On October 25th, the lives of thousands of gamers are going to be challenged yet again with the release of Dark Souls 3’s first piece of DLC, Ashes of Ariandel. Not a lot is known about this expansion, other than a few glimpses and tidbits of trailers. However, judging from these trailers and by using our knowledge of the world from the first Dark Souls, we are able to make some educated guesses about the nature of Ashes of Ariandel.
Firstly, let’s start off with Dark Souls. The game introduces you to a world eons old, with dying gods, deposed lords, and the undead. Areas in the game are shells of what they once were, with nature and decay slowly taking back the world. However, there is one location that, while still crumbling, stands outside of the world of Dark Souls and offers itself as a safe haven for those who do not belong. The place in question is the Painted World of Ariamis, a snowy and cold home to all manner of abominations, including Crossbreed Priscilla.
Why did Ariamis create the Painted World? Was it to save or exile abominations? Priscilla’s Soul reads: "Soul of Priscilla the Crossbreed, trapped inside the painted world of Ariamis." Use of the word “trapped” insinuates being unable to leave, or existing there through no will of her own.
The game presents this world as being accessible through a painting found in Anor Londo, right beneath the Duke’s Archives, home to Seath the Scaleless. When the player first approaches the painting while in possession of the Peculiar Doll, they reach out their hand as if to touch the fabric but are instead absorbed into the world.
A similar action of stretching one's hands out to a painting is evident in the Ashes of Ariandel trailer. The character sits with outstretched arms, mimicking one either reaching to touch or showing reverence, but before any connection is made the scene transitions to a snowy world.
By extrapolating the significance of the first Dark Souls, the Painted World of Ariamis, and the order of shots in the Ashes of Ariandel trailer, it can be ascertained that the player will potentially visit a world similar to the Painted World.
If this is indeed true, there are several questions that arise, the first of which being: is this another painted world created by Ariamis? What could offer an even more interesting alternative is the existence of numerous painters, like Ariamis, who created several painted worlds.
Aside from parallels that can be found between locations in the first game and the yet-released Ashes of Ariandel, we can also create some assumptions based on the very first piece of Dark Souls DLC, Artorias of the Abyss. In October of 2012, the Artorias of the Abyss DLC was released for Dark Souls and introduced players to a world from thousands of years ago when the town of Oolacile once existed. This piece of DLC plunged the player backward through time to a point in the past where the spread of the Abyss was running rampant.
What was interesting about this piece of content was how the player needed to access it. Due to the fact that the DLC was accessible through a portal meant the player needed a means of traveling from one location to another with ease, so the Lordvessel was a requirement. This pushed access to the new DLC beyond the halfway point of the game.
If Ashes of Ariandel is anything like the first piece of DLC released in the Dark Souls universe, we can assume it’s likely that it will also be either partway through the story or at least not easily accessible from the start.
With Ashes of Ariandel looming just around the corner, now is the time to begin all the theorizing and contemplating about what awaits those of us who are up to the challenge. The similarities between the Painted World of Ariamis and what is shown in the Ashes of Ariandel trailer can hardly be disputed, but in saying that, what are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think we will visit the Painted World of Ariamis some time in the past, or potentially another painted world? Whatever the case, we’re certain Ashes of Ariandel is going to be an epic addition to the Dark Souls 3 universe. Though personally, I'm hoping it expands upon some of the lore presented in previous titles.
Australian writer who has a penchant for Souls games, an addiction to Destiny, and a love for the indie.