Dark Souls: Archthrones, an ambitious total conversion mod for Dark Souls 3, got its first substantial gameplay trailer (opens in a new tab) January 4. The 15-minute video showcases three levels from the mod, as well as the team’s approach to combining remixed content from across the Soulsborne games with new, custom assets.
The gameplay trailer begins in Rainswept Outpost, Archthrones’ own “you must die in this tutorial before you reach the hub area” level. Fittingly, it ends with a gnarly HD tribute to Demon’s Souls’ Vanguard, complete with oozing bug eyes and spider legs sprouting from its chest. The player wakes up in the Nexus of Embers, a green, warmly lit redux of DS3’s Firelink shrine, after being predictably pancaked by the burly boy.
It reminds me of the look of the Ringed City, otherwise those ruins (opens in a new tab)from 2D Sonic games. Curiously, the sculptor from Sekiro can be seen hanging here, presumably acting as a merchant, and the titular archthrones all have the Golden Order Greatsword from the Elden Ring as warp pointers to the individual levels.
In a big ole’” Leo Dicaprio points excitedly at the screen (opens in a new tab)Currently, the second level on display, Ruins of Blue, aka Heide’s Tower of Flame from Dark Souls 2, has been ported to DS3’s engine and given a stormy makeover.
This game also reveals that Archthrones will have a variant of the Elden Ring’s sentinel mechanic, with the player’s shield flashing on blocking blows from a wandering Heide Knight. In Dragon Rider’s boss room from DS2, the player instead finds a nimble crow-themed mini-boss with the moveset of Nightjar Ninja from Sekiro (you know, the wooooo guys (opens in a new tab).)
The level then deviates from DS2, with the path to No Man’s Wharf instead leading up a new tower behind the original level. At the top, the player enters an arena seemingly lifted from the bottom of the Irithyll Dungeon and faces the Disgraced Knight, a boss with Iudex Gundyr’s moveset, a fresh coat of paint, and some surprise tricks like throwing out Estus-blocking Lloyd’s Talismans.
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The last level to appear is War-Torn Village, an autumnal reflection of DS3’s Undead Settlement with new enemies and an alternate path through the level. After fending off a Bloodborne Executioner re-gone to look like Basuzo (opens in a new tab)the player enters the Curse Rotted Greatwood’s arena and finds the Angelic Wall Guardian, a riff on the first Dark Souls’ Iron Golem with some new tracking projectile attacks.
The whole thing mostly reminds me of classic room hacks like Kaizo Mario (opens in a new tab) or Undertale creator Toby Fox’s Earthbound Halloween Hack (opens in a new tab). There’s a ton of potential in creating a sort of Dark Souls Master Quest out of pre-existing content, and Archthrones is further elevated by its custom art, models, lighting, and music.
If the notion of a Dark Souls total conversion sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Nightfall (opens in a new tab)a similarly impressive upcoming fan-made sequel to Dark Souls 1. Archthrones currently has no release date, but you can follow the mod’s progress on YouTube (opens in a new tab) and support the creators on Patreon (opens in a new tab).