Game-sized Dark Souls 3 mod Archthrones just got a demo release you can play now, and it's the coolest fan-made project I've ever seen

Dark Souls: Archthrones
(Image credit: Dark Souls: Archthrones Team)

What you need to know

  • Dark Souls: Archthrones, a massive game-sized, community-developed mod for Dark Souls 3 on PC, just got a demo release that you can play now. You'll find the download link below.
  • Archthrones is set before the events of Dark Souls 3, and includes five "new and reimagined" worlds, 17 boss fights, and tons of new armor sets, voiced NPCs, side quests, game mechanics, and more.
  • The demo for Archthrones allows you to play through the first level of each of its five worlds.
  • Notably, Archthrones uses a private server, so you don't have to worry about getting banned for playing it. This also means co-op is supported, though things like PvP invasions won't be possible until support for them is added at some point after the mod's full release.

Pretty much every Soulslike fan in the world is counting down the days until the Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC releases in June, but it's not the only project to be excited for. Dark Souls: Archthrones — a gargantuan conversion mod for the PC version of Dark Souls 3 that's been in development for nearly four years — has gotten a free demo release, out today.

Created by dozens of skilled community programmers, writers, artists, musicians, and voice actors, Archthrones is essentially an entirely new game built on top of the final entry in the Dark Souls trilogy. Inspired by the structure of Demon's Souls, the mod will feature five distinct "new and reimagined worlds" to play through in any order, along with 17 new boss fights, plenty of new armor sets (with cloth physics), new voiced NPCs and side quests, and even some new combat mechanics. Elden Ring and Dark Souls 2 fans will recognize guard counters and power stancing, but we're also getting what sounds like Lords of the Fallen-style perfect blocks as well as "deflection, backstep guard cancelling, and various rebalances and fixes to nearly every weapon class in [Dark Souls 3]." Awesome.

The demo for Dark Souls: Archthrones is available to play now (you can download it on Nexus Mods; installation instructions are included in the files), and you can dive in provided you've got the required Dark Souls 3 Ashes of Ariandel and The Ringed City expansions. Its release was accompanied by a sweet trailer you can watch via the embedded video below.

Dark Souls: Archthrones' (non-canonical) story is set before the events of Dark Souls 3, prior to the fading of the First Flame but after Prince Lothric's choice not to link it. In it, the Fire Keeper built the Nexus of Embers — AKA, Firelink Shrine — in response to Lothric's decision, and received special Archthrones from "the lords of each great land." As her Emissary, you will "travel to each of these distant lands and struggle through the dangers that await" in an effort to acquire "a great many souls" and commence the linking of the fire.

In the demo, you can play through the first level of each of the mod's different regions. Notably, there's no need to worry about being banned, as Archthrones hooks into its own private server instead of FromSoftware's official ones. This means that co-op with other players is fully supported, though "duels, invasions, and other multiplayer activities" won't be possible until an update scheduled to come sometime after the mod's full release.

Speaking of the release date for the full experience, it's important to note that it hasn't been revealed yet. However, we may see an announcement come soon now that Archthrones' demo is out, so keep an eye on the mod's official website, X (Twitter) page, and YouTube channel.

This looks like one of the new 17 bosses you'll be facing off against in Archthrones. (Image credit: Dark Souls: Archthrones Team)

What the Dark Souls: Archthrones team is putting together here looks nothing short of incredible. The amount of community talent that's coalesced for this mod is amazing, and honestly, it might be the coolest fan-made project I've ever seen. I loathe the fact that I have other things to write today, because right now, all I want to do is jump into the demo and play the hell out of it.

Both the demo and the final version of the mod are/will be completely free-to-play, but if you want to support the team behind it, don't miss the Archthrones pages on Ko-fi and Patreon. There's also an official Discord server for the project, which I recommend joining if you want to talk about it with other players or report bugs you encounter in the demo.

You'll need the PC version of Dark Souls 3 and its two DLC expansions to play Dark Souls: Archthrones. The Dark Souls 3: Deluxe Edition is the most affordable way to get what's required if you don't own any of it already (and you should, because Dark Souls 3 is amazing and one of the best PC games); if you have the base game, you can buy each DLC for $15 or a Season Pass that includes both of them for $25.

Dark Souls 3: Deluxe Edition | $84.98 at GMG (Steam)

Dark Souls 3: Deluxe Edition | $84.98 at GMG (Steam)

Playing Dark Souls: Archthrones requires Dark Souls 3 and its two DLC expansions. Even if you're not going to play the mod's demo, I highly, highly recommend picking it up, as this is undoubtedly one of FromSoftware's best games. 

Also see: DS3 Season Pass ($24.99) | Ashes of Ariandel ($14.99) | The Ringed City ($14.99)

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.