Hello happy hollows, welcome to another set of pointers and tips for the second piece of Dark Souls 2 DLC. I’ve already offered some advice for Crown of the Sunken King, so go and have a read of that if the ghosts are still bothering you, but this article will deal with some of the trickier aspects of Crown of the Old Iron King.
It’s not a full walkthrough because those are dry as the Iron King’s ash piles, and I trust competent Souls players to be able to figure out the basics of exploring areas and opening interesting chests. But you may very well want a few hints to make parts of this rather difficult Dark Souls 2 DLC a bit more approachable. That’s what I’m aiming for.
If the Crown Fits
So, when should you try Crown of the Old Iron King? As with Sunken King, the flippant answer is “whenever you unlock it.” A more realistic answer is “towards the end-game sequence.” It’s full of tough enemies, hard bosses and devious ambushes. One particular (optional) bit even requires the Ashen Mist Heart from towards the conclusion of the game, suggesting From thinks players should at least have that before attempting the DLC. I tend to agree. For a first time run you should a late-game character with fully upgraded stuff. Unless you enjoy a bit of Dark Souls 2 masochism, obviously.
Entry to the DLC is beyond the primal bonfire in the Iron Keep. Anybody who owns the DLC should have a Heavy Iron Key in their inventory for opening the relevant door. If it’s not there, try unchecking and re-checking the DLC box through the Properties/DLC tab of Dark Souls 2 in Steam.
Bowing to Pressure
Do make sure you have a bow. It’s not quite as crucial as it was in Sunken King, but Crown of the Old Iron King provides multiple situations where you can sit safely above an enemy or two and snipe away at them from afar. There are also plenty of ambushes, where it can be handy to lure some foes out and then pick them off with arrows. Cowardly? Perhaps. Sensible? Yep.
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If you’ve got some fire arrows, those can be helpful too. Failing that …
Love the Burning Glove
Pyromancy! The vast majority of enemies in Crown of the Old Iron King are resistant to fire stuff, as you’d expect from guys who hang around in ash mounds next to furnaces. However, there are several instances where being able to trigger an explosion from afar can be awfully handy. The DLC has at least two or three rooms where hollows carrying barrels of explosive materials can be nudged into rooms full of enemies and ‘encouraged’ to ignite. Sometimes there’ll be a larger enemy leaking lava from his armour that’ll set them off for you, but it’s useful to be able to control the situation yourself.
I found Flash Sweat to be helpful too, for those areas where you need to dodge through flame traps or go toe-to-toe with something doing fire damage.
If you’ve done anything in the DLC, you’ll have noticed the weird glowing red idol things that look kind of like a freaky, misshapen skinless lady. Those are fragments of Nadalia, the Bride of Ash. They exhibit annoying area effects like casting pyromancy spells at you, or cursing the room, or making enemies come back from the dead. Nadalia Idols are jerks and you should stab them with an item called a Smelter Wedge (moving up close will give you an option to Examine and then use the Wedge, if you have one.)
Sometimes the best option is just to make a suicide beeline for the Idol and try to get it destroyed before the accompanying enemies inevitably destroy you.
Here’s the thing, though. There are 11 Idols throughout the DLC and 11 Smelter Wedges. But you can only get the final Wedge (and thus her whole soul) from an optional boss, and you’ll want to save four of them for Crown of the Old Iron King’s mandatory boss to prevent him healing. In short, that means tactically leaving one of the Idols alone until the end.
Leaving the very first one you encounter alone isn’t a bad idea. Once you’re past, it can’t do much to you. If you already disposed of that one, then another couple of options to ignore until later are the Idol in the area through the locked door behind the main furnace controls near the Foyer bonfire, or the Idol down the cursed tower/hole where Maldron the Assassin invades. The former area has the pyromancy Fire Snake while the later gets you the Majestic Greatsword. If you can wait to grab either of those, you don’t need to deal with the respective Idols immediately.
Six of the Smelter Wedges are easy to find. Dark Souls 2 basically gives them to you at the start of the DLC, before you walk across the big chain to the first bonfire. Four others are at the very top of the main tower, which can only be reached once the lifts are operational (we’ll get to that shortly.) Follow the lifts up as high as you can go. It’s easiest to do this from the second bonfire. Head upwards until you have the choice of going through a locked iron gate (towards an Idol and multiple red phantom invaders dressed like the Mad Warrior) or travelling in the other direction. Opting for the other direction will lead you to a series of corridors with fire traps and enemies, with a chest at the very end containing four more Smelter Wedges.
The final one can only be obtained after entering an Ashen Mist memory and beating up optional boss Sir Alonne. We’ll get to that shortly too.
Lift Me Up
Getting the lifts/elevators working again is going to be your immediate goal after reaching the Foyer Bonfire (the third one you come across.) You’ll need the Scorching Iron Scepter, and to reach that you should leave the foyer room by pretty much the only available exit that isn’t the way you came in. It’ll lead you downwards to a set of corridors lined with spikes on one side and flaming bull heads on the other, surrounding a larger gated area full of gunpowder barrel hollows.
