Snowfield, Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel's first bonfire, places you at the beginning of an open-world level.
As is often the case in Dark Souls 3, there are multiple paths you can take away from a bonfire, and our guide reflects that. The choice is yours, and our table of contents will help you get there.
What path should you take? Well, our guide is designed to minimize frustration, taking the routes most likely to keep you alive. You'll head from the area surrounding the Snowfield bonfire to a hill with loot, and back to the bonfire to rest up. Then it's time to head to the next bonfire, which will be your base of operations for everything nearby that we don't touch on here.
Table of contents
Warp to the Painted World of Ariandel from the Cleansing Chapel bonfire in Cathedral of the Deep, and you'll find yourself in a cave. Turn around, and speak to the NPC on your left, who'll tell you all about a "sweetly rotting bed to lie upon," in cryptic Dark Souls fashion.
Pillage the corpse to your right to find two Rime-blue Moss Clumps. This is as close as Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel gets to a hint. Rime-blue Moss Clumps cure reduce Frost build up and cure the Frostbite status effect. (Frostbite causes damage and slows your stamina and defense regeneration). This will be particularly useful not long from now, when you meet some evil tree ladies.
Head out of the cave. The Snowfield bonfire is right in front of you. Light it up.
Before the collapse
The area surrounding the Snowfield bonfire is self-contained, for reasons that will become clear soon.
Head away from the bonfire, hugging the wall on your left. Turn the corner and look for a Follower carrying a sword and a Follower torch patrolling a clearing beyond a patch of trees. Take him down from a distance if you can, watching for his fire-breathing attack, which gives you the perfect opportunity to backstab him.
Followers tend to leave themselves open for backstabs. If you're fighting them up close and personal, look and wait for them to enter an animation that includes a pause at the end. Fire dude, for example, is both the most dangerous and the most vulnerable when he's fire breathing. Run around his back, and execute a light attack to backstab him and cause massive damage.
Either way you do it, approach him so that you keep the fight around where he stands. You don't want to alert anyone else in the area that you're here, and there are plenty of enemies to his right.
With the bonfire at your back, turn left and follow the wall, walking as far as you can. There will be a nasty, giant bug hanging out there. Approach slowly and quietly, and take it down. Pillage a corpse there for a Poison Gem. (Give that to Blacksmith Andre in Firelink Shrine, and he'll imbue your weapon of choice with the power to poison your enemies.)
Head back to the Snowfield bonfire and rest to refuel. It's time to kill some Followers, Ashes of Ariandel's human-like enemies.
From the Snowfield bonfire, you'll see a hill on your right. Walk up it slowly, and you'll discover several Followers, as you can see in the image below.
Some will be sitting. Others will be standing. All of them will be looking away from you. Use this to your advantage. If you have a ranged weapons, walk only as close as you must to lock onto them, and fire away starting with the leftmost shielded Follower.
If you can't defeat a Follower in one shot, back down the hill away from the others and toward the bonfire. You don't want to alert them to your presence.
How to fight groups (if you must)
Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel's enemies fight in coordinated groups. If you charge in, they'll all attack you at once. Spoiler alert: it's much easier to fight one enemy at a time.
If you do wind up fighting multiple Followers, rely on your shield (and make sure it has 100 percent physical damage absorption and high fire resistance), blocking when you have to and attacking in the few precious moments when you see an opening. In ether case, stick close to the bonfire. If you die, at least it'll be easy to recover your souls.
Also, watch out for an enemy who appears to materialize out of nowhere. He actually hops off of a ledge about halfway up the hill on the right. (We'll get up there soon.) He breathes fire, and that can cause a lot of damage. It can also create a great opportunity.
If you're lucky, some of the Followers will drop a Large Soul of an Unknown Traveler, which you can crush in your bare hand for 1,000 souls.
After the Followers on the hill are dead, there are only two more enemies to defeat. Walk up the hill and then down its other side, and you'll see another fire breathing jerk up against a rock wall on level ground. Take him out. The remaining enemy is optional. He's the guy you fought on your way to the giant bug. You can go take him on, or you can turn right, where you'll see a corpse with glowing item to pillage.
This being Dark Souls 3, pillaging that corpse isn't as easy as it looks. Get close enough, and the ground will give way. You won't take any damage from the fall, but you will find yourself separated from the bonfire. Good news, though: You can pillage the corpse for a Rime-blue Moss Clump, and also this is the way to the next bonfire.
There are no shortcuts
You may be tempted to run past the Followers and let the cliff keep them from you. We tried this. It works. Don't do it.
Followers may not be able to climb down, but they aren't dumb, either. They'll stand at the edge of the cliff throwing spears and other things your way.
You've got enough to deal with in front of you without having to worry about your back. And if you follow our instructions in the previous section, you should be able to murder every Follower to death without taking a hit.
After the collapse
After the land collapses beneath your feet, you'll see a corpse with a shiny white item to pillage. It is beckoning you. It is a trap. If you rush up to it, you'll find a Rusted Coin, which increases your item discovery for a minute or so. You'll also alert the three wolves on the far side of the tree, who won't be terribly excited to learn that you've come in peace.
Don't charge in. Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariendel's wolves are a new kind of enemy, in more ways than one. If you want to live, you need to know how to kill wolves first. And knowing how to kill wolves is a strategy that you can use for a long time, not just here.
How to kill wolves
Wolves, like so many things in Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel, hunt (you) in packs. This puts you at a severe disadvantage.
When they see you, they also alert the media with a nasty howl that puts their friends in the area on notice of your presence. If you're not careful, you can end up fighting every wolf on this hill at once. It is your job to avoid this whenever possible. You've got to outsmart them.
