More than 500 hours later and Dark Souls is still no joke.

#1 Posted by golguin (4054 posts) -

With Load Our Last Souls and other people in the gaming industry trying out Dark Souls for the first time (or picking it up again) I figured I should create a new character and experience what the game was like all over again.

I had the advantage of knowing all the ins and outs of PVP combat and like most Dark Souls players I had memorized the map so I thought that I should handicap myself to make the game more challenging. I wasn't going to do a Soul Level 1 run because I wanted to stick with my Uchigatana and I wasn't going to be heavy and stack poise. I wanted to rely on my dodging and parrying abilities so I would level up my stats as I felt the need.

I wont go over my trials and tribulations in the various areas because there isn't really a need for that, but I did learn some key lessons that vets may have forgotten about or never experienced because they increased their level as they progressed through the game.

My low level run has taught me that the combat in Dark Souls can be boiled down to 3 simple elements.

1) The number of mistakes you can make before you die.
2) The number of consecutive actions you can take during an enemy encounter.
3) The number of attacks required to kill an enemy.

Various stats, items, equipment, and weapons all play a part in how the 3 points come together during a combat situation. I never really found myself lacking during any combat situation because I always felt like I could kill enemies fairly quickly and I had enough stamina to dodge out of any sticky situation.

I just killed Artorias about an hour ago and it was the first time I ever truly felt under leveled for a fight. After dying around 10 times to Artorias I actually checked a wiki to find out that he has 3,750 HP. My lightning uchigatana deals 45 dmg to Artorias. The math shows that I'd need to hit him around 83 times to kill him.

I tried and tried, but I just couldn't finish him with my lightning uchi. A powered up Artorias had the ability to one shot me and the fight went on long enough that I'd eventually get tired and take a hit during his powered up form. I only had enough stamina to hit him a single time during every counter attack because I needed the stamina for the initial set up dodge, the attack, and 2 dodges to escape. After that my stamina was completely drained and I needed to back off.

My stat limitation forced me to take advantage of every attack Artorias had. I simply couldn't wait for his major openings. I knew I wouldn't last the required 40 minutes to deliver those 80 hits so I resorted to my pyromancy to cut his health in half. After that it was all Uchi until I finally had a good run and killed him.

The first time I killed Artorias I did it with the same exact build I'm using now and I did it on my 3rd try. The only difference is I had 15 more stat points to pump into my vitality and endurance. During that time he wasn't able to one shot me and I had enough stamina to attack and dodge as much as I liked.

I'm really glad that I felt inspired to do this low level playthrough. I never knew that I had been using my "desired stats" to cheat myself out of the challenges the game still had to offer. I know some of you guys have done limited level playthroughs or specific builds to make the game challenging again. I'd like to know if those playthroughs taught you anything new about the game.

#2 Posted by Humanity (10121 posts) -

I had started my soul level 1 run with the best intentions. Having a long weekend to carve into the game I began early in the morning making my way easily through the asylum and undead burg areas. Sen's Fortress proved no harder as I nimbly rolled through all the traps only to glitch the boss into falling off the ledge at the very top, waving my spear as he tumbled into the abyss exploding into precious soul bits. At this point I decided to take a break and headed down to a local store to buy some refreshments. I met a girl there and amazingly enough she was also a Souls player as well! We quickly exchanged Live gamertags and began talking over the service in between bouts of souling. As the weekend drew to a close not only did I face down Gwyn with only rags on my back and a memorized counter trigger finger, but I had made several trips to the outside world in order to meet with the Souls girl. We discussed the game at length to late hours of the night, about how it teaches patience and perseverance, growing closer through the process. Not only did I become a much more patient and better person from playing Dark Souls but I'd found the perfect "soul"~mate if you will, who shared my fondest hobby of videogaming. I then promptly woke up.

Online
#3 Edited by Ezekiel (550 posts) -

@humanity: Ha. I've been disappointed by too many dreams to still be tricked. As soon as a situation seems to good to be true, I think "NO" and wake up.

#4 Posted by groin (860 posts) -

If you were getting 1 shot by arthur then you should have used the red tearstone ring for 50% more damage since there is no difference between 20% and 100% health. You could have stacked more pyromancy damage with the crown of dusk and the bellowing dragoncrest ring. Low level characters can output a lot of damage with the right equipment.

