The purpose of this guide is to create a quick fix with some explanation on how to get the PC version of Dark Souls up to a good standard for playing on PC.
Before it was released FromSoftware, Dark Souls' developers, stated the PC port of Dark Souls would be bare bones basic and would have zero optimisation for the PC / Windows audience as they aren't experienced in developing games for this platform. Despite being a 1:1 port of the Xbox 360 version of Dark Souls, a PC game without optimisation options is not considered a good port within the community. After 13 minutes the fan-patch named DSFix by a man with the online handle of "Durante" fixed almost all major problems with the title and continued to be updated allowing a similar customisability that even most PC games lack these days.
I have published this guide to help any new players, I will try to expand on it whenever important issues are discovered and solved. Be aware that I am not a developer of the game and I am only offering advice.
The most important: DSFix
The most essential modification that you need for Dark Souls is DSfix. It allows you to adjust your resolution, rendering quality and other things such as FPS unlocking/limiting and your user interface.
Open the game and disable anti-aliasing, then follow the instructions provided to install DSFix correctly.
Information about the modification from the DSfix developer, Durante:
How do I use it? Extract the files into the game's "\DATA\" directory. (The place where DARKSOULS.exe is) You can open DSfix.ini with a text editor to adjust the desired internal resolution.
Will it work? [...] I can not and will not guarantee that it will work for anyone else, or not have any adverse effect on your game/computer. Use at your own risk! If you encounter any issues that seem like they could be caused by DSfix, let me know.
Will it cause performance problems? That depends on your system configuration. Usually, performance scales rather linearly with framebuffer size, and so far this game does not seem different. My 660 maintained a locked 30 FPS throughout ~ 1/2 hour of testing in the starting area of the game at 2560x1440.
With DSFix you may enable or disable the framerate limit on the fly by using the (default) Backspace key. Warning: Higher than 30 framerate may lead to shorter jumps, slower run speed, faster estus, and some ladders where if you slide down them you'll fall through the world. Consider enabling the limiter with Backspace.
Back-up Your Saves
Automative save back-ups require versions of DSfix that support save file back-ups. DSfix provides (if you enable it) a "Time Machine" of 10 save game backups from the past, spaced 25 minutes apart. It's the only defense against corrupted save games, or hackers who can ruin your save file.
1) Open DSfix.ini with a text editor. 2) Make sure the 'enableBackups' variable is set to "1" (with that being enabled and "0" being disabled.) Optional: Change the 'backupInterval' variable from 1500 to 600 so backups are 10 minutes apart. 3) Save "DSfix.ini" and close your text editor. 4) Play
Backups are in 'Users\[Windows Account Name]\Documents\NBGI\DarkSouls\[Steam Account Numbers]' Your current save is 'DRAKS0005.sl2', rename backups to 'DRAKS0005.sl2' to activate them.
Keyboard and Mouse?
I personally prefer Keyboard and Mouse for Dark Souls because of how you can adjust how weapons aim in the game by manipulating your camera view. But this requires a fix or two.
Here's a fix for the mouse controls which will make it a lot easier to use in Dark Souls:
Instructions: The default KB M controls are difficult to use. Consider this a salve for what ails you.
To install: This is intended to be used with DSfix. After installing DSfix... In DSfix.ini, find this line: dinput8dllWrapper none
Make it look like this line: dinput8dllWrapper dsmfix.dll
Then, unzip dsmfix.zip; place all dsmfix* files in the DATA directory (~Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition\DATA).
Finally, open dsmfixgui.exe and make the desired adjustments (mouse over an option for relevant tooltips); or, edit dsmfix.ini by hand.
If you're using a supported controller such as the wired or wireless Windows/Xbox Controller, I suggest uninstalling and re-installing any drivers for them.
Changing Button Icons
You need DSFix. You can modify the controller icons in-game using the mods provided here by searching for "interface" or "buttons" mods. http://darksouls.nexusmods.com/ For example; you can download Playstation icons to replace the in-game Xbox 360 set.
The installation is normally popping the files into your "\DATA\dsfix\tex_override" folder and enabling texture overriding for DSFix like so:
If you want the help of another player you have to use humanity, this will make you assume human form to request help (via summoning), but this comes with the risk of being invaded.
You may also obtain humanity by helping another player beat a boss. To do this you can lay down the White Soapstone sign (even when you're hollow.) If you help someone kill a boss you get one soft Humanity points.
The range in which you can summon or invade is dictated by your Soul Level (SL), insert your SL value into this calculator to work it out for you: https://mpql.net/tools/dark-souls/
While I suggest playing by yourself on your first run to learn the game, remember that these people will be waiting for you should you need help. 1v2 boss fights can be unfair to newcomers to the series so you can either put down your sign to help another player to learn the fights or you can have someone help you, I'd prefer you try the former.
If you're worried about security against hackers, Dark Souls PVP Watchdog is a wrapper you can use to see if you're connecting to player nodes effectively, see more information in the following link: http://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/849/? Be advised that it may cause performance issues. Current issue as of 23/02/2016 is Steam Opt-in Beta and Watchdog are incompatible.
Sugestions of SL ranges you should be to likely find players around to invade or help:
Undead Burg 1-15
Undead Parish 1-20
Darkroot Garden and Basin 1-25
Lower Undead Burg 10-25
The Depths 10-30
Catacombs - 15-80
Sen's Fortress 25-45
Anor Londo 30-55
Painted World 30-80
Darkroot Forest - 28-80
The Lord Soul Areas 40-80
Hover over the black text to reveal area name spoilers.
* NG and NG+ onwards all can interact with eachother.
