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I've just been through Blighttown and defeated Quelaag(sp?) and was just wondering where I should be going next as I have a variety of areas open to me now? Cinematics would suggest that I should go through the gate I just opened near the Undead Parish but then I also found the key for New Londo Ruins? There is the area up the ladder after defeating Hydra as well as the Catacombs, the area after defeating Quelaag(Demon Ruins?) and the Great Hollow although this was accessed through the secret tunnel.

Does it even matter? I am soul level 40 (thereabouts), should I be steering clear of places still or shall I just go hack things up?

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The giant gate through the Undead Parish leads to an area called Sen's Fortress. This is the major path to advancing the main storyline. Your level is in the right area for heading this route, so you won't have any more problems than normal.

After Quelaag, the next area is the Demon Ruins and it requires you to fight a boss called the Ceaseless Discharge. Minor tip about this fight:

The boss doesn't permanantly aggro until you take an item at the end of the area. I suggest not taking it until afterwards, so you can retrieve any souls if you lose. You can enrage the boss each time with magic or arrows.

This boss is required to progress in the long run, but it can be put off. The amount of trouble people have with it depends on the person, so I advise only trying it if you don't have many souls to lose. If you want to simply loot this area you'll receive the Gold-Hemmed set, which is extremely effective against poison and fire. If you want to avoid truly fighting the Ceaseless Discharge, you can simply run from where you pick up the Gold-Hemmed armour (at the end of the area), back to the fog wall at the entrance. This will cause him to fall, and you'll get the Victory Achieved notification.

Finally, the area accessible near the Hydra is connected to the Darkroot Basin and is also ultimately required to progress. This area, like the Demon Ruins can be put off until later. If you have 20,000 souls to spare however, I recommend buying the Crest of Artorias from Andre the blacksmith. This will unlock another entrance to the extended Darkroot Garden. If you do this you can farm about 7000 souls in a very short amount of time, and do this as many times as you like. You'll also be able to pick up the Stone armor and the Eastern armor here.

Ultimately, I would recommend heading to Sen's Fortress next as it is the logical progression of the game. If you consider it from a story standpoint, you wouldn't have reason to head to the Demon Ruins or the Darkroot Garden yet anyways.

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I've heard(seen) that you can defeat Ceaseless Discharge because he falls over into some lava essentially? Is it worth looting the area? But thanks for the advice, I'll head over to Sen's Fortress because Darkroot Basin has some mental cat/dog that seems to keep respawning every time I defeat it (before even going to bonfire). –  jumping_code Mar 5 '12 at 11:57
    
@danRhul I updated the answer to cover these questions, so please take a look. –  bgalin Mar 5 '12 at 12:44
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