Drangleic Castle can be entered by traveling from the second bonfire in Shaded Woods and taking the left path to the Shrine of Winter, then following the road until you reach the castle. Read the Shaded Woods and Shrine of Winter sections for a more detailed account of how to reach the castle. As you climb the slick rain-washed path at the entrance to the area, you will see the castle ahead with a large walkway stretching to it. As you round the corner to the left after your first good look at the castle, a blue crystal lizard should be on the path ahead waiting for you to kill it. Walk a little further to the torch lit walkway to meet the Emerald Herald. You can talk to her, but as per usual she will only spout cryptic statements.
Follow the path until you reach the top of the stairs and then look ahead at the two statues (one on each side of the walkway ahead). These are actually mastodons and will break out and attack you when you approach. Archers further on will also start firing as you get near the statues so keep your guard up (it's best to deal with the mastodons and then come back for the archers). If you have ranged attacks, use them while you back up down the long walkway until you wear both the enemies down. Melee enemies can lure them back until they try to return to their previous position, or just confront them directly. Their slow movement speed makes them easy to avoid generally.
Once the mastodons are no more, resume your trek towards the main castle doors while keeping an eye out for the archers ahead. At the castle doors you will be introduced to golem doors. The golem statues can be activated by killing an enemy next to them. They will absorb the soul energy (that you normally would) and once both are active, open up the doors. Remember that if you get close to the archers here, they will pull out their swords, so you can choose the way you want to engage them. They are probably easier to position next to the golem statues when they are using swords as they follow you more often while trying to attack. An infinite supply (until you activate both statues) of Royal Soldiers will keep spawning from the ledge to the left of the castle doors.
Once the door stands open, take a right from the door to the ledge to find a chest containing the Great Combustion pyromancy and a Fire Seed. Now enter through the huge doorway. Take a look around the lower level of the room (behind the staircases) for a pair of Royal Soldiers to dispatch. Now that they are gone, you can head up the stairs and meet the chancellor Wellager (he is a ghost, so you will only see his outline) halfway up the stairs. Talk to him until he starts repeating himself and he will start selling items. The door at the top of the stairs leads to the empty throne room, so head back down to the base of the stairs and head behind the left staircase. A hallway in the corner will lead you to a room with two Royal Soldiers and a Syan Knight. Syan knights are similar to most shielded enemies in the game in that when they raise their shields, damage taken is reduced significantly. Normally the best way to deal with them is to bait their attacks to raise the shield and then quickly follow up with an attack of your own. After clearing those enemies, ignore the rest of the room for now and head to the right. A pair of syan knights will be in the other hallway connecting this to the entry room but they will be facing the other way so you can ignore or battle them if you desire.
Our objective is the doorway on the right side of the room that opens up to a pair of royal soldiers waiting to attack you. Back up so you have more room and defeat them. Inside the room they came from is a ladder leading down to a room filled with kneeling statues. Despite the usual cheapness of this series, these statues don't come to life. So walk to the doors at the other end and open them up. Directly across from you is another set of blue doors. Open these up as well and light the bonfire within. You may respawn at this bonfire quite a lot if you want to get the most out of this next room. Head out of the bonfire room and ignore the path to the right (it needs the King's Ring found later in the game to open and leads to the final area of the game: The Throne of Want). For now take the path to the left and one of most potentially annoying rooms in the game.
The room contains six golem doors with kneeling stone statues in front of them. You can see what needs to be done here, except the room has a couple of surprises in store. The stone statues will come to life in pairs as you approach and will attack. They are similar to the royal soldier enemies in health but wield spears and shields so they attack a little differently. Inside five of the doors are ruin sentinels (same as the bosses from the lost bastille) who will be revealed when you open the golem doors. Before opening a door, check this list to see if what is inside is worth it. Left side: door 1 – ruin sentinel, door 2 – ruin sentinel and Pharro's Lockstone, door 3 – ruin sentinel and passage to Grandahl and the third are bonfire. Right side: door 1 – the way to the next area, door 2 – ruin sentinel and Mastodon Greatsword in a chest, room 3 – ruin sentinel and a Royal Soldier Ring +1 in a chest. If you do decide to go for the items, don't open all the doors at once. Concentrate on a side at a time so you cannot be back attacked as you move around (their whirlwind attacks in the open are devastating). Clever players will lure the sentinels one by one back to the hallway where the bonfire room was and use ranged attacks or back attacks as they try (and fail) to follow you. This also prevents whirlwind attacks. The sentinels here will respawn with bonfire use and opened doors will remain open so you can see why this room can be dangerous if you open too many doors at once. Some players may want to grind on these enemies though if they can deal decent damage and good skill levels. You could accumulate 225000 or more souls here if you drain their respawns dry.