Activating the levers as you go will open up sections of the gates, allowing you to get a bit further each time. Your ultimate goal is to get beyond the big Iron Warrior bastard with the leaky lava armour, which will also require you to defeat some rather irritating Fume Sorcerers. Hitting the bull head flame traps can make them move, which (with luck) can take out some of the Sorcerers for you. Once you’ve got the gate next to the lava armour guy open, his fate is pretty much sealed. He’ll wander around in the gunpowder area and inevitably kill himself. The spiked corridor just before him (with the two Fume Sorcerers in it) has a section that can be blown up by a gunpowder hollow to reveal a chest with the Catarina Gauntlets and Leggings in. Since Sunken King provided the Helm, it’s pretty likely that Ivory King will include the Chest piece somewhere.
Anyway, once you’re beyond the big guy (and that’ll open up a passage back to the bonfire so you don’t need to do it again,) you’ll see a chain path to a tower spurting our flame. You probably saw it at earlier points in the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC, too.
This tower is full of weirdo crawling beasties who like to leap at you. I recommend setting them on fire (pyromancy helps again here) and then encouraging them to do their “oh god, gonna explode” move while you run away. This works particularly well in the room at the bottom of the tower that’s full of the creatures. At the point where you fight the Red Phantom named Rachel, the doorway you want to go through is left-most one (at roughly 11 o’clock) when stood at the bottom of the ladder and facing away from it. From that same standing position, the door at around 4 o’clock contains a chest with a new Hex and a Fume Sorcerer ambush.
The bottom-most room with all the crawling critters in it also contains the Scorching Iron Scepter.
Now the lifts are working, you’re almost free to explore at will. You should first head downwards from the foyer on the lift and then find an entranceway that leads (ultimately) to the Tower Key. It’s at the very end of an ash field that likes to pop out three big lava armour guys. You can lure these one at a time back to a room that has a few gunpowder barrel hollows in it, or just try to grab it while dashing around.
The Tower Key will open a few gates and doors around the DLC, including the way to the Iron Passage and Sir Allone (at the very top of the tower.)
Running on Fumes
To reach the main, and only mandatory, boss of the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC, take a couple of lifts downwards from the foyer. You’ll reach a sequence of areas where you’re above those Ashen Knight chaps and can snipe them from above (or drop down and honorably face them in combat, whatever your preference.) Eventually you’ll reach a door guarded by yet another big lava armour fellow. Beyond him, there are several enemies who won’t stay dead when you kill them, so I recommend just running beyond them all until you reach another downward lift. This will take you to Fume Knight’s happy home, which has four Idols at each corner of his arena. Destroy these with Smelter Wedges to prevent him healing during the fight.
There’s a bonfire in the furthest right-hand corner, though watch out for a couple of lava armour enemies popping out of the ash at you (again, you can opt to run past these.)
A Fume Good Knights
Fume Knight is hard. He’s the kind of boss where you start trying to figure out if there’s a new ring or armour set-up that will break him, but there really isn’t. The trick to beating him is that there is no trick. It’s Dark Souls basics. Learn the attacks. Get the patterns down. Spot your openings for attacks and healing. Dodge, dodge, dodge. Then die a lot until you get it.
He has two ‘phases.’ A first phase where he dual wields a skinny sword and ultra greatsword combo, then a second phase where he tosses the smaller sword away and infuses the greatsword with what I believe is some kind of fire/dark combination. At this point he also picks up a couple of new moves; the slow (your) left-to-right sword sweep and the area of effect explosion thingie with added flame balls. They’re both kind of a pain.
During the first phase, try to dodge to his left/your right. Treat him a little like The Pursuer. His skinny sword swipes are fast, but fairly easy to dodge through (they can be a single, double or triple combo ending with a poke.) The greatsword swings have a pretty sizeable ‘tell,’ so after a bit of learning they’re not too awful either. Watch out for being a bit over-keen to dodge after the quick sword swipes, because there’s a bit of a pause as he winds up the greatsword for a swing or an overhead.
At around half heath he’ll strike a pose and move into phase two. You can hit him a bit while he poses, he’ll take pretty decent damage.
The second stage is rough stuff. He’s fast, and now his sword hurts even more. For the standard combo stuff, try to keep dodging as you were before (your right, his left.) But when he breaks out the slow sweep (signified by the high pitched sound,) dodge left. Don’t go too early. It took me ages to get the timing down on this, because you have to leave the dodge quite late. For the AoE attack, get out of the vicinity when he shoves his sword in the ground and watch out for the flame balls. These can usually be dodged under, or (if you’re lucky) you’ll just be stood where they’re dispersing into a gap. Again, there’s no trick here really, it just takes practice.
Unlike the majority of the Sunken King bosses, I’d recommend doing this one solo. The NPC summons are (again) a bit crap and just serve to give Fume Knight loads more resistance, usually dying just as he reaches the more dangerous second phase. You may have more luck with a human summon, but that person (or people) will really have to know what they’re doing. Finding openings to strike at Fume Knight’s back while he’s focusing on others can be tricky, because so many of his moves have a sweeping arc that’s difficult to judge from behind. It’s perfectly possible, just not necessarily a great deal easier than soloing him.
