DARK SOULS™: Prepare To Die Edition

DARK SOULS™: Prepare To Die Edition

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How to fix Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (2012) for PC and get started
By Arbie
Fixes, multiplayer setup, suggestions and tips to get the most out of the PC version of DaS1.
The purpose of this guide is to create a quick fix with some explanation on how to get the PC 2012 version of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition 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, a PC game without optimisation options is not considered a good port within the community.
13 minutes after release a 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.
  1. Open the game and disable anti-aliasing, then follow the instructions provided to install DSFix correctly. (You will get anti-aliasing through the DSfix options.)
  2. Download the latest version (2.4) here: http://blog.metaclassofnil.com/?tag=dsfix (Dark Souls Nexus mirror: http://darksouls.nexusmods.com/mods/19/ )
  3. Set it up with the information provided in the download.

Default settings, 1024x720 render resolution @ 1920x1080.

DSfix 1920x1080 render resolution @1920x1080, 1080 (disabled) dof setting, no smaa.

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.
Make sure Anti-Aliasing is disabled in-game.

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.

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.
Backup 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', you may rename backups to this to use them.
Controller Issues
DualShock 4 or Steam Controller
Set up your controller via Steam Big Picture mode:

Windows/Xbox Controller
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.

Alternative for DualShock 3, DualShock 4 or any other controller
If using DualShock 3, 4 or any other controller try x360ce

If you're using a DualShock 3 I recommend SCP Drivers:
Make sure you put it into the same directory as the game. (This also works for DualShock 4.)

If that didn't work I suggest using PCSX2 and the XInput Wrapper for DualShock 3 and Play.com USB Dual DS2 Controller
Using Keyboard and Mouse (and/or Customising Controller Button Bindings)
Dark Souls Input Customizer provides a GUI to allow you to set keybindings easily.
Download: https://community.pcgamingwiki.com/files/file/890-dark-souls-input-customizer/

The Dark Souls Input Customizer (DSIC) allows full customization of the controls of Dark Souls. It uses an intuitive input system that allows the rebinding of every action to arbitrary combinations of keys or buttons on the controller, mouse or keyboard. Although this can in part also be achieved with existing tools, DSIC is much more flexible and wraps it all up in an easy to use package, with additional functionality that is specially tailored to Dark Souls.

DSIC also fully includes the Dark Souls Mouse Fix, which does not have to be installed separately.

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.
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:
enableTextureOverride 1
While I suggest playing by yourself on your first playthrough, remember that people may be waiting for you should you need help.

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, perform the following

1) To gain quick connection with other players' signs, ghosts and phantoms install the Dark Souls Connectivity Mod.
Download: http://wulf2k.ca/PC/DaS/DSCM.html
Alternative Link: https://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/1047/?

Follow the instructions provided and keep it running each time you play.

2) If you have anymore issues, open these ports:
TCP port 27014-27050
UDP port 4379
UDP port 4380
UDP port 3478

Multiplayer Advice

Is it okay to summon on first playthrough? I'd say you might miss out on all a boss may offer but 1v2 boss fights may be daunting to newcomers. I'd recommend trying to place your White Soapstone sign to travel to another world so you can help another player, use the experience to learn the fight to do it solo in your own world, guilt-free!

But, if you want to summon the help of another player, you have to kindle Humanity at a bonfire. This will let you transform to Human form (shown by clearer skin and a white border around the Humanity meter at the top left of the UI) to summon help from other player White Soapstone signs.
You may gain Humanity by helping another player beat a boss to obtain one soft Humanity point and use that to kindle.

Multiplayer Matchmaking

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:

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.
Download: http://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/849/?
(Be advised that it may cause performance issues.)

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
  • Darkroot Forest: 1-80
  • Lower Undead Burg: 10-25
  • The Depths: 10-30
  • Catacombs: 15-80
  • Blighttown: 20-35
  • Sen's Fortress: 25-45
  • Anor Londo: 30-55
  • Painted World of Ariamis: 30-80
  • New Londo: 40-80
  • Lost Izalith: 40-80
  • Tomb of the Giants: 40-80
  • Duke's Archives: 40-80
  • Artorias of the Abyss: 45-80
  • Kiln of the First Flame: 60-80
  • Newgame+* 80-135

Hover over the black text to reveal area name spoilers.

* NG and NG+ (and onwards) each interact with eachother. e.g. a SL20 invader in NG+7 can invade SL19 players still in NG.

If you've beaten the game before, consider trying to summon everyone you see. Keep the game alive and entertaining for other people while having jolly co-operation!

Invading is fun! Invasions is a big reason why Demon's Souls was a cult hit and how this series' multiplayer got so popular it's been copied by other videogames ever since.

