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How to find Dark Souls 3's hidden areas, optional bosses and fantastic loot

You don't have to go here, but you should go here

You'll see most of Dark Souls 3 as you progress through its bonfires, but there are a few hidden, optional areas reserved for the most daring players. Most have challenging foes. Some end with optional boss fights. All of them balance out the difficulty with great rewards.

In this guide, we'll show you everything that Dark Souls 3 has tucked away in its corners. You'll learn how to get there. You'll learn about those evil hidden bosses. You'll walk way rich.

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.

Since it has no enemies, Firelink Shrine Tower is the easiest of Dark Souls 3's hidden areas. As the name suggests, you can get there from your home base at Firelink Shrine.

Purchase the Tower Key from the Shrine handmaid for 20,000 souls. She's the old woman sitting in a chair in the hallway that leads to Andre the Blacksmith. That key will open a locked door at the base of a tower.

To get there, stand at the doorway that leads out of of the shrine, as if you were going to head back to where you fought Iudex Gundyr. Turn left and head up a staircase. That's the highest hallway in Firelink Shrine, and you can exit on your right. The locked door to the tower is at your left. Explore the Firelink Shrine Tower, and you'll find several items along multiple paths.

The tower path

Walk through the door you unlocked, up the winding staircase, across the bridge, into the tower, across another bridge within the tower and take the elevator up. Under a bell at the top of the tower, you'll find a Fire Keeper Soul.

Fire Keeper Soul

Give the Fire Keeper Soul to the Fire Keeper in Firelink Shrine, and she'll be able to heal the Dark Sigil, which resets your Hollow level and makes you look human again (at least until you begin dying).

Make your way back down the elevator, but stop on the bridge within the tower. Look over the edges, and you'll see souls to pillage. One is at the very bottom. One is on the way down.

Jump down from casket to casket, and you'll find the Fire Keeper armor set.

At the bottom of the tower, you'll find a soul to pillage for an Estus Ring, which increases HP restored with your Estus Flask.

Find all of the rings

Dark Souls 3 is filled with rings, and our guide to rings will tell you how to find every one of them and explain what they do.

The roof and rafter path

Walk through the door you unlocked, up the winding staircase and onto the bridge. About halfway across, the left side of the bridge is crumbling. Hop down from there and onto the roof. There are a few things to do here.

The ladder

From where you landed, turn to face the tower you just walked up. Walk to the edge of the roof. Kick the ladder down to give yourself access to the roof without having to jump down from the bridge.

The crystal lizard

Jump off the side of the roof directly opposite of the ladder, turn right and follow the path until you see a Crystal Lizard. Kill it to earn a chunk of Twinkling Titanite. Follow the path back past the Crystal Lizard, jump down and return to the roof using the ladder.

The roof

Explore the roof, and you'll find a glowing soul with three Homeward Bones.

The rafters

At the end of the roof opposite of the bridge you jumped off of, you can walk onto the rafters high above the shrine. There are items and and NPC to find here.

As soon as you enter, you'll see a glowing soul, which you can pillage for an Estus Shard.

At the far end of the rafters opposite of where you entered, you'll find a rafter that dead ends into an illusory wall. Strike the wall to make it disappear, and along that path ahead you'll find the Covetous Silver Serpent Ring, which gives you more souls for every enemy you kill.

Pickle-Pee, Pump-a-Rum the crow

There's an NPC colloquially known as Pickle-Pee, Pump-a-Rum who babbles above the shrine rafters. Leave items from your inventory in Pickle-Pee, Pump-a-Rum's nest to exchange them for better items — a few of which you can only get here.

The following table includes everything that you can leave and the rewards you'll get for doing so.

Old Wolf of Farron bonfire

How to get there

Leave the Keep Ruins bonfire in Farron Keep and head down the ramp, away from the enemies on the bridge next to the bonfire. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left and head toward the wall in the distance. Around the corner, you'll find three slugs gathered around a ladder. Kill them and climb the ladder to find the Old Wolf of Farron bonfire. Light and rest up.

Watchdogs of Farron covenant

Approach the giant wolf next to the bonfire, and you can join the Watchdogs of Farron covenant. Its members automatically invade the worlds of kindled players passing through the poisonous marshes.

