Dark Souls is a series that prides itself on the individual struggle. It often creates its own stories that way which makes my adventure in Lordran potentially much different from your own despite the linearity of the game.
However, there are plenty of shared experiences that people can share with this title and those are going to be the ones that we are going to explore. Keep reading to see the 10 best moments in Dark Souls because otherwise, I’ll assume you’ve already gone hollow.
10. The Inevitable Mistakes
Like I said, Dark Souls is about struggling. Mistakes are going to happen especially if this was your first experience with a From Software title. Learning to overcome these mistakes and retaining the lessons can be extremely satisfying. Lessons are around every corner and you never know quite when the next one is about to strike until you’ve already been sniped off a ledge by a dumb pair of archers that have insane accuracy.
It’s even better when you take a lesson like the Asylum Demon’s which stressed repositioning and alternative attacks and apply it to future encounters or even future titles. Dark Souls can be a cruel teacher but it’s these moments that make the journey worth it in the end. Plus, they can be kind of funny in hindsight.
9. The Introduction of the World of Lordran
The beginning of Dark Souls is one that has stuck with me even though I didn’t resonate with the game when I first played it back in high school. It does a fantastic job at introducing the player to this strange and dangerous world while planting the first crumbs of lore that the player will try to follow for the rest of their time in the game.
After beating the Asylum Demon, a giant hulking behemoth that likely scared every newcomer to the game initially, the player will be carried over to Firelink Shrine on a giant raven. It’s like the game said, “you passed the first test now let’s take you to the real game.” Here you meet a man who says you need to ring two bells – the next test in your adventure. Firelink is one of the best hubs in the Souls series and there’s a great reason for that…
8. Discovering How Interconnected Everything Is
The level design of Dark Souls is so well done that people now define Souls games often by how connected the different sections of the world can be. Walking through Undead Burg and feeling like you strayed miles from Firelink only to establish a new connection through some old elevators was such a cool feeling and that happens over and over again.
Firelink is the prime example here but it can happen in other locations with different routes and connections. The connection between New Londo Ruins and Drake Valley is also great and it feels like a massive reveal when those massive double doors open revealing the first drake. It all makes this world feel real and lived in rather than a set of floating islands that you wander to.
7. Gaining a Friend in Solaire
While you meet many friendly NPCs during your adventure, there are very few that are positive about the situation in Lordran and fewer that will offer help when the situation appears hopeless. Solaire is a shining example of positivity in an otherwise gloomy environment. Meeting him again in Anor Londo and finding his summoning before Smough and Ornstein brought me so much more courage to try and face one of the toughest Dark Souls bosses.
Every time he was defeated it brought me actual shame and when I ran out of Humanity, it was hard to see my companion go. However, he always gave me the courage to forge onward and I dedicated my victory against Smough and Ornstein to my sun praising friend.
6. Making It to the Bottom of Blighttown
Few locations in the Souls games bring with them such a fearful connotation. Blighttown is famous for its toxic and poisonous enemies and swamp. First stumbling across the rickety old village, you might assume that it’s just going to be full of more hollows but the enemies here are a lot more dangerous and the next bell is at the bottom of this treacherous terrain.
Climbing down requires the player to avoid venomous bugs and creatures that shoot poison darts, all while trying to find the next ladder that will lead further down the town. Even when you reach the bottom, before you can find a proper Bonfire, you’ll need to march through the poison swamp while fighting more bugs. However, nothing feels as sweet as finally lighting that fire and taking a well-deserved rest.
5. Defeating Gwyn and Becoming Lord of Cinder
The end of a journey. After all the hardship and struggle, you found your way to the Kiln of the First Flame, confronted Gwyn, and won. You can finally take your seat as the new Lord of Cinder and continue the cycle.
The actual fight with Gwyn can be a little disappointing for those of us who have a decent build to parry. It can trivialize the overall encounter, but it still makes the list because it’s the culmination of everything that came before. And honestly, maybe you deserve a break after some of the encounters that had to be overcome before getting to this point.
4. Taking Back the Firekeeper’s Soul
Nothing was more upsetting than seeing that the Firelink Shrine Bonfire was extinguished after the Firekeeper was slain in her cell. For the longest time, I didn’t know what to do. I would wander back to Firelink and hope that I could rest once again next to its flames only to realize that all was still quiet. It wasn’t until I made it to the church in Anor Londo and saw the Black Eye Orb quiver that I realized its use.
Using the orb transports the player to another world, so they can face off against Knight Lautrec, the very same knight the player probably saved earlier in the game. Taking him and his friends down rewards the player with the Firekeeper’s Souls which allows her to take her position under Firelink once again. This always feels like such a heroic achievement.
3. Defeating Smough and Ornstein
The final real skill test of Dark Souls is the battle with Smough and Ornstein. If you are able to defeat this duo, you should be able to complete the rest of the game without any real issues. These two work perfectly together as Smough is a lumbering giant with a massive hammer while Ornstein is a lightning spear-wielding menace.
Defeating one of these fighters will bring the other back to full health as well as a slight upgrade from their fallen comrade. It’s an intense fight that will challenge even veteran Dark Souls players but the satisfaction of coming out victorious is almost like nothing else in the series.
2. Ringing Second Bell
Ringing the bells of Awakening is the first real objective that the player is going to be given when they step into Lordran. However, finding and ringing the bells is much easier said than done. The most common first bell requires the player to defeat two gargoyles at once. This is a pain as it’s the first time there’s a duo boss that the player needs to contend with.
While just getting to the second bell through Blighttown is a gauntlet in and of itself, the player still needs to fight Chaos Witch Quelaag. Overcoming these challenges, ringing the second bell, and watching the gates to Sen’s Fortress finally open feels so good. It might even feel like you are about to reach the end of the game, but the adventure is just getting started.
1. Traveling to Anor Londo for the First Time
After navigating Sen’s Fortress and defeating the Iron Golem, the player will feel like they have finally hit the end of the road. Where else is there to go? Well, a little orange light can be seen in the middle of the arena where the Iron Golem once overlooked. Interacting with this orb will cause some gargoyle-like creatures to fly off with the player under their arms up and over the wall.
Flying over the wall reveals Anor Londo an entire area that the player has been playing adjacent to this entire time and one that looks a lot less in disrepair than what has been seen so far. By this point in the game, it can really feel like the player has everything figured out and can take on just about any challenge but there’s still that little tingle of fear of the unknown that is still to come.