OK - Just bought Dark Souls - What do I need to know?

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#1 Edited by leebmx (2247 posts) -

As the title says I just got Dark Souls and want to try and get the best out of it without getting frustrated or taking it back. A game with this many people raving about it must have something interesting and fullfilling going on - can you tell me what I need to know/do to get the best out of it? Thanks :)

EDIT: Should I go on wikis etc before I start or try and figure it all out myself?

#2 Posted by TheHT (11496 posts) -

Just be careful. The game's only frustrating if you run around like an idiot without knowing what's what.

Eventually you'll be able to run around like an idiot, but like a boss.

#3 Posted by Nonused (217 posts) -

Just make sure you kill Solaire of Astora. You can't trust him. Lautrec's a bro, though.

#4 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

All NPCs can be killed. Be careful not to break your game. lol

#5 Edited by Green_Incarnate (1789 posts) -

I'd say you should choose which weapon types you want to use, then level up the attribute that your weapon scales damage on. Also there are tiers of movement speed. If you want to move a certain speed, you need to keep your weight below a certain number. Sometimes if you want a specific weapon, spell, or armor, there's certain special shit you gotta do to get it (e.g. cutting off the tail of a boss or talking to a NPC at this time during the story). That should get you started.

#6 Posted by leebmx (2247 posts) -

@mcghee: Really? Is this possible? I always like to give NPC's a whack with my sword or shoot them to see what happens.

#7 Edited by TheHT (11496 posts) -

@leebmx said:

@mcghee: Really? Is this possible? I always like to give NPC's a whack with my sword or shoot them to see what happens.

Yep. There was a dude that held your excess items in Demon's Souls. Kill him and no more storage for the rest of that playthrough.

#8 Edited by McGhee (6094 posts) -

@leebmx said:

@mcghee: Really? Is this possible? I always like to give NPC's a whack with my sword or shoot them to see what happens.

Oh yes, careful with your triggers when you're buying shit. I would always turn my back on people when talking to them just to be a little safer. lol

#9 Edited by ShadowConqueror (3064 posts) -

There is a steep learning curve because the most difficult areas come towards the early- to mid-game. Just be patient and persevere. Also, don't kill NPCs (except Laurtrec if you want) until after you've bought everything they have or you are about to fight the final boss.

#10 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3108 posts) -

@leebmx: Yeah, don't do that. People in this game tend to try to kill you if you stab them. Because you, you know, stabbed them. And if you kill the blacksmiths, then congratulations on having locked off an upgrade path or three for all of your weapons for the rest of that save file. Don't attack people unless they attack you. Don't attack ANYTHING unless it attacks you.

#11 Posted by Nonused (217 posts) -

Also, get the pendant.

#12 Posted by madman356647 (320 posts) -

Get used to the mechanics quickly. The main difficulty is learning the mechanics of fighting/maneuvering (like Monster Hunter I suppose). Aside from that, do not rush into anything. Last thing: remember bonfires replenish the non special enemies. Use this knowledge to farm like the wind!

There's also some info at this site that's worthwhile:

http://www.beforeiplay.com/index.php?title=Dark_Souls

#13 Edited by TobbRobb (4730 posts) -

Don't ever worry about anything. It's almost completely impossible to fuck yourself into and unwinnable situation. Souls are disposable, don't even count them as "yours" until you are safe and sound. Dying is part of the game, you are supposed to die and learn the area and enemies. Not a single person has gotten through this game unscathed on their first run.

The combat is very methodical. Observe how the opponents behave and pick an opportunity to strike. Never ever mash the attack button, just press once when you see an opportunity to strike, more than that is risky since you will be defenseless during the animation. Of course, if you can get more hits in you should. Risk reward. :D

All weapons are viable, find one you think feels or looks cool and then upgrade it. There isn't much reason to trade for new weapons late in the game unless you find something you think is cool. The starting longsword for the warrior is widely considered a good weapon to finish the game with.

Upgrades and armor>stats. You will ALWAYS gain more damage by upgrading your weapon when compared to a few points in strength or dexterity.

Don't try and kill the skeletons or the ghosts. Take the third path. You will know what I mean. ^^

Ok, so I'll make a long one for the thing that is the worst explained, but oh so important to consider. Stats.