All about covenants

Convenants got your down? Or confused? Or maybe you just want to know more? We've got you covered in our guide to Dark Souls 3 covenants.

The illusory wall

On the wall opposite the Old Wolf of Farron, you'll see a corpse with a glowing item dangling on a ledge. Exit the room through the same door you entered, turn left and follow the path around the building. Take a staircase up, and you'll find yourself level with the corpose you just saw. Hack away at the illusory wall on your left, and pillage the corpse for the Dreamchaser's Ashes, which you can give to the Shrine handmaid in Firelink Shrine.

The Stray Demon boss fight

Back in the room with the Old Wolf of Farron and the bonfire, take the elevator up and prepare for a fight with the Stray Demon, an optional boss. He's huge, and he's a monster, but if you time your rolls right, you can roll right into (and therefore through) many of his attacks.

If you have ranged weapons, they come in particularly handy against this boss, because they allow you to stay far away from his giant club.

Either way you fight the Stray Demon, stay away from it unless and until it's time to strike. Then get in, swing away and get the heck out of there.

Defeat the Stray Demon, and you'll earn 5,000 souls and the Soul of a Stray Demon. Give the latter to Ludleth of Courland in Firelink Shrine to create Havel's Ring, which boosts your equip load, or Boulder Heave, a pyromancy that, well, lets you puke boulders.

Don't return to where you came from just yet. There's a hidden area where you can grab more items just on the other side of the bridge.

The hidden area

From the bridge where you fight the Stray Demon, head back as if you were returning to the bonfire. Instead, walk off a broken patch of railing that abuts the tower. Follow that around, and you'll find a hidden area filled with goodies (and a few enemies).

When you arrive on the far side of the bridge, you'll see Crystal Lizards in the distance, as well as some souls to pillage. There's also a Crystal Lizard on the path you'll take out of here, to your left if you're facing the dragon at the end of the bridge.

Kill the Crystal Lizards for a Large Titanite Shard and Twinkling Titanite. (If one escapes, you can return and resume your hunt after you reset the world at a bonfire.) You can also pick up the Lightning Spear miracle near the dragon corpse, which as you may have guessed allows you to throw a spear of lightning (provided you have 20 Faith). On another corpse, you'll find the Dragon Crest Shield, which has great resistance against fire damage.

When you've pillaged all there is to pillage, head away from the dragon and hug the right wall, where you'll find a path that leads up toward the top of the gate in the middle of the bridge. Keep your guard up, because there are a handful of easy enemies to defeat, most of whom are pretending to sleep. There's also a Crystal Lizard on the path up and out of here. Kill it for a Heavy Gem. Hop over the wall in the middle of the bridge and make your way back to the Old Wolf of Farron bonfire.

How to upgrade your character and craft the best weapons

Exploring Lothric's hidden paths will provide you with items like the Heavy Gem, wich you use to upgrade the loot you find. Check out Polygon's guide to up grading your character and weapons to make the most of your bounty.

Smouldering Lake and the hidden entrance to Demon Ruins

Smouldering Lake is an optional, highly challenging area that will grant plenty of Titanite Shards. If you're looking for a quick way to level up some of your weapons, this is the place to be. Most enemies here drop at least one shard — and occasionally, a Large Titanite Shard — especially within the Demon Ruins.

How to get there

In the Catacombs of Carthus, there's a creaking wooden bridge that leads to the High Lord Wolnir boss fight. If the bridge didn't collapse under the weight of the skeletons that chase you onto it, you can cut it down with a swing of your weapon. The hanging bridge becomes a ladder that leads to Smouldering Lake, just beyond the Abandoned Tomb bonfire.

Once you reach Smouldering Lake, there will be a ballista raining arrows down onto you. You can take cover behind the numerous trees within the lake, but before you do any exploring, you can use the ballista's giant arrows to unlock a hidden entrance that leads to the Old King's Antechamber bonfire — and the Speckled Stoneplate Ring.

Enter Smouldering Lake from the Abandoned Tomb bonfire, but don't walk into the water. Instead, hug the wall to your right and take cover from the ballista's barrage behind the first tree on your right. Wait until the ballista fires three shots and reloads, then run to the next-closest tree. (It's the one with a glowing soul among its roots in the image above.)

