Welcome to Skeleton Land.
Dark Souls 3: Abyss Watchers to Catacombs of Carthus
In previous Souls games, the first time you head into dark tunnels is where the difficulty ramped up. Stay calm! It's not as bad as it looks.
You can make your life much easier down here by carrying a weapon with strike-type damage, such as a club or mace. Many skeletons will fall to pieces with a tap, allowing you to change to your main weapon and do some serious damage before switching back to give them another little tap. This is a very good way to avoid taking damage from the deadly shotel skeletal knights.
From the Abyss Watchers bonfire, approach the altar at the back of the room, which will slide away to expose the entrance to the catacombs. Thus begins our long trek to the first bonfire.
As you explore, be aware that NPC phantom Knight Slayer Tsorig stalks these halls; you may want to stay in phantom form. On the other hand, if you kill him or even if he kills you you’ll get the My Thanks emote.
Head into the catacombs and turn left at the crevasse, moving towards the item glow. A skeleton will rise up at your feet. Put it down – and then put it down again when it reanimates (just once) a moment later. Pick up the Carthus Rouge.
On the bridge ahead is a red-eyed skeletal knight. These impressive warriors vanish as they roll around you, and have a nasty attack where they roll at you, attacking continuously, while invisible. For best results, lure it back to the bonfire where you don’t have to worry about falling off the ledge. Duelling isn’t so hard as there are nice openings after combos and strikes, and you can get behind for a back stab. They usually drop Titanite Shards.
As you approach the arch on the other side, a skeletal archer will attack from the ledge on the left. A skeleton and a one-armed skeleton (the helicopter type, remember?) will come rushing out of the arch. The archer is a real pain, and will trouble you through multiple battles ahead, so snipe him if you can.
Inside, head for the stairs opposite the entrance. A headless skeleton attacks; these are a bit stronger than he small skeletons, and you need to watch out for its vicious criticals. A skeleton and a one-armed skeleton animate ahead and behind you once you climb the stairs.
Head towards the skeleton archer’s ledge and kill him if you haven’t already. Go down the nearby corridor, but watch for a pressure plate; it fires bolts from the far wall. Walk around it and head for the ladder. Grab the Soul of a Nameless Traveller at the bottom.
Continue along the corridor until it opens into a large room; if you're quiet you can ignore the enemy at the far end - it's a nasty skeletal knight with a shotel, the toughest regular enemy in this area. What you want to do is attack the wall immediately to your right as you enter the large room beyond, opening the path to a one-armed skeleton guarding the the Carthus Pyromancy Tome; it reanimates once so be careful. Return this to Cornyx to unlock new pyromancy spells. One the ledge outside you can grab a Titanite Shard and poke arrows at the shotel skeletal knight, if you like.
There's a sharp gem in the room with the shotel skeletal knight. Once you've grabbed it, do not advance into the room beyond, but backtrack to the ladder; there's a better route.
Climb back up the ladder and follow the platform around, walking past the stairs you used to get to this ledge. Head towards the item glow in the distance. Two headless skeletons attack. There’s a Soul of a Nameless Soldier at the end of the path. There’s also an opportunity to cheese two skeletal knights below.
Go back the way you came and down a second set of stairs to where the two skeletal knights were (or are), battling two one-armed skeletons on the way. Collect a Titanite Shard from a corner.
There are three exits from this room. The one opposite the stairs down to this lower area leads to Anri of Astora, but there are four skeletons just inside the doorway. Advance slowly to aggro them in two batches, then run down and exhaust Anri’s dialogue. Move past your pal and look for a Crystal Lizard; it’s very easy to fall off the ledge here if you’re not careful, and a skeletal archer across the way will begin to snipe you, so be careful. There’s also a Blood Red Moss Clump to pick up. Move to the opposite edge from the item glow and study the opposite area for another skeletal archer in addition to the one that can aggro as you chase the lizard; you can snipe them both from here if you like, but it’s a pain. What you actually want to do is take note of the series of ledges leading down to the bottom of the ramp; you may want to use this shortcut a bit later.
