So I hadn't actually dug that deeply into Prepare to Die Edition other than just reading the few articles announcing it and the initial trailer, and only now do I realize the true breadth of content they are going to be adding to the fiction.
If you go to the Dark Souls site and read about the areas and NPCs they are going to be adding to the game, and you know anything about the story of Dark Souls, then you should be as excited as I am because what From is adding has the potential to completely demolish our perceptions of the lore of Dark Souls.
I'm just going to lay this shit out so I can make it abundantly clear why this is going to be the best fucking shit ever.
Artorias the AbysswalkerEveryone knows about this by now. The dude is plastered over fucking everything.
For those who don't know, Artorias the Abysswalker is one of the four knights of Gwyn and had been tasked, either by Gwyn or perhaps of his own volition, with destroying the Darkwraiths who plagued New Londo. At some point he defected from his duty and made a covenant with Darkstalker Kaathe, the leader of the Darkwraiths, effectively abandoning his duty to become one of the very monsters he was hunting. It is his ring you take from Sif in order to traverse the Abyss and defeat the Four Kings of New Londo and he is tied deeply into the lore of Anor Londo, Darkroot Garden, and New Londo Ruins. In Prepare to Die he will be introduced as a new boss, and perhaps be one of the most important fights next to the battle with Gwyn himself. Through enemy descriptions we can see there will be a new enemy type known as Abyss Guards, so it could be that Artorias still resides somewhere within the Abyss itself.
Considering how big a player he seems to be in the events preceding Dark Souls, it was kind of weird how little we learned about him. He is the reason for the Forest Hunters existence and one of the few beings to ever survive the Abyss. Through Artorias we could potentially learn more about the stories of Great Gray Wolf Sif, Alvina, Lord's Blade Ciaran, the Darkwraiths, or perhaps even Gwyn and the other knights.
There is actually very little to say about the impact Artorias could have on the story because any revelation regarding him can't really be less than prolific. In many ways he was the last figure to have a major impact on the world before the arrival of the chosen undead and is in many ways as important to the lore as characters like Seath and the Witch of Izalith.
Oolacile TombIt's really weird how much focus seems to be on Darkroot in Prepare to Die, but fuck it I'm not complaining.
Oolacile was a peaceful neighboring kingdom of Lordran. They were incredibly advanced in terms of sorceries, having developed magics strange even to the eyes of the scholars of Vinheim. However, where as the scholars of the Dragon School focused on creating arcane tools of war, the mages of Oolacile practiced more docile magics used for hiding away rather than engaging their enemies. These include Hidden Body, Chameleon, and arguably Tranquil Walk of Peace. They seem to have been adept at the art of manipulating and controlling light as well as the magical manipulation of weaponry as is seen in the Enchanted Ember and spells like Repair. It seems sorcery may have had some religious aspect to it in Oolacile, the same way miracles do to the members of The Way of White and the clerics of Thorolund
The only reason we know jack shit about Oolacile is due to a single NPC, Dusk. Dusk is found in Darkroot Basin after defeating the Hydra. She is hidden away in the very back of the area, bound in the form of a Golden Crystal Golem. Once freed, she states that she is the last remaining denizen of Oolacile, a princess of the forgotten kingdom before it was razed to the ground in some unknown catastrophe. She was somehow removed from time, thrown into a distorted dimension by some force that is never really explained. The only way to contact her after freeing her from the golem is via summoning sign, a technique that raises more questions than it answers.
We know very little of Oolacile outside of speculations of what it was like and what calamity occurred there. The ruins seen around Darkroot are thought to be the ruins of Oolacile itself, this would include things like the tower containing the Moonlight Butterfly and the Stone Knights scattered around the forest.
Perhaps the most interesting detail though are the crystal golems themselves. Why are they in Darkroot, and why only around the Hydra where Dusk was sealed? The only other area of the game that contains these enemies is the Crystal Caves, the domain of Seath the Scaleless and the area in which the Primordial Crystal is housed. This item is the source of Seath's immortality, and the artifact he stole from the Everlasting Dragons during their war with the bearers of the Lord's Souls.
This, above all, raises some very big questions about Oolacile and its place in the lore. Could the dragons or Seath have been responsible for the destruction of Oolacile? Were the mages of Oolacile responsible for the creation of the Primordial Crystal? If not, are the golems there on Seath's behalf and if so what is their objective? Who sealed Dusk in the golem and why?
At the very least, I think there is a connection between Seath and Oolacile. Seath is said to be the grandfather of all sorcery, but I think this refers only to the sorceries of the Dragon School of Vinheim. Whether he was only digging through the ruins for research or was directly involved with the destruction of Oolacile, I think it impossible for Seath to not be involved with Oolacile in some way, and hopefully that connection will be explored in Prepare to Die.
It's also interesting to note that Seath's sworn enemy, Havel the Rock, was locked away in the tower right next to Darkroot Basin.
Hawkeye GoughThis is definitely the part I'm most excited about.
The official Dark Souls site states that Hawkeye Gough, another of the four knights of Gwyn, will be a new NPC included in Prepare to Die, not a boss.
That is a very very very big deal.
If Hawkeye Gough is a conversable NPC that would make him the only character in the game that can be spoken to, besides Gwyndolin, that was a resident of Anor Londo before the departure of Gwyn, and the only NPC in the game that knew Gwyn and does not attack you on sight.
That is huuuuuuuuuge.
Depending on the role he plays in the game there is no telling how much information could be gained from this single character. Does he know why Gwynevere and the other gods left Anor Londo? Does he know the current Gwynevere is an illusion created by Gwyndolin? If so, does he know why his fellow knight Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough remained to guard the fake Gwynevere? Does he know of Gwyndolin's conspiracy with Kingseeker Frampt to locate a chosen undead to link the bonfires? Will he be tied into the story of Artorias, shedding light upon the Abysswalker's betrayal or his relationship with Lord's Blade Ciaran?
There are so many questions that this single character could answer that it would be nearly impossible to even write them all down. He is a relic of a Age of Fire, perhaps our only chance to truly learn about the retreat of the gods and the fall of eternal twilight upon the halls of Anor Londo.
Perhaps even more importantly, Hawkeye Gough knew Gwyn directly. We're talking about a character that has not only met Gwyn, but also worked under and fought besides the most important entity in all of Dark Souls. The insight this single character could bring to the story is fucking ridiculous, perhaps even more so than Arotrias depending on how much players will be able to interact with Hawkeye.
Whatever happens, Prepare to Die Edition is undoubtedly going to change how we perceive Lordran and the story of Lord Gwyn.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, who knows what else could be announced.
I can't fucking wait for August.