From there, turn left and look into the distance. In front of a tree in the middle of the lake, you'll find a patch of land that isn't submerged in water. Look for a couple of torches next to another giant tree. Run there as the ballista reloads. Stop on the part that isn't submerged in water, letting the ballista target you. At the last possible moment, roll away. The arrow will strike and destroy the ground, revealing a hidden path that leads to the Old King's Antechamber bonfire. You'll find the lion's share of the area's items in this optional area within an optional area.

ITEMS

These are the items you can find throughout Smouldering Lake and Demon Ruins. For all of the details, check out our full walkthrough.

Speckled Stoneplate ring

Follow the steps you took to reveal the hidden entrance to Demon Ruins, but instead of stopping on the dry land, run to a nearby brick wall. Let the ballista target you, and jump away at the last possible moment as you hear the arrow approaching. If an arrow lands near the brick wall, its splash damage will destroy it. Inside, you'll find the Speckled Stoneplate Ring, which increases your resistance to dark, fire, lightning and magic damage.

Undead Bone Shard, Lightning Strike

Defeat the worm for these drops.

Shield of Want
Shield of Want

The worm was guarding this shield, which increases the number of souls you get for every kill. (Combine it with the Covetous Silver Serpent Ring to make ungodly amounts of money.)

Black Knight Sword, Black Knight Shield

Hidden behind an illusory wall and guarded by Black Knight beyond the Old King's Antechamber bonfire.

Fume Ultra Greatsword and Black Iron Greatshield

Knight Slayer Tsorig, who's waiting for you past the Demon Ruins bonfire, drops these upon defeat.

Knight Slayer's Ring

Yet another drop from Knight Slayer Tsorig, who's waiting for you past the Demon Ruins bonfire. Equip this, and your enemies lose more stamina when guarding attacks.

Dragonrider bow

Hop off the top of left side of the ladder that leads up to the ballista to find this enormous bow.

Estus Shard

Sitting on a corpse next to a hole in the ground past the Old King's Antechamber bonfire.

Quelana Pyromancy Tome

Behind an illusory wall past the Old King's Antechamber bonfire.

Sacred Flame

Sitting in lava past Knight Slayer Tsorig and the Demon Ruins bonfire, this pyromancy's "Flame burrows inside foes and ignites."

Izalith Pyromancy Tome

Down the hall from the Old King's Antechamber bonfire.

Chaos Gem

In a far corner of Smouldering Lake, guarded by Giant Crabs.

Archdragon Peak

Archdragon Peak is one of the most challenging areas in the game, thanks to its two boss fights. It's optional, but has plenty of items to find, too. It's more straightforward than the Smouldering Lake and Demon Ruins, but its Nameless King boss can require a lot of time, lives and tears to defeat.

How to get there

Warp to the Irithyll Dungeon bonfire. Go straight out the door that leads into the dungeon, turn right, head left across the bridge, then turn left again at the end of the bridge. Turn right and take the stairs down, then take a right in the hallway, walk through the door at the end of the hallway and take the elevator down. (If the door at the end of the hallway is locked, check out the To the Profaned Capital section of our Irithyll Dungeon walkthrough to learn how to unlock it.)

To travel to Archdragon Peak, stand on the carpet between the sitting suits of armor and use the Path of the Dragon gesture. (If you don't have that, you'll need to defeat Oceiros the Consumed King in Consumed King's Garden first. )

Of course, we have a full walkthrough of the optional Archdragon Peak. Before you head there, through, you can also learn what you'll get for your trouble below.

Items

Make your way to Archdragon Peak, and here's what you'll find.

Twinkling Dragon Torso Stone
Dragon Chaser's Ashes

Found at the far end of Archdragon Peak, in the area past the Great Belfry bonfire. Give it to the Shrine handmaid in Fireline Shrine, and she'll sell you Titanite Chunks, Titanite Scales and Twinkling Titanite.

Dragon Head Stone

Drops after you defeat the Ancient Wyvern boss. Remove your head armor, and use this item to get a dragon's head, increase your resistance to various effects and breathe fire at the cost of stamina.

