.
    • The NPC phantoms and attackers are willing and able to use riposte attacks on you should they break your guard, making shields somewhat dangerous to use against them. They also try to back up and heal themselves when in danger.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • It is still possible to make said invaders and attackers throw themselves off cliffs, or for them to continue shooting at you while behind a wall.
    • Running to the end of a tough enemy's aggro range and attacking from the other side can still break some encounters completely.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: The lore of the previous two games indicates that no matter how many times you may try linking the fire of the First Flame, in the end you're simply delaying the inevitable Age of Dark for just a little while longer. This game is centered around how the Age of Fire is finally meeting its end, after constantly being prolonged by heroes of previous ages. Unlike the previous games, there is no way to rekindle the First Flame, the Age of Dark will come regardless of everyone's efforts to keep it at bay, and the Multiple Endings simply allow different avenues for how the end comes.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Like in Bloodborne, you can set up extremely damaging ripostes against enemies you actually can't parry by striking specific spots on their body. In most cases where this holds true, the weak spot is the head. Reusing the second game's percentage-based defensive system also allows for enemies to take bonus damage from certain attacks, marked by a sound that's different to the normal "weapon striking flesh" noise you'll hear through the game.
  • Back for the Finale: A ton of elements and characters return for the end of Dark Souls, including Blacksmith Andre of Astora, Firelink, the trading crow, Anor Londo, Patches, Gwyndolin, Havel the Rock, and many more.
  • Badass Army: The Undead Legion of Farron. Before the events of the game, primary task was to fight any outbreak of the Abyss, much like their predecessor: Artorias the Abysswalker. The "Undead Legion of Farron" is composed of 3 units:
    • The Abyss Watchers. The legion's primary unit, in charge of containing outbreaks of the Abyss, up to and including just burning everything to the ground. They eventually sacrificed themselves collectively to link the First Flame and became Lords of Cinder.
    • The Farron Followers. The legion's secondary unit, serving as Internal Affairs of the Legion and tasked with killing any legionare who became corrupted by the Abyss. By the events of the game, they have lost their purpose, gone hollow, and wandered off into the Painted World.
    • The Watchdogs of Farron. The auxiliary unit and a player convenant, acting as a Home Guard to defend Farron Woods from would be invaders. By the events of the game, they now serve as grave wardens watching over the graves of the Legion.
  • Bash Brothers: Siegward does this repeatedly, helping you take down massive creatures in his own flesh rather than being summoned. There's also the princes Lorian and Lothric.
  • The Berserker: The Outrider Knights, such as Vordt of the Boreal Valley, crawl on all fours and dash about while swinging wildly. Justified, given their lore even states they've lost their minds and are little more than beasts at this point.
  • BFG: This being Dark Souls, there are multiple enemies who wield huge bows, like the giant in the Undead Settlement and the Millwood Knights in Ariandel. Taken Up to Eleven in the Smoldering Lake, where you are accosted by a multi-firing ballista the size of a goddamn skyscraper.
  • BFS: The Greatsword and Ultra Greatswords classes of weapons, which are full of massive blades as large as their wielder.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: The Lords of Cinder who abandoned their duty of linking the Flame.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The Cult of The Deep, made up of Aldrich, Pontiff Sulyvahn and the various Deacons of The Deep are one of the rare outright villainous groups in the series, with their obsession with Human Sacrifice and plans to spread The Deep throughout the world and have quite a few impressive achievements to their name, such as corrupting the Way of White, overthrowing the Darkmoon Knights and even conquering Anor Londo itself. Despite all of this though, they wind up being fairly inconsequential, serving as little more than roadblocks for the Ashen One to break through. And even then, they're not even a main target of the Ashen One, they just happen to be standing between them and Aldrich's cinders.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The main conflict for the most part preserves the Grey and Grey Morality of the first game, but introduces some black into the spectrum with the Cathedral of the Deep, led by Aldrich, the Saint of the Deep and his disciple Pontiff Sulyvahn. It is by far the most openly villainous organization seen in the whole series, being based around Human Sacrifice and with the ultimate goal of plunging the entire world into the Deep.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • The Irithyll Dungeon jailers attack the player by branding them with a red-hot iron. The branding iron is an obtainable weapon and labelled as a "Soldering iron" in English, which is a different kind of tool entirely (for metalworking rather than marking flesh).
    • The Carthus Hooked Sword is labelled as "Carthus Shotel" in English, which despite being a hooked sword, is definitely not a Shotel, it is in fact based on the Egyptian Khopesh.
    • The Spanish translation of the game refers to the Bow class of weapon as "Hacer reverencia" - As in, to bow to someone. Not the weapon.
    • The French translation has the same mistake, except the other way around: the "Bow" emote is called "Arc", like the weapon.
    • The Italian translation has random bits of Spanish in certain item descriptions.
  • Blob Monster: Aldrich, Saint of the Deep - one of the resurrected Lords of Cinder - is an amorphous mass of black ooze with parts of the people he has consumed sticking out of him.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While Dark Souls II toned down the amount of spilled blood enough to be rated T for Teen, Dark Souls III now goes all-out, mirroring the exaggerated blood splatters found in Bloodborne, right down to drenching the surroundings in stains of blood. However, you can turn the blood off in the options menu.
  • Blood-Stained Glass Windows: You'll end up slaughtering your way through the Cathedral of the Deep while tracking down Aldrich. Pontiff Sulyvahn and later Aldrich himself are also confronted in massive cathedrals, in the latter's case the very same cathedral you fought Ornstein and Smough in in the first game.
  • Bloody Horror: One area has the sun appearing to be bleeding darkness. More specifically, it's the Undead Settlement and its connected areas, and starts after the first Lord of Cinder is defeated.
  • Body Horror:
    • If you obtain an optional item called the Dark Sigil, you will begin to Hollow like in Dark Souls II, slowly decaying into a walking piece of jerky each time you die. There's a way to cure this, however - either through using a Purging Stone, which can be bought, rather ironically, from Yuria of Londor, or from praying (and coughing up souls) to the statue of Velka found in the Undead Settlement.note 
    • Throughout the High Wall of Lothric, you find the corpses of Hollows turning into what appear to be trees. By the time you've set the Abyss Watchers, Yhorm, and Aldrich on their thrones in the Shrine, the "trees" seem to have transformed into "Pilgrim Butterflies", an unholy fusion of the Moonlight Butterfly and the Bed of Chaos.
    • According to his backstory, Aldrich, Saint of the Deep, devoured so many men that he "bloated like a drowned pig, then softened into sludge".
  • Book-Ends: The final elevator before the fight with Lorian and Lothric functions exactly the same as the one where the Ashen One meets Siegward for the first time in the Undead Settlement.
    • A smaller example with the main Lords of Cinder boss fights: Both the first (Abyss Watchers) and last (Lorian and Lothric) fights open with a cutscene, and both bosses have two full health bars, with a cutscene between the two showing the boss falling over with another source reviving them into Cinder form (The wolf's blood for the Abyss Watchers, and Lothric for Lorian).
    • Across the series as a whole, the Final Boss for Dark Souls 1 is the burnt out husk of Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, and the final boss for this game is in essence a re-match against him, as well as everyone who ever Linked the Fire, in the form of the Soul of Cinder.
    • Similarly, in reference to Dark Souls II and Bloodborne, the Final Boss of Ashes of Ariandel is a scythe-wielding former Woman in White using the powers of darkness, swiftly moving around and often vanishing from sight.
    • The final boss of The Ringed City is Slave Knight Gael, enhanced into a super strong old man by the Blood of the Dark Souls. It feels like this last major story boss is a much stronger repeat of the first major story boss: The Abyss Watchers, in both his combat style and the two sections of the battle: A faster, wild style followed by a slower style with new tricks. The difference being? You can't backstab this one.
    • The Ringed City also presents a series long one; In Dark Souls I you always start out with a Broken Straight Sword before getting your class specific weapons off of a corpse in the Asylum. Fast forward a few eons, and Slave Knight Gael's weapon during his boss fight is basically a scaled-up version of a Broken Straight Sword, even being broken into the same shape. Should you choose to transpose Gael's soul into it, you can wind up beginning and ending the series wielding nothing more than a simple broken sword.
  • Boss Corridor: The last stairway before the boss fight with the Twin Princes of Lothric, Lothric and Lorian, is straight and short, and past a small armada of enemies.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing:
    • Mimics return and are as difficult as ever. They also come in both Dark Souls I combat style and Dark Souls II combat style.
    • Giant crystal lizards can be encountered that are significantly more deadly than the tiny ones players are used to hunting.
    • The large hellhound-like enemies that appear in Irithyll. One particular encounter with two of them is nearly more challenging then the boss fight for the area.
  • Boss-Only Level: The final area of the main game, the Dark Souls III version of the Kiln of the First Flame, has zero standard enemies in it and is very short; the only opponent inside this version of the Kiln is the Final Boss of the game, The Soul of Cinder.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Mild example, but the Ringed City DLC does become a bit more tempting when one learns of the +3 rings that can be found there...
  • Bullfight Boss: Vordt and Consumed King Oceiros in their respective second phases, where they will wildly charge at the player if they get too far away from them.
  • The Bus Came Back: Various characters from ages long past return. Even the implausible ones are somewhat justified by the nature of Lothric: a "transitory land" built from various lands where the Fire was linked, meaning that something fading into obscurity doesn't prevent it from appearing in Lothric.
    • Though the player never met them in the previous games, a number of "Lords of Cinder" are resurrected, even though each was believed to have been killed at the end of their age.
    • You encounter a previously unseen Stone Dragon, even though all but one was killed in the backstory of the first Dark Souls.
    • Andre of Astora from the first Dark Souls is now in Firelink Shrine, still working as a blacksmith.
    • Patches (now known as Unbreakable Patches) is still around and doing his usual thing of tricking unsuspecting people into traps so he can loot their bodies.
    • Creighton the Wanderer from Dark Souls II is still around, having canonically survived his duel with Mild-Mannered Pate, and is now a member of Rosaria's Fingers - as is Kirk from Dark Souls I.
    • A Petrified Giant from Dark Souls II can be found around Firelink Shrine. You can even get Seeds of a Giant Tree from it.
    • The Giant race from Dark Souls I makes a return in the shape of the Giant Archer, and a few who function as enemies.
    • The Pyromancer class makes its return after being absent from Dark Souls II.
    • Entire countries, including Astora, Catarina, and Carim, still exist in this game, despite Dark Souls II implying most had faded into history after the first game. A chunk of Anor Londo is also still around, and you even get to revisit it in person.
    • The Black and Silver Knights make a triumphant return, and are just as devastating as before.
  • Bus Crash: Various NPC's from the previous games make cameo appearances as corpses you can find throughout the game, including Elizabeth, Princess Dusk, Quelana, Quelaag's Sister, Laddersmith Gilligan, the Darkmoon Knightess, the Giant Blacksmith and Gwyndolin. The last example in particular is used in a horrifying manner, with his corpse being used as a puppet by Aldrich during his boss fight.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Dancer of the Boreal Valley uses a similar moveset as Lord's Blade Ciaran from the first Dark Souls. When her health is low enough, the boss will even bring out a second blade, mirroring Ciaran's Gold and Silver Tracers, and Pontiff Sulyvahn's swords, as well.
    • The Lords of Cinder are awakened by the tolling of a bell, much like Kingseeker Frampt in Dark Souls.
