General Overview: At first blush, this might remind a series vet of the Undead Burg from DS1, with its castle-like setting and regular hollow patrols along a bunch of towers and parapets. However, there is an important distinction to be made: its party-crashing dragon/wyvern comes much earlier in the level. And, hey, there are far less deadly drop-offs! Hooray for being killed by incompetence in combat rather than gravity!

Design Notes: This seems to be the first real sign of the game’s Bloodborne-style level design; in other words, the level loops around on itself in interesting ways, allowing for creative short-cutting once you understand the area. However, it does sprawl a bit around the edges, so it is not quite confident enough to give you just one bonfire until the boss.

I also really like the way decided to shore up the infamous Wyvern Cheese strategy from DS1—basically, being really patient and hitting it in the tail from the safety of the underbridge—by making sure this Wyvern takes none of that shit. There are many vantages from which the player can shoot the Lothric Wyvern, but it has a vantage on you,too,and its weapon of choice, fire and lots of it, is a good deal more effective than your puny arrows.

Nitpick: I find it a little strange that you warp here from Firelink Shrine, making it and Cemetary of Ash feel disconnected from the rest of the world. I’m beholden to DS1's holistic level-to-world design; it just feels strange to start the game and all of sudden be unmoored in space (and possibly time?). Maybe it’ll connect up with something later on.

Very Speculative Lore Notes: The weird corruption that infected Gundyr apparently has spread amongst the hollows and they seem to have embraced it as a religion of sorts. Watching them bow before the hollow-tree formations or transform/sacrifice their bodies to repel invaders gives them a touch of humanity. As to why they took up their cultish fascination with the corrupting force, I can’t say for sure, but I suppose it is analogous to doomsday cults. After all, they are hollow, doomed to a cycle of death and rebirth, slowly degrading in mind and body each time; ANY kind of change to the routine is bound to seem attractive.

The Tourism Board recommends: There has got to be something beyond that wyvern, right? They wouldn’t just put such a challenge in the player’s way just to short you on the loot, right? Someday, I’ll come back with a supply of burn cream and check it out.


The Misanthrope’s Pro-Tip: You likely know well enough to run for your life once the wyvern touches down, but you should also be wary of the two or three instances of the previously-mentioned hollow cult. If the robed guy starts swinging his lantern around and one of the hollows starts to transform, run in there and hit them hard!..It becomes a bigger pain after the corruption takes hold.