  • Poise: A stat that is basically resistance to being staggered or stunned. Having 0 poise means even the weakest enemies can stunlock you. Poise is only gained from equipment, and is generally linked to the weight or look of the armor. Leather for example gives nothing, while a knight suit gives a bunch. High poise values let you take some bosses in the face without moving an inch, but that is in the 100 poise range or so, which is a lot.
  • Vitality: It increases your health AND damage resistances. It it THE go to stat for being a bit beefier. Generally leave it in the 20-25 range for the duration of the game.
  • Endurance: The most important stat in the game. It increases your stamina bar, (more hits in a combo, more room to roll, run further, block better). It increases your equipment load, which let's you equip heavier armor. (you roll fast when your equipment weight <25% of max load, <50% for medium >50% for slow and over 100% and you are just straight up overencumbered). Basically, endurance makes you better at everything.
  • Strength, Dexterity. These are both stats that limit your equipment choices. Weapons have a required amount of the stats needed to be wielded properly. It's basically all they do. Strength is for heavy shit, and Dex is for agile shit. But you will likely need some of both. They also increase the damage of your strikes depending on the weapon, but it's so minor until you start maxing out the upgrades that you shoudn't even bother.
  • Intelligence and Faith. These also limits some equipment options, but they are mostly for boosting the power of your sorcery and miracle power respectively.
  • Resistance doesn't matter. Waste of points.

Raising any stat over 40 is generally a waste. The stats start downscaling after that, endurance for example will stop giving you stamina completely at that point. Only go higher if a weapon requires it. "I know some heavy shit needs 50 str."

Finally, don't be afraid to ask around for help! This game is partially made as a community thing, there are a lot more crazy people like me who will gladly give you tips and tricks!

EDIT: Wiki's are for weaklings, talk with us instead. We need company too. :c

#14 Posted by SuperWristBands (2266 posts) -

No matter what you do play it safe. Take it slow and hold your shield up if you are moving through an unfamiliar area. Also read up on how upgrading works. Upgrading is one of the most important parts of the game that is never properly explained. Other than that, just try to get through it on your own then look up stuff if you get stuck. Part of the magic is finding things out on your own. I'd suggest you avoid following a guide or relying to heavily on a wiki.

#15 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1782 posts) -

@theht said:

Just be careful. The game's only frustrating if you run around like an idiot without knowing what's what.

Eventually you'll be able to run around like an idiot, but like a boss.

This is basically all you need to know. The difficulty of Souls games vary inversely to your patience.

Also, just except that your first build will be terrible because it always is for everyone.

#16 Posted by leebmx (2247 posts) -

Thanks @superwristbands I like finding stuff out for myself but I felt for this game forewarned was forearmed, if you catch my meaning....

Cheers, @tobbrobb Thats some useful info - will definitely be re-reading that post as I go into the game.

Ta @madman356647 that wiki: think I will start pyromancer - I always like to have a character with some magic...

#17 Edited by TobbRobb (4730 posts) -

@leebmx: Happy to be useful! Also, you reminded me by mentioning pyromancy. It does NOT scale with intelligence. Only sorcery does. Pyromancy get's it's damage increase from upgrading the pyromancy glove, and that alone. It's a common mistake that I forgot to mention in the first post.

Pyromancy is awesome though, literally no downsides to having some at least. Even if it's only backup power.

#18 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

To attack and successfully block attacks you need stamina. Lower your guard whenever you can to regenerate stamina quickly.

#19 Posted by mosespippy (4279 posts) -

The first thing you should know is that the game isn't as hard as people have lead you to believe. Be cautious whenever you are somewhere you are unfamiliar with. Levelling armour will benefit you much more than levelling your stats. Fire is overpowered against most enemies while lightning is overpowered against dragons and other players. It's an open world game. If you come up against a group of enemies that are too though then you are probably pushing towards an area meant for later. Search somewhere else.

@mcghee said:

All NPCs can be killed. Be careful not to break your game. lol

Except for Griggs of Vinhiem and the Crow (and possibly another one I'm forgetting). Even if you attack an NPC, as long as you don't kill them then you can get forgiveness for your sins, as long as you are willing to pay 500 souls * your level.

