The Final Fire: A Guide To Dark Souls III’s Endings

Dark Souls has always been an incredibly obtuse series, and Dark Souls III [official site] is living up to that tradition beautifully. With a cast of characters who intersect your journey and a backpack full of indecipherable items, only the most observant players will be able to put together Dark Souls 3’s subtle clues to unlock the more interesting endings.

That’s where I come in. Armed with spoilerific knowledge, I’m going to cast back the mist and lay bare all of the ways your unkindled self can find some kind of resolution in the transitory lands of Lothric. Deciphering what each of these endings mean is going to be up to you, I’m just the one who will show you the way.

The Boring Ending – Linking the Fire

Of all the endings in Dark Souls 3, this one is meant for those who simply played without trying to tease out Dark Souls 3’s deep mysteries. If you’ve already beaten Dark Souls 3, there’s a good chance that this was the ending you received because all you need to do is collect the throneless Lords of Cinder, return them to their stoney chairs, and then skip along to the Kiln of the First Flame. There you’ll do battle with the Soul of Cinder, and once you’ve defeated him you can light the bonfire and watch as the final cutscene plays out.

Doing so will grant you one of the three achievements for beating Dark Souls 3, but it’s also the ending you get for meeting the bare minimum requirements, which isn’t all that exciting. Let’s see what a real ending in Dark Souls 3 looks like.

The True Ending – The End of Fire

Linking the fire is good and all, but doing so is basically upholding the status quo that has been plaguing the worlds of Lothric and Lordran for ages. Wouldn’t it be kind of fun to break the cycle and see what’s on the other side? You can do just that and all you’ll need is a fancy pair of eyes to give to our fair lady, the Fire Keeper. The ball is in your court, Van Gogh!

Getting the Eyes of a Fire Keeper is going to be quite a journey and will require heading to an optional area much later in the game called the Untended Graves. After you defeat the Dancer of the Boreal Valley and gain access to Lothric Castle, you can head left and encounter another annoying Chapel Knight like the kind you fought in the Chapel of the Deep. After dispatching him, take the lift down but walk forward enough and angle your camera so that you can see the doorway as it approaches. Jump off before the lift passes the ledge and you’ll walk into the Consumed King’s Garden.

This is a whole area worth exploring, so take your time and make your way to the boss fight against the Consumed King himself. Once you’ve stabbed him a few times, light the bonfire and continue through the double doors into a hallway that bends to the right and opens up into a room with a corpse propped up against a vessel. At the back of the room you’ll find a chest with an illusory wall behind it that will lead on into the Untended Graves.

This area has some huge implications regarding the story of Dark Souls 3, so I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, but it’s an almost perfect recreation of the Firelink Shrine. That also means you’re going to meet our old friend Iudex Gundyr again, only this time the black goo won’t sprout from his back. If you think that’s a blessing, you’re wrong, Champion Gundyr is much faster and more aggressive than his creepy counterpart.

Of all the great items in this area, the one we need the most is the Eyes of a Firekeeper, which we can find where Irina of Carim is always sitting—she’s the blind lady who sells miracles and likes it when people touch her. That area contains another illusory wall that you can roll through in order to find the eyes.

If you take the eyes to Ludleth the Exiled back in Firelink Shrine, he’ll have some interesting words about what they represent. Afterwards, you can hand them over to the Fire Keeper who will have more words for you about what the eyes do, and you will have a choice for how you want to proceed. Here’s a hint, don’t decline her offer.

Now that our Fire Keeper has eyes again, all you need to do is beat the Soul of Cinder much like you would in the first ending. However, don’t light the bonfire. Instead, you’ll notice a summon sign nearby that will allow you to summon the Fire Keeper and break the link of fire for good.

If you so choose, you can let this final cutscene play out, or, if you’re feeling particularly heartless, you can take advantage of a brief moment where you can control your character and quickly step forward to strike the Fire Keeper down, killing her. Doing so will trigger an alternate ending for the End of Fire—but how will you ever sleep at night you monster?

The Best Ending – Usurpation of Fire

While bringing an end to the Age of Fire has its own delicious implications, it can’t hold a candle to the complicated Usurpation of Fire, which will require you to follow a specific set of instructions from very early on in the game. If you’re already deep into your playthrough, there’s a good chance you’ll need to start a new game in order to achieve this ending.

