Early builds of Dark Souls 3 let players create their own bonfires wherever they wanted and create PvP environments to essentially invite in invading players. The content was cut very early in the game’s development, but has since been uncovered in a video by Soulsborne YouTuber Lance McDonald.
McDonald’s video, which you can check out towards the bottom of this article, opens by discussing a mechanic called ‘Cult Death’. Cult Death seemed to affect a random selection of the game’s Hollow NPCs, meaning that some of them received a fancy death animation, as well as the option to drag them around after death.
By itself, that wouldn’t have been much of a mechanic, but McDonald goes on to explain how it fits in with other cut content that he’s managed to uncover. Elsewhere in the game existed the option to join one of seven ‘cults’; these were named level-up, redistribute stats, reverse hollowing, absolve sin, prevent invasions, summon White Phantom NPC, and bomb. Presumably, those names were based on the bonuses offered by each cult.
If you’ve joined a cult, approaching the corpse of a Hollow affected by Cult Death gives you the option to perform a ceremony on the body. Performing a ceremony would have caused the player to draw a ceremonial sword before slamming it into the corpse. Playing around in the game files shows that the end result of this would have been a bonfire, which would have functioned in exactly the same way as in the rest of the game.
The end result of all of this is that you can create a place to rest and heal anywhere in the game, as long as you can drag a Hollow there and perform a ceremony on it. Seems like the kind of thing it might be pretty handy to have right in front of a boss fight.
Hollows weren’t just used to create bonfires, however. If you had an item called Ceremony Sword of Flame, you could use it to invade worlds that you had almost been invited into – another item, Ceremony Sword of Darkness, could be used to transform your game into a PvP environment. Other players could then perform their own ceremony to be ushered into your game, in an invade system that might have been slightly more mutual than what we ended up with.
Many of the cut mechanics are not working as intended anymore, of course, but McDonald has done a good job of restoring most of them. You can check the cut mechanics – which in turn seem to bleed into yet more cut concepts – in the video above.