    • Farron and his undead legion, the Abyss Watchers, are using equipment modeled on Artorias the Abysswalker from Dark Souls. The description of the Wolf Knight's Greatsword reveals that Artorias was indeed their founder. Or at least, they considered him their founder.
    • The Fire Keeper set is a black version of the outfit you find on the three old Fire Keepers at the start of Dark Souls II.
    • The Handmaid shopkeeper in Firelink shrine adopts many of the mannerism of the old Fire Keepers from Dark Souls II.
    • The Hub Level is called Firelink Shrine, as in the first Dark Souls, although it functions more like the Nexus from Demon's Souls.
    • Like in Dark Souls, you can find a bell tower next to Firelink Shrine.
    • Eygon of Carim in the Undead Settlement paraphrases Lautrec of Carim's line from Dark Souls:
      Lautrec: I thought you were wiser, but I thought wrong! Tis a terrible pity. Like a moth flittering towards a flame.
      Eygon: Hopeless, the whole lot of you. Like little moths, flittering towards a flame.
    • A cell near Eygon holds Irina of Carim, a failed Fire Keeper that is blind, similar to Anastacia of Astora from Dark Souls, an imprisoned Fire Keeper that is mute. She's also wearing a copy of Rhea of Thorolund's cleric maiden set from that game.
    • Hawkwood is a reference to the Crestfallen Warrior from Dark Souls and Dark Souls II note , as another undead who's crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
    • Siegward of Catarina references Siegmeyer from Dark Souls, as another friendly knight equipped with onion-shaped armor and a Zweihander who always seems to be "in a bit of a pickle."
    • If Yuria dies, her Last Words will be "Kaathe, I have failed thee..."
    • Both the Drakeblood Knight and Faraam armor sets return from Dark Souls II. The Faraam set's description says it is "mentioned in numerous legends, alongside the names of those who are said to have gone beyond death". "Go Beyond Death" was Dark Souls 2's Tag Line, and said armor was the game's main advertised design like the Elite Knight set was for 1.
    • Ornstein and Artorias' armor sets are in the game. However, the plume in Ornstein's armor was only included in the patch preceding the Ringed City DLC.
    • The Hollowslayer Greatsword's description mentions that long ago it was the weapon of a masked knight of Mirrah, in reference to Lucatiel from Dark Souls II. You can also get her armor and her hat/mask.
    • In a house in Irithyll of the Boreal Valley, you can find portraits of Gwynevere and Queen Nashandra.
    • The Final Boss, the Soul of Cinder, references a number of previous bosses in FromSoft games. The first phase has you fight various Fire linkers from the first two games, while the second phase is a souped up version of Lord Gwyn from Dark Souls. The arena also has flowers everywhere, a la the Final Boss fight with Gehrman in Bloodborne.
    • Aldrich, Devourer of Gods, has Gwyndolin's torso from Dark Souls I sticking out of him.
    • You can find a special talisman made from white hair that can cast both miracles and pyromancy, the description of which reveals that it's made from the hair of the Fair Lady from Dark Souls I. On that note, you can also find a whip called Witch's Locks, created from the hair of one of the Witch of Izalith's six other daughters.
    • Once again, a dragon parks itself on a high place and regularly roasts the only way forward, forcing you to time it. Instead of it being a bridge, though, it's on the corner of a high castle wall and it alternates which lane it burns.
      • This happens again in The Ringed City, where Midir flies back and forth across the bridge from the swamp to the caves, roasting everything in sight. The later encounter with him on the bridge, where he's a stationary enemy that attacks by breathing fire and slamming his front claws down, is very similar to the two undead dragon fights in the first game.
    • The last stretch before the battle against Prince Lothric has you crossing a bridge filled with wooden barricades and enemies lying in ambush, reminiscent of the first section of the Boletarian Palace from Demon's Souls.
    • The hand-faced enemies in the Profaned Capital have a similar physical build (minus the head) to the Cyclops enemies from Dark Souls II, and they roll around on top of the Unkindled One in much the same way.
    • The Corvians and Corvian Storytellers are descendants of crow/raven people that have escaped from the Painted World of Ariamis. Some even wield great scythes modeled after Priscilla's Lifehunt Scythe. The Ashes of Ariandel DLC shows even more Corvians, albeit with a more avian look to them.
    • You can find the Fume Ultra Greatsword from Dark Souls II, and its description says that it was used by a traitor long ago, referencing Raime's turn on King Vendrick.
    • The description for the Shield of Want references an "old king of want". The shield is in fact King Vendrick's Shield from Dark Souls II, a character associated with the idea of want.
    • The Curse Ward Greatshield is the Pursuer's Greatshield, except inexplicably flipped on its side compared to its appearance in Dark Souls II. Amusingly enough, its description is pretty much the complete opposite of what it had in II (in III it's said to be given to those who resisted the Undead curse, in II it was owned by a man who relentlessly hunted and killed the cursed).
    • The description for the sorcery Soul Stream references the "First Scholar" of the Grand Archives, said to have doubted the linking of the Fire. The description of this unseen character matches Aldia from Dark Souls II, also known as the Scholar of the First Sin. In the Japanese version of the game, the sorcery shares a name with Soul Geyser, a Dark Souls II sorcery associated with Aldia.
    • The ruins of Earthen Peak from Dark Souls II make up part of the Rubbish Heap at the end of the world in the Ringed City DLC, complete with a Desert Sorceress, pools of poison, the wreckage of the windmill, and the weapons and soul of Mytha, the Baneful Queen.
    • The Reveal of the eponymous Ringed City serves as a call back to the reveal of Anor Londo, where a group of gargoyles grabs you and flies you to your destination, with the city itself being revealed in a huge, sweeping landscape shot as the music swells triumphantly.
    • The Halflight fight in the DLC is set up almost the same as the Old Monk fight in Demon's Souls, where another player is summoned to fight you and given some extra tricks with which to torment you.
    • The Old Moonlight sorcery transposed from Darkeater Midir's Soul, rooted in an older memory that preceded the Paledrake, is a callback to the original Moonlight Sword from King's Field.
    • Gundyr's Armor set "modeled after a former king" is a callback to Old King Doran from Demon's Souls.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Maces and clubs return as a common weapon type. In addition, the boss Vordt of the Boreal Valley wields a very Sauron-esque mace.
  • Central Theme: Legacies. The majority of bosses, enemies, and NPCs you meet are part of a legacy, and trying to deal with it in different ways.
    • The Abyss Watchers were bound together by a pledge to take up the legacy of Artorias to hold back the Abyss.
    • Aldrich, a descendant of the old gods, embraced his legacy with such fervor he literally devoured his forebearers to become them.
    • Yhorm the Giant became a Lord of Cinder to wipe his legacy, the kingdom of the Profaned Flame, from history, and even entrusted his friend to kill him should he ever come back to life to end the legacy of the Profaned Flame.
    • Lorian and Lothric, princes born to be the greatest legacy of Lothric Kingdom, abandon their duty, and would rather remain in their tower as the world around them rots.
    • Oceiros, during his search for power, became obsessed with Seath the Scaleless' legacy, going as far as becoming a drake himself, and he also desperately looks for his child Ocelotte, his own legacy.
    • Cornyx is part of the legacy of Pyromancies going all the way back to the first Age of Fire, and his only real desire is to be a master who can pass his teachings onto a pupil.
    • Hawkwood is a man in search of a legacy to be a part of, first trying to become part of the Abyss Watchers, and after abandoning them, turning to the Way of the Dragon.
    • Orbeck reveals that he wished so badly to be part of the legacy of sorcery that he sacrificed his morals and soul, becoming an assassin just to be able to be part of the Dragon School of Vinheim.
    • Anri uses the armor and name of the long dead land of Astora to evoke their legacy, despite not being from there.
    • Karla, after agreeing to teach you, impresses upon you to be mindful of your actions, as they reflect on her legacy as well.
    • Ringfinger Leonhard is revealed to be the last of the Princess's Guard, and steals the soul of Rosaria, Mother of Rebirth, so no one else may sully her legacy.
    • Yorshka has taken up the legacy of the Blades of the Darkmoon, despite all its members and even the god they served being long dead.
    • The Corvians are descendants of the monsters who escaped the Painted World of Ariamis, and to this day still tell tales of the mistress of that world, Crossbreed Priscilla.
    • The Kiln of the First Flame is a literal representation of legacies, with all the civilizations and ashes of every age piled upon each other to the point of breaking.
    • The Soul of Cinder is also a literal legacy, an accumulation of all those who linked the flame.
    • Even the Multiple Endings have you choose between different legacies: to take up an existing legacy as the next Lord of Cinder, to start your own new legacy as the Lord of Hollows, or to end the First Flame, and give future generations a new world free of the legacies of the past.
    • The area where Ashes of Ariandel takes place is a rather peculiar case: while it was thought to be a brand new Painted World, the fact that Priscilla's boss arena is in the bottom of a deep ice valley means that it is the original Painted World. It's just been remade so many times on the same canvas to the point it's nearly rotted away completely.
    • Another central theme of Ashes of Ariandel is also one of the Souls' world in microcosm: is it better to let a world slowly, peacefully rot away to nothing, or should you destroy it all in one blast of flame in the hope of something better taking its place?
  • Character Class System: Heavily downplayed, just like the rest of the series; the game offers 10 classes for player characters to choose from, but these only determine the characters' starting equipment and stats. Any starting class can eventually be built up to be capable of any playstyle.
  • Charged Attack: Heavy attacks can be charged just like in Bloodborne. This time around, magic can be charged up to increase the effect, with some of them granting you hyper armor so that you can't be knocked out of the animation.
  • Chest Monster: The Mimics return from the previous games, and once again, you can tell if a chest is a Mimic if it has a chain pointing towards you rather than away from you.
  • The Chosen One: The "Red Knight" who appears on the cover was a Lord of Cinder who linked the fire to preserve the world. Or rather, it's the Soul of Cinder, the deific manifestation of the First Flame and the composite of Gwyn and all the chosen undead who Linked the Fire.
  • Clown-Car Grave: The cemetery behind the Cathedral of the Deep has corpses that continue to crawl out of the same spots no matter how many times you kill them - which is why the Cathedral appointed Grave Wardens, bloodthirsty Hollows to stand watch and put them down whenever they reanimated.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: It wouldn't be Dark Souls if the computer had to follow the same rules as the player.
    • One of the earliest instances of this is Holy Knight Hodrick, whether he invades the player in Undead Settlement or is summoned as a mad spirit in Crucifixion Woods. Amongst players it's not unknown to call him "Parry God Hodrick" since he will use his Sunset Shield to great effect parrying both players and Sirris, followed by landing highly damaging ripostes. When summoning him in Crucifixion Woods, his cheating can be especially Egregious as he has a massive health pool and deals at least two to three times as much damage as a regular phantom should at that level; it's very common for players (as well as phantoms and invaders) to get parried by Hodrick while trying to whittle him down, and then get riposted from full health to zero in a single attack.
    • Knight Slayer Tsorig is another case of this. Even if he's wielding the Fume Ultra Greatsword, he still hits tremendously hard with it, far more so than a player could with the same weapon; it isn't unheard of for Tsorig to kill a fully healthy player in two hits. And like Hodrick, if he manages to land a riposte on the player (likely from breaking their guard with an attack), it will most often bring them from full health straight down to zero instantly.
