General Overview: This isn’t your dad’s Firelink Shrine! Now we’ve got actual walls! And more of those vendors, subplots, and vendor subplots that you demanded!
Design Notes: It looks approximately what the original Firelink Shrine might’ve looked like in the past...or what it might look like if the far-flung (VERY far-flung, given the imprecise chronology of the series) descendants of Lordran decided to follow up on the legacy of the firekeepers.
Nitpick: While I like the idea of bringing back this area to reinforce the idea of cycles that runs through the series, it can’t help feeling a little fanwank-y.
Very Speculative Lore Notes: Everything in the intro cutscene seems to indicate that this is indeed far, far in the future, at some point of near-heat-death for the Age of Fire. I’m sure the emblematic coiled sword we use to restart the bonfire has some significance, but I couldn’t tell you what. I have no idea what the Fire Keeper and Shrine Handmaid do while they are waiting for someone to show up and fulfill their requisite destiny; maybe somewhere in the shrine there is a fully-stocked game closet.
The Tourism Board recommends: I mentioned the just out-of-reach ladder, right? How about those rafters? Or either of the towers? Given how often the player returns to this area, it is likely any secrets this area has will reveal themselves in time.