Dark Souls II Walkthrough, Part Forty-Four: Dragon Shrine - Ancient Dragon

Dark Souls II owned by Namco Bandai. Images used for educational purposes only.
Dark Souls II owned by Namco Bandai. Images used for educational purposes only. | Source

Woo! You've reached the end of the road kinda! The Dragon Shrine is the last location with new Bonfires in Dark Souls II, and true to that status it is blessed with some of the most difficult enemies in the game. Are you ready to embrace your destiny and take on what could be one of the most brutal (optional) bosses in Dark Souls history?

Dragon Shrine

- After crossing the bridge and entering this area, look in the structure to your left. The Shrine Entrance Bonfire waits to be lit. Climb the stairs next to the Bonfire.

- On this next floor is a knight. It looks normal enough, but it can fire lightning at you simply by swinging its blade. Be careful - and note, too, that the dragons passing overhead will knock you off your feet occasionally. Look in the building to the right of the knight's station to find a chest; it contains three Bonfire Ascetics.

- Back outside, look along the wall that faced the dead knight's back. You can burst through some barrels in front of it and find a path behind. There's a Pharros' Lockstone face here, and plugging in a Lockstone will reveal a secret door behind you. Check the chest back here for a slew of Wisdom gear.

- Continue up the stairs to the next platform. Another knight's up here, this with an enormous mace. Draw it onto the stairs and it'll have trouble hitting you. There's a magic user on a small tower above that will fire on you, and the stairs will help keep him out of range as well.

- There are two ways to advance. You can either go up the obvious set of stairs to your right, or through the columns to the left. I recommend going left; you'll only have to fight one knight on the way up, and at the end of the path you'll get to kill the annoying magic user bothering you. There's a chest by the knight containing a Twinkling Titanite, and a corpse by the magic user holds a Faintstone. You can also leap through a gap in the balcony up on the tower to a nearby platform; a chest up here contains a Drakekeeper's Axe and Greatshield.

- Hop back to the path. Ultimately you'll be facing two knights, one with sword, the other with mace. Lure one away from the other for an easier time. After taking them out, look behind you to see a mound of crates. You can roll through this to find a pit which contains two chests. Test them, as the right one is a mimic that'll attack you. The mimic drops a Washing Pole and a Petrified Dragon Bone; the other chest holds a Titanite Slab.

- There's a path behind the five pillars in this pit. Follow it and you'll find a small area guarded by a soldier with a huge hammer, its range matching that of many bosses. Fight him carefully by rolling towards and under his left arm. Check behind the pillars in the left of this tiny arena to find a Skeptic's Spice and a Twilight Herb.

- Enter the twin doors nearby. You'll wind up at the base of a tower, and an invader will appear somewhere above. Open the chest down here to find a Third Dragon Ring, then begin to climb the slope winding through the tower.

- At the top you'll find what looks like a small throne room, watched over by the invader. Kill him off - he's a careful greatsword wielder - and snag the Petrified Egg off of the pedestal. Check to the right of it, behind the pillars, for a chest that contains a Watchdragon Parma.

- Drop off the ledge beside the pillars. You'll wind up on a lower ledge beside the area where you fought the two knights earlier. Check the chest on this ledge for a Crystal Magic Weapon before hopping back down.

- Go through the door on the right. The stairs beyond lead to a much larger set of stairs, and up them two slow soldiers with greatswords and two much faster ones with axes. And even further up? Two soldiers with hammers and another with an axe. Yikes. If you plan to fight, do it slowly and methodically. If you plan to run, go straight down the middle, and roll whenever you hit a pair of soldiers.

- Through the archways ahead is an enormous dragon, the Elder Dragon. It will speak to you, quite cryptically, and when it's done it will fork over the Ashen Mist Heart. You need this relic to continue your journey.

- At this point, if you wish, you can leave in peace.

- Or...

Ancient Dragon

Yep, you can fight this thing. Just run up and thwack it a few times. And it's a boss, no less! What a surprise.

The Ancient Dragon is perhaps one of Dark Souls II's most frustrating bosses. Not because extreme skill is needed to beat it, or extreme power, but extreme luck. Few enemies in the game are so vastly overpowered as this thing, and consequently, it can murder you in a single hit - and in some cases there's almost nothing you can do about it.

The Ancient Dragon has the following attacks:

- A forward breath attack. Pretty simple - the thing breathes fire, similar to the Guardian Dragon. Unlike the Guardian Dragon, though, this attack will virtually always kill you if it touches you. Only characters laden down with the best armour, shields, and fire resistance stand a chance of surviving, and even then it will take a lot of guarding and stamina to come through on the other end.

- An airborne breath attack. The Ancient Dragon flies up, hovers over one spot, and launches fire down onto the ground. It covers a similar area to its normal breath attack, though the splash reaches far beneath the Ancient Dragon as well. If you're beneath the claws or the tail of the Ancient Dragon when it lands, it'll squash you.

- An under-the-chest breath attack. If you linger beneath the Ancient Dragon's front half, it will rear up and breathe beneath itself. This attack stretches far enough back that being beside its tail will still get you roasted.

- A crushing stomp. The Ancient Dragon lifts a leg and brings it down to flatten you. Probably the easiest attack to avoid, though like the others, generally a one-hit kill.

- An airborne flop. The Ancient Dragon flies up, looking as though it will breathe fire, and then quickly lands again. You won't know which attack it's going to use until it's in the air, frankly.

- A tail slap. If you're behin the Ancient Dragon it will slap its tail up and down to crush you. Easy enough to avoid, though the tail is very long.

The fire attacks are the primary threat. Get caught in the flames for even a second, fire protection or no fire protection, and you're dead. Sit amid them with protection and you're still likely dead, and the amount of stamina needed to last out the Ancient Dragon is considerable. Your best bet in most cases is to simply strip yourself of equipment, maximizing your manuverability, and equipping any rings that will increase your Stamina.

Begin the battle (assuming it's not your first battle) by dashing straight at the Ancient Dragon. Get beneath its chest before it can breathe fire, which is what it almost always does first. (If it decides to flap up into the air before launching fire, you're pretty much always dead. Yay!) Smack it around three or four times, waiting for its next attack, then respond as necessary. You want to be nearer its tail and hind legs to prevent its under-the-belly attacks, and this position will also allow you to flee when it flies into the air to breathe flame.

The key to survival here is to stay near the tail. Whenever it breathes fire, run for the tail. This will allow you to avoid the majority of its physical attacks, the occasional tail flop aside, and sweep up to swipe at the thing. The Ancient Dragon has a lot of HP, but it leaves so much time between its attacks that you can typically get in quite a few licks before it retaliates. Keep this nervous dance up until it dies. Painful, yes, but do-able.

It is possible to summon Vengarl into this fight, as his summoning patch is just outside the Ancient Dragon's massive perch. That said, he's not terribly helpful - though he's a great deal better at absorbing flame than you are. I recommend him mainly if you plan on hitting the Ancient Dragon from a distance, and want a distraction.

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