    • Wearing the Obscuring Ring makes you invisible from a distance, but only to other players — AI enemies can still spot you, including AI phantoms. This can make the invasion against Leonhard especially ridiculous, as he wears the same ring himself. Conversely though, Slave Knight Gael can still spot Blackflame Friede whenever she goes invisible.
    • Desert Pyromancer Zoey from The Ringed City has a lot of tricks up her sleeve, owing to being a hostile NPC in the final DLC of the series. All she has is a Pyromancy Flame and a Whip, the latter of which is normally a Joke Weapon when wielded by any player character. Except that if she connects with any of her attacks, including with that whip, they'll deal an absurd amount of damage, far more than what would normally be possible. Fortunately, unlike Hodrick she doesn't have a huge health pool or a weapon capable of riposting, so defeating her is quite manageable.
  • Continuity Porn: There are a few nods here and there to Dark Souls II, but the vast majority of Call Backs are to the first Dark Souls — and there are a lot of them.
  • Cool, But Inefficient: Dark builds in the vanilla game. Dark spells have awesome visual effects but most are carbon copies of basic spells from other trees of magic. In addition, Dark sorceries and pyromancies are only available late into the game, while trying to get the miracles early locks you into a difficult fight against Eygon. The only weapon with innate Dark damage is the Dark Hand, which is good despite its element rather than because of it - for everything else you need to use Dark Blade (which is outclassed by Lightning Blade), or infusions (which are hard to use effectively). Finally, Dark damage follows the same damage formula for the much more flexible Fire damage. The only reason to use it over Fire is if the enemy in question resists Fire but not Dark. Averted by the DLC areas, however - Ashes of Ariendel adds the powerful Onyx Blade and a boss weak to Dark, while The Ringed City adds several powerful Dark weapons, some of which can be buffed or infused, the Blindfold Mask which increases all Dark damage, and the first boss of the area is weak to the element.
  • Cool Sword: All over the place, as is usual for Dark Souls.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: There's a couple of skeleton ball boulders in the Catacombs of Carthus that you'll have to do this with.
  • Crapsack World: Though the world of Dark Souls has never been very cheerful in the times of the games, this game takes it Up to Eleven. The world has been burned to ashes, the kings of yore are long dead, and now only embers remain.
  • Creepy Cathedral: The utterly enormous Cathedral of the Deep.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: A big problem for many new players of the PS4 version coming off of Bloodborne. The controls for both games are basically identical, with one extremely frustrating difference: in Bloodborne, triangle is a dedicated healing button; in Souls, the Estus Flask has to be selected and used with square like any other item, while triangle toggles one- and two-handed weapon use. Many Bloodborne players die trying to figure out why they aren't healing.
  • Dance Battler: The Dancer of the Boreal Valley boss uses creepy, contorted dance motions to fight you. Some people compared her to Voldo from the Soul Calibur series.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Pygmies of the Ringed City are revealed in the namesake DLC to be non-malicious, decent folk whose Ringed Knights once fought alongside the Gods against the dragons. Although they harnessed the Abyss and had greater Dark Souls than their human descendants, they were not malicious or had vile intent and greatly respected Gwyn. Gwyn and the gods on the other hand feared them so much they placed a seal of fire upon them and their descendants, gave them the Ringed City as a way of keeping them all in one place under their control, and his daughter Filianore was turned into an eternal seal to keep them locked in an illusion. The only case of an actually malevolent Pygmy is the Mad King, who was crucified by the Shira of the Spear of the Church.
  • Dark Is Evil: A common motif, along with Light Is Not Good. Dark Souls III seems to push the message across, time and time again, that both flame, and dark, are horrible in excess, the Abyss, the Deep, and the Angels being some of the most horrifying examples.
  • Dark Reprise: The battle theme for Aldrich, Devourer of Gods manages to do this with an already somber song from the first game: Dark Sun Gwyndolin.
    • And the Soul of Cinder does it again with Gwyn, Lord of Cinder.
  • Dark World: The Untended Graves secret area, which is a mirror of the Cemetery of Ash during an Age of Dark.
  • Death from Above: The giant in the Undead Settlement stands atop a tall tower and rains massive arrows down on anyone who threatens the white birch tree below. Luckily, you can befriend him, which makes getting to the Curse-rotted Greatwood much easier.
  • Death Seeker: Without the fire of disparity, the majority of remaining humans are trapped in undeath, slowly decaying. As such, the pilgrims that journey north to Lothric are hoping to get close enough to the fading embers that death will be able to come for them once more.
    Yoel of Londor: Please, grant me death. Undo my shackles.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Like the Doll, the Fire Keeper reacts to your emotes with her own set of gestures.
    • Quite a few enemies are vulnerable to fire, enough to cripple them at the mere damage tick. For example, whacking undead dogs and maggots with a torch will make them flail around helplessly, giving you enough time to finish them off.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • A downplayed version of this, the very first Mimic you encounter (on the High Wall) will yield a Deep Battle Axe. This weapon will reliably enable players in the early game to easily do 200+ damage long before they can make similar weapons or even be able to reinforce non-elemental weapons to that level of damage. Of course, this requires you to, you know, kill the actual Mimic. Or toss an Undead Hunter Charm at it, or even better, lure it to the dragon outside and burn it to death.
    • Similarly downplayed but much easier to get is a Fire Gem, which you can choose as your starting gift. Infusing it into a weapon will make it deal fire damage, which is powerful against both the Starved Hounds and the terrifying Pus of Man enemies. It doesn't scale with stats, but it's passable against all enemies until fairly late in the game, and by then you can switch it out for something that does.
      • Not scaling with stats is part of what makes both of these weapons almost specifically Disk One Nukes. Infusions that don't scale, but instead have high base power, which make them ideal for characters that only have the stats to equip the weapon and not much more... like just about any starting character would.
    • Also in the High Wall, the Astora Straight Sword. Normally a relatively below-average weapon, it takes to the Raw Infusion oddly well, trading its mediocre scaling for a very impressive damage boost (around 25% instead of the usual 15%), to the point it is on par with or even better than most early game greatswords in terms of damage, while being much lighter and faster. And conveniently, Raw Gems can be found in the High Wall as well, though you need to either get lucky with a random drop or find the Crystal Lizard on the rooftops. While it requires 12 faith to be used, a Herald immediately starts with all the stat requirements to wield the sword, a Herald doesn't even have to invest on any other stat to use it.
    • You can get a powerful Uchigatana almost as soon as you leave the starting area, from the hostile NPC Sword Master Saber hanging out near the Thrones of Cinder. Of course, this requires actually defeating Sword Master Saber, be it a legitimate fight, sorcery casting... Or make him fall off the edge, reloading the game, and then picking up his sword.
    • While it takes a bit of doing and some Sequence Breaking, it's possible to get the necessary materials to upgrade a weapon to +9 (or +10 if you traded the Coiled Sword Fragment for a Titanite Slab) before even fighting Vordt of the Boreal Valley, allowing you to trounce an otherwise worthy boss in a handful of strikes, and waltz through the first half of the game with relative ease.
    • And speaking of Sequence Breaking, one can obtain Red Tearstone Ring and Morian Blade (it involves finding Yuria and killing Orbeck, and an optional Save Scumming) fairly early, if one stacked both of them, the attack boosts at low health can actually stack together, resuliting in a very deadly One-Hit-Point Wonder.
    • As of the 1.05 patch, the lowly Dark Hand is now frighteningly potent in the early and mid-game, thanks to having no stat requirements, modest scaling, and remarkably high base Dark damage. And you can get it pretty much immediately after defeating the second Boss!
    • The Ashes of Ariandel DLC is available once you reach the Church of the Deep, and if you know where to look you can obtain some great weapons and upgrade materials, including the easiest Titanite Slab in the game. More importantly, you don't have to fight the two optional bosses to get most of the goods - you only have to deal with Vilhelm, who can be easily dealt with if you're patient. Also, a sufficiently skilled low-level player who can defeat Sister Friede will unlock access to the content of The Ringed City, allowing you to reap further rewards.
  • Dissonant Laughter: Half the NPCs in the game like to finish off their spiel with a hearty(/creepy) chuckle, whether they've said something funny or not.
  • Distant Finale: It's set thousands of years after the first and second games, and The Ringed City DLC is set thousands of years after the end of this game.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: The main difference between the Undead/Cursed and the Unkindled is that the Unkindled do not hollow when they die, making them lose health and unable to see summoning signs and requiring them to consume Humanity to return to full power. Instead they are able to consume an Ember to become a Lord of Cinder, gaining bonus health... and becoming able to see summon signs. Functionally, there's absolutely no difference in gameplay terms, they just reclassified the weaker state as the "default" form and labeled the removal of the HP penalty you get when you unhollow yourself as a "bonus" instead. Becoming a Lord of Cinder is exactly the same as returning to human form in the previous games, only with better marketing.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Remember those small, rather cute-looking Crystal Lizards who you would kill to gain their highly valuable drops? Well they still do that... but some have eaten souls and grown into bigger, aggressive and dangerous versions who make you earn it.
  • Door Fu: The Giant Door Shield is a pair of doors used as shields. The wielder dual wields a pair of doors to block incoming attacks, slam their enemies, crush them by shutting both doors, or charging toward them while negating most attacks.
  • Downer Ending: All of the endings indicate there is no way to permanently save the Age of Fire. Linking the fire seems to only prolong the inevitable. Summoning the Fire Keeper causes her to remove and snuff out the First Flame so that a new Age of Fire can come naturally. And Usurping the Fire at best makes you a ruler of the Age of Dark. Interestingly, despite being such a depressing end, this can actually be seen as a positive ending for the franchise. It's shown numerous times that prolonging the Age of Fire will only cause more suffering, so perhaps letting it die out is the only way to move on. Whatever happens in the next age is unknown, but it's better than what's happening now.
  • Dual Wielding: The ability to wield two weapons at once returns, although it works just like it did in Dark Souls I. However, there are a number of dedicated paired weapons that you can dual wield when you tap the Y/Triangle button and attack with the LB/L1 button, functioning just like the Power Stance from Dark Souls II.
  • The Dung Ages: The Undead Settlement evokes this image, full of irregular wooden buildings in disrepair, bent and gnarled trees, filthy mud-farming peasants, and large butchers who grind up... something red and gristly in huge earthenware mortars.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The Spook sorcery (and the Silvercat Ring, though you get that much later in the game), the starting magic for the Assassin class which can be acquired very early by others, completely negates any non-lethal fall damage you would sustain. This leads to many situations where large sections of an area can be skipped with a bit of clever use of the spell. This is most notable with the Profaned Capital, which can be skipped almost in its entirety with one use of Spook and a few drops down to the boss. In addition, it makes you completely silent, allowing you to dash by any enemy that isn't looking straight at you without alerting them. This makes it a favored tool for speedrunners.

     E-I 
  • Early Game Hell: As is tradition. The tutorial can be only described as Sink-or-Swim Mentor, having the player battle a rather agile and hard-hitting boss within ten minutes of starting the game. And if that wasn't enough, straying too much from the path to Firelink Shrine will result in an encounter with a rather dangerous NPC that can quickly dispatch new players with ease. It doesn't get much easier at the High Wall of Lothric, with the terrifying Pus of Man packing quite a punch and the Lothric Knights who possess Artificial Brilliance that will punish the smallest mistake and will effortlessly stunlock anyone who tries anything funny on them.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • As it turns out, the entire game world is one. The opening narration explaining that Lothric is where "where the transitory lands of the Lords of Cinder converge", implies that the revival of the Abyss Watchers, Yorn the Giant and Aldritch has actually summoned their homelands (Farron Keep for the Abyss Watchers, the Profaned Capital for Yorn, and the Cathedral of the Deep and the Boreal Valley for Aldritch) to the base of Lothric Castle.
