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This guide is here to offer simple and easy to understand guidelines for Dark Souls. I have spent hundreds of hours in the Souls series and destroyed/banished thousands of other undead. I have done a simple speed run and several challenge runs for both games and thus that is the end of my qualifications for offering a guide. (and also no one cares mate get on with it)
Any quick advice because I'm too lazy to read?
There are (in my opinion) only 2 rules to PvE success in Dark Souls
1. Learn the attack animations.
2. Learn where items/enemies/npcs are.
For number 2 the wiki or a quick google search can help. Dark Souls was designed with the internet and shared knowledge in mind. It's not cheating to look up anything. if you ever want to know what an item does or any secret rules to it just google it.
note: if you find yourself lost and have no idea where to go consult the wiki on locations or simply expolore every path you've taken and haven't taken to find new areas. The world is relatively interconnected and it's likely you ran past where you need to be several times. Also important to note that not all locations are mandatory.
What should I control my character with?
I recommend an xbox controller. A mouse and keyboard are probably challenge run material.
I need to try a guitar hero controller. hmmm
I'll let you know how it goes
note: it went terribly. do not attempt
Do I really need any mods?
Nobody is going to hold a gun to your head and make you install mods. (except me)
However, you should.
1. Dsfix will make your game run immensely better. personally I unlock the framerate and set it to 60. I also force vsync on my graphics card and run the game at 1080p
2. Watchdog will allow you to see if you are connected to any nodes/can connect to anyone at the moment. It will also allow you to kick out detected cheaters. (it will not detect all cheaters sadly.) It even makes a ping noise if you are tabbed out to let you know if you are invading/got invaded. It shows the name of all players in the world at the time as well.
Both of these mods can be easily found by googling Dark Souls Dsfix or Dark Souls Watchdog. I believe they are both hosted on Nexus Mods
I don't find it necessary to tell you how to install them. Those guides exist.
3. No other mods are necessary unless you want to play with a specific person. (or if you are a nut)
What items should I prioritize for fast selection?
1. The Estus flask is your most important PvE item 90% of the time (other than your gear). You should never unbind it to avoid an embarassing death to an npc.
1.5 However, if you're feeling it you can always save a slot for more items by just quickly hitting Start, A, A for a quick heal. This way you can save a slot, but you have to remember!
2. A cure for poison or toxic should be ready to go at any time as well (purple moss). Personally I never use red moss at all.
3. Bombs/throwing knives are nice to have for a distance attack if you are a mainly melee fighter.
4. Humanities are nice to have on hand for quick unhollwing and kindling or even an emergency heal (or healing in pvp which we will discuss later)
5. Red orbs or white/red/orange soaps are also nice to tack on in case you want to quickly join other worlds.
6. Homeward bones/Black Separation Crystals are nice to have on ready to go as well in order to quickly escape (or banish an afk phantom) or return to a bonfire for a fast leave.
7. Items that you need to buff with for the next fight could also be put in here just for easy access.
8. Sometimes if you have a lot of the same kind of soul it can be faster to just bind it rather than keep opening the menu over and over.
What should I level up?
That really depends on the build you're going for, but since this is likely your first run it is better to try things that are middle ground.
It should be known that resistence is considered a useless stat.
I'd recommend a focus on strength, dexterity, vitality, and endurance for your first run.
Intelligence, faith and attunement are for magic and miracle casters. Nothing wrong with that, but I think melee is more enjoyable.
Bows mostly scale with dexterity (if not completely)
Keep in mind some weapon alterations nulify scaling.
for example if I upgraded a club to lightning it would no longer scale with strength, but simply by the upgrades I apply with more titanite.
Important to note the game is totally beatable without leveling up at all. Even I have done it
I cannot stress enough that gear is more important than level.
Chart provided by Dark Souls Wiki
This is actually more important than your character's leveling for the most part.
To upgrade anything you will need souls on hand. I recommend saving the ones that you can pop from your inventory for reinforcement.
Simply visit a blacksmith for initial reinforcements. There are 4 blacksmiths total. You can and should buy kits from them to reinforce at a bonfire on your own. However to modify the type of weapon or advance an entire tier (for example making a +10 longsword) you will need to visit a specific blacksmith depending on their specialties. Sometimes you will not yet have the ember necessary for leveling a weapon. Embers are scattered throughout the game and you can look those up easily. Different titanites along with souls are the key to leveling weapons. It's generally cheaper to farm most materials, but if you want to save time the Giant blacksmith in Anor Londo sells most types of upgrade material.
Use the wiki or other guides for specific information on weapon smithing.
It's also important to reinforce your armor.