Return to the room with three exits. The one pretty much opposite this one leads back to the skeletal knight with a shotel you saw while grabbing the pyromancy tome earlier. There's nothing past him but the path back around to the ladder we used earlier, so feel free to leave it.
The final exit leads to a ramp. There’s a skeleton and a one armed skeleton on it, but they’re not your problem. Your problem is the skeleton boulder that starts rolling down this slope after you hit the half way point – and the archers who fire at you as you sprint down the ramp ahead of the boulder, if you didn’t pick them off already. You can get safely to the bottom of this ramp either by standing on the little circular ledges with the torches, or just by sprinting for the left side of the platform at the bottom; you'll be safe from arrows down there. This platform is where you'll land if you take the ledge shortcut mentioned above, so you don't have to fight through all those skeletons again.
Do not relax once you're down here: the boulder comes right back, and continues rolling up and down. Amazing scenes. If you look back you'll see an item glow part way down the stairs; it's fairly easy to get to it from either direction, but we don't remember what it was, except that it didn't feel worth the trip. We'll update after we've double checked.
Through the arch at the bottom of the ramp, you can duck into little alcoves on the left and right. There’s a skeletal mage standing just inside the entrance on the right; if you murder him, the boulder stops. Make sure you don't let him run away from you - he goes around the corner, and there’s a pack of enemies there. When the mage dies and the boulder collapses, you’ll get an Undead Bone Shard.
Head around the corner very slowly and retreat when the bones rise; there are two skeletons and a one-armed skeleton, which is bad enough, but if you move too far and don’t back off fast they’ll bring their pal with them – a bomb skeleton. He throws bombs that do magical damage – dark, we think – and release two projectiles on impact. They hurt a lot. Also, he reanimates once. There’s another bomb skeleton around the next corner.
If you look across to the opposite balcony as we explore this area you’ll spot a number of skeletal knights. Don’t bother to cheese them; we’ll hit a bonfire before we get over there. There are two exceptions, which we’ll point out.
Advance and look for a room on your right filled with urns. Now, we know you want to go rolling – but do not. Many of these pots are traps filled with the same projectiles as the bomb skeletons release. There’s a pressure plate right in front of that item glow at the back, too, which fires deadly bolts – which in turn break more trapped urns. Be cautious, and you’re reward is the Carthus Milkring. Good for skeleton cosplay.
There’s a pressure plate trap in the corridor just ahead of the room of urns. It fires bolts from the opposite wall. Before you go past it, look across to the other side and cheese a skeletal mage to stop a later boulder. Again, before advancing much past the pressure plate, peer just ahead and right to spot the skeletal knight in the next room; you can lure him out and ping him with bolts if you’re quick and clever. He reanimates once.
Look over to the other side again before advancing. There’s a skeletal knight archer (what will they think of next) here. You will want to take him down from here if you can, because otherwise he’ll shoot you as you explore.
There are two skeletons in the room on the right where the skeletal knight was, but they’re nothing; the two skeleton knights in the tunnel ahead on the right are a much greater worry. If you enjoy merry japes, that trap in the corridor is still a thing. Watch out for the broken railings at the end; you don’t want to drop down ahead of schedule.
Don’t bother trying to snipe the rats below; the hitboxing on the geometry here is complete bollocks. Proceed down the corridor to the two skeletal knights were patrolling instead. The item glow ahead is on another pressure plate which will trigger bolts, so be wary collecting the soul.
The next item glow is an Ember, but also: there’s a huge hole in the floor. Don’t fall down; take the side path instead. Advance slowly, as a skeletal boulder will spawn shortly. If you killed the mage earlier, it won't come back. You can then safely collect the Large Titanite Shard from nearby. Head down the corridor and turn left to activate the Catacombs of Carthus bonfire, but be aware that resting will reactivate the boulder and the mage is out of your reach for now.