#5 Posted by SoldierG654342 (1821 posts) -

@golguin said:

My low level run has taught me that the combat in Dark Souls can be boiled down to 3 simple elements.

1) The number of mistakes you can make before you die.
2) The number of consecutive actions you can take during an enemy encounter.
3) The number of attacks required to kill an enemy.

This is why I don't get people who like the fast, light weapons like daggers. You want encounters to be over as quickly as possible, so if you can't one-shot, then you at the very least need to be able to stagger quickly. The katanas are the exception, as they attack fast enough to chew through poise. I've been having a lot of fun with me dual wield Iaito/Uchigatana build.

#6 Posted by probablytuna (3829 posts) -

I'm just under 100 hours in and was pleasantly surprised to have beaten The Four Kings with little difficulty on my first go. I was quite nervous before the fight but I would say it's one of the easiest/simplest boss encounters so far. I suspect that my 99 SL (with high 30 VIT, 40 END, 40 STR) had a lot to do with that because they barely made a scratch on my HP. I look forward to NG+ to see if they are are as challenging as people make them out to be.

#7 Edited by ProfessorK (829 posts) -

I swear hearing these stories is just another reason why I love this game. I just recently picked up a copy for PS3 since I had the 360 version when it came out. Just the myriad of way you can play the game and have it still be rewarding are a true testament to the Souls series. I sincerely hope this isn't lost in DS2.

#8 Edited by CptBedlam (4459 posts) -

I have completed several no-lvl runs, some with more self-imposed restrictions (for example, my Wanderer run: only starting equipment, no miracles/sorceries/pyromancy, no range weapons, no leveling ... however I did upgrade the armor, weapon and shield). Eventually I hit the wall with my naked no-lvl run with the same restrictions as stated above when I got to the Four Kings. It means I have to beat them naked with my club and a weak ass plank shield that doesn't even block 100% physical damage. :-/

Haven't played for more than half a year now and the urge to play more DS is growing in me these days... maybe I should continue that naked run.

#9 Edited by golguin (4054 posts) -

@groin said:

If you were getting 1 shot by arthur then you should have used the red tearstone ring for 50% more damage since there is no difference between 20% and 100% health. You could have stacked more pyromancy damage with the crown of dusk and the bellowing dragoncrest ring. Low level characters can output a lot of damage with the right equipment.

I had the pyromancy power to reduce his health to less than 1/6th, but I wanted to go the distance with Artorias and do those 80 hits with my Uchigatana. I eventaully settled on 40 hits (reduced his health to around half with my pryomancy) and made that my goal. The one thing about the Artorias fight that I was always a bit sad about was that I could kill him relatively fast with little danger when I was the appropriate level.

By doing it this way I discovered how to counter attack every single one of his attacks. You could even hit Artorias 3 times during his triple jump attack if you're really careful/desperate.

#10 Posted by Jothel (937 posts) -

I just started playing this, I got through the prologue no problem, beat the asylum demon without being hit once. "This game isn't so hard..." I thought to yself, a couple hours later and boy was I wrong.

#11 Posted by MormonWarrior (2667 posts) -

500 hours?!?????

I got all the achievements around the 155 mark and I wasn't even trying for them until the last twenty or so. I'm pretty sure I'm done with it except for when I want to zone out and obsessively play something I've all but memorized at this point. Too bad Demon's Souls doesn't have the replay value of Dark Souls or I'd go and replay that over and over again too. The freaking Valley of Defilement was the worst thing ever the first time through, and in NG+ it's even more obnoxious.

#12 Posted by JackSukeru (5967 posts) -

I never did any limited level runs, but the two shieldless runs I did (one using Dex weapons like the Bandit's Knife, Ricards Rapier and eventually the Great Scythe, and one using limited armor with 2 Cestus) taught me some valuable things about positioning and dodging. I felt like I really improved at the game as a result.

Right now I'm trying a run with the Washing Pole and ninja flip ring. I had barely tried that ring before but it's really fun, especially the way it lets you invincibility through an attack and quickly counter with the backflip.

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