#20 Posted by TobbRobb (4730 posts) -

@mosespippy: The darkstalkers can't be killed either. Other than that I think it's a free for all. :D

#21 Edited by BulimicBalzac (93 posts) -

Honestly I would avoid major spoilers for the first few times. Until the point your fist is through the drywall and you're controller lies shattered on the floor. After you've caused severe dental problems from grinding your teeth to cracked bleeding nubs.

But the biggest key to Dark Souls... Is that it is not that hard, the only real problem I had with the game was lava dinosaur asses.

DAT ASS, that FLAMEY DINO ASS!

#22 Edited by StrikeALight (1114 posts) -

Always have your shield up - especially when traversing through new areas.

Be careful about attacking NPCs. If they fall out of favor with you - that's it for the remainder of your playthrough. Probably the biggest lesson to learn here.

VIT and End are the most important stats for a new character. You can then spend souls on the others to meet the prerequisites for weapons. Although, anything past 40 is usually a waste (on initial playthrough, anyway)

Don't be too upset if you lose souls. You'll easily make it up in the latter parts of the game. Humanity is far more valuable.

Be aware that you can be attacked at any time, in human form. Best have some backup, if you are new to the game.

Just have fun, the game is amazing.

#23 Edited by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

Get a shield with 100% physical block and find a weapon you like the animations of and upgrade the shit out of it.

You can finish the game with pretty much any weapon if you keep it powerful by finding embers and dumping titanite into it. Elemental weapons are the strongest for a low stats build, but if you plan on dumping a bunch of stats into Strength or Dex or some shit you want to stick with a standard weapon with a high rating in that category. I wouldn't recommend this for a first playthrough though as you will get a lot more mileage out of just getting to the point where you can weild it and dumping your stat points into Endurance and Vitality.

Also Pyrocmancy is OP as shit in the first run of the game and unlike other magic it scales off the catalyst level rather than any stat so you can just dump a bunch of souls into it and have a huge searing trump card in your back pocket if a boss is giving you trouble.

I wouldn't recommend going for a heavy magic build for your first playthrough either. It is definitely viable but it takes a lot of really good positioning as some spells have somewhat lengthy animations. They also require pretty heavy stat investment to be effective and the best spells are hidden pretty deep in the game.

Go to the wiki, find the stuff you need, and cover yourself in shit before you go to Blighttown.

That isn't a joke.

Also what everyone else said.

#24 Posted by golguin (3964 posts) -

Proper defense is a 3 step process in my eyes.

1. Shield: The shield seems simple enough to use, but it teaches you stamina management. Keeping your shield up slows down the rate at which you regenerate stamina by as much as a few seconds. Learn to keep your guard up when attacked and then lower your shield to quickly regenerate your stamina. If you're blocking and your stamina is gone you will stagger on the next hit and leave yourself open.

2. Dodging: Successful dodging requires timing as you need to know the animation for whatever is attacking you. There are several different dodging speeds as someone already mentioned. If you're not dodging at the max speed don't even bother trying.

3. Parry and Riposte: This is an advanced technique that most people never truly get the hang of since its a big risk reward thing. You need to know the timing of any particular attack animation to be successful. Some people choose to learn the animation of a few enemies to get a handle on the technique.

I think this is a good start in addition to what you've already been told.

#25 Posted by Sackmanjones (4738 posts) -

There are a few really good threads on GB about it. If you need help on what to do or where to go don't be afraid to look it up if you get suck.

#26 Posted by leebmx (2247 posts) -

Thanks again everyone. Just got to Undeadburgh after about an hour and a half of trying to defeat some very nippy skeletons in a graveyard and then giving up and finding somewhere else to go. The relief of finding the first bonfire in Undeadburgh was amazing. It feels really novel to be playing a game where not dying is so critical, really adds a lot of tension. If only the actual world and presentation had a bit more personality - but i'm only a little way in - must give it time.

#27 Posted by gogosox82 (424 posts) -

@leebmx said:

Thanks again everyone. Just got to Undeadburgh after about an hour and a half of trying to defeat some very nippy skeletons in a graveyard and then giving up and finding somewhere else to go. The relief of finding the first bonfire in Undeadburgh was amazing. It feels really novel to be playing a game where not dying is so critical, really adds a lot of tension. If only the actual world and presentation had a bit more personality - but i'm only a little way in - must give it time.

