Dark Souls 3, like the other games made by FromSoftware, is steeped in deep lore. But you won't find the background story of the Souls games clearly explained in the opening cutscenes or hear it from an all-knowing NPC.
In fact, most NPCs in the game can be ignorant or dishonest. Instead, the Souls series prefers to leave little nuggets of lore in the level background or in item descriptions. Dark Souls 3 is full of subtle references to the wider lore that many players don't even notice. Here are 10 such tantalizing secrets in Dark Souls 3 that you might have missed.
10 Primordial Serpents
Whilst rolling around Lothric Castle and the Grand Archives, you may have noticed some seriously weird-looking statues of long-necked, toothy statues. Players of the original Dark Souls may recognize these visages as belonging to the primordial serpents. In The Ringed City DLC, statues with a similar face but a beast-like body are found.
In Dark Souls, players encounter the serpent Kingseeker Frampt, who gives the Chosen Undead the quest to link the fire. But it's possible to encounter another serpent called Darkstalker Kaathe, who urges the player to forsake the linking of the fire and instead usher in the age of Dark. Clearly, the opposing primordial serpents are up to something behind the scenes in Lothric. But what?
9 Kaathe's Plan
It's not a huge secret that one of the endings to Dark Souls 3 is only available if you associate with Yoel of Londor and use Dark Sigils to eventually summon Yuria of Londor, who encourages you to usurp the fire and rule over a new age of Dark as the Lord of Hollows.
What you might not know, however, is how to identify who really masterminds this plan. If Yuria of Londor comes to Firelink Shrine but you decide to kill her, she lets this slip in her dying words: ''Kaathe, I have failed thee''. So the primordial serpent is still pushing his agenda from the first game.
8 The Sisters Of Izalith
While journeying through Smouldering Lake, it's possible to descend into the Demon Ruins, an underground labyrinth populated by demons, and the fearsome black knights who hunt them. And basilisks, annoyingly enough.
Behind an illusionary wall in the Demon Ruins lies a curious pair of corpses. One, a giant bloated spider-thing, warped by chaos. The other, a human, near Quelana's pyromancy tome. The spider is likely The Fair Lady, sister of Chaos Witch Quelaag in Dark Souls. The human is likely the third sister Quelana, the pyromancy trainer from the first game. It appears that she journeyed back to Izalith to end her days with her family.
7 Rosaria In The Cathedral Of The Deep
The Cathedral of the Deep is the seat of power of the Deacons of the Deep, the corrupted clerics who follow Aldrich, the gruesome cannibalistic Lord of Cinder. But the Cathedral is also home to Rosaria, faction leader of the Rosaria's Fingers covenant. What is she doing there?
The strange alliance makes sense when you think about it...Members of Rosaria's Fingers gain special tongue trophies for slaying Blue Sentinels and Darkmoon Blades. The latter are arch-enemies of the Aldrich Faithful. It could also explain why Horace, who opposes Aldrich and gifts the Blue Sentinel item, has no tongue.
6 The Soul Of Cinder
The final boss of Dark Souls 3 is Soul of Cinder. This figure isn't given much of an identity or even foreshadowing by NPCs or events in-game, but he may seem familiar to players of the first Dark Souls.
Soul of Cinder is an embodiment of all those who chose to link the flame in the past, hence his versatile range of powers. But one personality stands out in particular. In the second phase of the boss fight, he adopts the moveset of Lord Gwyn, the final boss of Dark Souls. As an extra hint as to who you're up against: the battle theme song even changes to reference the Gwyn boss fight.
5 The Seed Of Doubt
Prince Lothric, ruler of the castle and kingdom of the same name, caused a lot of trouble for the world by refusing to link the flame. One sorcery description mentions that Prince Lothric was counseled by a scholar who doubted the linking of the fire.
While this scholar is not named in Dark Souls 3, Dark Souls 2 has Lord Aldia, the scholar who doubted the linking the fire. This sets the plot in motion by inspiring King Vendrick to try to break the cycle. Aldia shows up in the Scholar of the First Sin version to explain his reasons and could even be responsible for affecting the events of the sequel.
4 Ludleth's Conspiracy
Untended Graves is a mystery, but someone knows what's going on. Talk to Ludleth of Courland with the Eyes of a Fire Keeper and he will warn you of the knowledge of darkness it will grant to the Fire Keeper, and the 'foul betrayal' such an act would entail. Ludleth also lets on hints of a guilty conscience throughout the game. Could he be behind the situation in Untended Graves, and Firelink Shrine itself?
3 Sisters Of The Sable Church
Sister Friede in the Ashes of Ariandel DLC is one of the most unique (and frustrating) boss fights in the game. The history of this mysterious woman can be pieced together from tidbits of dialogue available if Yuria is in Firelink Shrine and you talk to her after meeting Friede, and after killing her. Friede and her servant Vilhelm also recognize if you followed Yuria's questline.
The dialogue reveals that Friede is one of the three sisters who founded the sable church of Londor but she later abandoned it. Yuria is the second, and a third, Liliane, is mentioned in the Londor Braille Divine Tome description.
2 Friede's Change Of Heart
The tragic story of Friede can be pieced together. The description for Friede's Ordained Trousers implies that, during the founding of the Sable Church, Friede had to spill blood on behalf of those she swore to protect.
Talk to Yuria after meeting Friede to learn that apparently Friede let her kindness compromise her principles. Furthermore, Friede is Unkindled, like the player, which means that she tried to Link the flame, something that the Sable Church is opposed to. A story emerges of Friede turning away from the Church of her sisters after committing an atrocity and dedicating herself to the preservation of the status quo.
1 A Whole New World
Sometimes a small bit of dialogue can carry a lot of significance. With both DLCs for Dark Souls 3, you will have met Slave Knight Gael and his quest to revitalize the painted world of Ariandel. While at first you are allies, his quest will eventually pit him against the Ashen One.
After beating Gael, you may think that there's little left to do. You may have already earned your game ending. But if you bring the Blood of the Dark Soul to the painter in Ashes of Ariandel, she promises to paint a new ''cold, dark and gentle'' world...and name it after the Ashen One.