Ashes of Ariandel is the first of the two DLC expansions for FromSoftware’s Dark Souls III, releasing just 6 months after the base game’s launch in October 2016. Like previous Dark Souls series DLC, Ashes of Ariandel is intended to be a mid-to-late game challenge for players to take on but can be accessed within the main game once players reach a certain progress threshold. In addition to taking players to a brand new area, the Painted World of Ariandel, Ashes of Ariandel introduces several new enemies, bosses, and pieces of equipment.
Development on both Ashes of Ariandel and Dark Souls III‘s second DLC expansion The Ringed City began immediately preceeding the launch of the base game, and an ultimate edition of Dark Souls III that includes the main game and both DLC expansions arrived a year after the original’s release in April 2017 as Dark Souls III: The Fire Fades Edition. Reception of both Dark Souls III and its DLC expansions is mostly positive, maintaining the strong standard of quality synonymous with the Dark Souls series and FromSoftware titles in general.
Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel Premise
The Dark Souls series is the namesake and progenitor for a subgenre of action-RPGs that now go under the name of being Soulslikes, or games similar to FromSoftware’s Souls titles. Dark Souls III is perhaps the most refined of the original Souls trilogy and one of the more positively received games in the entire FromSoftware catalogue thanks to the ways that it returns the series to its roots following the departures of Dark Souls II. In each of the Souls games, players create an adventurer whom they customize and build out to be their ideal warrior, taking them through ever-increasing challenges and using methodical combat to overcome spectacular boss fights.
The first DLC for Dark Souls III, Ashes of Ariandel, transports players to The Painted World of Ariandel, a desolate and snowy realm where some of the game’s greatest challenges await. In addition to the Champion’s Gravetender boss and his Greatwolf, Ariandel is home to one of Dark Souls III‘s most notoriously difficult bosses — Sister Friede. The expansion itself is somewhat on the short side, mostly offering players an excuse to test their mettle against some incredibly challenging foes in a unique setting within the Souls series.
Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel Main Characters
Aside from the player character, otherwise known as the Ashen One, there are a handful of NPCs that are exclusive to the world of Ariandel and not part of the mainline quest in Dark Souls III. Some of these characters are bosses that the player will eventually need to face, while others are more traditional NPCs that happen to play a more critical role in delivering the associated lore with the Painted World of Ariandel. Main characters in Ashes of Ariandel include:
- The Ashen One: The Ashen One is the title that the player receives from the Fire Keeper within the Firelink Shrine and is the player’s avatar within the world of Dark Souls III. The Ashen One is an undead warrior who rises from the grave with the sole purpose of defeating the Lords of Cinder.
- Sister Friede: Sister Friede is initially a friendly NPC that greets the player in the Painted World of Ariandel only to later become a hostile boss enemy. Donning the attire and personange of a nun, Sister Friede’s boss form has three distinct phases that each increase in intensity and difficulty.
- Slave Knight Gael: The Slave Knight Gael is the NPC that will grant the player access to the Painted World of Ariandel and rests within the Cathedral of the Deep area. He can also be summoned by the player to assist during the Sister Friede boss fight.
Games in the Dark Souls Series
Since its inception in 2011, the Dark Souls series remains synonymous with difficulty in games as the progenitor of the Soulslike genre and one of the first games to help FromSoftware achieve mainstream success. Since the release of the original game there have been two full sequels and a spiritual successor in 2022’s Game of the Year Elden Ring. That said, Elden Ring is its own entity and not technically part of the Souls series, which includes the following games:
- Demon’s Souls (2009)
- Dark Souls (2011)
- Dark Souls II (2014)
- Dark Souls III (2016)
- Dark Souls Remastered (2018)
- Demon’s Souls (Remake, 2020)
Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel Cheats & Secrets
Ariandel Chapel Key Item Locations
- Chillbite Ring – After meeting Sister Friede and speaking with her, talk to her a second time to receive this frost-resistant ring.
Ariandel Chapel Basement Key Item Locations
- Floating Chaos, Pyromancer’s Parting Flame – In the lowest level of the basement taking the stairs from behind the illusory wall, hug the wall to the right and look for another brick-covered doorway. This is an additional illusory wall that leads to the structure above the Champion’s Gravetender boss arena. Defeat the pyromancer here while Embered to obtain both items.