The third room on the left has a drop down pit at the back. After falling through the floor, you will find the Faraam armour set on a skeleton on the floor. A pair of tunnels will branch off at the other end of the room. Take the left one first to find Grandahl (this should be the third and final time if you have taken the time to meet him in the other locations in the guide – black gulch and shaded woods). If this is the third time you have talked to him, you can join the Pilgrims of the Dark covenant. If you do he will give you the Abyssal Seal (raises hex damage slightly and gives you credit for the covenant when you explore the dark rifts. You can also buy hexes from him as well once you have talked to him for the third time. Head back out to the previous chamber when you are done and take the other path to find the third bonfire of the area. You can use this to teleport back to the previous bonfire and resume trekking through the castle (and the ruin sentinel room).
When you are ready to proceed in the castle, open the first door on the right. Don't worry about the ruin sentinel statue here as it thankfully won't animate. Straight ahead amongst some boxes is a chest that contains Dark Arrows. Head up the small stairs and look left into a small alcove to spot a skeleton holding the Soul of a Hero, an Old Radiant Life Gem and a Monastery Charm. Climb up the staircase next to this and at the top, ignore the turtle knight statue as it doesn't move either. At the top of the next set of stairs you will be able to see a huge pool of yellow liquid below you to the left and a staircase directly ahead. Be careful here as above you to the right, royal soldiers are controlling two dragon shaped acid spewing machines. This will damage your equipment if it connects. You can down the stairs to the left here with your equipment removed to pick up Corrosive Urns from a chest and an Elizabeth Mushroom from a corpse. A crossbow royal soldier will fire at you from a balcony above, but as long as you keep moving his shots shouldn't be a problem.
Back on the walkway above the acid, move up the stairs to a room at the top with a couple of the dragon acid machines lying unused on the side. Skillful ranged characters will be able to snipe the crossbow royal soldiers on the balconies above the acid pit (meaning they won't be there to annoy you later). In the right corner of the room is a door that leads out to another set of stairs with an iron banded door at the top. This room is filled with masks covering the walls. Equip a poison removal item just to be safe as the masks spit out poison (like the statues in earlier areas) and it can be very difficult to avoid the crossfire. You cannot destroy the masks either. There is a corpse in the room with a Large Soul of a Brave Warrior and a Twinkling Titanite on it. Open the door on the left side of the room to get out of there. Careful as you emerge though as the crossbow royal soldiers will still be trying to hit you. You can use the door at the exit to the poison room as a shield while you heal up if needed. This is a slightly easier spot to snipe the crossbow royal soldiers as well if you want to.
Up the stairs past the mask room you will be greeted with a giant portrait of the queen as well as three syan knights to the left of it. Note that the painting exudes a cure aura for a set area around it, so avoid approaching the painting. Try and lure only one or two of the knights at once if possible as fighting all three on the stairs is an easy way to get killed. It may be better to just battle all three in the painting room (as you won't accidentally roll off the path) if you don't have any ranged attacks. Once the room is clear, exit through the other door. A word of warning before you move on. A dark spirit called Nameless Usurper will appear behind you in the room with the Queen's painting. He doesn't deal too much damage with his dagger and shouldn't be difficult to dispatch as long as he doesn't take you by surprise. You will probably want to retreat back into the Queen's painting room to deal with him though, especially if you haven't dealt with the crossbow royal soldiers yet.
Once he is no more, head back outside and up the stairs towards the royal soldiers (if they are still alive). Be careful in climbing the winding stairs as there may be up to four crossbow royal soldiers still alive up here. Immediately at the top of the next set of steps after the first octagonal shaped platform, look to the left to see a ladder leading downwards. Slide down and kill the royal soldier (if he isn't already). Interact with the flat portion of the wall here and it will open up to reveal a hidden bonfire (which allows quick access to the boss we will be meeting shortly). Also on this level is a corpse balancing on a ledge that has the Soul of a Brave Warrior on it. On the platform below you (down the second ladder) are the royal soldiers controlling the dragon acid machines from earlier who you may want some revenge on. They are also guarding a chest with a Hunter's Blackbow inside and Iron Arrows.
Now it's time to head back up to the top walkway and meet the Queen for the first time. Follow the linear upper walkway until you enter the Queen's chamber. You can talk to her to find out a bit about King Vendrick. When you are prepared for a boss fight, travel through the door to the right and enter the mist door beyond.
Boss: Twin Dragonriders
Personal Death Count: 0
Heavy Thrust – The Dragon Rider will pull his right arm back slightly and then quickly thrust his weapon towards you, dealing significant damage if it connects. Another problem with this attack is the knockback effect which can send you out of the ring to the water below (if you haven't sealed the ring). Rolling to his right side is the best way to dodge this attack and his recovery animation will allow you to get in a hit or two before he can attack again.
Slam – The Dragon Rider raises his right arm up and behind his head (relatively slowly) and then brings down his weapon towards you for crushing damage and knockdown. Rolling to the right is (as usual for a right handed boss) your best option to avoid damage. Similar to the heavy thrust attack, the long recovery animation will allow you to get a hit or two before he resumes the attack.