Don't worry, the world gets much better in later areas. This is just the first area. Like many others have said, getting good armor and weapons/shields and upgrading it is far more important than leveling. I should also mention that you should read item descriptions on weapons and shields because they sometimes can have hidden bonus like bleed damage or stamina regeneration or hp regeneration.

#28 Posted by supamon (1333 posts) -

Everyone's given good advice and at this point there are plenty of wikis/FAQs and videos online to aid you. I only have this to offer: Praise the sun!! and...

\0/

#29 Posted by mosespippy (4279 posts) -

@golguin: Proper defence is a one step process in my eyes; heavy armour with a two handed weapon.

#30 Posted by SoldierG654342 (1782 posts) -

Also, it may be better not to summon help for bosses your first time around unless it is a friend in a similar situation as you or NPC phantoms. Half the (initial) fun of the game is the struggle and the people usually camped outside of boss doors these days are usually just grinding sunlight medals and will devastate the boss in no time flat.

Also, what system are you playing on?

#31 Edited by deadmoscow (265 posts) -

There are a couple of reeeeeally nice pieces of equipment you can pick up right off the bat which will make things much easier for you (like, too easy), but part of the fun in the early game is just trying stuff out and exploring, and eventually building up skill and character power. One of my favorite things about Dark Souls is the sense of mystery throughout the game, which you can really spoil if you dig too deep into the Wikis / FAQS. Also, there will probably be a few times where you'll get killed and lose a huge amount of souls all at once. Don't despair! Just take a deep breath, walk away from the game for a bit, and come back later on.

#32 Edited by leebmx (2247 posts) -

@tobbrobb Thanks again everyone for the tips - they are all starting to mean so much more as I make my way through the game. Which, by the way is amazing. Just beat the Bell Gargoyles - I can't remember the last game to inspire so much fist pumping and sticking up two fingers at the TV.

There is so much stuff about this game which should make it an experience I just can't get into - Big Boss fights, terrible acting (although there is something that seems oddly deliberate about the shitty performances) , limp fantasy tropes, repeating sections over and over again - but there is something so compelling which keeps me coming back.

I think a large part of it is the mystery and tension which hangs over the world like a dense fog. We (or I at least) are so used to games which lead you through familiar mechanics, all the while checking to see if you are enjoying yourself like an overbearing boyfriend on a date he has planned just so. It is refreshing to explore a world which wants you to find and work for its secrets and charms, rather than laying them all out for you.

In a weird way it reminds me of gaming as a kid when I would pick up random games for my Amiga on copied disks and have to work everything out for myself, creating narratives and styles of gameplay which sometimes must have been quite distant from what the developers probably had designed.

Other game designers must be taking a very close look at the Souls games - I really hope are inspired to create games with a bit more mystery, danger and interesting complexity.

@soldierg654342 360

#33 Posted by leebmx (2247 posts) -

Another question @tobbrobb @superwristbands @lordxavierbritish for you guys. I have 1 titanite shard - 2 Large titanite shards and 2 Titianite chunks but the only ones it seems I can use to reinforce my Axe (or anything else for that matter) is the smallest one. When I run out of basic Titanite Shards the game just grays out all my inventory and won't let me reinforce. Any ideas why this is?

#34 Edited by Savage (336 posts) -

@leebmx: In simple terms, most weapons can be upgraded up to +5 using just Titanite Shards. Large Titanite Shards are used for upgrading between +5 and +10. Titanite Chunks are used for upgrading above +10. Since you're still early in the game, you should only be concerned with upgrading up to +5. Higher upgrades will become accessible to you as you progress further into the game.

If you want to get more Titanite Shards, you can buy them from Andrei the blacksmith or find them as random drops when killing certain types of enemies, such as undead soldiers in the Undead Parish.

If you really want more details, you can easily look up the upgrading system in detail on a Dark Souls wiki.