Try to be creative with builds focused around a limited Soul Level range around the above areas. Make a SL20 Upper Blighttown invader with Greatbow, make a glass cannon, make a lowbie bullier, anything!

If you're running a high SL invader try not to go above SL135 as the recommend PVP meta is SL125 to SL135.
Important Notes
  • 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.
  • NVIDIA drivers from January to February 2016 conflict with DSFix.
Other Mods
Drag and Drop Mod Manager
Manages mods neatly.
Download: https://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/1355/?

Tree LowRes Texture Fix
Fixes Level of Detail errors for specific trees.
Download: https://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/67/?

High-Res UI and Subtitle fonts
Replaces the low-res 720p grade fonts with higher resolution fonts.
Download: https://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/21/?

Fixes the stuck on bonfire glitch at higher FPS.
Download: https://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/1343/?

Gesture Cancel
Allows you to cancel gestures (like future games in the series).
Download: https://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/1360/?
Miscellaneous Fixes
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:
    1. Make a shortcut to 'DARKSOULS.exe' which is found in the game directory's 'DATA' folder.
    2. Right-click and select 'Properties'.
    3. Go to the 'Compatibility' tab, check 'Run this program in compatibility mode for:' and select 'Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)'.
    4. Try running the game through this shortcut.

Windows 8 crash
    Follow the following instructions for a possible fix:
    1. Navigate to the game directory of Dark Souls and enter the 'DATA' folder.
    2. Right-click and select 'Properties'.
    3. Go to the 'Compatibility' tab, check 'Run this program in compatibility mode for:' and select 'Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)' or 'Windows 7'.
    4. Try running the game.

Windows 10 crash
Disable anti-aliasing through the in-game settings. Use DSFix for anti-aliasing.

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.

DEP Crash

    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.

Windows 7
    Try turning on/off Window's Aero theme.

NVIDIA General
    If you're using Optimus make sure it is set it to use NVIDIA for Dark Souls.
    1. Open 'NVIDIA Control Panel'.
    2. 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.

AMD/ATI General

    Screen tearing
      If you suffer screen tearing try the following:
      1. Disabling V-Sync in your GPU control panels.
      2. Open dsfix.ini, make sure parameter is the following value:
        borderlessFullscreen 1
      If either of them don't work, open dsfix.ini and try changing the 'FPSlimit' parameter's values to ONE of the following:
        FPSlimit 59
        FPSlimit 64
        FPSlimit 70
      The latter codes may have gameplay issues.

    Low-end PC performance boost
      1. Open 'dsfix.ini' and make sure the following parameter to the accompanied values:
        aaQuality 0
        ssaoScale 3
      2. 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.

    AMD/ATI GPUs from 2006-2012 performance fix
      PhilDogTheMan from the steam forums published the following information on how to fix the performance issues on AMD/ATI graphics cards: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2902805Make 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.
    Game Tips
    • 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. Weapon upgrades > stat scaling.
    • The director wants you to consider taking the pendant as your starting gift.
    • If you find a broken pendant, you may want to check a lake in a basin, maybe twice, or three times if you've never seen one.
    • Consider buying 5-10 'Indictment' items, it'll punish online players who bully you.
    • 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.

    QuantizedAnson Apr 3 @ 1:55am 
    Looks like there's an updated and better version of DSfix
    Arbie  [author] Jan 10 @ 12:07pm 
    Hell yeah
    Cowboy Pikachu Jan 10 @ 11:29am 
    thank u this is perfect
    Ԍζυς Jan 3 @ 5:34pm 
    On Linux, you have to add a line to the launch box in properties window for the game. It permit dsfix to work, also the HOST_LC_ALL= is only to add if the language ingame is not the one you expect, adapt it to your own locale.
    WINEDLLOVERRIDES="dinput8=n,b" HOST_LC_ALL=fr_FR.UTF-8 %command%
    D!cK Dec 26, 2022 @ 6:25am 
    I need use dsmfix and not only dsfix
    -̶̯͡»̶̥Ş-P-Ŷ-R-Ŏ Sep 22, 2022 @ 4:50pm 
    "Loading of specified dinput wrapper failed with error 126: the specified module could not be found"
    Abysswalker Jan 23, 2022 @ 12:07pm 
    Hello. Pls help! After alt+tab game not responding and crushing. What can i do? Win10 with DSfix
    Arbie  [author] Sep 6, 2020 @ 4:07am 
    You're welcome! Enjoy the game.
    Breemer Sep 6, 2020 @ 2:33am 
    Reading this sorted my screen tearing out. Thanks!
    ivy Apr 23, 2020 @ 5:31pm