Be cautious of wasting materials on items you might not use later, but make sure you have something strong enough for what you are currently doing. Some planning ahead is required to save time.
However, since it is likely your first run it's not the worst thing ever to waste some upgrade materials because more will be found since you will probably explore all the areas. In later runs you will naturally be more efficient and won't need to travel as much.
What is the best weapon?
the b button.
but seriously do not underestimate rolling. Rolling has invulnerability frames that are key to beating almost anything. Your shield is nice but a timed roll is better.
Generally speaking most players make sure they can do the fastest roll possible. This is done so by managing your endurance and equiptment weight.
Don't be a fatty and need to roll in a giant suit of armor as seen above.
Equipment burden / weight
Try to focus on making your character as light and effective as possible. I'd rather be naked than do the fat roll. (a roll where you fall down and slowly get up)
Simply experiment with your endurance level and equiptment (weapons and armor only)
When in doubt you can always use the Mask of the Father, Ring of Favor and Protection, and/or Havels ring to boost your endurance to carry more.
Keep in mind when experimenting with weight in Dark Souls 1 it takes a second for your new selection to take effect. You might do a fast roll instantly after switching but then start doing medium rolls.
What is actually the best weapon?
There isn't one technically. Some are better than others. It's more fun to find out what you like. Just make sure you get the stats needed to use the weapon at all. Remember you can always try 2 handing a weapon you might not be strong enough to 1 hand. (press Y to 2 hand and Y again to 1 hand)
Typically really powerful weapons sacrifice having a quick and diverse move set. Pick your balance between these. In PvP strength weapons that are slow are generally not the best idea but can work in some instances. It just depends on what you like. I prefer fighting people that are creative as I try to be myself.
On your first run of the game I recommend experimentation over mix/maxing stats for a particular build. You can't specialize on something if you haven't tried other things first!
Are there any noob traps? (Things to look out for)
hint: the tiny being's ring is not what it says it is hint: the pendant is what it says it is
Please don't be the noob with the drake sword. The drake sword is a terrible noob trap weapon. It looks good on paper but in reality there are much better options in the early game. It's far better to pick something like a long sword and level it. At the end of the day it's your choice, but I will laugh at you.
Always be careful when picking up an item or opening a new door. Keep your guard up.
Keep in mind how you are managing your stamina. Holding up your shield makes you replenish stamina more slowly.
Also, don't kill friendly NPC's unless you know exactly why you are doing it. They will not come back to life unless you beat the game and restart on newgame+
pssst: people can disguise themselves as objects. it's a little uncommon these days, but that barrel might be the host or an invader. Snake!
Rings are important.
Some are more useful than others. Some are deceptive at seeming useful but are actually poor.
(if you picked the tiny being's ring when creating your character I am so sorry)
The Old Witch's Ring is used to speak with a certain npc that you should find out yourself or use a different source :p
Is pvp/online dead?
No, the servers just suck. If you have patience and Watchdog installed just wait for nodes and you should find people easily. There are thousands online 24/7.
Once you get nodes you should stay logged in so that they don't reset. (they reset if you close dark souls)
Once you have nodes you should be good to go for a while with tons of activity.
How am I matched with other players?
PvP and Co-Op is based around item usage. There are 2 PvP items that allow unlimited invasions. The Red soap stone and the Red Eye Orb. The Cracked Red Eye Orbs only get 1 invasion each.
Co-Op is established by being in human form and touching a glowing white sign or by placing your own white sign to be summoned by someone else.
You can only summon and be invaded in areas where the boss is still alive.
Always remember to be human! you can go human by using a humanity at the bonfire.
You do not need to be human to place your white sign.
Dark Souls 1 is based on your Soul Level (the leveling you do at bonfires of your stats like vitality and endurance)
Fortunately there is no level where you won't experience any online activity at all. I believe the standard meta to stay at is around level 100 something. I have a lvl 300 character that I never use anymore. My favorite character is level 1. I beat the game at level 1 because I can invade anyone at any time anywhere :D
Look for other guides and the wiki on how exactly the matchmaking calculations work.
There are also Dark Souls level calculators that will tell you exactly who you can be matched with and how.
Keep in mind Dark Souls II used a completely different system based on total souls.
The Black Separation Crystal can only be used to return to your own world and to kick summons. You cannot kick an invader. I have watched many new players that seem to think it can kick invaders.
Backstabbing and Parrying
Not all enemies can be parried and not all enemies can be backstabbed. You will learn the patterns and rules for this on your own.
Sometimes fishing for backstabs can be quite the "noob" thing to do, but take advantage of it when necessary. It offers invulnerability frames that can be key to winning against multiple enemies.
