Firelink Shrine is the central hub area for players and NPCs in Dark Souls. Similar to the Nexus featured in Demon's Souls, this zone connects to several additional areas that may be explored by players in a non-linear fashion. Upon arriving at Firelink for the first time after leaving the Undead Asylum tutorial area, the player is greeted by a Crestfallen Warrior who advises that there are two Bells of Awakening in Lordran that must be rung per the ancient Undead prophecy, giving the player their first objectives. Anastacia of Astora, a mute prisoner, also appears in this area; she is a Fire Keeper, the maiden attendants of certain bonfires found throughout Lordran. As the player progresses through the game, it is possible to encounter additional NPCs that will eventually gather at Firelink to provide further support or conversation.
Firelink Shrine connects to the Upper Undead Burg, as well as the flooded ruins of New Londo and the Catacombs. Several shortcuts can also be opened that provide easier access to Undead Parish and the Lower Undead Burg from Firelink. Players may eventually return to the Undead Asylum by climbing up to the gigantic bird nest atop the Shrine's ruins.
The primordial serpent Kingseeker Frampt sleeps beneath the flooded ruins of the Shrine and will appear after the player rings both Bells of Awakening. His emergence opens a hole in the Shrine's floor, allowing players access to Firelink Altar, a large subterranean chamber containing a set of stone doors that lead to the Kiln of the First Flame and Gwyn. These doors can only be opened by placement of the Lordvessel, which must be filled with the Lord Souls of Nito, the Bed of Chaos, Seath the Scaleless and the Four Kings.
Dark Souls III
A version of Firelink Shrine also acts as the central hub for players and NPCs in Dark Souls III. Unlike the shrine in Dark Souls, however, this one is completely cut off from the rest of the game's main areas. The player has to warp using the bonfire to reach all the other levels. Its appearance is also radically different from the original's, this time actually having a large shrine structure that houses the thrones of the Lords of Cinder and the many NPCs that come and go throughout the game.
Lighting the bonfire within the shrine requires the player to thrust the Coiled Sword taken from the body of Iudex Gundyr into what appears to be a smaller Lordvessel. The player may also burn Undead Bone Ash in this specific bonfire to increase the amount the Estus Flasks recover.
A nameless Fire Keeper tends the flame and allows the player to level up. The Shrine Handmaid sells consumables, key items, and equipment, offering more wares upon receiving ashes. Blacksmith Andre can also be found here, providing smithing services such weapon reinforcement and infusion. The player may also have Andre increase the number of Estus Flask uses by giving him an Estus Shard, as well as allot the number of uses between the Estus Flask and the Ashen Estus Flask.
Sitting on his throne is one of the Lords of Cinder, Ludleth the Exiled. Upon receiving the Transposing Kiln, he will trade unique weapons and equipment to the player for boss souls.
Hawkwood, an Unkindled warrior, can also be seen sitting on the steps. True to Souls tradition, he laments and mocks the would-be fate and purpose he and the player character shares as Unkindled. He also provides some information on the kingdom of Lothric and the whereabouts of the other Lords of Cinder.
Behind the shrine is a tower where Fire Keepers are taken to upon death. The bridge that leads to the tower lets the player access the roof of the shrine where they can trade certain items with Pickle-Pee, Pump-a-Rum, the unseen crow.