- Vilhelm’s Set – From the same location at the lowest level of the basement, head to the opposite side of the room and defeat the fly-like creatures guarding the body wearing Vilhelm’s Set.
Corvian Settlement Key Item Locations
- Crow Quills – Following the first main bridge in Corvian Settlement, head left around a nearby house to cross a second bridge. Run to the gatehouse above the entrance and then run and jump off the balcony to reach the small platform where the weapon awaits.
- Crow Talons – Go up the main road through the settlement and take the alley leading to a ladder that grants roof access. Drop down onto the bridge next to the ladder and follow the path to reach the roof with the item.
- Slave Knight Set – From the same rooftop area, look for a room with a ladder leading above the settlement. Drop down the hole next to the ladder to find the armor.
- Way of White Corona – After taking the previous ladder that leads above the settlement, head to the small church and drop into it using the windows. Defeat two enemies to obtain the item.
Depths of the Painting Key Item Locations
- Follower Sabre – After cutting down the bridge to make a ladder down to the depths, look for a Faron Follower wielding a torch. Climb the roots above him to find a corpse holding the weapon.
- Snap Freeze – After reaching the bottom of the depths, follow the path past the Ice Crabs into a narrow pass guarded by Weeping Willow enemies. One of them guards the spell.
- Titanite Slab – After defeating the Weeping Willows, head back through the pass and spot a new ladder leading back to the Rope Bridge Cave bonfire. At the top of the ladder is a platform with a body containing the upgrade material.
Snowfield Key Item Locations
- Follower Javelin – After falling into the forest of wolves, head to the right to find a small path leading back to the snowfield with several enemies. The javelin is at the top of the ridge.
- Frozen Weapon – After falling into the forest of wolves, head left and past the Weeping Willows to enter a gorge with several fly creatures guarding the spell.
- Millwood Battle Axe, Ethereal Oak Shield, Captain’s Ashes – In the forested area of the snowfield past the Greatwolf ambush lies a tall tower. Bodies inside the tower contain these items, which can be given to the Firelink Handmaid in exchange for the Millwood Knight Set.
- Millwood Greatbow – From the tower, head left back toward the forest snowfield. Two Millwood Knights guard the bow on the slope just left of the ridgeline.
Snowy Mountain Pass Key Item Locations
- Earth Seeker – Continue up the pass, heading right from the large bell toward a sloping path next to a rotting tree. This leads to a pit with three Millwood Knights, and defeating the one holding the large axe will reward you with his weapon.
- Follower Shield – From the bonfire, head up the mountain pass toward the cliffs. Moving right along the cliffs until arriving at a large rock, drop down on the left to a small platform containing the shield.
- Follower Torch – Head past the large bell toward a cliff containing several wolf enemies. Take the leftmost path along the cliff to head to a lower platform with a body holding the torch.
- Quakestone Hammer – Head past the cliffs toward the end of the Snowy Mountain Pass, turning left to avoid the Millwood Knight and Archer. Instead, head down the narrow path to find an aggressive Millwood Knight guarding the hammer.
Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel Cheats FAQs
What level is recommended for Ashes of Ariandel?
Players can actually access the Ashes of Ariandel DLC fairly early on in Dark Souls III‘s main quest, but it is recommended to be at least level 80 before attempting to enter the Painted World of Ariandel or attempt to fight either of the DLC bosses.
Are there only 2 bosses in Ashes of Ariandel?
Yes, the first boss that players will fight after entering the Painted World of Ariandel is the Champion’s Gravetender and his Greatwolf. This is an optional boss fight, while the later fight against Sister Friede is required to complete the DLC.
How long does it take to beat Ashes of Ariandel?
Dark Souls III‘s Ashes of Ariandel DLC is a relatively short expansion, with most players able to complete its content within 4 hours. For those hoping to obtain 100% of the items and beat both bosses that time extends up to roughly 6 hours.
Should I do Ashes of Ariandel or The Ringed City first?
In terms of the story and lore of Dark Souls III, Ashes of Ariandel takes place before The Ringed City but it does contain what many consider to be the hardest boss fight in the game with Sister Friede. Many players consider Ashes of Ariandel to be easier but there’s plenty of worthwhile equipment in the Ringed City area that may help players.