    • Item descriptions state that the Deep revered by Aldrich and his followers was once a holy place that became the "final rest for many abhorrent things". Though it's exact entrance is presumably near the Cathedral, it stretches at least far as the Dreg Heap. It's also said to be teeming with flesh eating insects, repulsive abominations, human dregs, and stagnant souls.
    • The Untended Graves, an identical replica of the starting graveyard that is completely coated in darkness.
    • The Kiln of the First Flame. A barren, ashen landscape is flanked by an entire kingdom seemingly crushed together and jutting at odd angles out of a mountainside.
    • The entirety of The Ringed City takes place in one; The Dreg Heap is formed largely out of the previously mentioned jumbled piles of ancient kingdoms from the Kiln of the First Flame (including bits of Earthen Peak from Dark Souls II), while the Ringed City is revealed to be temporally displaced due to Princess Filianore's slumber; when you wake her up time catches up with the rest of the City and leaves you in the ashen wasteland shown in the opening cutscene, with only the ruins of Lothric and Anor Londo visible off in the distance.
  • Elemental Embodiment: The Soul of Cinder for the First Flame and Slave Knight Gael's DLC fight for the Dark Soul.
  • Elite Mook: Any enemy with glowing red eyes is going to be much tougher than the standard variant. Especially Lothric Knights.
  • Enemy Civil War:
    • Certain types of enemies (Skeletons, Black Knights, and even mimics if aggro'ed) will attack demons on sight. Justified in the case of the Black Knights, who were demon slayers before becoming hollow.
    • Before the Undead Settlement, there is a scripted scene where dogs attack hollows. Again justified in that the hollows within the village were undead hunters in life and still despise them in death.
    • This is the key to winning one boss fight, the Abyss Watchers, where half of the enemies that spawn will attack the boss rather than the player.
    • Before the above fight, the Darkwraiths patrolling the area will actively attack the Ghrus in the area. This will not only give the player free souls with some patience, it will also weaken the Darkwraiths, and even leave one of them open to sneak attacks from behind. Interfering may result in them deciding to Gang Up on the Human, though
    • While it's never directly shown, it's heavily implied that one of these is going on in Lothric Castle, between those loyal to Prince Lothric, and those still loyal to the Angelic Faith/the Way of White who want the Prince to Link the Fire, given that there's clearly been a LOT of fighting going on even before the Ashen One arrives and the fact that the Lothric Knights (noted for their loyalty to the royalty) and the Winged Knights (noted for their loyalty to the Way of White) are never seen fighting together.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Fire Keeper who watches over Firelink Shrine is simply known as... the Fire Keeper.
  • The Fair Folk: The people of Irithyll seem to have been viewed as such by the rest of the world, being known for kidnapping pale-skinned children to be raised in their city, and their noblemen evidently delighted in gruesomely torturing the inhabitants of their dungeons. They get even worse when Pontiff Sulyvahn takes control of the city.
  • Field of Blades:
    • Ghostly, translucent blades litter one of the boss arenas, namely, the final boss arena.
    • Many blades are stuck into the ground around the Farron Keep area, presumably left as memorials to the Abyss Watchers after they linked the Fire.
  • Filk Song: Fires Fade and Forever Flame, courtesy of Miracle of Sound.
  • Final Boss:
    • The Soul of Cinder, who is in fact the knight on the front cover of the game, is the last enemy fought before the Ashen One reaches the First Flame bonfire at the very end of the game.
    • Ashes of Ariandel has Sister Friede, who is directly responsible for halting the destruction and rebirth of the Painted World of Ariandel.
    • The Ringed City has Slave Knight Gael, who serves as not just the final boss of the DLC but of the series as a whole.
  • Finale Title Drop: The phrase "dark soul" comes up multiple times in The Ringed City. Lapp, a.k.a Patches even says "A fine dark soul to you" during your last encounter with him, as though he's telling the player themselves goodbye, and the item you get for beating the final boss is called "The Dark Soul of Man".
  • Flaming Sword: Several bosses utilize flaming weapons, including all of the Lords of Cinder. The player can wreathe their own weapons in flame by using Charcoal Pine Resin or the Carthus Flame Arc Pyromancy. The Ringed Knight Straight Sword is an interesting case since it was not originally a Flaming Sword, instead being a weapon forged in the Abyss. A seal of fire was placed upon them and their wielders by the gods, which cut them off from the powers of the Dark. The waning seal itself is the source of the sword's flame.
  • Foreshadowing: For experienced Dark Souls players, it may seem a rather odd departure from franchise norms that the hub location is not geographically linked to the rest of the map, and is only accessible via teleportation. Then you find the real version of the starting area, the Untended Graves, and realise how strange and horrific Lothric's situation truly is.
  • Fusion Dance: The Soul of Cinder is a Composite type, combining the remains and combat styles of all the souls who burned themselves in the First Flame, including Gwyn and the various Chosen Undead who linked the fire.
    • Slave Knight Gael is also a Composite type after absorbing the Dark Soul from the dried blood of the Pygmy Lords he cannibalized. His fighting style mimics the other two notable beings who were overtaken by the Dark Soul, fighting with the blinding speed and acrobatics of Knight Artorias combined with the savage ferocity and relentlessness of Manus.
  • Gendered Outfit: As usual, mostly avoided, but the DLC brings a couple.
    • The Desert Pyromancer Skirt has shorts under it in the male version.
    • As in Dark Souls II, the Black Witch Trousers are fancy dress pants and shoes for the male version, and a Dangerously Short Skirt and heels for the female version.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The swamps in the Road of Sacrifices are home to enormous crabs.
  • Gilded Cage: The Ringed City from the eponymous DLC is this for the Pygmy Lords and their followers. Gwyn was grateful to them for their aid in the war against the Everlasting Dragons, but he feared the power of the Dark that they wielded. So he gave them a beautiful city, crowned them as Lords, sent his own youngest daughter to live with them and put her under an enchanted sleep that froze the Ringed City in time so that the Pygmies would never want to leave.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Combined with Red Eyes, Take Warning, any enemy that possesses red glowing eyes is a tougher and more aggressive version of the regular enemy.
    • This is particularly meaningful in the case of Champion Gundyr; once his first stage is over, his eyes turn red and he becomes much, much more aggressive, faster and harder-hitting.
  • God Guise: The description for the Lloyd's Rings reveals that the Way of the White no longer worships Allfather Lloyd — the uncle of Lord Gwyn from Dark Souls — and that the people of Carim always dismissed him as a derivative fraud.
  • Grand Finale: Director Hidetaka Miyazaki originally called this entry a "turning point" for the Dark Souls series. He later changed his mind and stated that III will be the final game in the series, or at least the last game that From Software develops, since Namco Bandai own the brand name.
    • The Ringed City will serve as this to the game, and the franchise as a whole, which has been confirmed as the last Dark Souls related content.
  • Guerrilla Boulders: The giant ballista in the Smouldering Lake begins firing at you as soon as you take a few steps into the area towards the boss gate, and will continuously shoot at you with frightening precision even if you take cover, making your progress through the lake a hazardous one. By the time you climb up to the top of the area where it can no longer shoot you, you find out that no one is operating it (the enemy skeletons do nothing but patrol the vicinity), and you can deactivate it.
  • Guide Dang It!: The entire Archdragon Peak area requires using a certain gesture in a fairly obscure place to reach. The gesture is one that is most likely attained after playing through Irithyll Dungeon, which is where the gesture must be used.
    • The purpose of dunking your head in wax in The Grand Archives may be hard to notice, as it isn't stated anywhere that doing so prevents the ghost hands that spring out of the books from cursing you.
    • Accessing the Purging Monument in The Ringed City can be somewhat confusing - in basic terms, you have to locate a particular wall engraved with the inscription "Show your Humanity", and use either the Chameleon sorcery or a Young White Branch in order to transform into a giant Humanity sprite (similar to those from Dark Souls 1. Appearing as a Humanity in front of this wall will cause a ladder to descend. However, this has caused a lot of confusion for some players as a) it utilises something that some players may not have even used at all throughout the whole game, and b) you can't just transform anywhere - you have to specifically be standing in the swamp just outside in order to transform into a Humanity (transforming in front of the wall will just turn you into a statue or similar), before making your way back to the wall still in that form. Neither of this is made fully clear.
  • Hellfire: The Black Flame pyromancy, returning from the Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss DLC, is described as "the impenetrable fires of humanity" found in the Abyss.
  • Hellhole Prison: Irithyll Dungeon. Most of the inmates are dead or hollowed, which doesn't stop the jailers from continuing their duties.
  • He Was Right There All Along: Two bosses toy with this:
    • the Rotting Greatwood is sitting in the background of it's area, and doesn't start attacking until you approach or kill it's flunkies.
    • The Soul Of Cinder is a meta example: He's the Red Knight on the cover.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The knights around Lothric and its castle use miracles learned from Gertrude, the Heavenly Daughter. She was taught them by an unnamed angel, with one of the strongest being pillars of light coming down from the heavens.
  • Hope Spot: The ending where you and the Fire Keeper end the Age of Fire. The Age of Dark begins, but the Fire Keeper says one day a new Age of Fire will come.
  • Horny Vikings: The Warrior class starts off with very Viking-esque armor (sans horned helmet in favor of the more accurately-depicted helmet) and a battle ax. In addition, one of the default faces is called "Northern Warrior."
    • Ashes of Ariandel has some very Norse looking enemies, most notably the Millwood Knights, giant, ax wielding warriors who do have horned helmets. The Farron Followers also look very Viking-esque.
  • Hub Level: Firelink Shrine makes a return as the hub area of the game, though in this iteration is closer to the Nexus from Demon's Souls. The original Firelink Shrine makes an appearance in The Ringed City, as the section of the Dreg Heap where you fight the Demon Prince. You even exit the area by going down Frampt's hole.
  • Human Sacrifice: One of the more loathsome aspects of the Cathedral of the Deep. They funnel a constant stream of human sacrifices to be devoured by their master Aldrich, apparently kidnapping most of their victims from the Undead Settlement.
    • And of course, there is the act of Linking the Fire, turning one's self into kindling for the next Age of Fire, particularly given the heavy implications that at least some of the Lords of Cinder, such as Aldritch and the Twin Princes did not become so willingly.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Played with. You can now see all the weapons you have equipped on your character, even if they're not in use. Anything not equipped disappears into who knows where though.
  • An Ice Person: Many of the enemies hailing from Irithyll of the Boreal Valley are capable of inflicting the Frostbitten status effect. The player can too, should they get their hands on an Irithyllian weapon, Sister Friede's scythe, or two sorceries found in the Painted World.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: A Central Theme. None of these beings chosen as Lords of Cinder live up to the legacy they've inherited or are trying to inherit. Even the main character is an Unkindled, not an Undead, and the most involved sidequest in the game can only bring them within spitting distance of that meager status.
  • Instant Expert: Your character can use any weapon and even adopt the martial arts that goes with it, meaning your western hack and slash knight can grab a katana and become a Iaijutsu Practitioner without much transition.
