The dark and dank Catacombs lie in tunnel in the graveyard of Firelink Shrine. The area is populated by living Skeletons that are being kept alive by the Undead Mages that also reside here. It's here you'll acquire the ability to kindle bonfires further than previously possible from the area's boss: Pinwheel. It then leads on to Tomb of the Giants.
- Blacksmith Vamos - This blacksmith can modify +5 normal weapons into fire weapons and also +5 fire weapons into chaos weapons once you obtain the relevant embers.
- Patches the Hyena - A rogue and merchant. (If you head to the catacombs before Reah and her companions he'll be here. If you don't you'll meet Patches in the Tomb of Giants later.)
- Gravelord Nito - Leader of the Gravelord Servant covenant. Technically he's in the Tomb of Giants, but the way to access and interact with this covenant is through The Catacombs.
The Catacombs can be accessed right at the start of the game once you escape from the Undead Asylum and arrive in Lordran. You'll find the entrance tunnel in the graveyard that's accessed via the side exit of the flooded ruin in Firelink Shrine. While it's accessible very early, the journey through the Skeleton infested graveyard may be too much to bear for low level characters, and once you get inside things get even tougher due to the limited visibility in most of the area and the skeleton enemies that refuse to stay dead after you kill them - the Undead Mages that also reside here will bring the skeletons in their vicinity back to life until you kill them.
Before you attempt to journey in it's advised that you have the following, but they're not essential:
- A Light Source: Such as a Sunlight Maggot (found in Lost Izalith), the Cast Light sorcery and the ability to cast it (available from Dusk in Darkroot Basin) or a Skull Lantern (found in the Tomb of the Giants and also a rare drop by Undead Mages). The area has limited visibility in many parts of it, so these can help greatly. Also, the area after the Catacombs, the Tomb of the Giants, is even darker and having one of the above light sources for here is highly advised.
- A Bow and Arrows: Some of the Undead Mages can be seen early but are out of reach, so a bow comes in quite handy for taking them out. If you don't have ability to take them out at range then you'll have to journey through the Catacombs until you're close enough to take them out with melee, which often means fighting through hordes of respawning skeletons to get to where they are. Once an Undead Mage is dead he won't respawn.
- A Divine Weapon: A ready-made example is Astora's Straight Sword, but any other +5 normal weapon ascended to Divine status by Blacksmith Andre will also do. Finish off a skeleton with one of these and it'll stay down, without the need to kill the Undead Mage in the area first. Employing such weapons allows you you take your time in exploring the Catacombs, rather than racing to stay ahead of the relentless Skeleton horde while you look for the local Undead Mage.
Note: There is a shortcut that skips a huge portion of The Catacombs which is accessible quite early on. Please see the 'Shortcut' section below the walkthrough for further information.
Note: Several statues throughout The Catacombs are trapped. They will shoot 3 blades out of their chest, you will notice that the trapped ones have extra piece on the chest.
Note: Although a light source is recommended in the advice above, the Catacombs are largely no harder to navigate than Blighttown (although a light source is needed for the Tomb of the Giants). As defeating the area boss grants the Rite of Kindling (allowing kindling for up to 20 Estus Flasks) and is relatively easy to beat, players may wish to complete this area as soon as they have access to a divine weapon (Anor Londo in particular is less threatening with more than 10 flasks). Players concerned about being able to take on the skeletons (an early encounter after arriving at Firelink Shrine can make them appear scarier than they really are), just spar against the Firelink Graveyard mobs to test the water.
Upon going in the tunnel from the Firelink Graveyard you'll notice that the light in the area lowers significantly as you go in - equipping a light source (outlined above) is advised from this point on if you're finding it hard to see. Continue on to find a descending staircase that lines the wall on the right with a large hole to the left of it. There are two Skeletons on this stairs - these are the standard enemy of the Catacombs and, as outlined above, initially they will not stay dead for long. Only a Divine weapon will kill for good them at the minute, otherwise they'll simply get back up after a moment once you kill them and proceed to chase you again. Also be aware of the three Wisps that are floating around the hole - they'll close-in on you should you get too close, so ensure you keep an eye on them as you proceed down the stairs and get away from them immediately as soon as you see them begin to shake and glow red in order to avoid the large explosion that will soon follow.
Continue on and you'll enter a room on a ledge with another Skeleton and a ladder to your left. Down the ladder and going forward you'll find a doorway to your left that is nearby by three more Skeletons who will form as you approach. Through the doorway and at the end of the resulting passage you'll enter a room with another doorway to the left, a panel at the end of the room and two more Skeletons that will form as you approach them. The panel at the end doesn't move right now, so go in the door to the left. Go down the ramp in here to find a bonfire, a lever and your first Undead Mage - these enemies have low HP and only one form of attack (a fireball that they shoot from their Skull Lantern), so they should be easy to take care of once you're up close to them. Also, once they're killed they don't respawn and with them dead all the local Skeletons in the area will now die for good using any weapon, meaning that the Skeletons you met up to this point can now be more easily dispatched. With the Undead Mage and Skeletons dealt with, rest up at the bonfire (if you wish) and activate the nearby lever - this will open the panel mentioned above to allow you to continue.
Past the new opening you'll be in a more outdoor area with a ramp descending down to your left. Look to the right though to notice another Undead Mage on the ledge across the gap and getting him now with arrows will make things easier. Once he's dead, go down the ramp and take out the two Skeletons on the way down before crossing the bridge at the end to the right and entering the doorway.
It's not the biggest damage, but it can surprise you as you limp back to the campfire.
