Dark Souls 2 secrets guide: shortcuts, estus shards and more

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Article by Glenn Butera

Like Dark Souls' Lordran, Dark Souls 2's Drangleic is a world packed with secrets. There are secret paths to ferret out between areas. Bosses that you may never face in a normal playthrough. Estus flask shards and Pharros' Contraptions and Souls Vessels to find. We've compiled a guide to Dark Souls 2's most vital secrets. If you're just starting out (have you read our beginner's guide?) or a seasoned veteran, you'll find a wealth of useful information for your journey through Drangleic.

Want to skip ahead to a specific part of our secrets guide? Click one of these links to jump to the information you're looking for, whether it's the location of every single estus flask shard in the game, a list of the most important Pharros' Contraptions, or the NPCs you absolutely must talk to.

Page 2: Estus Flask Shards and Sublime Bone Dust
Page 3: Pharros' Contraptions and Soul Vessels
Page 4: The most important NPC merchants

Check out our Dark Souls 2 hub for more guides, a ton of 4K screenshots, videos, and analysis of the PC version from Dark Souls modder Durante.

Level Shortcuts

Looking to take some time off your speed run or skip a tough boss fight? These helpful shortcuts will quickly and safely lead you through the world of Drangleic.

Entry to The Lost Bastille: There are two ways to reach The Lost Bastille.

Finish No-Man’s Wharf and use the ship to get to the Exile Holding Cells bonfire.

Use the Soldier’s Key (obtained from The Last Giant) on the door in the giant sword room of the Forest of Fallen Giants. Head up to the ramparts and defeat the Pursuer. Continue past the boss fight area and you will find a nest up a small set of stairs. The Pursuer’s eagle will take you to The Tower Apart bonfire.

Ruin Sentinels boss skip: This skip requires the Exile Holding Cells bonfire and a Pharros’ Lockstone.

Head down the ladder after the Heide knight and turn right. Break through the wooden planks on the wall and head to the opposite corner of the room. Strike the locked door with your weapon to get the Royal Swordsman to open it from the other side. Defeat the enemies in this area and head into the next room by climbing up the short ladder outside and falling through a window. Turn right and use a Pharros’ Lockstone in the next room. The further of the two secret rooms will open and have an elevator cage to take you up to the entrance to Sinner’s Rise, or you can backtrack down the staircases to the Servants’ Quarters bonfire.

Smelter Demon boss skip: In the large lava room that leads to the Smelter Demon boss, lower the bridge using the lever and halfway across drop off to your left. Turn the wheel to close off the fire from the kiln room and enter the kiln from either doorway. Climb the ladder and kill the Alonne Knight Captain to reach the next area.

Shrine of Winter: There are two ways to reach the Shrine of Winter.

Open by lighting the Primal Bonfires after defeating The Rotten, Old Iron King, Duke’s Dear Freja, and The Lost Sinner.

Acquire a set number of souls in a playthrough (e.g. if Soul Memory entering NG+ is 2,500,000 you will need 4,500,000 additional souls to enter the Shrine of Winter): NG: 1,000,000. NG+: 2,000,000. NG+2: 3,000,000 and so on up to NG+7: 8,000,000.

Helpful Hints

Drangleic is a dangerous land full of challenges waiting to steal your souls. There's lava that will kill you. Phantoms that will kill you. Poison that will kill you. Here are some tips to survive some of Drangleic's toughest environments and save your souls even in death.

To safely walk on the lava rocks in the Iron Keep, use the Pharros’ Contraption water pools (roll in them), Flame Quartz Ring +2, and the Smelter Demon armor. Make sure to use an Estus Flask while on the lava before opening any chests.

There are three Rings of Life Protection that you can acquire throughout the game that will allow you to keep your Human Form and Souls upon death. The rings only cost 3000 souls each to repair, allowing you to nullify death.

  • No Man’s Wharf: At the top of the second set of stairs with the Varangian Sailor throwing oil jars, turn left and the ring will be just inside the house in an alcove.
  • Shaded Woods: Take the left doorway at the Ruined Fork Road bonfire and go all the way around the circular stone structure to find the ring guarded by 2 Goblins.
  • Felkin the Outcast: Sells for 6000 souls

If you do not have any White Phantoms summoned you can quit the game in a boss fight.When you reload you will be placed outside the boss fog gate.