  • Island of Misfit Everything: The Painted World of Ariandel

     J-P 
  • Jump Scare: There are items on corpses in the Irithyll Dungeons that will let out an ungodly scream when you take it off of them. They don't even attack, but the worst part is that their shriek will make the jailers come running.
    • At another point in Irithyll dungeon, a terrifying creature with eight legs and a baby-like face will be seen clinging to the wall, perfectly still. It's quite easy to miss the first time through, and it's non-hostile and doesn't drop anything, so it seems like its only purpose is to scare the crap out of the player. Subsequent enemies of this type are hostile, though.
    • There are a few in that same level that can hurt you, for example on the first second floor area, there's an item in front of an open door that a hollow will burst out of and push you off the ledge if you don't react.
  • Just Before the End: Though the world lies in ruins, there are still a few pockets where people survive in the last gasp of the Age of Fire. In all the endings, the Age of Fire ends or is implied to end soon, though the player's role in the coming Age of Dark is dependent on the ending. Even Linking the Fire is said to be a temporary measure at best.
    • The final area of the Ringed City DLC appears to take place in the last few minutes of the Age of Fire. The sun has become quite dim, and halfway through the Boss Fight with Gael, the light goes out completely.
  • Kaizo Trap: Once you defeat your third Lord, you're teleported to Lothric Castle to talk to Emma... but if you talk to her and approach the statue behind her, you are immediately thrust into a battle with the notoriously difficult Dancer of the Boreal Valley. Better hope you can equip a Ring of Sacrifice in time, or the souls you got from defeating your Lord will go right down the drain.
  • Kukris Are Kool: And they are throwing knives which can inflict bleed.
  • Lethal Joke Weapon: The Four-longed Plow. While it looks like a tool more used for farming, it also has an AR of '538 given the right stats and infusion, and has decent range. The only downside is the heavy attack Charge weapon art, in which your character face-plants as a result.
  • Light Is Not Good: In one area, a fiery sun is shown bleeding a black ichor that is slowly corrupting the world around it.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: The already somber Firelink Shrine theme turns into this if you give the Fire Keeper eyes.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!:
    • The final arena, containing the Kiln of the First Flame and the Dreg Heap, is comprised of the mangled ruins of past civilizations — including those from Dark Souls and Dark Souls II.
    • In the Ringed City DLC, should the Ashen One awaken Filianore from her slumber, the illusion of life her sleep was preserving is broken and the following cutscene reveals all that is left is an ashen wasteland with the ruins of Lothric and Anor Londo in the distance.
  • Lost in Translation: As is typical when translating a game between languages, some nuance is lost on occasion. One of the big ones here though is Yuria's dying words should the player choose to kill her: "Kaathe, I have failed thee...", which is a Wham Line on its own, but even more of a Wham in Japanese, where her word choice was closer to "Kaathe... your dying wish... I cannot...", which carries some huge lore implications.
    • Aldrich was never forced to become a Lord of Cinder by the clergy within the Cathedral of the Deep. He was certainly imprisoned there, but became a Lord of Cinder all on his own. Hawkwood never even calls him "right and proper", never says he "developed" a taste for human flesh, and certainly never says that the Cathedral "made him" a Lord of Cinder.
    • The Cathedral of the Deep is called the "Cathedral of the Abyss" in the French and German translations.
    • Hawkwood was never ridiculed by the other Abyss Watchers for using a shield. That was added in the English text.
    • The Firekeeper's Soul found on top of the Firelink Shrine bell tower is called the Tainted Firekeeper's Soul in the Japanese text. "Tainted" as in "kegare", just like in Bloodborne.
    • Gwyndolin was described in the Japanese text as being elevated to the position of All-Father after Lloyd was revealed to be a fraud. This makes it clearer why Aldrich targeted him rather than say Yorshka and Rosaria (who surely would have put up less of a fight); to seek the power of the new king of the gods.
    • The sage that persuaded Prince Lothric to abandon the linking the Fire wasn't called his alleged private teacher in the original text - he was called a secret mentor that influenced the Prince without anyone knowing it.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Certain enemies (Pus of Man) and bosses (Iudex Gundyr) you come across will abruptly sprout a grotesque black mass of tentacles and gnarled tree-like roots, with a massive serpentine head tipped with a gaping mouth.
  • Lord British Postulate: You're supposed to kill Yhorm the Giant, High Lord Wolnir, and the Ancient Wyvern using certain tricks in their area, but there is nothing stopping you from just beating them to death besides their absurd defense and HP totals.
  • Magikarp Power: Pyromancers now work this way; they'll be almost halfway through the game before the really good pyromancies become available, and even longer before their Chaos/Dark weapons can be forged, not to mention that unlike mages and clerics they have to work on building both Intelligence and Faith. Once this point is reached however, they can absolutely devastate enemies.
  • Mana Meter: Returning for the first time since Demon's Souls, labeled a "Focus Meter", which is used to both cast magic and use Weapon Arts, abandoning the Vancian Magic system of Dark Souls 1 and 2. You recover Focus by either resting at a bonfire, using the new Ashen Estus Flask, or having a weapon/shield with a Simple Gem infused into it.
  • Marathon Boss: As mentioned above, there is no less than three bosses in the base game with high HP and defenses (Ancient Wyvern, Yhorm and High Lord Wolnir) but there are tricks to all three to make these fights significantly faster; this being a plunging attack, the Storm Ruler, and destroying the golden bracelets respectively.
    • Both DLCs bring their own Marathon Bosses as well, but unlike in the base game, there no trick or gimmick to speed up their boss fight.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: The Irithyll Jailers can rapidly drain your maximum HP just by looking at you. Thankfully, the drain is temporary and wears off after about 20 seconds if they aren't.
  • Medieval Stasis: Untold millennia after the first game, technology, fashion, and magic have gone unchanged, though memory of the previous ages has faded into myth by this point.
  • Mercy Kill: Two of the endings are this for the Age of Fire.
    • End of Fire is you snuffing out the First Flame in the hopes that something new will come from its absence even if it's just a new flame returning from the embers.
    • Usurpation is you corrupting the First Flame's power to finally and truly begin the Age of the Dark complete with a new sun made from of the Dark rather than from Fire. Of the endings this one unambiguously guarantees the Age of Fire is finally over.
    • You can also view several boss fights as this such as Vordt, the Dancer, and the Abyss Watchers all of whom have long since lost themselves to madness.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: There's a wall in the Ringed City with the inscription "Show Your Humanity". How do you show your humanity? Being embered? Unequipping your armor to show your human-looking skin? Bringing some specific NPC with you? No, you have to step into the water outside, use a Young White Branch (or cast the Chameleon spell) to transform into a Humanity sprite from Dark Souls 1, and then walk back up to the wall while transformed, which reveals a ladder leading up a hidden path. See Guide Dang It! above.
  • Multiple Endings: Dark Souls III has four endings, two of which involve completing side-quests.
    • To Link the First Flame: You link the First Flame after defeating the Soul of Cinder, becoming the next Lord in the chain of the fading world.
    • The End of Fire: After giving the Eyes of a Fire Keeper from the Untended Graves to your Fire Keeper, the two of you choose to end this world so a new one can be born in the future.
      • Betrayal: In a Nonstandard Game Over for The End of Fire ending, you kill the Fire Keeper at the last second and take the cinders of the First Flame for yourself. Unlike the other three endings, this one doesn't have an associated trophy/achievement.
    • The Usurpation of Fire: After getting 5 dark sigils from Yoel and another 3 from Anri if they and a pilgrim tailing them survive through Irithyll, you use the power of the Dark Soul to consume the First Flame, becoming the Lord of Hollows who will rule the fallen world.
  • Mystical White Hair: The Fire Keeper has this, along with very pale skin. It somewhat makes her resemble the Doll.
  • Mythology Gag: The game has multiple references to other FromSoft games that don't take place in the Dark Souls continuity.
    • The Fire Keeper paraphrases lines of characters from other Hidetaka Miyazaki games, including:
      • The Maiden in Black from Demon's Souls:
        Maiden: Go forth; touch the Demon inside me. Let these ownerless souls become thine own.
        Keeper: Very well. Then touch the darkness within me. Take nourishment from these sovereignless souls.
      • The Doll from Bloodborne:
        Doll: Hello, good hunter. I am a doll, here in this dream to look after you.
        Keeper: Welcome to the bonfire, Unkindled One. I am a Fire Keeper. I tend to the flame, and tend to thee.
      • And another line from the Doll:
        Doll: Welcome home, good hunter. What is it you desire?
        Keeper: Welcome home, Ashen One. Speak thine heart's your desire?
    • Yuria of Londor shares a name with Yuria the Witch from Demon's Souls, and will give you a tablet that allows you to learn emotion-based Hexes, similar to Yuria the Witch's emotion-based Soul Arts. Conversely, Karla, a prisoner in the Irithyll Prison, is Yuria the Witch in all but name.
    • Ringfinger Leonhard's armor shares a loose resemblance to a hunter's attire from Bloodborne.
    • Pontiff's Left Eye Ring references the beast plague of Bloodborne, and gives you a version of the Life Drain rally system from that game.
    • Irithyll and the Cathedral of the Deep both have thematic and aesthetic similarities to the city of Yharnam and the Healing Church from Bloodborne respectively. Irithyll is a massive gothic city much like Yharnam, and the Cathedral of the Deep is the resident Religion of Evil with visual cues taken from the Catholic Church, much like the Healing Church.
    • There are also large crocodile/wolf hybrid creatures that can be found in Irithyll which greatly resemble the Watchdog of the Old Lords Chalice Dungeon boss from Bloodborne. Though this time, the monsters are affiliated with ice and lightning, not fire and lava.
    • The Hunter Ring reveals that Lothric had an order of hunters called the Black Hand that very closely resembled the Hunters from Bloodborne in style of dress and their fighting style.
    • Several items, NPCs, and locations are very reminiscent of their equivalents from Demon's Souls.
      • Irithyll Dungeon looks deceptively similar to Tower of Latria, down to intimidating jailers with lanterns and almost the exact same walk cycle.
      • Also found in the aforementioned dungeon, Karla's garb is nearly identical to the outfit of Yuria the Witch.
      • Storm Ruler is identical to its Demon's Souls namesake in function.
      • The Hornet Ring allows the player to use the backstab and riposte animations from Demon's Souls.
      • The Ancient Dragon Greatshield found in the Archdragon Peak is the exact same item as the Adjudicator's Shield in shape and the HP regenerating effect.
      • The Twin Princes' Greatsword and its components, Lothric's Holy Sword and Lorian's Greatsword, mirror the Northern Regalia and its components, Demonbrandt and Soulbrandt.
      • In the Betrayal Ending, the image of the Ashen One stomping on the Fire Keeper's head is very similar to the Demon's Souls Betrayal ending, in which the Demon Slayer likewise murders the Maiden in Black and stomps on her head.
      • The Evangelists from the Cathedral of the Deep are Rule 63 versions of the Fat Officials from Demon's Souls.
      • The Blessed and Simple gem infusions mirror the Blessed and Crescent weapon upgrade paths from Demon's Souls, right down to Blessed regenerating Health and Simple regenerating Focus.
    • The Ashes of Ariandel DLC adds the Painted World of Ariandel. Although it's more a return to the original Painted World, as Priscilla's boss arena can be found in the area.
