This area is mostly linear and is meant to acquaint you with the controls of the game. You can interact with the glowing marks on the ground to read controls instructions and intriguing messages (sometimes left by other players if you’re connected to the online server).
As the game starts you will see an undead enemy to the right and another one sitting a few paces ahead by a goblet of some sort. 1-2 hits should take them down.
A path leads to the right beyond the first enemy. Pick up the orb at the end of the path for a “Soul of a Deserted Corpse."
Go back to the broken goblet and pick up the orb there for an “Ashen Estus Flask.” These Flasks recover your Focus Point (FP) meter, the blue bar below your red Health Points bar. FP is used for casting spells.
From here you can go left, center, or right, each path containing the same undead enemies.
To the left is one undead enemy, same as the others, easy to take down, and then you are back to the center path. You will see an enemy with a crossbow, either block its attack with your shield, or dodge to the right or left as you approach to finish it off.
To the right, you will find one unaware enemy. Beyond that, two more enemies await. This is your first confrontation with multiple enemies. If you hadn’t killed the ranged enemy near the center already, watch out for its attacks as well.
If you choose to continue following the path to the right, you will come across the first difficult monster in the game. It’s a large lizard like creature with crystalline scales. If you’re inexperienced with Dark Souls mechanics, this may prove to be a challenge. You don’t have to defeat the crystal lizard at this time should you choose not to.
You can ignore the crystal lizard entirely and go back to follow the center path to the first bonfire. Or you could make a dash for the glowing orb in this area (while dodging the monster’s attacks) to pick up a “Soul of an Unknown Traveler” and dash back to reset its aggro (it won’t chase you beyond its lair). Or you could fight it.
The crystal lizard has several attacks you have to watch out for. If you’re close, the monster will use swipes and bites to attack you, so try to maintain a distance. If you see it raise its tail, it’s preparing for a tail swipe around it, so dodge backwards immediately. If you’re at a range, it may either roll forward, lunge forward, or use a breath attack: before the roll, the lizard will raise its head; before the lunge, it will lean forward on all fours; the breath attack will cause crystals to pop out of the ground. Be wary of the area of effect damage it does after a roll or lunge (crystals will pop out of the ground). Try to dodge its attacks, get a few hits in, run to a safe distance. Be patient, rinse and repeat. The monster will drop a “Titanite Scale.” If you haven’t already, you can pick up the orb nearby containing the “Soul of an Unknown Traveler.”
Head back to the main path and you will eventually approach the first bonfire of the game, Cemetery of Ash Bonfire. Light it and rest to replenish your Flasks and your HP. Every time you light a bonfire, all the monsters respawn, however! So if you are going back to an older area, keep in mind that the enemies you had killed before will be there again.
Just beyond the bonfire is one undead enemy. Kill it before moving on to the path on the right where you will face two more enemies. The path curves left to a very narrow one with two more enemies (one wielding spear and shield, and the farther one a bow). You can either face them right here or go around and kill the archer with a drop attack from above. At the end of this narrow path you will find 5 Firebombs that may be useful for the first boss.
Return to the path near the bonfire. If you proceed straight along this path, you will see an instruction on the ground on how to jump. Just beyond this path is a ledge. If you can successfully jump from this ledge, you’ll land on a coffin where you can pick up a “Titanite Shard.” If you can’t make it the first time, you can go back around and keep trying.
After you pick up the Titanite Shard, you’ll come to another ledge with an instruction on how to kill enemies as you drop. Use this method to kill the enemy below. You’ll approach a doorway with another ranged enemy. Avoid its bolts and kill it as you get close. From here you can either go past the doorway for your first boss battle, or go back around to clear any other enemies you may have left behind or to try that jump again to pick up the Titanite Shard.
Boss Fight – Iudex Gundyr
To start the fight, you need to remove the sword from Iudex Gundyr. As the boss stands up slowly, you can land a few hits to get some initial damage in. This is only possible the first time you activate the boss fight; if you die, the next time you approach the boss, he’ll already be standing there in the middle of the courtyard. Create a distance between you and the boss swiftly to learn its attack patterns.
Iudex Gundyr wields a huge halberd and as such has massive range. But its movements can be predicted when you see him swinging his halberd. He’ll usually chain a couple of attacks at once, so be on the move, dodge away from his halberd and forward to get a few hits in and run back to a distance. If you’re close to the boss, he’ll do sweeping attacks or thrusts. Be swift on your feet and dodge these attacks. When you’re at a range, he’ll do a lunge attack. It’s easy to dodge that attack and strike him a few times before moving away.
At around 50% HP, the boss will transform into his second phase (land a few hits while he is transforming). This gives him even more range than before. But the trick is to stay close and keep landing hits while you dodge his attacks. He hits harder and faster if you’re farther away. You can also use the Firebombs from earlier to attack him from a distance.
Destroying Iudex Gundyr, the Heir of Fire, will reward you with a Coiled Sword and restore your Ember. Light the Iudex Gundyr Bonfire and move forward through the door at the other side of the courtyard.
Just beyond the doorway you will see a corpse by a tombstone. Pillage it to receive a Broken Straight Sword. As you turn right you will see a path going up along stairs or another shorter one to the left around the bend. Eliminate the two undead enemies and pillage the orb at the end of the path for a Homeward Bone.
Go back to the stairs and continue up to kill the two enemies sitting by more tombstones. Just beyond that are two more enemies, one ranged and one spear-wielding. Eliminate them and move up the stairs to find the doorway to the Firelink Shrine.
Before entering, take the path to the right around the building. A hound will jump at you as you turn a corner, so be wary. Kill it and continue along the path to find a corpse. Loot it to obtain an Ember. Go back to the entrance to the Firelink Shrine.
Go around the corner to the left and go up the stairs. You’ll find a corpse stuck on a tree. Loot it to for an East-West Shield. Two enemies await you on the stairs as you turn right to go upwards. Keep following this path to find another Ember. Keep moving forward around the building to approach the end of the path where you will find another corpse. This will give you another Homeward Bone.
Go back to the tree where you found the corpse stuck there. You’ll see that an enemy awaits you beyond the stairs moving forward. It’s rather challenging at this stage of the game, so approach it at your own risk. You can always come back to fight it later.
Backtrack to the entrance to the Firelink Shrine. Enter the building and before you start interacting with the NPCs, head down the stairs to light the Firelink Shrine Bonfire with the Coiled Sword.