With the release of the new trailer for Dark Souls 3‘s final DLC, The Ringed City, the time is now to put on our speculator hats. Open up this piece and have it handy. I’ll embed the video here, but you’re going to want a second tab to pause the video. Go on, load it up. I’ll wait. I’m gonna break this down with what I’d like to call some “best guesses.” Let’s do this!
Right off the bat, before we even look at the trailer, the title of the DLC is “Ringed City.” The Darksign’s name was originally going to be “Dark Ring” (if it didn’t have sexual connotations in some parts of the world). So then, the city name might mean “The Place of Ringed (undead) people.”
With that in mind, the first thing shown in the trailer (0:17) is the Dark Sign igniting then fading. This is preceded by a black screen and a familiar woman’s voice saying “The close of the age of fire” which is a common theme in Dark Souls 3. This would provide some support for Londor ties. The Dark Sigil, which is the hallmark of all Londor peeps is described in a way to convey a familiarity with the darksign.
The first real scene shows what appears to be the collapsing city near Firelink (official picture descriptions refer to it as “Dreg Heap“). As this scene starts, (about 0:31) we hear the old woman speak “The Ringed City is said to be at world’s end.” The screen pans down and we see a pilgrim (like Yoel) approaching this place. The woman speaks again “Past this heap of rubbish, as far as one can go.” The Ringed City then is our destination, and the Dreg Heap (collapsing city), is one stop between us and it. Based on this scene, it appears that the Pilgrim goes as we will. Of note is that pilgrims traditionally “go” to one of two places. The place of pilgrimage. Or home. We see evidence that the pilgrims had been heading toward Lothric in the game. So the safer bet is a return home. Note that Yoel, the only noteworthy pilgrim in the game, is “Yoel of Londor.” Even if this guy isn’t heading home, the presence of a Londor Pilgrim deepens the evidence toward a Londor tied location.
Of possible significance is the other use of the word “dreg” in Dark Souls. Human Dregs are said to be the heaviest part of a person and “will sink to the lowest depths imaginable.” Dregs look an awful lot like humanity which is tied to the Abyss. Dreg Heap then, might be surmised to be the parts of the world that are sinking into the Abyss.
The next scene (0:43) shows a bug scampering across an area that looks a lot like the Untended Graves with a Brightstone addiction. I’d need to see more to make better guesses on geography. The theme of collapsing structures and tilted geography remains. Official picture captions refer to these bugs as “locusts” and indicate they come out to feast when a city falls into the Abyss, definitely strengthening the Abyss ties. Not to assault a deceased equine, but Londor appears heavily tied into humanity and likely the abyss.
Next, a brief scene (0:45) shows what appears to be the outskirts of Dreg Heap. We’re quite deliberately shown what looks to be the remains of a windmill. A collapsed structure that could be a tower is nearby. The stonework appears very similar to Earthen Peak. This is one of many things that appear to be a Dark Souls 2 callback.
At 0:48, we see a tower structure with a spire looking like the Sword of Avowal. Further Londor suggestion? Official picture captions don’t exactly confirm it’s the Sword of Avowal, but they do strongly suggest this is the case by saying this structure is capped with a “well-known sword.”
The Enemies and the Equipment to Slay Them
A staff/banner (battle standard?) is shown casting a miracle near what looks like a statue (0:50). Geography and architecture is not clearly visible. It’s quite dark, going back to probable Abyss or fading fire themes.
Next (0:51), an enemy crawls toward the player and out comes a sword with a magic blade. There’s no real hints in geography/architecture here either, but it’s still pretty dark. It’s hard to say, but looking at frame by frames suggests this weapon is a dagger or sword with a thin blade that becomes wreathed in magic energy.
A bow covered in lightning is fired at another hard to identify enemy (0:52). The area is reminiscent of Ariandel, complete with snow. It’s difficult to say if the bow or the lightning is the intended highlight. The character is dressed in robes, which could suggest “cleric.” This wouldn’t be the first time a bow was able to shoot a lightning bolt. That honor goes to the Bow of Want in…Dark Souls 2.
A robed giant is up next (0:54), with a domed building behind him. A picture released after the trailer indicates this creature was a judicator for the gods and has existed since the time of Archdragons. He is referred to as a “gray” giant, which is something I’ll come back to. He does not look friendly.
An unknown creature rises at 0:56 in. This creature is pale and has wings. Dark Souls 3 references “angels” as an influential force behind the church of Lothric when one visited Gertrude. Could this be one of them? Maybe THE one. The area shows trees, darkness, and the “dripping” solar eclipse seen in the main game.
The Broken Egg
They follow up the possible angel with a woman in white robes holding what appears to be a broken egg (0:59). As the player gently touches the remnants of the shell, it starts falling apart. The interior has some texture, but is very dark inside (kind of a theme at this point). This could be another tie to the Abyss. Interestingly, the woman (who appears to be sleeping or dead) has black marks radiating out under her eyes. More Abyss corruption? This woman is not identified. However, based on the previous clip, it’s not a bad guess to say we might have found Gertrude or a relation.
Demon I Am
At 1:07 in, we see a pretty detailed look at a creature confirmed to be a demon (via official picture releases). The area continues the trend of darkness. The captions indicate this is the “last survivor” of demons born from chaos.
And that’s it for the trailer. It’s short but packed in its own way.
Released following the trailer were several official pictures (screenies and concept art) complete with captions. Let’s now get into these, some have already been seen above.