The best way to do this is with ranged weapons, particularly magic and bows. Wolves tend to hang out in groups of three. And two of them tend to be sleeping, while on sits up looking all cute. It's not cute. It's keeping watch, and it wants to kill you. If you charge in thinking you can kill the cutie, you'll be surely disappointed. Not only will you face all three of them at once, but one of them will invariably start a howl, and soon enough you'll be fighting more.
If you have ranged weapons, use them. If you don't have ranged weapons, consider getting some. They allow you to attack from a distance such that the wolves don't wake up. And you can kill them one-by-one from a safe distance, without ever waking their friends — or letting them wake their friends.
So, yeah. Instead of charging up on them, use ranged weapons. Unless they've seen you. They'll hop right out of the way of an oncoming spell. This is another theme of Ashes of Ariandel. Many of your enemies here are nimble and will duck out of the way of your ranged attacks.
If you don't have ranged weapons, consider investing in Alluring Skulls. (Unbreakable Patches sells them back in Firelink Shrine.) For reasons known only to God and From Software, the wolves love these things. Toss them near wolves, and you can coax them toward the item instead of you. While they're distracted, you can attack.
As with the Followers you fought to get here, if you have to fight multiple wolves at a time, keep your shield up, and swing only when you have openings. The wolves aren't wearing armor, so you can probably take them down in a few swings. Defend as they take turns leaping at you, keep an eye on your stamina to make sure that it's not drained when you finally swing away. You'll also need to keep moving. Wolves will clever girl you and attack from behind when you're focused on their friend. Treat them like the Undead Hounds you've seen before — keep backing away and wait for them to pause.
Down the hill
We're calling the area in front of where the ledge collapsed "the hill," mostly because it's a hill that slopes down and ends at a cliff ledge. There are three paths out of here.
- One takes you to the next bonfire.
- Another takes you to a field, a tower and more hills, all of which are filled with extra difficult enemies and tantalizing loot.
- The third and shortest path takes you to more enemies, loot and back to the Snowfield bonfire.
This section focuses on the third path because it gives you the best odds of survival early in the game. It's best to take the other two paths if you start at the next bonfire. Follow this guide, and you'll get there soon.
From where the ledge collapsed, walk toward Rusted Coin glowing on the corpse. What you do next depends on what you have.
- If you have ranged weapons, use your binoculars to kill the who's wolf sitting up, and then fire from a distance at two who surround him. That clears up your immediate path.
- If you don't have ranged weapons, you'll catch the attention of the three wolves, and they'll all start attacking. Keep your guard up and attack only after they attack.
Once you've killed the three wolves — and any of their friends they called — turn right and follow the wall down toward the cliff. Look and listen for any more wolves in the area, taking them out from a distance if you can.
Up the hill for loot and the bonfire
At the bottom of the hill, there's a path to the right that leads up another hill. There're a few more wolves up this path. Make sure you draw them out instead of fighting them on the narrow path. There are several kinds of enemies over here, and they'll overwhelm quickly if you're not careful.
Pay attention to the trees lining the path. You've seen them before, sort of. They look like women with long, stringy hair. Some of them are trees. Some of them are enemies. It's easy to tell the difference: If a tree is moving, then it's an enemy. Pay close attention to the branches and the hair.
Proceed up the hill with caution and your shield raised. If the tree women attack, back away. They have a frostbite breath attack, a flaming leaf attack and can grab you and squeeze the life out of you. You can't assume they're an easy target just because they have roots.
Use your ranged attacks and keep moving, taking them out one at a time. If you don't have ranged weapons, wait for them to lurch at you and attacks while they're stuck with the consequences of their attack. They're not fast, but you don't want to have your back to them — their frostbite breath and flaming leaves more than make up for their lack of mobility.
At the top of the hill are four more Followers. Keep your distance get the attention of one at a time. If you go charging in, you'll end up surrounded by Followers and tree women, and you'll get mobbed.
After you've dispatched the enemies, you'll find Follower Javelin on a corpse at the top of the trail, overlooking the Snowfield bonfire and the hill where you fought your first few Followers.
Drop off the cliff and save at the Snowfield bonfire. Back to where the ledge collapsed. There's an area off to the left of the hill (facing the cliff edge), but there's a bonfire not far from here. We're going to light the next bonfire first, then you can backtrack to get the loot on the hill.
To the Rope Bridge Cave bonfire
After the ledge collapses on the path away from the Snowfield bonfire, cut straight across the hill to the left. Turn left to face up the hill. There are a number of wolves and tree women between you and the top.
Hug the left wall and start climbing the hill until you see two wolves against the left wall. If you have ranged weapons, kill the sitting wolf from a distance, retreating the way you came to avoid alerting other enemies. Then kill its friend and continue up the hill, hugging the wall.
There are also tree women along the path who may take an interest in your arrival — the first to the right of where those two wolves used to be. Ranged weapons work well on them, too, and they allow you to avoid their grabbing attack and frostbite breath. If their flaming leaves are following you, retrace your steps back down the hill (because you know there aren't any enemies there), and they'll flame out eventually.
At the top of the hill are a few more tree women you'll have to deal with. Kill them from a distance if you can or keep retreating and coming back to chip away at their health.
At this point, you may have noticed an item on the opposite side of the hill. Don't bother with it or the one in the red flowers just yet. You'll come back for them in a few minutes. It's much safer to head to the next bonfire, which is just ahead.
When you crest the hill, you'll see its other side sloping down and away from you. There are two more tree women to kill here. If they're firing leaves at you, back away and use the hill for cover. You'll also find a corpse you can pillage for two Black Firebombs.
When they're defeated, walk down the hill. As you come into sight of the bridge, there will be a cave on your right containing the Rope Bridge Cave bonfire.