If you've beaten the game before summon everyone you see. Keep the game alive and entertaining for other people, maybe you can make a friend too. You may also use this as an invasion guide. If you're running a high SL invader try not to go above SL120 as the recommend meta is SL100 or SL120. But I personally think high SL PVP is overrated.
I would like you to try bullying other players as that's the reason Demon's and Dark Souls' multiplayer gimmicks got popular. Be creative with builds focused on invading the above area SL range and build around the limits.
Issues & Fixes
Dark Souls creates a P2P IP Pool of other players as you play the game. If you're having trouble with connecting to players try opening these ports:
TCP port 27014-27050 UDP port 4379 UDP port 4380 UDP port 3478
If you're still having trouble try changing your Download Region on Steam to the closest Valve LAN event network. These are found in 'Steam Settings > Downloads > Download Region' in the Steam client, find the locations that resemble something along the lines of "LAN Event (blank)" and set it to the most suitable location for where you live. This may work but no gurantees.
Make sure to change it back to your default or prefered network location if you're not playing this Dark Souls videogame.
NVIDIA drivers from January to February 2016 conflict with DSFix.
DO NOT KILL INGWARD (New Londo sealer) IN NG+ MODE. He may not drop the Key to the Seal. I've been aware of this bug since 2012 and I'm not sure if this bug has been fixed yet.
Below are miscellaneous fixes that mostly focus on improving the performance of your game.
Dark Souls crashes referencing vsfilter.dll
Players have reported that renaming vsfilter.dll fixs this problem. Warning: Naturally changing a DLL may cause other programs to not work.
Dark Souls crashes after the intro or endings
Rename the "movWW" folder in "\Steam\SteamApps\common\Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition\DATA".
Windows 7 crash on start-up
Follow the following instructions for a possible fix:
Make a shortcut to 'DARKSOULS.exe' which is found in the game directory's 'DATA' folder.
Right-click and select 'Properties'.
Go to the 'Compatibility' tab, check 'Run this program in compatibility mode for:' and select 'Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)'.
Try running the game through this shortcut.
Windows 8 crash
Follow the following instructions for a possible fix:
Navigate to the game directory of Dark Souls and enter the 'DATA' folder.
Right-click and select 'Properties'.
Go to the 'Compatibility' tab, check 'Run this program in compatibility mode for:' and select 'Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)' or 'Windows 7'.
Try running the game.
In-game settings crash
Make sure you're using Borderless Windowed mode via DSFix or your monitor is set to 60hz before trying to change settings again. Alternatively you may open up DarkSouls.ini in the directory and change the settings from there.
When Dark Souls is running try opening Task Manager and setting 'DATA.exe' and set its Priority to 'High'. Also check if there's more than 2 cores using it and disable any unnecessary cores. Consider turning off/on the FPS limiter that DSFix provides you with.
Try turning on/off Window's Aero theme.
If you're using Optimus make sure it is set it to use NVIDIA for Dark Souls.
Open 'NVIDIA Control Panel'.
Manage 3d Settings > Program Settings and add 'DARKSOULS.exe' (find it by navigating to the game directory's 'DATA' folder) and set the prefered graphics processor to NVIDIA Graphics.
Make a 3D profile for Dark Souls in the Catalyst Control Center and make sure no 'Use application settings' are checked.If that doesn't work, if it's possible try disabling AMD Cool 'N Quiet in your BIOS settings.
If you suffer screen tearing try the following:
Disabling V-Sync in your GPU control panels.
Open dsfix.ini, make sure parameter is the following value:
If either of them don't work, open dsfix.ini and try changing the 'FPSlimit' parameter's values to ONE of the following:
The latter codes may have gameplay issues. Low-end PC performance boost
Open 'dsfix.ini' and make sure the following parameter to the accompanied values:
Open the options in-game and make sure motion blur is disabled.
Laptop has slow performance
Find out if you can set up your laptop screen's refresh rate to 60hz. If not possible hook it up ot a TV or monitor with a VGA or HDMI cable.
Low-end NVIDIA GPU performance boost
If you find an old version of NVIDIA Inspector you can mess with the LoD (Level of Detail) values for DARKSOULS.exe and some other tweaks to help run the game better. Be warned as the game will lose a lot of visual fidelity at the cost of this maybe helping your performance.
Read orange soapstone signs. Up-vote them if they're handy or entertain you.
Take things slow, look around.
Starting classes only dictate your starting items, stats and sometimes a bonus. Any class can find or use anything if you build them towards it.
Don't worry too much about your first character's build and stats. Experiment and learn from any mistakes.
Play how you like. Don't look up walkthrough guides unless you're very stuck or lost. You can beat the game with anything you want. I like to see creativity, post your experiences here. Infact, maybe you should stop reading these tips.
Use 'Kindle' at Bonfires to increase the amount of Estus you can obtain from it while resting or respawning. You need to be human and have a soft Humanity point.
Endurance is important, it allows you to perform more actions before stamina fatigue (40 endurance the is stamina cap). It also raises your equipment load, which allows you to use heavier weapons and armour without sacrificing your character's speed.
You can equip a spell with 10 in the Attunement stat, Pyromancy spells don't require you to invest in Intelligence or Faith points.
After you find a blacksmith, try to upgrade your weapons & armour before you increase your Soul Level stats. Weapons can go a longer way than stats.
Consider taking the pendant as your starting gift for a roleplaying experience relating to the next tip. It's the director's favourite.
If you find a broken pendant, you may want to check a lake in a basin, maybe twice, maybe three times if you've never seen one.
If you want to make more characters but don't have enough save slots; navigate to your save folder and make a backup of the folder using copy & paste. Open Dark Souls, delete an existing character and make a new character. To use your old save, do the same thing again but re-name accordingly to the file you want to use. I suggest making a .txt file detailing the characters on each save and place them into their respective folders.