    • The way of obtaining the Fire Keeper set is very similar to how you obtain its equivalent, the Doll set, in Bloodborne. Both of them are found by climbing up a tower located just outside the safe zone of the game (Oedon Chapel in Bloodborne, Firelink Shrine in this game) and then completing a jumping puzzle that requires you to make a precise drop down onto a narrow platform or go plummeting to your death.
  • Nostalgia Level: You get to visit the last remaining chunk of Anor Londo cathedral, complete with running up a palace buttress with greatbow knights trying to shoot you off, and manipulating the rotating platform to reach the front steps. You also face the area's boss in the exact same room as Ornstein and Smough, and the boss, Aldrich, has absorbed Dark Sun Gwyndolin and protrudes his torso out of him. After the fight, you can once again collect the Ring of the Sun Princess from Gwynevere's room, though her façade has long disappeared.
    • Though Anor Londo is the most obvious example, Lothric is situated partially on the ruins of Lordran, and other areas reference areas in previous games as well, though more subtle. Smoldering Lake seems to be the remnants of Ash Lake, Demon Ruins and Lost Izalith and is positioned correctly in relation to Anor Londo for this to be the case. Farron Keep has elements of both Darkroot Garden and Blighttown. The Profaned Capital seems to have some of New Londo's architecture as well as that of the original Firelink Shrine, and once again, positioning those locations in relation to Anor Londo reveals a giant hole, implying New Londo, Firelink, and Undead Burg/Parish collapsed. This is also done retroactively as well, as Irithyll is the city seen beneath Anor Londo, which was subject to a lot of speculation and confusion.
    • Archdragon Peak, an optional dungeon unlocked near the end of the game, is similar to both Sen's Fortress including the returning Snakemen and Dragon Shrine in that the Path of the Dragon can be followed here, though in a series first, it is not a separate covenant. Both areas also include an extremely difficult Bonus Boss.
    • In the Ashes of Ariandel DLC, Ariandel is clearly meant to evoke imagery of the Painted World of Ariamis, what with a snowy mountain and a long rope bridge leading to said mountain. It is implied that the Lady of the Painting is Ariamis, and the arena where the Chosen Undead fought Priscilla can be found below the Corvian Settlement.
    • The Ringed City turns all of this Up to Eleven:
      • The very second area that players will visit is Earthen Peak from Dark Souls II. Mytha's castle lies in ruins right next to the bonfire, where the player can immediately climb up to the area where they first met Laddersmith Gilligan. And the Desert Pyromancer set can be found all around the level.
      • The arena that the Twin Demons are fought in is the original Firelink Shrine from Dark Souls I. After defeating them, the player proceeds down Kingseeker Frampt's snake hole in order to reach the cliff overlooking the Ringed City.
      • The Ringed City itself is littered with all forms of memorabilia, from a set of the Ruin Sentinels' armor, to Zullie the Witch's clothing, to invasions by old NPCs from the base game, and a rematch with the Dragonslayer Armour.
      • Once the player reaches the Shared Grave after completing Lapp's quest, Patches will kick the Ashen One down a ledge after goading them to look over it for treasure, just as he did the Chosen Undead in Nito's Catacombs.
  • Not the Intended Use: Daggers and similar weapons have the "quickstep" ability as their weapon art, allowing you to make a small leap forward in order to close on your enemies. As moving through swamps is slow even while rolling, the dagger is more commonly used to move through swamps than to actually attack, as the quickstep is easily spammable and is not hampered by the swamp at all.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • The Pus of Man-infected enemies erupt into serpentine monsters of the Abyss.
    • The increasingly difficult three-phase boss fight against Sister Friede in the Ashes of Ariandel DLC is the perhaps the greatest qualifier of all bosses in the Souls series to date.
  • Orphaned Etymology: The Braille Divine Tomes are a particularly egregious case. While the development of a tactile writing system in a medieval fantasy setting is explainable In-Universe (the Way of White religion venerates Blind Seers, so naturally they'd develop a writing system they could understand), the name of the writing system, which is derived from the surname of a 19th century French educator from our world, most certainly is not. The Japanese version simply calls them "dot-writing" tomes. That said, similar to Bloodborne using Hippocratic Oath, the translators probably went with a term that Western audiences were familiar with.
  • Permanently Missable Content: There's a pretty significant amount of content that you'll lose forever just because you advanced too far in the game without finding it:
    • Once Yoel of Londor has given you five Dark Sigils, he dies, and Yuria takes his place. This happens anyway when you reach the Catacombs of Carthus, except Yuria never shows up, so you'll lose access to her wares, her questline, the Londor Pale Shade's assistance at certain bosses, and one of the game's endings.
    • Similar to the above, it is possible to fail Yuria's quest by doing certain things to either anger her or foil her plans, but one of the more inadvertent ways involves Anri of Astora. When you encounter Anri in the Catacombs of Carthus, you learn that she/he is searching for Horace, who got separated from her/him; it's possible to find Horace farther down in Smouldering Lake, only he's turned hollow and will attack the player on sight. If the player doesn't kill Horace, and later sends Anri to his location, she/he will be forced to put him down, and then end up hollow her/himself, denying the player a spouse as well as the final three Dark Sigils necessary for the Usurpation of Fire ending.
    • Orbeck of Vinheim, in exchange for teaching you sorceries, demands that you find him knowledge (meaning, give him scrolls to let him teach you more spells). Normally this is relatively easy to accomplish since it's possible to pick up at least two scrolls in the area immediately after encountering him, if one explores thoroughly enough. However, failing to give him even a single scroll before defeating four bosses will cause him to leave Lothric for the remainder of the playthrough. This not only denies the player the ability to become an effective sorcerer, but also any gifts he may give the player, prevents him from coming to the player's aid for the second-last boss of the game, as well as locking out an extra weapon that can be obtained after Orbeck's death.
    • The Mound-Makers covenant has two methods of joining, both of which are obscure and easy to lock yourself out of permanently. The first involves talking to two NPCs that are identical to enemies, and becomes impossible as soon as you try to fight the Curse-Rotted Greatwood. The second is to reach the end of Sirris's questline, and that becomes unavailable if you've offered a Pale Tongue to Rosaria to deepen your allegiance to her covenant.
    • Speaking of Sirris and Hodrick, completing Sirris's questline involves breaking a part of Rosaria's. In order to get the "Proper Bow" gesture, one must defeat Yellowfinger Heysel when she invades the player, offer at least one Pale Tongue to level up at the Rosaria's Fingers covenant, and then summon Heysel as a white phantom at the Abyss Watchers fight. However, offering that Pale Tongue will anger Sirris, causing her to disappear for the rest of that playthrough; completing Sirris's questline requires staying on her good graces until at least Aldrich, who is encountered well after Abyss Watchers. Thus, it will be impossible to obtain both "Proper Bow" and the Silvercat Ring and Hodrick's armor set and shield in the same playthrough.
    • Greirat of the Undead Settlement's questline can be tricky to finish. After taking the time to find him and release him from his cell in High Wall of Lothric, and then finding Loretta in the Undead Settlement, he can be sent out to pillage goods to expand his merchant stock. Only, on his second pillaging journey, it's quite possible for him to fail to make it back alive, and the only way to save him involves either a specific order of events involving Unbreakable Patches, or advancing Siegward of Catarina's questline up to a certain point but no further. Fumbling either of these (which in and of themselves can be Guide Dang It! moments) will deny players the chance to send Greirat on his final pillaging journey in Lothric Castle, and thus additional wares.
    • The Symbol of Avarice can be lost if the player kills every mimic without finding the helm. This isn't likely given the drop rate of the item compared to the number of mimics, but is still possible. The player will need to go through New Game + for another shot.
  • Portal Network: Like in Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, bonfires can be used to teleport. Unlike in Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, bonfire teleporting is required to travel between Firelink and the rest of the world, as Firelink is disconnected from the main world a'la the Nexus in Demon's Souls.
  • Power at a Price: The "Stomp" Weapon Art on some weapons involves the player poising through their opponent's attack without getting stunned for the chance of trading with much more damage.
    • A more straightforward example is the Power Within pyromancy. For 30 seconds, you do more damage and recover your stamina more quickly, but lose 1% of your health every second.
  • Power Glows: Replacing the Humanity/Hollow mechanic from the first two games, there is now the Lord of Cinder mode. Instead of Humanity, it's replaced by Embers, an item that increases your max health by 40% and allows online co-op. Parts of your body will glow bright orange, like the Lord of Cinder seen in the trailer.
  • Power of the Void:
    • Dark-element spells and weapon infusion — derived from the Abyss and the Dark Soul — make a return, scaling with Faith and Intelligence. However, while they were their own class of magic in Dark Souls II, Hexes are now once again split up between Sorceries, Miracles, and Pyromancy as in the original Dark Souls.
    • A new element called Deep, which inflicts Dark damage without scaling, and is stated to be derived from "a darkness that lies beyond human ken."

     Q-Z 
  • The Quiet One: Horace, Anri's escort. His title "The Hushed" seems to hint that it's not voluntary, and it may be connected to his past encounter with Aldrich, where he and Anri were the only survivors.
  • Rapunzel Hair: The unnamed painter in Ashes of Ariandel, whose hair seems to be at least three times as long as her whole body.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: The End of Fire ending. The First Flame is dead and gone and darkness holds sway over the world but the Firekeeper tells you another flame will emerge from the darkness eventually.
  • Recurring Riff: The title theme of the original Dark Souls shows up as the background music for Castle Lothric and the Untended Graves.
  • Religion of Evil:
    • The Cathedral of the Deep, as it is in the present. The Cathedral was originally a vanguard against the Deep that eventually imprisoned Aldrich, a rogue cleric turned sadistic cannibal who "luxuriated in his victim's screams". The clergy ended up being corrupted by the very thing they were fighting against and canonized the cleric-turned-Lord-of-Cinder as their patron Saint, who eventually decided to devour the gods to prepare for the coming age of the deep sea, which is implied to be The Abyss. Its deacons sacrifice hollows from the Undead Settlement at their cathedral in order to feed him. A sub-sect also worships Rosaria, the Mother of Rebirth, who essentially runs the new version of the Darkwraith covenant. Their apparent leader, Pontiff Sulyvahn, is a no-name sorcerer turned self-stylized cult leader who is fond of forcibly conscripting those he doesn't like into the Outrider Knights, exiling them from Irithyll while fitting them with madness-inducing rings. All things considered, the Cathedral of the Deep makes the Healing Church look as harmless as Jainism.
    • The Sable Church of Londor, dedicated to the Primordial Serpents and still trying after all this time to create a Lord of Hollows and drown the world in Dark.
  • Restraining Bolt: The Ringed Knight armor states that a seal of fire was placed on it and those who wore it by the gods. Considering that said seal (appears) to be the Darksign, this could be easily be speculated as the Gods placing the Darksign all of the Pygmies, and by extension, humanity, though this remains unconfirmed.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Anri and Horace want to kill Aldrich because Aldrich devoured their entire village when they were children.
  • Romance Sidequest: Played with regarding Anri of Astora's questline. It's necessary to marry him/her in order to achieve the Usurpation of Fire ending, but the actual "marriage" ceremony itself consists of the player kneeling in front of Anri's corpse and stabbing them in the face with a matrimonial sword. While the act does resurrect Anri in the closing cutscene so he/she can be the Ashen One's king/queen, it definitely isn't how you'd expect a regular romantic sidequest to end. Then again, this is Dark Souls...