The first step of the Usurpation of Fire requires locating Yoel of Londor just beyond the first bonfire you discover before the Undead Settlement. Doing so will let you recruit him to help you back at the Firelink Shrine, and you should because Yoel sells sorceries for you early in the game. He has another more nefarious service he can perform which centers around “drawing out your true strength”. Doing so grants you a free level, but it also triggers a mechanic visually similar to becoming hollow in Dark Souls. You can do this five times, but you’ll need to obtain a certain level of hollowing each time. Go about your journey and as you die, your hollowing will increase. Drawing out your strength will also grant you a Dark Sigil. It’s important to not heal the Dark Sigils using the Fire Keeper if you gift her the Fire Keeper Soul, doing so will ruin the whole process. Make sure you have five Dark Sigils before you enter the Catacombs of Carthus, as Yoel will die prematurely, thus preventing you from acquiring any more.

Along your journey, you’ll encounter Anri of Astora and Horace on the Road of Sacrifices at the Halfway Fortress bonfire. Talk to Anri twice during this encounter and then head off on your merry way. Before clearing the Catacombs of Carthus, which lie just beyond the arena where you’ll fight Farron’s Undead Legion, you’re going to want to take a detour into the optional area called the Cathedral of the Deep. Clear this area out and once you kill the Deacons of the Deep, return to the Firelink Shrine to find Anri and Horace near one of the thrones. Exhaust their dialogue options and you’re free to head into the Catacombs of Carthus.

Inside the Catacombs you’ll discover Anri twice. The first time is near the staircase with the first rolling skeleton ball. Follow the path adjacent to the stairs to find Anri fretting about losing Horace. The second time is in an area with a large swinging rope bridge just before the battle with High Lord Wolnir. Instead of crossing the bridge, there’s a path that snakes along the edge of the pit where you’ll find them standing alone. It turns out Horace and Anri were separated and they’re terribly worried about him.

You can find Horace in another optional area called the Smouldering Lake. After crossing the bridge and drawing the ire of all the skeletons behind you, chop the ropes to cause the bridge to collapse. You can now climb down and fight your way into the Smouldering Lake. This area is dominated by a massive ballista that fires several harpoons at you in succession, so only run in the open when it’s reloading. From the entrance to the lake, hug the right wall until you eventually find a small cave which you can follow to find Horace. He’s a bit grumpy and will attack you, so go ahead and kill him. Head back to Anri and tell them where you found Horace and they’ll mention going there to look for him. Whether or not they do is up for debate, but you can safely defeat Wolnir and head on to Irithyll of the Boreal Valley.

Anri will be found in the Church of Yorksha bonfire where you need to exhaust their conversation options again. To the left of the entrance inside the church, you may find messages from other players in front of a group of statues. One of those statues is actually a hidden character that you should be careful not to attack as they’re crucial to this quest.

Once you’ve talked to Anri, you’re free to clear out Irithyll and take on Pontiff Sulyvahn. Once he’s dead, return to the Firelink Shrine and talk to Yuria of Londor (she’s where Yoel used to be) and exhaust her dialogue options. If you’ve done everything correctly, Yuria will inform you that your spouse awaits you in the Temple of the Darkmoon.

Back in Irithyll, head up the buttresses in the area behind the Pontiff, dodging the archer knights, and make your way into a hallway before the coiled staircase that leads to Anor Londo. There’s an illusory wall here that you can dispel, revealing a long hallway with a pilgrim like Yoel that will give you a sword. Walk forward to the altar room and use the sword on Anri and watch the cutscene. Head back to the Firelink Shrine and talk to Yuria some more and she’ll congratulate you and tell you to wait for the opportune moment to steal the first flame. After defeating the Soul of Cinder, touch the bonfire and enjoy the coolest ending in Dark Souls 3.

For more guides on Dark Souls 3, check out our boss guide or, if you’re feeling fancy, read up on how to become a fashion icon in Lothric.

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26 Comments

  1. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I don’t know that I’d call the ending the fire ending the “true” ending. Based on the dialogue about the cycle of Fire and Dark, letting the fire fade is only temporary.

