Bandai Namco has finally taken the wraps off the first of two downloadable expansions for Dark Souls III, and like much of this dark fantasy trilogy’s presumed finale, it’s looking kind of familiar. Called Ashes Of Ariandel, this new chapter sees players entering a snowy world to, as the game’s publisher writes, “defeat the evil that has defiled this land.” But in true Dark Souls fashion, there’s a lot more going on with this announcement than that vague description lets on. Fans who’d rather go in completely cold might want to sit out for the rest of this discussion.
As the rabid lore-hounds of the Dark Souls community have pointed out, the trailer includes plenty of hints about the DLC’s story and setting. The snowy landscape, especially the rickety bridge the player character is seen crossing, is very similar to The Painted World Of Ariamis, a secret area of the first Dark Souls where society’s outcasts find sanctuary inside a magic painting. Its unclear origin and connection to Velka, the Dark Souls pantheon’s most enigmatic god, has made The Painted World one of the series’ more intriguing loose ends. Given that players might be diving back in and perhaps even meeting the world’s creator—a character who, in the trailer, appears to be eyeing up the magical canvas is called “The Painter” in a piece of official concept art—chances are good that we’ll be getting some answers when Ashes Of Ariandel launches on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 25.