Embers, Stalk Dung Pies and the Ring of Steel Protection

From the Archdragon Peak bonfire, walk into where the Ancient Wyvern once was. Beginning at the T-shaped intersection, you'll find a bunch of items. Turn right, and you'll find two Embers and six Stalk Dung Pies. Descend the staircase and turn around at the bottom so you're facing the stairs. Walk along a pathway on the left side of the staircase to find the Ring of Steel Protection, which increases physical damage absorption.

Twinkling Titanite

Head away from the Dragon-Kin Mausoleum bonfire, and you'll find a ladder in a round room. Kick it down and pillage the corpse there.

Dragonslayer Armor

In the area surrounding the Great Belfry bonfire.

Large Soul of a Crestfallen Knight

In the area surrounding the Great Belfry bonfire.

Dragon Tooth and Havel's Greatshield

Defeat the knight, Havel, you encounter after the end of the Ancient Wyvern boss fight, right around the corner from the Dragon-Kin Mausoleum bonfire.

Lightning Gem

On a cliff near the Archdragon Peak bonfire.

Optional bosses

You don't have to beat every boss to beat Dark Souls 3. Outside of the critical path, there are a handful of optional bosses. Defeating them gets you souls, of course, but they can also unlock access to areas and items — including those you transpose with your old buddy Ludleth of Courland in Firelink Shrine.

In this section, we'll tell you about each optional boss and let you know what you'll get for your trouble.

Curse-Rotted Greatwood

This is an early game boss located at the far end of Undead Settlement. Defeat the giant tree monster, and you'll receive 7,000 souls. (The number of souls you receive increases with each NG+ playthrough.)

The Curse-Rotted Greatwood will drop the Transposing Kiln. Give that to Ludleth of Courland in Firelink Shrine, and you can turn boss souls into weapons, spells and rings. Speaking of boss souls, victory also comes with the Soul of the Rotted Greatwood. Give it to Ludleth to make Arstor's Spear, which gives you a Hollowslayer Greatsword, which grants 50 percent damage bonus to hollows.

When the fight ends, you can also discover the Mound-Makers covenant altar.

Old Demon King

You can find this optional boss within an optional area: Smouldering Lake. You'll get 18,750 souls and the Soul of the Old Demon King. You can cash that in for 10,000 souls or transpose it for Chaos Bed Vestiges, a pyromancy whose flame scorches the vicinity, or the Old King's Great Hammer, a big club with a lot of reach, just like the Old Demon King's. It also includes a weapon skill, which lets you "Anchor weapon in earth to temporarily boost poise, and use strong attack to repeatedly stab earth to trigger molten explosions," according to its in-game description.

Oceiros, the Consumed King

Oceiros is a chatty boss in an optional late-game area, Consumed King's Garden. Defeat him, and you'll get 58,000 souls and the Soul of Consumed Oceiros. Transpose that for the White Dragon Breath sorcery, which emits a straight line of crystals on the ground (and hopefully underneath the enemy) in front of you or Crystal Soul Spear, an incredibly strong sorcery that fires, well, a spear made of crystals through every enemy in its path.

Ancient Wyvern

Late in the game, you can find the Ancient Wyvern in Archdragon Peak — yet another optional area. Defeat him (easily) for 70,000 souls and the Dragon Head Stone, which allows you to breath fire — as if you had a dragon head, get it?

Nameless King

The Nameless King is the second boss battle in Archdragon Peak. Defeat him for 60,000 souls and the Soul of the Nameless King. You can consume that for 16,000 souls, or you can transpose it into Dragonslayer Swordspear, whose weapon skill lets you "Hold swordspear high in the air to summon fierce lightning that descends upon distant foes," as the in-game description says, or the Storm Curved Sword, whose weapon skill lets you "Imbue blade with the wrath of storm in a spinning motion, and follow with a strong attack to bear that wrath upon foes."

Champion Gundyr

Also late in the game, you can find Champion Gundyr in Untended Graves. The boss and the surrounding area will look familiar. Defeat him for 45,000 souls and the Soul of Champion Gundyr. You can consume that for 20,000 souls or transpose it for Gundyr's Halberd, whose weapon skill, Champion's Charge, lets you "Hold spear at waist and charge at foe, and use momentum to transition into sweeping strong attack," or the Prisoner's Chain, a ring that boosts your Endurance, Vigor and Vitality but also makes each hit you take cause more damage.