It’s been a few months since we first explored the world of Dark Souls 3 while trudging through a journey filled with traps around every corner. At launch, Dark Souls 3 was one hell of an experience, and FromSoftware’s Ashes of Ariandel expansion looks to offer more questions than answers .
Revealed a couple weeks ago, the expansion brings players into the frozen land of Ariandel to defeat the evil within and uncover what’s destroyed the region. This official description, like usual with those in the Dark Souls series, is incredibly vague. Given that, there’s a couple things we still want to know.
Does it take place in the Painted World?
If you played the first Dark Souls, odds are you’re familiar with the Painted World of Ariamis. Accessed via a giant painting located in Anor Londo, this optional area required you to retrieve the Peculiar Doll from the Undead Asylum and featured a snow-covered landscape like the one seen in the DLC trailer. In Dark Souls lore, the Painted World was built by Ariamis to be a sanctuary for lost, forlorn souls looking for somewhere to call home — which is referenced directly in the trailer for the Ashes of Ariandel:
“Unkindled one. If you are like us, another forlorn soul — with no place to call your own. Then show my lady flame…”
It’s a safe bet that the voice in the trailer is directly referencing the original Painted World of Ariamis. But the voice line isn’t our only link back. There’s a scene in the DLC trailer that shows the player walking along a bridge towards a tower, which is exactly the same as the initial entry point to the Painted World from the original Dark Souls. Coincidence? I think not.
Is this new boss connected to the Corvians?
Early in the trailer, we get a look at one of the new bosses: A large, looming man who is strapped down to the floor in front of a stone basin. We see him flagellating himself, but, once he stands up, it’s plain to see that he’s covered in crow feathers wrapped around his clothing.
In Dark Souls 3, crows are very closely associated with a group of hollows known as Corvians, whom are located in the base game. Corvians are a mix of both human and crow who lash out and transform into a hybrid when provoked. What’s more interesting is that the Corvians in Dark Souls 3 drop items such as the Storyteller’s Staff and the Great Corvian Scythe. Both directly reference the Painted World in their descriptions, with the scythe specifically referencing the mistress of the Painted World.
In the first Dark Souls, there was a mistress, known as Crossbreed Priscilla, who was one of the optional bosses within the Painted World of Ariamis. Like many other objects located within the Painted World, she was directly related to the Goddess of Sin, Velka — who, in turn, utilizes a crow as her own symbol. Velka’s duty is to define sin and hand out punishment to those who are guilty of it, which could be the reason the new boss we see in the trailer is flagellating himself.
Its a stretch, but it’s entirely possible that he could actually be the leader the Corvians are searching for when we first find them in Dark Souls 3. He could have once ventured to the Painted World in order to find a home for his Corvian followers. That’s all just speculation, of course.
Why does the DLC trailer feature bosses from the base game?
Each of the bosses from the core game that were shown in the DLC trailer is part of the royal bloodline in Dark Souls lore: Oceiros is the husband of Queen Gwynevere who gave birth to Lothric and Lorian. She’s also the sister of The Nameless King and Gwyndolin, who is being consumed by Aldrich, Devourer of Gods in Dark Souls 3.
Every single one is connected to the Painted World through lore, and since many of them are Lords of Cinder within the main story of Dark Souls 3, it’s entirely possible that the new boss we see in the trailer for the DLC is also a Lord of Cinder. After we see Ocerios and the others in the trailer, we also see blood running under the stone bowl that the raven-cloaked man uses as his weapon, which connects him directly to them by blood. Furthermore, we see a few shots from his boss fight — where all of his attacks directly relate to fire, and surely that can’t just be a simple design decision?
Based on this, it’s entirely possible that the new boss in the Ashes of Ariandel expansion was a Lord of Cinder who actually ran away from his duty to re-kindle the First Flame. This is further supported by dialogue at the end of the trailer:
“The ashes have come at last.”
Since it’s our job as the player to hunt down the Lords of Cinder and return them to Firelink Shrine in order to fulfill their duty in Dark Souls 3, it makes sense for us to go to the Painted World at last to bring another Lord of Cinder back to Firelink. Like everything else in the Dark Souls universe, though, there’s no telling just how much of this speculation will pan out. As is so often the case, the Souls games go their own way.