After you cross the second bridge (Necromancer + 2 skeletons) the wall to your right is broken, enter the room and walk slightly to the left and you will fall to a lower level. The lower level corridor is flanked by statues so roll or use your shield, after a couple of meters you will see two crystal lizards, finish them quickly or save and reload. At the end of the corridor go up stairs and explore the room, you will fall close to the second switch.
There is a handy shortcut at the second bridge. As you are crossing the bridge, visible below there is another level within safe falling distance. Drop down to the left toward the end of the bridge and enter the hallway. This will lead to the second bonfire as well as much faster access to the blacksmith.
HINT: Darkmoon Seance Ring can be found BEFORE you enter the fog door. From the second bonfire, cross the bridge, go down some stairs and kill 2 skeleton warriors. In this room there is a wall you can break. Two archers will begin shooting at you. Drop down and there will be at least one skeleton warrior waiting. Keep going and a Giant Skeleton will drop from the ceiling. After killing him you can safely get the ring.
When you enter the tombs after the second bonfire, you will be able to find a titanite demon. It is the same as the one you fought in the parish, weak against lightning though it's likely to shoot lightning at you. If you can a summon a friend, it will certainly help to stand on either side of the demon, attacking while the target blocks. You can join the Gravelord Servent covenant by using one of the coffins in the room (the one that sticks out the most). Stepping in front of it will give you a prompt, hit the 'okay' button, and wait in it for 30 seconds, you will see a first-person cutscene, and then you will be in a spacious room where you will meet Gravelord Nito (look around for the giant coffin), speak to him to join the covenant.
[Strategy guide says you must have the Eye of death to visit him. Eyes of death can be found from the basilisks/cursed frogs from The Depths/Sewers or the Great Hollow. Use the Covetous Gold Serpent Ring to increase the drop rate for easier farming.] You will find 3 of them on the body at the end of the room.
Past the titanite demon, you will descend a couple of ladders. Keep an eye out for tiles which will crumble under your feet. You can avoid them by staying near the walls. If you do fall through, you will land in a small room with an axe-wielding Black Knight overlooking a ravine filled with bonewheel skeletons. Note that getting too close to the holes will cause the Black Knight to notice you, and he will greet you after you descend the ladder and reach the ravine floor.
The ravine floor can be extremely dangerous thanks to the bonewheel skeletons which patrol around. These enemies have a very large aggro range, and will charge (rolling attack) the player repeatedly. Blocking the charge is usually not effective, since the attack continuously hits the shield and can drain stamina rapidly. The best bet is to remain close to the outside walls and either dodge or block and sidestep to allow the wheel to roll past and hit the wall. Two quick attacks should finish off the skeleton, but be wary of any additional mobs since your back will now be turned to oncoming assaults.
If you have defeated the Black Knight in the small room overlooking the ravine, an easy way to deal with the wheels is to drop into the room from above, and step out onto the small ledge above the ravine. Wait a few seconds until 3-4 of the wheels have spotted you and are clustered around the base of the ledge and toss a few fireballs (1-2 should do it). The splash damage should easily take out all 4 skeletons and greatly increase your chances of reaching the boss in one piece.
NOTE: If you're in human form, and drop down to where the Cleric set is found, you can summon Paladin Leeroy. Leeroy can easily do over 30% of Pinwheel's health with his hammer if he two-hands it, and can tank almost anything for you, making this fight pretty easy if you summon him. Later on in the Tomb of the Giants, if you're in human form, Leeroy will be summoned as a black phantom to charge you.
The boss of the area is Pinwheel, a caster which will summon several copies of himself. Off the start, only a few copies will appear, but he will summon more and more as the fight goes on. You should focus on him, since he'll continously summon new copies until death.
Climb up the ladder on the back right of the Pinwheel's lair and try not to panic in the dark. Loop back towards the entrance and you can drop back down into the tunnel which led you to Pinwheel (you will also find a Large Soul of a Proud Knight on a corpse at the end of the tunnel, right before you drop down). If you follow the prism stones, be prepared to get tossed around like a little girl by Giant Skeletons and their Giant Skeleton Dogs in the pitch black of the Tomb of Giants.
There is a shortcut from the bonfire that can cut the catacombs experience down to mere minutes. Starting at the first bonfire you will have to exit into the chasm and run along the first ledge until you reach the bridge going right. Walk to the end of the bridge, then walk onto the small ledge to the right of the opening of the next cave. From here, you can see a platform down below across the gap. Be wary of your health before rolling across, as it takes a large amount of health to survive the fall. Immediately estus up and hop down the ledge to the right of the broken bridge, you should land on the outcropping below. This area contains the large soul of a nameless soldier as well as the soapstone sign for Paladin Leeroy, who can assist you in the upcoming boss fight if you are human. From this ledge you can either hop down to the next for the cleric starter set, or leap towards the boss hallway on your right. You can tell the direction to go by the light coming from the boss's hallway. Sprint to the fog avoiding bonewheels and proceed through the fog gate. Enemies can not pursue you through the gate, so this is a good time to catch your breath before the boss fight. If all is done efficiently this trip can get you to the boss gate in under 5 minutes.
- Easy access to the Rite of Kindling for new characters.
- Does not require divine weapons, or hunting down necromancers.
- Estus can now be more easily conserved for the boss.
- Lower time in the map means lower odds of being invaded by other players.
- Players using this shortcut will not encounter the necromancers and in doing so not find their dedicated Skull Lantern drop.
- The player will not encounter Vamos, and so will not gain access to his services or tunnel entrance until properly encountering him.
- Loot is bypassed (Obviously)