I know I'm not the only one who thought the placement of bonfires—Dark Souls 3's take on checkpoints—was a little wonky, and now we might have an idea why. Dark Souls YouTuber Lance McDonald has built his reputation on uncovering all sorts of fascinating bosses, enemies, and systems that were removed from Dark Souls games prior to release. And in his latest video, Lance shows off a bizarre system he found hidden in an alpha version of Dark Souls 3 that allows him to sacrifice enemies and create bonfires just about anywhere he wants.
You should first watch the video above to see it all in action, but what Lance discovered is a massive insight into how Dark Souls 3 might've worked at one point in time. The idea is that sometimes slain enemies would emit an ominous glow the moment they died, indicating that these enemies suffered what's oddly called a "cult death." In the video, Lance can use the alpha version's debug menu to assign this parameter freely to enemies for the purposes of demonstrating what it can do. When enemies die a cult death, the player can then pick up their body and drag it anywhere in the world.
This system ties into another scrapped concept wherein players could "join a cult"—though Lance admits he doesn't know what that means or how to do it. Using a debug menu Lance can join one automatically, and there's seven to choose from that closely mirror the options players have when resting at a bonfire. When in a cult, like the one that allows you to level up, players can perform a "ceremony" on cult death bodies, which triggers an animation that essentially transforms the corpse into a bonfire.
The idea, I think, was that players could join a cult that would allow them to turn slain enemies into bonfires with limited usage. You might join a cult so that you can create your own bonfires to level up, or one that'll let you summon an NPC for aid.
But wait, there's more.
In the second half of the video, Lance demonstrates how these cult death enemies were also a key ingredient in a new way of invading other players. In the inventory menu, Lance discovered two "ceremony swords" that served an interesting purpose. One sword would let you invade another player's world, while the second sword eclipsed your world in darkness and opened you up to invasion from other players. PVP is obviously a big part of Darks Souls 3, and this system looks like one way players could've guaranteed themselves some PVP action.
Sadly, the system never made it into the game. But as Polygon rightly points out, it was obviously intended to be a proper feature considering a Dark Souls 3 statue first displayed at E3 2015 depicted the ceremony necessary to trigger the invasion. Oh well. You can see a video of the statue below.