Goodbye, linearity. Hello, unceasing nightmares.
Dark Souls 3: Halfway Fortress to Crucifixion Woods
This is where Dark Souls 3 stops funnelling you through a one way road and starts giving you some options. these include: dying in the wet, dying in the dry, getting lost, being murdered by invaders. If you’ve used an Ember, or haven’t died since the last boss, you won’t be safe even if you go offline: there’s an NPC called Yellowfinger Heysel gadding about in here and Fallon Keep. Try to murder him at least once for his sweet hat; summon a phantom to aid you if necessary.
Anyway, move on down the path from Halfway Fortress and take a look around. This area is full of yokels swinging tree trunks as weapons. You need to be wary of their attacks, but otherwise they’re no real hassle; the main thing to watch for is a sweeping attack they sometimes pull if you’re trying to backstab them, which will absolutely hit you even when you’re almost perfectly behind them. You’ll face two yokels as you descend.
There are loads of yokels roaming around down in the lower area, and the water is full of crabs (really, really not a problem). Clear out any you come close to, so you won’t be ambushed as you explore. Do not wander out into the swamp; the giant crabs are a real menace, and can’t be killed with arrows. You can damage them and make them burrow away for a while, which gives you a chance to do some conservative treasure hunting in the swamp. Most of the items are just Green Blossom, but there’s also a Grass Crest Shield fairly close to shore, which is definitely worth picking up. If you’re not tough enough to melee a giant crab yet, you might want to come back to this area later in the game to collect the rest of it.
Let’s start by doing a little optional treasure hunting in a dead end. If you’d rather just go straight to the next bonfire, skip down to the next heading.
From the bottom of the path leading down from Halfway Fortress, turn right and hug the wall, walking the border of the swampy area, to spot a dog and a yokel. Kill them and collect the Titanite Shard.
Go back and climb up the ramp again, looking back down in the direction you just explored for a series of ledges. Drop down to collect a Soul of an Unknown Traveller on the second one.
Looking ahead as if you’d dropped down to the next area, you’ll see a group of mushroom beetles – not a very tough enemy as they’re slow to respond. Unfortunately there’s also a crucifixion victim. These red-eyed guys aren’t so bad on their own, but they’re fast and aggressive and hit very hard; meeting them in pairs or near other enemies is painful.
If you want to cheese him, aggro him from your safe perch on these ledges and pick him off. You may need to drop down, aggro him, sprint back up the ramp till he forgets you, then drop down these ledges again to catch him patrolling. If you want to face him head on, then lure him towards this end of the area to avoid a swarm situation.
Past the first crucifixion victim you’ll face three more mushroom beetles and another crucifixion victim; you can repeat the same tactics if you have the Fear. However you get by him, go through the door, ignoring the locked gate and giant crystal lizard on your left. Look down the other corridor to spot a terrifying dark knight.
You don’t have to confront this guy head on if he is too much for you. Sneak along the right side of the path and you can get to an item glow with a full Sellsword gear set. From this area, shoot the dark knight in the back of the head and then freeze; he should stop halfway along the path to you (if not, drop down and leg it back the way you came, then try again). Now that he’s moved, drop down to grab the Sellsword Twinblades and move into the next room to collect the Farron Coal, a key item. Take it to Andre at Firelink Shrine to unlock Sharp, Heavy and Poison upgrades.
Return to the path you took from the Halfway Fortress bonfire.
To Crucifixion Woods
At the bottom of the path from Halfway Fortress, turn left and hug the left wall to enter an area literally crawling with four mushroom beetles. Trace the left wall from the ramp to find a Titanite Shard.
Keep hugging the left wall to find a narrow path leading to seven mushroom beetles, plus another two mushroom beetles and a yokel some distance away to the left; these may not aggro. This is a great place for area of effect attacks like firebombs, or big sweeps of your weapon.
Clear any other enemies here: there are at least three more yokels and a dog among the trees, and wandering yokels sometimes get close enough to aggro. When it’s clear, collect a Titanite Shard and a Twin Dragon Greatshield, then a Fading Soul near the stone pillars.
Pass through the pillars and curve around to the right and up to activate the Crucifixion Woods bonfire. Our next goal is the Crystal Sage.