Dark Souls 3: All 4 Endings Explained - VRGyani News and Media

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Dark Souls 3: All 4 Endings Explained

Just as the First Flame gets rekindled each cycle, Dark Souls III reignited the fans’ passion for the Souls franchise, shaken by the mixed reception of Dark Souls II. So, it’s no wonder Dark Souls III brings back fan-favorite characters and iconic locations to give the franchise closure. And while the player’s choices are still central for the progression of Dark Souls III, for the first time, we can put a definitive ending on the Cycle of the Flame, should we choose to usher in the Age of Dark.

With four different endings — against two endings each on both Dark Souls and Dark Souls IIDark Souls III gives players enough tools to scrutinize its convoluted lore and find at least partial truths amidst a crumbling world. It’s time, then, to let the Flame finally die, discuss what each ending of Dark Souls III’s endings really means, and how the epic conclusion only makes sense in light of previous games’ events.

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A World Shaped by the Firelinking Cycle

The first Dark Souls presented us to the Cycle of the First Flame, reignited by Lord Gwyn when the fire was fading away, and the Age of Dark would be unleashed in the world. The two endings of Dark Souls present the player with the choice of trusting the Gods and sacrificing themself to the First Flame, or letting the Flame fade away so the world can go back to its natural order and humanity can finally rule in the Age of Dark. Dark Souls II, however, shows us how this choice is meaningless since you either become fuel or completely lose your mind by becoming Hollow, which means other people will be able to reignite the First Flame and extend the Age of Fire. You just can’t stop the Cycle.

Dark Souls III takes place in a far future, in a time when the Cycle of the Flame was institutionalized. Each time the Flame is fading, a new Lord is chosen and cast in the fire. The world works like this for so long that few people even question the process, and life goes on as each Cycle is shorter and the effects of prolonging the Age of Fire shatters the world. When Dark Souls III starts, the neverending Age of Fire was extended so many times that kingdoms from different ages crumble on top of each other. Time and space no longer flow naturally, shaping the ruined world in a distorted way.

It’s at this point where an Ashen One rises, a burnt corpse that was too weak to keep the fire burning but who’s still touched by the undead curse. Incapable of dying, and with a partially burnt corpse, the Ashen One explores the fallen empires, collecting the remains of Lords of Cinders, ancient champions who already sacrificed themselves to the First Flame. The Lords promised to burn again, should the world fall into ruins, but when the time finally came, each of them refused their fate, choosing to wait for the Flame to fade away. It’s your job, then, to force them to fulfill their oath by force.

The Ashen One is guided by a Fire Keeper, an order of women left behind by the Gods to ensure the Cycle is forever renewed. And so begins your journey to hunt down the Lords of Cinder, so you can use their remains to perform a ritual that leads you to the end of times. There, on the brink of existence, we can witness the cruel effects of Gwyn’s First Sin, as the world becomes nothing but ashes and ruins, consumed by a Flame that’s forever burning.

Guarding the First Flame is the Soul of Cinder, a representation of every misguided soul who cast themselves into the First Flame, including Gwyn. Defeating the hollow and maddened Soul of Cinder grants the player access to the First Flame, which he can rekindle once again. But how long can the world keep going if the Flame still burns? The destruction around the Kiln of the First Flame is a sample of what terrible future the unnatural Cycle brings. So, maybe, it’s to find other solutions.

Letting the Flame Fade is Not Enough

The One explores the ruins of once-glorious kingdoms during their journey, uncovering how the Cycle of the Flame brought powerful Lords to ruins. Should the Ashen One push forward in their quest to find the truth, the player might travel to another time, where the Firelink Shrine is covered in darkness. There, the player must face Champion Gundyr, a warrior chosen to rekindle the flame, but who unfortunately arrived too late to do his job.

As a weakened and corrupted version of Gundyr challenges the player before the Firelink Shrine in their timeline, it’s safe to say this Dark Firelink Shrine is a place from the past. Another hint that the Dark Firelink Shrine is in the past is the presence of the Shrine Handmaiden. If you talk to the merchant in the Dark Firelink Shrine, without ever talking to her elsewhere, she’ll then recognize you once you are back to the regular Firelink Shrine. That means the events that take place in the Dark Firelink Shrine happen before the events of the beginning of the game. Odd enough, that would mean the Flame was already extinguished before. Shouldn’t the Age of Dark have covered the world, then? So how come the Flame is still burning in the present if it already faded away in the past? The answer might lie with a (not so) fresh pair of eyes.