The locust mentioned above in an area that looks similar to the Untended Graves is highlighted in a released picture. This picture gives us a better look at architecture which is a poor match for the Graves. The darkness remains significant, and the official indication that these creatures come after a city has fallen to Abyss draws a clear connection.
A picture of a Giant covered in what appear to be vines attacking the player character has some intriguing surroundings. The appearance of poisonous water and a windmill seems to draw more than a casual connection to Harvest Valley from Dark Souls 2. The giant knight’s head is said to have been replaced by a “clump of darkness.” Humanity with a will perhaps?
A pictured area reminds me of the Forest of Fallen Giants (there are many architectural differences, just a similar vibe). Many buildings have the Sword of Avowal type spike on top and the area is essentially ruins covered in foliage. Captions indicate that this is the Ringed City. Spikes cover a bridge (where’s Patches?) and a knight holds a torch despite adequate lighting. Perhaps we’ll need it for something else. From has a tendency to have exterior lighting/time of day tied to zones. Adding this to what else we have, there is an area brightly lit like the kiln walkway (dreg heap), a more twilight area (seen near the angelic being in the trailer), areas with significant darkness and this area with substantial lighting but different architecture from Dreg Heap. Expect several clearly delineated areas.
There’s an interesting picture of a fight. At first, I thought that we would be finding the Fan weapons from the Dark Souls 2 Succubi/Desert Sorceress enemies in the DLC. It’s interesting however that the thing being swatted is wearing some deacon gear but doesn’t look like a deacon. Which character is the player character? Maybe we won’t get to use the fan? The caption on this one describes it as a pyromancy being used by the fan. The caption indicates “Pyromancers, who once lived in an ancient land with their greatest fan weapons and enchanting looks, seem to still exist.” This seems to confirm the connection to Dark Souls 2, but doesn’t clear up much else. The character holding the fan somewhat looks like a desert sorceress. On closer inspection though, the hood seems to be the Hood of Prayer rather than the Desert Sorceres‘. And the character has some DS3 pyro gear and a sword as well. So I’m still hopeful we get the fan. Anyway, STRONG Dark Souls 2 ties here.
An armor clad combatant holding what appears to be a giant shield is stated to be holding TWO shields that piece together to form a wall of Turtle Power. Yet more Dark Souls 2 seeping in. It doesn’t look like the Orma and Reeve’s shields, but the concept is identical.
Another interesting shield is revealed and stated to be the head of a descendant of an Archdragon. I’ll come back to this.
A picture of the wall of the Ringed City shows curved architecture, similar to the wall that bordered the Undead Burg in the first Dark Souls. Note that this is the second allusion to “Pygmies.” The Furtive Pygmy is the now infamous “missing” Lord from the opening cinematic of the first game. It is widely believed that the Pygmy represents humanity or humans, which is a nice fit for the rest of the DLC themes so far.
Connecting All The Dots
Now it’s time for some wild speculation!
Before Dark Souls 3 released they hinted this would be a “close” of sorts for the series. We expected some grand deviation in story, which to date has not been delivered. Both Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 essentially provided us with two choices. Embrace and renew the flame, or forsake it. Put in Dark Souls terms, begin a new age of fire, or allow the age of dark to take over. Dark or fire. Only two choices. Dark Souls 3 retains both of these choices, and on the surface had a third option I’ll get to in just a minute. In isolation, this third ending doesn’t inherently show a third choice. It merely shows that the fire is being transferred from the Kiln to the player. We don’t know what happens to it after that.
This is getting into less evidence based ideas like above and into personal musings, but here we go anyway. At the hint of a true ending to the cycles, I indicated even before the game dropped that we’d need a third choice. Something different than fire or dark, as these options are known to be cyclic. I put it out there that combining the two forces would be a true end of the cycles. To make this shorter, let’s rapid fire some things your way:
- The opening cinematic for Dark Souls indicates the world wasn’t always trapped in endless cycles of Dark and Fire. It used to be a gray world of dragons and archtrees
- Fire was found and caused disparity. Fire may or may not be the cause, but at some point we know fire and dark rose up from the gray
- My thoughts here; to END the cycle, we’d need to combine Dark and Fire, ending the disparity discovered in the creation story from the first game (basically going back to gray, or reforming what was split)
Why am I bringing this up now? Despite limited information, we already have two pieces tied to the old world of “gray.” The shield made from a descendant of an Archdragon and the Gray Giant who lived at the same time as the Archdragons. I would also hesitate to overlook the Usurpation of Fire ending (the third ending mentioned above). “Usurp” is defined as seizing the power of another entity. This ending requires the player character to side with power brokers from (of course) Londor. Coincidentally, this is where we think we’re going in the DLC. I noted that the usurpation ending isn’t definite. We remove the fire, but aren’t shown what Londor does with it. All we know is Londor wants it and we jam it into our chest. The only clue we see is subtle. That “dripping,” eclipsed sun is red whenever we see it. Unless we usurp the fire. Then it turns white/gray. That could have used a drum roll I think.
So to recap, the entire Londor plot seems to be shoving the player character full of darkness, only to then…take the flame. Londor is gathering mass quantities of Dark AND the First Flame, both of which are hosted by the same entity (us). Their goal is to acquire the two opposing forces that drive this mad world and put them in the same vessel (still us).
To do what is what remains to be seen. Because in Dark Souls every answer to a question is a question itself. What are your thoughts? Let’s see how many more questions we can dreg up.
Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City releases March 28th for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Only two short, non-agonizing months to go!
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