#35 Posted by j0lter (241 posts) -

How has no one said anything about the drake sword yet? When you're underneath a bridge that has a dragon on it you'll see his tail sticking out from the right side of the bridge. Shoot it with arrows long enough and it'll cut off and you get a decent starting sword. Up until Queelag that is. This sword makes the first part of the game a lot easier

#36 Posted by envane (1164 posts) -

@j0lter: the effort spent directing noobs towards the drake sword only to tell them its uselss later into the game is much better spent on just directing them to some solid gear/upgrades that will help them learn to play normally.

#37 Posted by Savage (336 posts) -

A couple comments on the Drake Sword:

  • It's relatively easy to acquire if you know how to do so: shoot the red dragon in his tail from underneath the bridge in Undead Parish using a shortbow and a few dozen wooden arrows.
  • It's a strong weapon that requires no upgrades upfront, letting you save your shards, but it has no stat scaling and its upgrades are prohibitively expensive and wasteful, so it becomes obsolete by the mid game.
  • Using the Drake Sword can stunt your growth as a player by preventing you from experimenting with other types of weapons and finding a moveset that suits your own playstyle. It also can deprive you of the combat practice of squaring off against the undead enemies in the early game where you can hone your ability to block, kick, backstab, parry, etc. The Drake Sword allows you to brute force your way through those enemies without needing to explore other fighting techniques.
  • The Drake Sword makes the game a lot easier, for a while. This can be good because it can give you an ego boost, but it can also make the game more boring since dramatically deducing the game's challenge also reduces the satisfaction from overcoming that challenge, which is at the core of the game's appeal.

My recommendation would be to feel free to get the sword if you want (it's your choice, as Dark Souls is a game full of choices for you to make), but to remember that it's easy to rely on it as a crutch, so you might find it more fun overall to minimize your use of the Drake Sword and try out some other weapons before you get into the mid game or later where it's much harder to experiment with unupgraded weapons.

#38 Posted by SoldierG654342 (1782 posts) -

@leebmx said:

Another question @tobbrobb @superwristbands @lordxavierbritish for you guys. I have 1 titanite shard - 2 Large titanite shards and 2 Titianite chunks but the only ones it seems I can use to reinforce my Axe (or anything else for that matter) is the smallest one. When I run out of basic Titanite Shards the game just grays out all my inventory and won't let me reinforce. Any ideas why this is?

You need give Andrei embers to use the large shards and chunks to reinforce weapons. You can reinforce armor with out embers.

#39 Posted by TobbRobb (4730 posts) -

@j0lter: No one mentions it because it is a waste of time.

@leebmx: Savage covered it pretty well up there. I should note though that the unlocks for higher tiers of upgrades are all things you find in the world. So they ARE missable. But at least the one for +6-10 is pretty in your face.

Also can I ask what weapon you are using? I won't comment on it since I think any weapon is viable. Just curious what struck a cord with you so far.

#40 Edited by gla55jAw (2692 posts) -

Man, I'm so glad I got back into this game. I hadn't played in 2 years. Bought the PC version, put about 10 hours in, then went back to my old 360 game and immediately killed 3 bosses near end game. I then went back to my PC game and rang the second bell and killed some more bosses. You realize the game isn't that hard. It's rough, especailly when you don't know where you're going or what lies ahead, but that's why you explore and die a lot. You figure out where the enemies are, and do a bunch of run-throughs until you clear an area. Always explore. Before you go through to another area, go back and do a sweep. There are tons of secrets.

#41 Posted by TangoUp (313 posts) -

Prepare to be depressed.

#42 Posted by Tarsier (1069 posts) -

dont use swords or shields or bows. only use your fists, weapons will just slow you down.

#43 Posted by MrXakaRebel (58 posts) -

In my opinion, the best way to go into this game is knowing nothing. Let the game just unfold and explore until you find yourself in a spot that you have no idea what you should do. Then and only then should you start looking things up. If you ask me people just explained way too much of the game to you in this thread (not to mention the ones providing you with misinformation on purpose). The best thing about this game is discovering it's secrets for yourself.

#44 Edited by Demoskinos (15007 posts) -

@leebmx: Two things.. first off be absolutely deliberate with every choice you make in the game. The game isn't so much tough as it is a game that very much gives you reactions for all of your actions. Both good and bad. Sometimes extra exploration will result in finding cool gear then again it could also result in you getting yourself way over your head. Secondly, and sort of related to the last point is just get used to dying and dying a lot. Its just simply part of the game. I would also say don't ever bother going into "human" form unless you are trying to summon blue phantoms for boss fights. When you're human you can be invaded by other players and there really isn't a ton of other benefits to being in human form other than being able to summon blue phantoms of other players to help you.