Inside the Dark FIrelink Shrines, the Ashen One can find the Eyes of a Fire Keeper, who witnessed the start of the Cycle of the Flame and still holds its secrets. Giving the Eyes to the present-time Fire Keeper allows her to see what the First Fire Keeper once saw, and a new ending is unlocked. Once the player defeats the Soul of Cinder, they can summon the Fire Keeper, and together they can put out the First Flame. In this ending, the Flame has faded, and the Age of Dark will soon begin. Nevertheless, the Fire Keeper warns the Ashen One that embers from Lords of the past will reignite the Flame in the future, and fire will once again burn in the darkness.

Graced with the visions of the First Fire Keeper, our guide reveals that letting the Flame fade away might not be enough. Gwyn’s First Sin changed the world forever, and there’s no escaping the eternal Cycle. Of course, the Flame might fade temporarily, just as it happened when Champion Gundyr failed his duty. The Age of Dark, though, cannot last forever, as Gwyn’s unnatural interference with the world order condemned everyone to a future of ruins.

There’s a third secret ending unlocked by the Eyes, in which the player kills the Fire Keeper and takes the flame for themself. In this ending, the desire to burn grows so strong inside the Ashen One that they succumb to their destructive cravings only to feel the warmth of the Flame. Thus, the world will keep going until someone else reignites the Flame, or it finally fades away. However, as we’ve seen so far, this ending doesn’t make any difference in the grand scheme of all things.

In this ending, the game recognizes players who are just concerned about killing everything on their path, unaware that their actions have consequences. It’s a nice nod to how Souls lore is complicated, but its combat-focused gameplay also attracts blood-lusting warriors that want to win at all costs. However, the most relevant ending of Dark Souls III gives the franchise a definitive conclusion, as the Cycle is finally broken.

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Unleash the Age of Dark

The secret ending of Dark Souls II offers some hope for the Bearer of the Curse by allowing them to keep their sanity as they hollow. The undead curse makes every human lose their mind in time, which is often why they desperately try to find a cure, casting themselves into the First Flame with no further reflection. Nevertheless, an undead who doesn’t hollow might take their time to build an empire that embraces the curse instead of fighting it. And that’s precisely what has happened by the time Dark Souls III takes place.

During his journey, the Ashen One hears about the far-away land of Londor, a kingdom of Hollows, where humanity can thrive despite the threat of the curse. Despite being undead, the humans of Londor have kept their sanity, being able to build an empire where a Lord of Hollows can finally rule once the Age of Dark is ushered in. Should the player let themself be guided by Yuria of Londor, they will find out the kingdom was built with the help of Darkstalker Kaathe, the same Primordial Serpent who warns the Chosen Undead about the lies told by Gwyn during the events of the first Dark Souls.

Instead of fighting for the control of the First Flame, Londor grew in the shadows, waiting patiently for the moment where they could find a solution to the Cycle of the Flame. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to let the Flame fade away, as embers will ignite once again in the dark. So, the Flame must be usurped. Guided by the religious order of the Sable Church of Londor, the player can perform a series of rituals that strengthen their Dark Sign, a brand on their skin connected to their humanity. And as humanity is nothing but shards of the Dark Soul in the Souls mythology, this gateway allows the player to use its primordial power to absorb the First Flame. Thus, the Flame will live on inside the Lord of Hollows as a source of energy that ensures the Age of Dark will never end, and humanity will finally take their place in power.

The rituals performed by the player to reach the Lord of Hollows ending are questionable, as they involve human sacrifice. No ending could give the franchise a better conclusion, though, as, since the first installment, these games are about faith and morality. At its core, Souls lore is about believing in a higher power and following a set of rules with no question or embracing the darkness inside our heart that tells us morality is relative and we are free to choose our path.

Order versus Freedom, that’s the struggle at the center of the Souls series, and both can be equally destructive. But if humanity is to take their place as ruler of the world, they must embrace their curse and accept they are capable of terrible deeds to keep their power, burying the Gods that stand on their path. It surely is a dark franchise.

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