Parrying is for the big boys. Learn to do it asap and you will be successful in life after death. Parrying also offers invulnerability frams when completing the attack end after the initial attack deflection. Try to R1 instantly after you get the parry sound with L2.
Magics, Miracles, and Pyromancies Oh my!
This will be a little confusing to people new to the Souls series.
1. There are 3 types of castings that you can do in Dark Souls
2. All Miracles, Pyromancies and spells must be selected/attuned at bonfires.
3. Pyromancy uses a glove/hand that you must equipt in order to cast.
4. Miracles use talismons that you must equipt
5. Spells use catalysts that you must equipt
6. Either hand can be used for these.
7. You will see a number that represents how many times you can cast the pyromancy/spell/miracle whilst you have it selected. You can choose more of the same type for more castings/charges.
8. Castings/charges reset upon bonfire rests and when you help someone clear a boss as a phantom. They reset after successful invasions as well. side note: when I was a new player to magic I thought that was the only casts I'd ever get. Nope! they reset just like flasks. Can't imagine how much less popular magic/miracle use would be.
9. Leveing intelligence, attunement, and faith is very important for this category.
Generally experimentation is the best way to learn about this category of dark souls.
Farming is an important way of getting mass ammounts of consumables or materials that you need.
It's important to know that being in human form and having lots of humanity on the top left humanity counter (this is known as soft humanity) greatly boosts your drop rate and luck. The main incriments people agree are 00 (not hollowing), 5, and 10. 30 soft humanity can increase your resistence. There seems to be debate on whether or not more than 30 does anything, but this can be brought to 99.
other items can also boost your luck. I like wearing the gold serpent ring while farming (found in Sen's Fortress)
Specific guides and the wiki are full of great methods people have discovered for quickly massing items to 99 or for quick weapon upgrades.
Such an example is farming the rats in the depths for humanities.
The most basic thing about farming is to
1. run to efficient area 2. sit at closest bonfire 3. Kill all the things 3.5 pick up all the things 4. run back to bonfire (or use a homeward bone) 5. sit 6. repeat
Some people duplicate items or spawn them with cheats
I am against such things as I consider anything outside the game cheating.
Honor, and When it's Necessary
Dark Souls is Dark Souls. At the end of the day there are no rules (other than cheating. don't cheat).
Many players have unwritten (or perhaps written somewhere) rules for fair combat. Not all players know or care about this, so always be cautious of that and don't get angry if they hold no bars at wanting you dead.
I tend to play it based on what I see. Sometimes I am super nice and sometimes super cruel. It's more amusing to cosplay a character and act certain ways on certain days, but sometimes you see someone who you just feel like kicking off a cliff.
Just remember karma might not exist, but an angry player does.
PvP things to be aware of
1. Sometimes you will lose fights because of latency. Nothing we can do about it.
2. Sometimes you will lose to cheaters. Not much we can do about it. (try knocking them off. Most cheaters cheat because they are terrible at the game)
3. Healing is considered incredibly rude. If you're the host try your best not to heal unless your invader heals as well. Same goes for the invader. Don't spam 99 humanities because you can't win a fight. Often I think if you're outnumbered healing is fine. If they become more aggressive they are either upset you healed or are just trying to finish you before you can do any more. Typically just don't do it.
3.5 Typically in relating to healing it is generally nice to let the host heal and deal with nearby npcs before a fight. if you don't let them heal before hand they might not be inclined to hold any bars against you.
4. it's better to lose than embarass yourself
4.5 Sometimes people like me will bully you or others and that's ok because that's Dark Souls. (seriously the developers condone/encouraged it.)
5. Don't get upset when people gesture spam. It's better than them standing there or not interracting with you.
6. Some people will give you items on the ground. Take them if you want, but be aware it makes you vulnerable to an attack. I personally just like being nice and giving random things people might want/need.
7. Be wary of gankers. (people that team up and kill invaders.)
8. Just do the best you can and remember everyone loses.
What is the Lore like? / What even is Lordran?
Dark Souls in my opinion is a gaming work of art. It takes advantage of the medium of interactive media and presents itself in a way that allows the player to discover things for themselves.
You are in a dying world and the enemies you face are the remnants of it. Read item descriptions and look up videos on people's various theories on the game. It's actually a lot deeper than it seems on the surface.
The intro cutscene should be viewed a few times especially after game completion.
If you take the time to play and aren't even a lore person I think you will still appreciate the atmosphere in the very least.
I will likely add more sections and pictures to this later.
My goal is for this to be an all encompassing guide without digging into ludicrous details. (that's what the wiki and other guides are for)
I simply want to pass all information that a seasoned player would want new ones to know.