  • Running on All Fours:
    • Vordt of the Boreal Valley, referred to as a vile watchdog, is a massive mace-wielding knight clad in full plate armor who runs on all fours. In the second stage of his boss fight, his eyes glow blue and he develops an aura of frost.
    • Lesser Outrider Knights faced as minibosses essentially function as miniature versions of Vordt, armed with swords instead of a mace. A sword gained from one of these Knights explains that this is a natural consequence of growing older for members of their order — they become more bestial.
    • The first phase of the final boss of The Ringed City, Slave Knight Gael, runs like this while attacking similarly to Artorias the Abysswalker.
  • Sad Battle Music: The second half of the final boss fight, a Call-Back to when this trope was used in the first game.
  • Scenery Gorn: But of course. Most areas in the game are abandoned, ruined, and littered with corpses.
  • Scenery Porn: The environments are as beautifully rendered as ever, sharing Bloodborne's high level of detail.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: Character names are subject to a swear filter (turning the offending letters into asterisks), which can be very strict, very creative or completely bypassed via use of capital letters. Worse, this affects words that are used within the game itself, which creates the illusion of a Double Standard. So while something named "Chosen Undead Knight" might appear in the game, if a player tries to create a character using any of those words it becomes "C**sen Und*** K***ht."
  • Seppuku: Weaponised by the Bloodlust katana. Using its weapon skill (also called Bloodlust), the Ashen One drives the serrated blade into their stomach, granting the weapon increased damage and bleed potential for a limited time at the cost of a portion of their own health.
    Bloodlust skill description: Stain blade with one’s own blood to temporarily grant uncanny sharpness. For one driven by bloodlust, nothing deserves to remain standing.
  • Sequence Breaking: Killing Emma to summon and defeat The Dancer of the Boreal Valley will allow early game access to Lothric Castle, an endgame area. However, you'll be denied access to the Grand Archives unless you kill the 3 Lords of Cinder you were meant to face before the Dancer.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Unlike in previous games, some enemies are hostile to other enemies as well as to the player. In fact, if another enemy aggros them, they'll ignore the player to take out the offender! This can make certain areas a breeze to go through, as well as a good source of free souls. Harald Knights in the Dreg Heap damage most other types of enemies.
  • Shout-Out: The game has multiple references to other creators' works.
    • It wouldn't be a Souls game if it didn't have references to Berserk:
      • The "Stomp" Skill is based on poses from Berserk, and Miyazaki himself even calls it "Guts Mode". And as always, the weapon called the Greatsword also has a conspicuous resemblance to Guts's original, pre-Eclipse sword, while retaining the size of the Dragonslayer.
      • The Sellsword armor set has an aesthetic look to Guts' Golden Age armor, while the Undead Legion set has an aesthetic look to his Black Swordsman armor, and the Outrider Knight armor resembles the Berserk Armor.
      • The Cathedral Evangelists you fight in the Undead Settlement heavily resemble a gender-bent Mozgus. They even bash you in the head with the books they carry, mirroring one of his more infamous moments.
      • The Earth Seeker resembles the Axe of the Gnomes, an axe imbued with magical power bestowed by Schierke to Guts but the latter rejects it.
      • The Red Eye Orb still bears a resemblance to the Behelit.
      • The Sulyvahn's Beast resembles the Beast of Darkness.
      • Several hairstyles resemble Guts' short pointy hair, Farnese's twintails, and Casca's medium hair in Conviction arc.
      • Speaking of Farnese, there's the Rose of Ariandel, a flail which you whip yourself with it to seek miraculous power, exactly what Farnese did to herself.
      • One ending depicts the player character kneeling on the ground with one hand turned palm up, backdropped by an eclipse. The shot bears more than a passing resemblance to the beginnings of a certain other Eclipse.
      • Slave Knight Gael is a walking Shout-Out to Guts, a BFS-wielding warrior trying to help a female he holds dear to his heart by any means possible. During his boss fight, he pretty much behaves like Guts clad in the Berserker Armor, generally behaving like a beast and using a repertoire of wild acrobatic swings with an occasional automatic crossbow bolt volley.
    • The Londor pilgrims (hunched-over hollows wearing turtle shells and carrying staves) are a reference to the gathering of the Mystics from the opening of The Dark Crystal.
    • The combat style for short bows, where you can move and roll while shooting, was based on Legolas's combat style from The Lord of the Rings movies according to Miyazaki.
    • The Follower Sabre in Ashes of Ariandel DLC looks suspiciously similar to Miki Sayaka's sword. Even more fittingly, it's meant to fight human opponents who have been taken by the Abyss.
    • The Valorheart's Weapon Skill "Lion Stance" behaves like the "Lion Roar" (Also known as "Beast") skill from the Tales Series.
  • Slave Mooks: Most of the giants seen in the game appear to be slaves of the Cathedral, being wrapped in chains and having bolts driven through their ankles to restrict their movement. The Irithyllian slaves are also definitely this, even being equipped with invisibility spells so that the nobles of the city wouldn't have to look at them.
  • Snow Means Death:
    • Irithyll, base of Pontiff Sulyvanhn, is completely covered in ice and most of the enemies there use ice based attacks of some sort.
    • Ashes of Ariandel appears to be set in a snowy wasteland very similar to the Painted World of Ariamis in the first game. Then you find out that not only is it a Painted World, but it's the Painted World, albeit a version no telling how many recreations later.
  • Spooky Silent Library: The Grand Archive is an entire level made honoring this trope, a labyrinthine tower filled with endless stacks of bookcases, eerie, wax-covered scholars and occasional knights and thralls standing watch over their work. Oh, and many of the books are cursed and try to reach for you with eerie, ghostly hands if you don't follow the scholars' example and protect yourself with molten wax.
  • Spy Catsuit: The Black Leather set is functionally one of these.
  • Stance System:
    • Dual weapons make a return, taking up just a single weapon slot instead of two individual slots. Pressing Y/Triangle will let you switch between using a single weapon and both weapons.
    • Certain weapons have stance-based Weapon Skills, which have both a light and heavy attack which requires you to hold down L2/LT in order to use them.
  • Stripperiffic: The Desert Sorceress set from Dark Souls II makes a return in The Ringed City, and looks exactly the same as it did before.
  • Sinister Scythe: There are a few of them in the game, and they are surprisingly practical, with medium damage, long, wide range, and relatively quick swing speed.
  • Suicide Attack: Some of the Hollows in the Cathedral of the Deep will set themselves on fire and then attempt to tackle you before blowing themselves up, which can easily one-shot you at this point in the game.
    • Some of the Murkmen priests in The Ringed City can transform themselves into large masses of humanity and then launch themselves at you, destroying themselves in the process.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Ember items are basically Humanity/Human Effigies in all but name, and even have a similar shape to them. The only thing that differentiates them is in their method of use and how they work within the lore; whereas Humanity/Human Effigies restore you to a full state of being by filling your Hollowed form in with the Dark Soul, Embers take your base stats and buff them up with the power of the First Flame (represented by giving you 40% more health).
  • Sword Pointing: The "Legion etiquette" gesture has you doing this. Doing it with a greatsword while wearing either the Abyss Watcher set, the Sellsword set, or the Outrider Knight set makes you look like Guts.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: If you buy all of his sorceries, Orbeck tells you that somebody as knowledgeable in sorcery as you would be reviled at the dragon school of Vinheim.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • The Abyss Watchers mocking and belittling Hawkwood for using a sword and shield rather than their signature sword and dagger style feels like a dig at competitive players who insist that there is only one correct way to play the game, especially since Hawkwood is using the actual fighting style of their founder, Artorias. That said, the belittling was added in by the English translators.
    • Fatty-rolling is a common occurrence in the Dark Souls series, where characters equip heavy armor and up their Vitality to the point that they can still roll while wearing all that weight. Several of the heaviest armors in the game now make the character look like they are very fat, including the Exile Armor set and especially the Winged Knight set. So, if you want to fatty-roll, you're going to look like a serious fatty.
    • The first two bosses you're expected to face are a major Take That! to critics of the second game, where players erroneously complained that the majority of bosses were basically 'Dude in Armor with a Weapon'. Iudex Gundyr starts out that way, and then goes into one of the most startling and drastic One-Winged Angel modes in the series, and Vordt of the Boreal Valley takes things to a new and startling height: Don't like fighting dudes in armor and want to fight a monster instead? Here we have a man who has become a Bloodborne-esque beastman, but is still in armor.
    • The Simple Gem is perhaps one of the most spectacular: The developers knew that this was going to be a popular infusion in the late game, especially in PvP, since weapon arts require at least one Focus Point to be able to be used, and a Simple infusion ensures that there will almost always be at least on FP in the pool. Thus, the description of the item is one that mocks the user for lacking the courage to fight with a limited FP pool. Also a Call-Back Take That! to how popular magic builds were in Demon's Souls, due to how the magic in that game was so overpowered.
  • Theme Song Reveal: Some of the bosses have themes which reveal big lore and character implications.
    • The Abyss Watchers theme has a bell ringing in the background. People who remember the Artorias fight from Dark Souls might recall his theme having the same, a hint at the connection between him and them.
    • The Final Boss has three piano notes when he enters his second phase. These piano notes are lifted from Gwyn's theme, hinting that he is part of the Soul of Cinder and cluing the player into his next moveset.
    • Aldrich's theme is very similar to Gwyndolin's theme from Dark Souls, further showing us that he devoured Gwyndolin.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: In the grand tradition of Souls
    • It's hard to tell what the hell is going on with the illusion door beyond Ocieros' chamber and the "Untended Graves"... AKA the Cemetery of Ash, swathed in dark. Is it just that one little area that's a weird trip into the past? Are you somehow being sent into the past from the Firelink you know? Is this just a huge extension of the general time weirdness of Lordran? Making the effect even more pronounced and confusing, the Untended Graves and the Cemetery of Ash, and their related Firelinks, share the exact same player messages and bloodstains. If you die to Champion Gundyr, you can actually go back to the Iudex arena to retrieve your souls! It's best summed up that the Untended Graves is reality, where Gundyr failed the linking of fire and the first flame went out. Ludleth then created a time loop that the main game takes place in and became a Lord of Cinder to give everyone a little more time (evidenced by the Handmaid recognizing you and the souls trick, which shows the main game occurs after the Untended Graves). The Dreg Heap and final boss occur at the very end of the time loop, right before Ludleth's linking wears off.
    • Archdragon Peak adds another dimension to the confusion. There, the sun is always bright and hale unless the storm is raging, whereas in the main area of the game it may be bleeding darkness or even wholly consumed by the dark. So where or when is Archdragon Peak?
    • The entire game is arguably this, as the main game and both DLC areas exist outside of time in order to put off the final destruction of the world. It's not until you complete the game that you realize that this isn't the end of the world, but After the End, with numerous tricks and all the magic the world can muster being used to keep the semblance of life going..
  • Title Drop: The final DLC of the series, "The Ringed City", fittingly has it dropped by the final boss.
    Slave Knight Gael: Ah... is this the blood? The blood of the Dark Soul?
