The first chunk of new downloadable content for Dark Souls 3 released this week. Set in the Painted World of Ariandel, the Ashes of Ariandel expansion represents one of the most difficult challenges Dark Souls has presented players with so far.

Everything in the new area is designed to kill you with absolutely no remorse, and unless you go in prepared, you’re going to have a tough time walking out of the painting alive. Here’s a few tips and tricks we learned while playing.

Be Appropriately Leveled

This one almost goes without saying, but make sure you are playing on a high-level character if you plan to navigate through Ashes of Ariandel. Enemies in the Painted World of Ariandel hit very, very hard and attack in packs — which means you’ll want the extra health, upgraded equipment, and additional Estus Flask uses a leveled character provides.

While you’ll be able to navigate most of the regular enemies and areas with a lower-level character, the boss fights included in the DLC can be some of the most challenging (and best) encounters in the entire game. Going into the DLC, we used a level 100 character with fully upgraded weaponry and a +9, 12-use Estus Flask and still had an extremely difficult time taking down the two bosses.

Explore Around You

The Painted World of Ariandel is one of the smaller areas present in Dark Souls 3, but just because it only has a few sections doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with secret passageways and hidden items. The Ashes of Ariandel expansion adds a handful of excellent weapons, armor, and unique spells to the game that you won’t find anywhere else — so make sure to explore every single corner. I’d recommend heading under the rope bridge and into the town below the cathedral, but that’s just me.

Deal With Enemies One at a Time

The new area that the Ashes of Ariandel DLC takes place in is filled to the brim with dangerous enemies like the Millwood Knights, packs of wolves, and several mini-bosses designed to kill you quickly. Regardless of the enemy you are going up against, most of them share one common trait: They attack in packs. In many encounters, you’ll quickly find yourself surrounded by a handful of weak enemies which you should eliminate one-by-one before going after the stronger ones. If you don’t, they’ll slowly whittle you down and interrupt your attempts to counterattack.

Don’t Kill NPCs

As we’ve previously discussed, NPCs are one of the biggest assets you have in the world of Dark Souls. Not only do these devious looking beings help you obtain items and send you on quests, but they provide valuable information about the story of the game you won’t find anywhere else.

While you’re playing through Ashes of Ariandel, you’ll come across a few new NPCs that do exactly that. Unlike many of their brethren in the main game though, they look exactly like the enemies you’ll find around the Painted World of Ariandel. Make sure to spare and speak with them for some valuable lore about the main story behind the DLC. Don’t just go in swinging.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore

Nicholas is a writer and content creator in Knoxville. He frequently covers video games and other consumer electronics. When he's not writing for Inverse, you can usually find him tweeting about Star Wars or streaming on Twitch.