Lance McDonald is a Soulsborne sleuth. After several months uncovering cut content from From Software's PlayStation-exclusive Bloodborne, the indie dev-turned-hobbyist game engineer has now turned his creative hand to Dark Souls (opens in new tab).
McDonald's latest discovery, revealed via a series of tweets (opens in new tab), suggests Dark Souls 3 had players, at one stage in development, fighting Pontiff Sulyvahn and not Soul of Cinder in the game's final showdown. Moreover, the encounter was set in an unreleased version of Untended Graves, and not the Kiln of the First Flame.
Those familiar with the third Souls game will recognise Untended Graves as the optional area accessed beyond the Oceiros boss fight, that bears a striking resemblance to the Cemetery of Ash and Firelink Shrine. Likewise, Pontiff Sulyvahn is a mandatory boss who we meet in Irithyll of the Boreal Valley.
It's worth noting that, while intriguing, this is still pretty speculative. McDonald has pulled specific details from the files, but I couldn't say for sure that everything listed was part of the developer's original plan.
"Dark Souls 3 originally ended in the Untended Graves, but it wasn't the night-time version, there was third version," explains McDonald here (opens in new tab). "The last boss you originally fought there was later renamed to 'Pontiff Sullivahn' and moved to a different map, but Sullivahn was absolutely the last boss."
Here's McDonald's thoughts as they appear on Twitter (opens in new tab):
Eventually the 3rd version was totally cut, as well as the entire system for changing time-of-day on the fly. They just build a whole new map for the final confrontation in the end.April 18, 2018
"SnakeSoul" was deleted entirely, I don't have it's character file, so the game crashes when I visit its map, I just removed it's reference and the map loads fine.April 18, 2018
Here are the 3 states the "Graves" map could originally be toggled between using the Ceremony system. pic.twitter.com/S7q3r14SnZApril 18, 2018
After posting the above, another Twitter user (opens in new tab) shared this document (opens in new tab) with McDonald, which is thought have been recorded around Dark Souls 3's launch on March 24, 2016.
McDonald doesn't speak to every point made, but does say this (opens in new tab) of what's there: "I don’t know who wrote this, but I can verify huge chunks of it. I assume a QA tester on Dark Souls 3 leaked it."