As the text suggests, I did this as a majority melee character, double-handing a weapon (a mace) and dodging like crazy. Use whatever rings can boost your damage output (consider Flynn’s from the Sunken King DLC if you have it and aren’t planning on wearing much armour. Rings of Blades is good too.) If you’re a pure caster I really have no idea what the best strategy would be. Still a whole lot of dodging and finding windows to lob spells, I imagine. Problem is, Fume Knight seems pretty resistant to most things outside of straightforward physical damage (and he’s a little vulnerable to lightning.)
If you want some specific practice with Fume Knight’s second phase, pop on Velstadt’s helmet. He hates the guy and will begin the fight in his infused greatsword state, allowing you to learn those moves with a bit less pressure.
After you beat Fume Knight (and it took me about three hours so, uh, good luck,) it’s possible to face Sir Alonne. Take the lifts up as high as you can go, beyond the multiple Prowler summons. Then use the Ashen Mist Heart on the now glowing armour. There’s a bonfire right next to the armour too, which is good because the run to reach Sir Alonne is a pain in the balls.
The good(ish) news is you can probably ignore the warning about remaining inside memories for too long. I’ve dicked around in there for ages and never been thrown out, so either the time limit is very generous
or there just isn’t one (update: there is one, but yes it’s quite long.) It’s up to you whether you want to clear out the Alonne Knights en route to the boss or just try to run, but if you opt for the latter bear in mind that the ones with bows will follow you down the tunnel to the fog door and keep shooting you in the back. Which is a bit irritating, really.
After Fume Knight, Sir Alonne isn’t actually all that horrific. I mean he’s still really hard. Just not three hours of my life hard.
He attacks somewhat relentlessly, but quite a few of his moves have the good old “hold a Samurai pose after a big sweep” allowing you to poke him once with whatever weapon you happen to be holding. Every now and then he’ll trick you by hopping out of that pose into another attack, so watch out for that particular combo. Dodge pretty much every charge he makes diagonally and to your right (his left.) The timing on this one can be a little tough, because it has a comparatively long wind-up time.
Do just the same for his closer combos and the kick. Diagonally to your right, straight under his swipes. Same goes when he starts jumping. Just dodge beneath him to the right and get in a swipe while he’s landed. That’s also a decent window for recovering stamina or healing. Beware the slightly slower charged-up dark damage poke of death where he impales and waves you around like a parade flag. If you survive, that’ll buff his weapon. You don’t want that to happen.
Rather than double handing, I used a basic shield for this one too. It means you’re doing less damage, but having the shield as an emergency measure if you mess up a roll or something can save your life. If you’ve got all the timing down, you can just double-hand.
Again, this is largely a melee tactic because that’s primarily what my character is. Time the dodges. Diagonally to the right. Poke. Repeat. Break for stamina recovery or healing in a poking window where necessary. Whittle the bastard down.
Right Up Your Iron Passage
To reach the second optional boss area in Crown of the Old Iron King, make sure you have the Tower Key and take the elevator down from the Foyer bonfire. Open up the locked gate you find here and keep going down.
Remember how the run to Sir Alonne wasn’t especially fun? Well, the Iron Passage is a whole new level of suffering. You can either try to run a demented gauntlet through some tightly packed corridors jammed with enemies before a gate closes, or you can try to run through slightly more open areas that include mages who cast slowing spells on you. Or, I suppose, you can attempt to methodically clear each place out. There isn’t really a foolproof method, unfortunately. Summoning some friends helps, as this is an area that’s pretty co-op focused. The downside to this is the sizeable buff it’ll give to the boss.
Update: Having played this section a little more, if you’re summoning help and the phantom runs to the end of the first corridor they probably want you to open the gate for them (so they can clear out some of the magic users on the upper level.) Do it, it makes things easier! Also, if you’re wanting to try to dash through the gate sections on your own, try to hug the left wall. That seems to help, as long as the weapon in your right hand isn’t too large (if so, it might get caught in the fire explosion from the salamander.)
None of the loot in here is really worth bothering with (it’s basic consumables,) except some large titanite shards hidden inside one of the cells opened by the first lever.
Once you make it to the fog door (usually by some force of luck) your reward is a rematch with Smelter Demon. He’s back. This time in magic form.
You should essentially use Smelter Demon tactics for this guy (obviously,) but bear in mind that his attacks now do magical damage as well. Toxic mists work against him a little bit. The most challenging aspect, other than his increased damage, is that some of the attack timings have also been changed. If you’re used to the speed of original Smelter Demon’s combos, you’ll have to re-train your brain to dodge correctly. His sword-flame seems to inhabit a larger area now too, unless I’m just imagining that.
Best the Blue Smelter, and your Crown of the Old Iron King journey is complete. Unless you fancy farming up a Fume Sorcerer set or trying to get the stylish Minotaur Helmet to drop from the giant iron warriors.
Join me again next month when I’ll inevitably be writing about the twists and turns of Crown of the Ivory King.