    More Specific Spoilers/Theorizing

    Thus, Londor, founded by Kaathe, now seeks to usurp the fire’s power rather than merely extinguish it (which is what he urged in DS1). This is, presumably, an ever-lasting age of Dark, or something new. Reading up on Aldrich–his Soul, his weapons, things related to him–suggests that there may be an age of “The Deep” that may be what comes after the cycle is ended. He envisions this as a flood. An Age of Water? An alternate reading of an Age of Dark? Regardless, it seems that the Church of the Deep, led by Pontiff Sulyvahn, wants to ride out this apocalyptic event under the protection of Aldrich, who schemes to survive by devouring the gods and absorbing their power.

    • Magical Pedro says:

      on the ‘true ending’ topic, i just heard its called like that by the official guide, wich is said to be done by a specific game guide publisher who absolutly don’t get full intel by the devs. So it’s to be taken with some distance.
      Source : reddit, so don’t quote me on that.

      • Wiebels says:

        Yeah, if anything, the Usurpation of Fire is the true ending since it more or less breaks the cycle. The cycle consists of the flame going out and getting rekindled, however in the Usurpation of Fire you essentially become a Lord of Hollows and convert the flame into something that resembles a Dark Soul. The Dark Soul is what the Furtive Pygmy came into possession of in the events that transpired right before the first Dark Souls game. My guess is, just like how the Soul of Cinder is an embodiment of all the Lords of Cinder that have rekindled the first flame, your character becomes an embodiment of the Furtive Pygmy if you get the Usurpation of Fire ending. Since the Dark Soul has never been the main source of power in the world like the flame was, a different kind of cycle begins where the flame doesn’t have to be rekindled at the start of every new age.

  2. Fourvel says:

    Correction: When entering the smouldering lake, hug the RIGHT wall to find Horace in his cave. But I’m American, so maybe left and right are different over there.

    • Scumbag says:

      Just logged in to say this. It is indeed the right wall.
      You can hug the left wall if you want, but there is a rather big worm, and eventually a lot of big angry crabs, but you will eventually get to the cave if you take that route.
      Or you could hug the right wall.

    • Yukiomo says:

      Horace is infinite, though, so his precise location is as much a matter of opinion as it is of measurement.

  3. Kamahlk says:

    Is this seriously a picture of one of them? Really.. thanks.

    • njury says:

      “That’s where I come in. Armed with ***spoilerific*** knowledge, I’m going to cast back the mist and lay bare all of the ways your unkindled self can find some kind of resolution in the transitory lands of Lothric”

      What did you expect? That he would spoil but not spoil it for you?

      • njury says:

        I think now that perhaps the picture before the jump was changed, sorry.

  4. Kodaemon says:

    Change the screenshot. As fast as possible. Please. Thank you.

  5. bakaohki says:

    Hate me, but imo there’s no good ending. Only bullshit endings.
    1. light the fire. Cool, you lit the fire. Thank you.
    2. not lighting the fire (firekeeper): yeah, it feels like a genuine fuck this world, but then you are back to the firelink shrine and the blind girl says that she can see tiny fires far away. Like Dark Souls 4.
    3. kill the firekeeper and dunno.. hold the fire? Relight it? What was the point in that? No really. I mean I can kill her, she’s a virtual boring nobody (to me the only character who remotely felt alive was Greirat), but what’s the point? Apart from being so elusive and secrety…
    4. black wedding <3 <3 cute. Only problem is that if you don't read faqs, you will heal the curse, because curses are… not good? And there's no funny wedding for you. Such sadness.

    After ds1 and ds2 these endings were either silly or nothing special (or downright impudent, pissing on the player). Or I'm just getting tired of the franchise. Don't even get me started on Bloodborne's absolutely stupid endings, ahh, I felt cheated :( Now kick me, hurt me, tell me how I can't appreciate marvellous lore and so on.

    • Daniel says:

      You’re not wrong, they felt very light.

    • Palladian says:

      I don’t think you’re wrong, but were DS1 & 2 any better? In those cases too the endings are extremely brief and there’s really no conclusion to the games’ events. I don’t necessarily think this is bad, but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to be annoyed be them.