#45 Posted by leebmx (2247 posts) -

@tobbrobb: I'm using a great Axe, I think, its some sort of axe anyway. I tried a scimitar for a bit and it cut faster but would take loads more swipes to kill and enemy. I like the axe cos I can wait for the crap enemies to hit me, block it, then chop them down in 2 blows.

#46 Edited by JJOR64 (19016 posts) -

Playing the game through your first time with a Walkthrough would help.

#47 Edited by Humanity (9576 posts) -

@leebmx said:

@tobbrobb: I'm using a great Axe, I think, its some sort of axe anyway. I tried a scimitar for a bit and it cut faster but would take loads more swipes to kill and enemy. I like the axe cos I can wait for the crap enemies to hit me, block it, then chop them down in 2 blows.

You might find this strategy a bit lacking when facing some later bosses which are a tad more mobile.

#48 Posted by leebmx (2247 posts) -

@leebmx: Two things.. first off be absolutely deliberate with every choice you make in the game. The game isn't so much tough as it is a game that very much gives you reactions for all of your actions. Both good and bad. Sometimes extra exploration will result in finding cool gear then again it could also result in you getting yourself way over your head. Secondly, and sort of related to the last point is just get used to dying and dying a lot. Its just simply part of the game. I would also say don't ever bother going into "human" form unless you are trying to summon blue phantoms for boss fights. When you're human you can be invaded by other players and there really isn't a ton of other benefits to being in human form other than being able to summon blue phantoms of other players to help you.

Yeah I wasn't too sure of the point of being human, the only time it seemed to make any difference was when I got someone to help me fight the Bell Gargoyles.

I'm getting much more into the flow of the game now it has opened up a bit more. I went down into the gardeny bit where the trees attack you but that all got a bit difficult so I am back in Undead Parish finishing off the church. Two things have happened to make the game a lot more bearable. Firstly I can defeat all the pesky little enemies which used to be such a problem and now the game has opened up so much so I have loads of different areas to try out if one in particular is looking too difficult. Amazing game.

#49 Posted by leebmx (2247 posts) -

In my opinion, the best way to go into this game is knowing nothing. Let the game just unfold and explore until you find yourself in a spot that you have no idea what you should do. Then and only then should you start looking things up. If you ask me people just explained way too much of the game to you in this thread (not to mention the ones providing you with misinformation on purpose). The best thing about this game is discovering it's secrets for yourself.

I know what you mean - and I have curtailed my use of wikis etc a great deal since the start. I just think it was helpful to go into the game with some proof of the idea that things would get better if I persevered. As your average console gamer I am so used to games which you expect to get through with no problem as they are more of an experience than a challenge that I think I could have been quite discouraged by the opening I had to this game (where I spent 2 nights trying and failing to kill the skeletons in the graveyard, and then another 3 stuck at the bonfire in undeadburg - without finding the way to drop the ladder down) and maybe given up.

The game is so different in the way it expects you to play and the approach you take to the world that this thread has really helped me. It also explains so little that I have found it useful to get technical information (how to level up, what all the stats mean) without which I would have never known what to do and had a worse time.

I think my experience speaks to what they might adjust in Dark Souls 2, in that the only thing they need to change is how they explain the mechanics -some things in this game I have no idea how people have worked out what they mean without looking elsewhere.

#50 Edited by OfficeGamer (1087 posts) -

I just caved and bought this on PC - I tried it on my 360 before I had a gaming PC and I got massacred. This time around I didn't die until I reached halfway up the castle to the left of the guy sitting in the grass in the second level (memorizing the names is so hard in this game). Killed the first boss from my first try, and have succeeded in parrying just fine so far.

I feel fucking GREAT. However, there are stairs up and down everywhere around every corner, it's like an open world but it isn't, I dunno where to go. And the game is so QUIET! The clanking of my armor in the complete silence is creeping me out.

Don't mean to hijack the topic, gonna read the tips and everything :)

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