PREPARE TO DIE LESS
Your journey through Lothric doesn't end here. Be sure to check out the rest of Polygon's Dark Souls 3 guide , which offers everything from tips for beginners and returning masochists to detailed walkthroughs of every area — including all of the secret, bonus content.
Your journey through Dark Souls 3 begins here, in a cemetery. It's more than a little fitting.
Part tutorial, part introduction, Cemetery of Ash also contains branching paths and a brutally difficult enemy. Because Dark Souls. We'll explain it all below.
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This is the starting point of Dark Souls 3, a mashup of a level and a tutorial that teaches you the basic controls. For newcomers, this is also a great place to learn how to explore a typical Souls environment, which rewards exploration. Always explore off the beaten path and use the camera to help discover a myriad of hidden items. The Cemetery of Ash also reinforces another Souls staple: Enemies are everywhere.
The critical path
From the game's starting point, head straight, reading all the tutorial tips on the ground.
Kill your first enemy, and take the path into an alcove on the right, where you'll find a corpse to loot for a Soul of a Deserted Corpse.
Make your way out of the alcove, turn right and kill another enemy sitting in front of a fountain. Collect the Ashen Estus Flask, an item that controls feeds your blue FP meter.
Follow orange messages on the ground create, which will lead you to an enemy and a backstabbing tutorial. Continue forward, and you'll face two more enemies who at first appear to be sleeping but will jump up and attack as you approach. Kill them, creating distance so that they can't gang up on you.
The optional path
Beyond where they were laying, you'll find another alcove. Filled with waist-high water, it slows down your movement, and a tip in the ground warns you to turn back. Inside, you'll find a large and powerful monster with crystals growing out of its cat-like frame. There's no need to defeat this enemy now, though you can with careful use of blocks and roll dodges. Vanquishing it will give you a Titanite Scale, an item you'll use for crafting many hours from now. In the far left corner of the alcove, you'll also find a Soul of an Unknown Traveler.
The critical path (continued)
Exit the alcove with your guard up, and you'll find an enemy firing a crossbow on a small staircase leading out of the Cemetery. Kill him.
Walk to the side of the cemetery opposite of the alcove with the crystal enemy, and you'll find one final enemy to kill.
Return to where the enemy with the crossbow was standing and walk past. You'll walk along the edge of a cliff, a path that leads you to the first bonfire, Cemetery of Ash. Light the bonfire, and you'll receive the Rest gesture.
Cemetery of Ash bonfire
The Cemetery of Ash is a microcosm of Dark Souls 3 level design, which almost always offers branching paths away from a bonfire. No matter which area you're in, you can ignore most of the branches if you're concerned with the critical path. Ignoring them, however, means you lose the opportunity to find hidden items and fight enemies to earn souls for leveling and making purchases. In each section of this guide, we've broken down the various paths, detailing what you'll find along the way.
THE CRITICAL PATH
From the Cemetery of Ash bonfire, take the path on the left and defeat the enemy who comes charging.
Note how the path ends at a cliff overlooking a glowing item on top of a coffin. Back up, start running and jump off the cliff. You'll land on top of a coffin, where you can collect a Titanite Shard. Drop down one more level, on top of an enemy you can defeat easily with a Plunging Attack, in which you hold your light attack while falling. You'll see another enemy with a crossbow in the distance. Defeat him to and head through the arch.
Remove the sword from the knight in the middle of the area. This will trigger a fight against Iudex Gundyr, Dark Souls 3's first boss.
THE OPTIONAL PATH
Follow the steps in the critical path, but instead of going through the arch, turn around and head left toward the cliffside. There are two enemies below. Lock on to the closest enemy, walk off the cliff and perform a Plunging Attack. Steer clear of the cliff edge when fighting the second enemy, lest you fall to your death. Before leaving, pillage a corpse to collect five Firebombs. Walk up the path and kill the enemy waiting for you at the top.
Hug the cliff's edge and defeat the next enemy to attack you. Take the left path and defeat the final two enemies in the area. They'll rise when they detect your presence, so walk quietly over to rouse and fight them one at a time.
Iudex Gundyr boss battle
Short version tactic: Mix up rolls and blocks.
Tactics (first phase): In keeping with the training theme of the Cemetery of Ash, Iudex Gundyr is a well-rounded boss that can teach you to be well-rounded. If you feel cheap, you can get a few hits in immediately after you pull the sword from its chest. Shields are an effective counter to Iudex's sweeping melee attacks which have a ton of range, so keep your distance when you're not attacking.
Approaching Iudex Gundyr from the front is risky because of his grabbing attack. When you're ready to attack, roll toward the boss and through its melee attacks — a classic Souls tactic that takes advantage of a few frames during the animation when you're invincible.
Don't roll too much, though. Iudex tends to anticipate the second roll and will attack. Moreover, the boss can change direction in the middle of his brutal combos, which means that when you no longer invincible, you'll pay for your positioning.
Keeping your distance to regroup and heal is possible, but beware of his leaping attacks, which close the gap.
Tactics (second phase): Iudex Gundyr will mutate after its health is down to about 50 percent, growing an enormous black monstrosity out of its torso. While its frontal attacks are still aggressive, the mutation comes at a cost: Iudex Gundyr is vulnerable from behind. Focus on the boss' rear, locking on and strafing to stay behind. If it props itself up using the mutated black segment of its body, be ready to dodge a lethal body slam.
Iudex Gundyr bonfire
After defeating Iudex Gundyr, you'll receive a Coiled Sword, which will become useful in a few minutes. A bonfire will also appear, the first instance of a Dark Souls 3 pattern. Light the flame and rest at the bonfire to replenish your estus flasks.
Open the doors at the far end of the arena, and you'll enter the area outside of Firelink Shrine. Loot the corpse resting on a headstone for a Broken Straight Sword.
Head up the hill using the path with stairs on your right to reach Firelink Shrine. (We'll discuss the area surrounding Firelink Shrine in its section of our Dark Souls 3 guide.)