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: While it may or may not be considered a standard eclipse, the later parts of the game feature the sun growing to resemble the Darksign, making it very much resemble one of these. This is a hint that the time remaining to link the fire is quickly running out. It comes to a head when the player reaches the Kiln of the First Flame, where the eclipse comes to resemble an enormous Darksign hanging in the sky and seems, in fact, to be 'bleeding' darkness into the world.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • When the first pieces of art and cinematics debuted, showing a knight in scorched armor covered in red cloth, everyone assumed this was the character you play as in their "canon" appearance, like the Chosen Undead in Elite Knight armor or the Bearer of the Curse in Faraam armor. It's not. That's the Soul of Cinder, the final boss.
    • An unique, downplayed example that only the Souls series managed to pull off: Due to the series Story Breadcrumbs style of story-telling that encouraged WMG, Ashes of Ariandel's trailer heavy emphasis on Sunlight Princess Gwynevere can be seen as this: Ariandel's weapon looked a lot like the Lordvessel, the item Gwynevere granted the player in the first game; the trailer also feature series of old boss battles, all of which were implied to have some connection to her: Consumed King Oceiros (supposed husband, he's the former king of Lothric, the Queen of Lothric was a former Goddess of Fertility); Nameless King (supposed older brother, he's all but stated to be Gwyn's firstborn); Twin Princes (supposed sons, going by the theories of Gwynevere being the Queen of Lothric); Aldrich using Gwyndolin face and casting his spell (supposed younger brother). The next shot has a female figure screaming in rage, implied that's her current form, and she's out for revenge against you, the one who defeated all her loved ones. None of this would come to pass, the trailer lie, saids boss battles were put there for no reason at all.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The second phase of the final boss, the Soul of Cinder has Gwyn's lonely piano playing alongside a chaotic orchestra.
  • The Unchosen One: All Unkindled, including the player character: forgotten undead incapable of ever harnessing the same strength of fire as the Lords of Cinder. But as all the Lords are dead, powerless, or completely insane, no one but them are left to save the world. This is made a bit more complicated once you get back from the Untended Graves and speak to Ludleth, who reveals that anyone can be a Lord of Cinder — they simply must be willing to do so. This idea drives the two alternate endings.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: This gets leveled at The Ringed City quite a bit. In the Dreg Heap section, the player has to fight a total of three Angels, which spit an unrelenting barrage of lasers at you any time you're within their cone of vision, and any time you actually manage to kill one by shooting it with enough arrows, a new one instantly spawns in, forcing the player into a sort of Stealth-Based Mission. The first Judicator Giant in the Ringed City proper is also shades of this, as the player is forced to run a gauntlet of Ruin Sentinel archers and take cover behind gravestones instead of being able to engage the giant directly.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Arguably you together with your new(ly resurrected) spouse Anri of Astora in the "Usurpation of Fire" ending, where the pair of you become the Lord and Lady of the Hollows together.
  • Unperson: The Ringed City DLC reveals this about the Pygmies. They fought alongside the Gods against the dragons, sending their Ringed Knights who wielded weapons forged from the Abyss. The gods in return for their valiant efforts removed them from history out of fear of the dark.
  • Vancian Magic: Played straight and averted. As in previous games, spells must be equipped or "attuned" while resting at a bonfire. However, Fromsoft ditched the limited casts of the previous two games and instead just gave the player a Magic Meter similar to Demon's Souls.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Lothric Castle and the Grand Archives. Technically, the Kiln of the First Flame is visited afterwards, but its only purpose is to serve as the battlefield for the final battle.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: A somewhat meta example. There are 4 endings that you can get. Three of them have achievements. The fourth is the one where you backstab the Firekeeper, push her face into the ground with your boot, then steal the flame for yourself. If you are achievement hunting and not using a guide, it is presumably your punishment for such unnecessary cruelty.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Dunk your head in wax? Wouldn't that obscure your vision and cause you to suffocate? Apparently not only does it not do that, it also protects you from cursed tomes on bookshelves.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Your character, the Ashen One, can be equipped with a wide variety of clothing and armor. Additional weapons will also now appear on your player character even when not in use.
  • Volcanic Veins:
    • The Lords of Cinder have these, along with a flaming weapon to emphasis their status as true Lords of Cinder.
    • Using an Ember item will give you Lord of Cinder status and cause these to appear on your character model, at least while you're wearing armor.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: This time as early as the first boss! Iudex Gundyr is a Lightning Bruiser that can easily punish fresh players for timing their rolls incorrectly, using up their stamina and getting greedy when there is a sudden break in the fight. It also serves as this in terms of showing that there are two phases to nearly every boss fight, which brings a new pattern to learn and is often more damaging than the first.
    • The Abyss Watchers can be this as well, seeing how they are the first Lord of Cinder encountered. They are more of a Lightning Bruiser than Gundyr, and has the addition of having a multitude of damaging combos that has fire buff later on, no start up time that allows a player a good few hits in before the fight starts and having another health bar after the first one is depleted, meaning an unprepared player can easily risk running out of estus before the fight even is halfway over.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The sorcery Soul Stream, which is one of the most damaging spells in the game, but also has the longest wind up of any spell.
  • Weak Sauce Weakness: Some enemies react very poorly to fire, and spend a good deal of time writhing in pain instead of trying to hit the player. The prime example are the maggot creatures near the Cathedral of the Deep, where having a torch out is enough to get rid of maggots burrowing into your skin and hitting the gross beasts will stop them from attacking. The Hollows with the giant black monsters coming out of their back is another one.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: A few weapons do more damage to certain types of enemies than others.
    • The Hollowslayer Greatsword transposed from the Curse-rotted Greatwood's soul specifically the part of it embodying Lucatiel's own fear and hatred of going Hollow which became one of the curses sealed in the tree does extra damage to Hollow enemies. This encompasses the rank and file Hollows all the way to the bosses of both DLC expansions.
    • The Black Knight weapons were wielded by knights tasked with slaying the chaos demons of Lost Izalith and thus do more damage to demons. There aren't many demons left by the time this game takes place, but the ones who are still around are formidable enough that having these weapons handy is a good idea. Particularly when fighting against the Demon Prince.
    • The Abyss Watchers dedicated themselves to hunting the Abyss. As a result, both of the weapons that can be transposed from their Soul of the Blood of the Wolf, namely their signature Farron Greatsword and the greatsword of their inspiration Artorias do more damage to the creatures of the Abyss. This includes one of the most powerful bosses in the game, Darkeater Midir.
    • Some weapons fit this lore-wise but in gameplay just inflict a damage type said enemy is weak against. The Lothric Knight Greatsword for example has item lore stating it was forged for dragon hunting, but rather than doing extra damage to dragons specifically it is simply imbued with lightning since dragons are vulnerable to lightning.
  • Weird Sun: It gets progressively weirder as the game progresses. At first it appears normal, albeit hidden behind clouds. After killing the first three Lords of Cinder, it becomes black with a ring of fire around it, as if undergoing a total eclipse, and the sky turns red. Finally, in the Final Boss arena, the eclipse effect is even more pronounced, and the sun appears to be bleeding fire down to the ground. In this last form, it looks eerily like the Darksign itself...
  • Wham Episode: Irithyll of the Boreal Valley. Not only do you meet the Pontiff of the religion you've been fighting for the first half of the game and enter the city that's been whispered about and built up for this long, you also eventually discover the ruins of Anor Londo, and it's revealed that Aldrich's title of "Devourer of the Gods" isn't hyperbole as he's found wielding poor Gwyndolin's upper half as a weapon.
    • Everything from Lothric Castle onward if you did it in the correct order (i.e. not Sequence Breaking by killing Emma to summon the Dancer of the Boreal Valley). This is the point in the game where it becomes crystal clear that this is the End of the World as We Know It; the sky has gone blood red, all the Hollow trees have metamorphosed into Pilgrim Butterflies, and the sun is bleeding and looks like a giant Darksign hanging in the sky! It gets even worse when you get through the Grand Archives and slay Lorian and Lothric. You are then commanded by the Firekeeper to use the power of the old Lords of Cinder to deal a final death to the old gods of Lordran (the land from Dark Souls I) who were the deliverers of the First Flame, followed by being teleported to the Kiln of the First Flame to fight the Soul of Cinder (who's a whole other bag of spoilers).
    • The entirety of The Ringed City that takes place in the titular city qualifies as one regarding the nature of Dark and the Curse; Turns out that the Pygmies actually did fight alongside Gwyn in his war with the dragons, sending their Ringed Knights wielding weapons and armaments forged from the Abyss, and were in much greater control of their Dark Soul than the rest of the series would imply. Gwyn even rewarded them for their effort with the Ringed City itself and his youngest daughter Filianore to preside over them, although presiding in this case means casting an illusion over the city (or stopping time in it, it's unclear) to keep the Pygmies from ever leaving because Gwyn feared their power.
  • Wham Line:
  • Wham Shot: Quite a few, given the amount of buses that come back for this game:
    • Coming upon Anor Londo again, a crumbling, frozen over ruin, crawling with Deacons of the Deep in addition to the Silver Knights that called it home.
    • Seeing the Soul of Cinder do the backflip-dodge that was exclusive to a wearer of the Dark Wood Grain Ring.
    • When the Soul of Cinder changes his stance to Gwyn's and the first bar of Gwyn's theme plays in the Final Boss fight, cluing you in to exactly who you're fighting.
    • The body of Gwyndolin emerging from Aldrich, Devourer of Gods.
    • Coming upon Andre of Astora hammering away in Firelink Shrine. Nice to see he's doing so well for himself at the end of the world.
    • The arena of the Old Demon King littered with the dead bodies of the Taurus, Capra, and Asylum family demons. This is what's left of the Lost Izalith and the Demon Ruins.
    • A couple in Ashes of Ariandel: seeing the area name is Painted World of Ariandel, for one. Second, finding Priscilla's boss arena at the bottom of an ice-covered valley near the Corvian Settlement.
    • Entering the wasteland at the end of "The Ringed City" to find the final boss of the entire series waiting for you. Who is it? Slave Knight Gael! It also happens to be the same place in the opening sequence, where the Pilgrims are fleeing from the wasteland.
  • When Trees Attack: One boss, the Curse-rotted Greatwood, is an enormous, bloated, walking tree. Though it's more accurate to say that it's something inside a tree.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The reason the cycle of flame continues; entering the Age of Dark means people can no longer die, and are forced into torturous undead existence, eventually going completely insane and turning into a Hollow.
    Yoel of Londor: (Sobbing) Please, grant me death. Undo my shackles.
  • Wild Card: The Mound-makers covenant works like this. They can invade you or you can summon them voluntarily. Their goal is to kill someone. Doesn't really matter who. They might help you progress through the level in co-op, getting their reward by killing another invader, or they might just try to take you down like any other invader. It really comes down to the individual player.
  • Wolfpack Boss: The Deacons of the Deep consist of a lot of respawning clerics chasing you around spamming fire spells at you. The actual boss is a Body Surfing soul inhabiting one of the clerics, taking any damage he takes until he's killed, whereupon it jumps to another cleric.
    • The Abyss Watchers are another form of Wolfpack Boss, with a twist: Some of the watchers have become corrupted by the Abyss and will gladly attack the other watchers as well as you.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: The Slave Knight Leggings from the Ashes of Ariandel DLC give this effect when paired with certain armors.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: The undead in the graveyard outside the Cathedral of the Deep throw up carnivorous maggots at you that continually gnaw on your flesh, causing bleeding, until you equip your torch.

"Let the sun shine upon this Lord of Cinder."

Alternative Title(s): Dark Souls 3

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