Dark Souls: The Dragon

The first real challenge area in Dark Souls is called the Undead Burg. It’s a series of buildings and towers and battlements that are all part of a large castle on a bunch of cliffs. At its end is a wide stone bridge leading to a massive gate leading out to the next area. That bridge is guarded by a dragon.

The dragon is red and spiky, and it breathes intense blasts of fire down the bridge. The closer you get to the dragon, the more damage you take from the fire, until it’s completely unsurvivable. This is one of those bosses that you’re not meant to actually fight on first encountering it. Halfway along the bridge there’s a stair down, which lets you clamber along the bridge’s supports until you find a way up, on the other side of the gate. (The gate cannot be opened from the outside, which makes perfect sense — it’s part of the defensive structures for a castle!) You can still see the dragon from the other side. You can climb up a tower nearby and look down and fire arrows at it, for all the good it does — they do damage, but only a little, and you definitely don’t have the resources to buy enough arrows to kill it at that point. No, you’re really meant to just put it behind you.

But all the same, I kept coming back to it every so often. There are times when you have no Humanity and very few Souls, and thus little to lose from challenging something likely to kill you. “Who knows? Maybe I’m strong enough by now.” I wasn’t. Lately, I hadn’t done this in a while, due to making encouraging progress elsewhere in the game — I seem to finally be slightly ahead of the difficulty curve. But then I noticed that I had somewhere picked up the Black Iron armor set, which gives very strong protection from fire (this being the reason it’s blackened), and in addition had access to an unlimited source of Twinkling Titanite, the substance needed to upgrade it.

Even with this protection, defeating the dragon took multiple tries and a certain amount of strategizing. I found it more effective to lure the dragon down the bridge and hide in a niche while it approaches than to try to charge into its flames. I found I needed a weapon that arcs upward, which is the one big failing of my trusty halberd. But in the end, the dragon was gone, and I could finally reach the other end of that bridge.

And the reward for this accomplishment was… marginal. You get 10000 souls for killing the dragon, which would have been a substantial boon earlier in the game, but at this point I can get that much in a single grinding loop. You get to open that gate, providing easy passage between two places that I have no reason to go to any more. And there’s a bonfire I can warp to. And that’s basically it. The difficulty of this fight is so out of proportion to its rewards that it really reinforces what I already knew: that the dragon’s purpose is not to be fought, but to be circumvented.

1 Comment so far

  1. malkav11 on 10 Apr 2022

    There’s actually one more reward, but you have to do a specific thing (which can be achieved without actually killing it). That reward is extremely useful in the early game but you probably wouldn’t want to use it at this point anyway.

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