      • bakaohki says:

        Back in the days ds1 sacrifice felt like a suicide, which meant that the hero can eventually die, that felt good (I haven’t really read faqs or wikis back then). Ds2 gave you a shiny throne, you became the king and queen of the cosmos, kinda felt like a reward. But as I said, maybe it’m filling smg w meaning that was not meant to be filled.

    • quiggy says:

      “Bloodborne has bad endings” is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. They’re obtuse in that same way that Souls endings always are but all of them make a ton of sense and carry implications for the story:

      1. You accept Gehrman’s offer and are severed from the Hunter’s Dream. Daylight breaks over Yharnam, but its actual state is left a mystery.

      2. You reject Gehrman’s offer and sever him from the Dream. The Moon Presence, who conceived the Dream, overpowers you and forces you to serve in Gehrman’s place.

      3. You reject Gehrman’s offer and sever him from the Dream. The Moon Presence fails to overpower you because you have ingested the umbilical cords of the Great Ones, you kill it, and then you ascend to being a Great One yourself.

      What’s stupid about these?

      • bakaohki says:

        Okay, not really stupid, but it felt bitter on the verge of being cynical. Again, this is just a subjective feeling… the whole decapitation scene made me feel unneeded; in ds at least I can light the silly fire and can live happily ever after (for at least one cycle), plus at one point I just gave up on the lore, feeling that it’s not even on the level of Lovecraft (plus being way too fragmented and elusive for my taste), which again I consider cheap fiction. The only other game that made me feel this “bad” was Far Cry 4, telling the “hero” that there are no good decisions and the greatest mass murderer was himself. Or smg like that. Was not yesterday.

    • neoloki55 says:

      All of the Souls games have obtuse unsatisfying endings. It’s almost a tradition. The worst ending out of all of them is Demon’s Souls; regarded by many to be the best game of the lot. Not by me though.
      I was quite happy with the ‘true’ ending. It offered quite a bit to think about ans considere and it was a god damn bonanza of info compared to other Souls games.
      As for Bloodborne, the ‘learning to love the slug’ ending where you become a baby Great One was pretty damn cool to me. Also, the one where you wake up to light shining over Yahrnam was the happiest ending you can expect for a Souls game. I am prejudiced. I love all of these games. Fuck the ‘git gud’ mentality they are just rich experiences.

  6. fish99 says:

    Just finished my 2nd playthrough (not NG+), this time as a Pyro and holy crap it was so much easier than my first playthrough as 2-hand melee (DEX build with a Scimitar/Chaos Blade). Seemed like a DEX build just bad in this game and 2 handing got you almost no extra damage.

    The last few bosses just melted under a rain of great chaos fireballs. Nameless King, Dancer, Soul of Cinder, Lothric, Dragonslayer Armour, all 2 tries. Champion Gundyr, first try without getting hit. Sulyvan took ~10 tries, but on the successful try it died in under 30 seconds. With my DEX build some of those took hours and masses of successful rolls. They’ve never been able to balance these games for PVE.

    • bakaohki says:

      Exactly. Same here with sorcerer + rings. My strength build is still struggling in the endgame, sorcerer lady cakewalked through all the bosses.

      • fish99 says:

        Interesting you mention rings. As a Pyro, there were 3 rings I could stack for fire damage – pyro ring, greater pyro ring and fire damage ring. Where was the equivalent for melee? The best you got as melee was an i-frames ring but it made you extra squishy.

        My chaos fireballs were doing 670 damage to Lothric, and all I had to do was stay out of range and occasionally time a roll or two.

  7. dsch says:

    After dispatching him, take the lift down but walk forward enough and angle your camera so that you can see the doorway as it approaches. Jump off before the lift passes the ledge and you’ll walk into the Consumed King’s Garden.

    Or you could just take the lift to the bottom and then walk off like a civilised undead.

  8. Troubletcat says:

    The Cathedral of the Deep is not an optional area – you need to get the doll from the deacons in order to enter Irithyll.

  9. neoloki55 says:

    Dark Souls never ends!

  10. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Some say you won’t get the achievement for 2-“alternative”, that would be bad luck.

    I’m rather interested what the lore wizards will have to say about the shrine, interestingly even the messages are copied from the original shrine.

    Thanks to the sunbro who helped me with champion G and also to the naked katana guy who helped me even though I killed him and then Gundyr put him to rest for good.