Are you picking up Dark Souls for the first time? Maybe one of the many new players who will be diving in on the Nintendo Switch? Well look no further than this page for the best tips and tricks to get your started on your adventure!
Dark Souls is many things, but everyone would agree it does little in the way of explaining it’s systems to new players. This is a world where you learn through your actions, but sometimes, that’s just not enough! Read on below for some entry level tips, explaining core concepts of the game that you otherwise would have to spend hours learning the hard way.
EditYour Class Choice Largely Doesn’t Matter
One of the first choices you are presented, is that of which class you will play. While this cannot be changed later, the initial choice will not prevent you from doing something within the game.
These options merely give you a guideline, setting you up for success with a certain style but not limiting you from anything else. A Knight class can eventually use magic, while a Cleric could use weapons.
EditThe Starting Gift Also, Doesn’t Really Matter
Your next choice, that of picking a gift, also doesn’t mean much. Half the items are simple consumables that, once used, will be gone forever. The rest or tiny trinkets that offer only a slight bonus to the character and will get replaced shortly after beginning the game. There are 3 exceptions worth noting:
- Master Key – This will allow you to open several doors in the game, that otherwise would require finding specific keys to open. Basically, this key grants you early access to a few items.
- Pendant – This item actually does nothing. It’s purely there as a gimmick.
- Old Witch’s Ring – This ring is required if you want to talk to a specific NPC and become a Chaos Servant.
EditStamina Management Is The Key To Success
Every action in Dark Souls revolves around the Stamina bar (the green bar below health). Running, attacking, blocking and almost any other action will drain it. For this reason, it’s very important to never run out, or else you will be fresh out of options when an enemy rushes in to attack.
Stamina regenerates over time, but a common mistake of new players is to always have their shield up. Doing this drastically slows down the rate of regen, meaning that always holding block will actually result in dying more often. If you are a player who uses a shield a lot, learn to let the shield go down, and only raise it when you expect damage to happen.
For those who don’t like a shield, dodging is the next best option. Stamina doesn’t slow down when you roll around, but do be mindful that dodging uses up large chunks of stamina. This means that if you are constantly rolling, you will never be able to attack. Be calm, time your dodges, then follow up with precise strikes to maximize your damage while still avoiding the enemy. Smashing the dodge button will only lead to you being out of Stamina, and quickly out of health!
In a traditional RPG or Action game, you would be right to assume that an item you find 20 hours in is probably better than the item you started the game with.
Toss that idea out the window for Dark Souls. Items in Dark Souls are all on a level playing field. Something you find in the first 10 minutes is not necessarily stronger than something you will find 10 hours later.
That isn’t to say you won’t find something temporarily more powerful, but often times that power is a result of the weapon having a magical effect, or hidden perk. What truly matters for weapons, is your stats, so let’s dive into those.
EditCharacter Stats and How To Make Sense of Them
Dark Souls has 8 character stats. It might seem like a lot, but generally speaking, you will only ever need 4 of them in a given playthrough of the game.
This is because certain characters will only want to level up specific stats. There is no reason or advantage to be gained from leveling up all of them. Instead, in Dark Souls, you want to specialize as much as possible, so you’re character hits as hard as possible.
- Melee – If you are a melee character, you will want to focus on Vitality, Endurance and then either Strength or Dexterity. Vitality affects your health, Endurance increases your Stamina and how much armor you can wear while Strength and Dexterity effect what weapons you can use and how much damage they use. As a general rule of thumb, Sword and 2 Handed weapons (Like a Giant Club) use Strength, while Daggers, Lances and Katanas use Dexterity.
- Magic – If you want to play a mage, you will focus mostly on Vitality, Attunement and either Intelligence or Faith. Vitality gives you health, Attunement allows you to equip more spells and Intelligence and Faith let you use Sorceries or Miracles respectively.
EditWeapons Have Stats Too!
If that wasn’t enough, let’s cover the basics of weapon stats. These can be viewed by hovering over a weapon in the menu and hitting the Toggle Display button.
Damage values are fairly straight forward, but there are two things we want to go over:
While it’s name is a bit odd, this describes how much bonus damage your weapon will do with a specific stat. From left to right, the icons represent Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Faith. If there is a letter beside the icon, it means that stat will give you a damage bonus. For example, if the Dexterity icon has a C beside it, you will get a small damage increase based on your weapon the more Dexterity you have.
Early on, this won’t matter much, but late in the game, these bonuses can add up to hundreds of damage, so it’s important to keep an eye out for weapons that favor the stats you use. These bonuses can change as well! Upgrading a weapon will occasionally increase the bonus you get. Also, before we move on, it’s important to note that the scale goes from E (which is the worst) to D, C, B, A and lastly S (which is the best).
Again, it’s named strangely but this category represents the stats needed for you to wield a weapon. If you do not meet these stats, then the weapon either will deal reduced damage, or you may not even be able to swing it at all.
Weapons that you cannot use properly will have a red X through them when you equip them. However, there is one caveat to this. Holding a weapon with both hands lowers the Strength needed to wield it by roughly 50%! This means that if you’re willing to sacrifice your shield arm, you can use that Giant Axe you found, even if you don’t have all the Strength required.
Humanities are a core item to Dark Souls 1. You will pick up dozens through your playthrough, and have a tiny chance to passively obtain them upon killing almost any enemy in the game. The humanity counter is in the top left corner. Just like your Souls, they will drop on the ground if you die.
Humanities are a multi-purpose item, but lets just cover the essentials. When you visit a bonfire (excluding Firelink Shrine), you have the option of Restoring Your Humanity. To do this, you must first have at least 1 humanity in the counter. Restoring your humanity will make your person look normal again. It also turns Multiplayer on. While you are human, you can summon allies to your world, or have invaders come attack you.
The second major use for the item is also at a bonfire. Once you become human, you can use a second humanity to Kindle the bonfire. Doing so will make the fire brighter, and from now on, anytime you rest at it, you will recover 10 Estus Flask charges, instead of the normal 5. This buff never goes away from the bonfire, so visiting it 1000 times will still always grant you 10 charges.
Remember though, that both of these options will forever consume that humanity, so it’s possible to run out and not be able to Kindle Bonfires or Restore Your Humanity.