Sweep Attack – The Dragon Rider raises his right arm up and behind his head (relatively quickly) and then scythes it in an arc in front of him. For this one you need to roll backwards to avoid the arc of his attack and his recovery time is faster so you probably won't have time to land a hit.
Shield Attack – If you are quite close to the Dragon rider he may quickly thrust his shield forward, bashing it into you. This can deal damage if unguarded, but most people will not get close enough for him to trigger this attack.
Bow Shot: The bow wielding Dragon rider will draw his bow and launch an arrow towards your location. The damage isn't huge but the recoil animation it triggers can cause you to take damage from the other dragon rider.
The main strategy most players should use is to get rid of the bow wielding dragon rider on the upper platform to the left when you enter the mist door. He has far less health than the halberd dragon rider and will constantly pepper you with arrows if you leave him alive. If you don't have a ranged weapon, you will need to damage the halberd dragon rider to less than fifty percent health to get him to drop down (if either rider falls below 50% health, the bow rider will pull out a halberd and join the fight below), or stand in a blind spot of the archer.
The halberd rider (just like his predecessor) is relatively fast and will always close the gap between yourself and him. This constantly leaves you rolling out of his way to avoid his attacks. He is also another right handed boss, so rolling to the right is far more effective than rolling to the left. He has a relatively small array of attacks so learning his tells is pretty easy. The only hard part is stringing it all together long enough to deplete his health. Once both are down, the battle is over and the rest of the castle beckons.
Now that the dragonrider is dead for the second time, head through the now open door on the other end of the room to find the fourth bonfire of the area. If you have talked to Bernhart when you met him before, he may appear at this bonfire. There are two paths heading out of the bonfire room (excluding the one traveling back to the boss room). Head for the one that leads downwards to find a room with a hole and pillar in the center of it. This is a three way path split (lift, iron door and ladder), but for now we can only use the ladder. Climb up the long ladder and at the top open the metal door nearby but don't enter yet. Characters with ranged attacks can trigger these enemies from range to make life easier. Targeting the statues on the right will cause all three to animate and attack. However, the small drop into the room should stop them attacking you directly (whenever they got close to the doorway, they raised their shields and backed away in my playthrough). After the first three are down, target the statues on the left side of the room. Keep in mind that you will need at least one to trigger the golem statue to open the exit to the room so only kill off one pair (the left statues activate in pairs) and then try and kill off the final two as close as you can to the statue. Melee characters will want to follow the same general strategy, but will have to be inside the room to engage the enemies. If you manage to pull it off, the door on the side of the room will unlock.
In the newly unlocked room are two chests. One contains an Old Knight's Hammer and the other holds Caitha's Chime and the Soul Greatsword sorcery. Head towards the doorway to see it emerges into a large hallway. Watch out as you enter as pairs of Greatbow Allone Captains on both sides of the room will try and shoot at you from the balconies above. Characters with ranged attacks can use the pillars as cover while they kill off the captains. Be careful about moving to far down the room to the right as a mastodon and two syan knights are blocking the path and will attack if you get too close. Melee characters will want to rush the stairs and use the pillars as cover while dealing with the pairs of captains on either side before returning to the lower area and taking out the mastodon and syan knights. Ranged characters can pick off the upper level enemies from the ground floor or go up the stairs to hit them easier. The main thing to be wary of is the captain's lightning draw attack. When they swap their bow for a sword, they will charge up their scabbards and then lunge towards you dealing large damage. Be very wary of this attack. On the upper balcony above you when you walk into the room is a trapped chest containing Fire Greatarrows. On the other balcony is a chest containing the Firestorm pyromancy.
Head through the door the mastodon and syan knights were guarding and open the door beyond. A mastodon warrior will be slightly to the left outside, lure him back near the doorway to battle him. This is due to the three greatbow captains on an upper platform to the right who will fire when you move too far out on this small area. Ignore the blue door here. You can either use ranged attacks to take out the archers or just run for the iron banded door down the small staircase here. Inside is a corps that holds Repair Powders and Flame Butterflies. Don't worry about the ballistae here as they aren't loaded. Open the nearby chest for an Estus Flask Shard. Next to the chest is a lever that opens the metal gate blocking the door. Open it up to find a syan knight on the steps below. Take him out and follow the path down until you arrive at the bonfire again (this was the other path you could have taken at the bonfire but would have been stopped by the metal gate).
Head back to the room with the three way split to find a lift in the center where the hole was (triggered by the golem in the room with seven stone statues). Step on it to travel upwards to a room at the top of a tower. When the lift reaches the top, open the nearby door to be greeted by a chained up NPC called the Embedded. An item can be obtained from a later boss that will open the door here, allowing you to talk to the woman inside and receive a Ring of the Dead from her as a reward. For now though, loot the chests in the room to obtain: Soul Vessel, Fire Seed, Great Magic Shield and the King's Passage Key (an item we will be using shortly).
Head back down the lift to the three way split room and use the key on the large doors here. Heading along the narrow hallway here will take you to the King's Passage area. Read on in the King's Passage section to continue the guide.