Part 24: - Profaned Capital
Instead of heading right to the obvious place let's explore a more hidden part of this area. Frankly. While Dark Souls III is often described as "Linear Souls" it actually offers you a lot of opportunities to explore bits of areas that you never have to go to. I'd argue that Dark Souls III isn't truly linear but it's certainly true that it is non-linear in a different way than the first two games.
In Dark Souls you had this interconnected, very cohesive world. Right off the bat you had access to three areas. The Catacombs were a newbie trap but offered some ways for experienced players to get some gear early, New Londo is a late game area, but again, experienced players could run in and grab some stuff. The last one was the Undead Burg, the way you are expected to go. If you chose the master key as you starting gift you had a few more options because you could go to via the Valley of Drakes: Darkroot Garden and Basin, Undead Parish and Blighttown. While more difficult than the starting area they expect you to go through most of these areas are doable for most players provided they had some time to get a hang of the mechanics. While you have more options of areas to travel to the levels themselves are mostly linear and there's also the problem that a lot of them can't simply be played through very easily when you first get access to as you are supposed to come back later. But they are mostly used to run in and get some gear before leaving again.
This results in higher replayability due to a larger equipment pool from the start. Dark Souls II accomplished the same thing by using Demon's Souls approach, only instead of teleporting to one of five areas from the start you walk to them. (Also you don't have all paths right from the start but they open up quickly. By the time you get access to a path you can usually also play through it. It's balanced fairly well in that regard.
Now Dark Souls II is the one where you basically go from one area to the next area and there are few branches. But I'd argue that the levels themselves are the most open, granted most of them are still fairly linear but especially earlier levels have large chunks of the area that you never have to go to. The best example is probably the Undead Settlement, which only requires you to go through less than half of it and you don't even need to fight a boss. I would say that Dark Souls III has the best individual areas of the series. However, the fact that you don't usually have much of a choice of different places to go means that you are kind of railroaded into using some specific equipment before reaching the later game where more diverse options open up. The introduction of the first DLC actually mitigates this problem somewhat, as the entrance to it is in the Cathedral of the Deep. Don't get me wrong, it's end-game content, but if you know where to go you can get some cool stuff early on, as well as upgrade materials you'd otherwise only get a fair bit later into the game. Almost like how Dark Souls offered you the option to go to New Londo or the Catacombs from the start. Hell, there's even another endgame area you have access to early on in Dark Souls III (we'll be seeing that relatively soon)
That said, yes, the progression of Dark Souls III is the most linear of all the Souls games, but the individual areas tend to be more open. And while the game certainly gives you a lot of options to pick from some of the more interesting things open up fairly late, which is why a lot of people complain about the game being too linear or having less replay value.
I wanna note that when those gargoyles put their wing up, you can actually kick it away, like a regular enemy's shield! It's just that more often than not, you have to kick twice to stagger them. I mean, they're stone gargoyles. They're pretty burly.