Dark Souls: Praise the Sun and the community!

                                                 First completed playthrough and a number I shall never forget
 

I will be honest, I consider myself an experienced player. Before I got Dark Souls, I was sure that since I’ve had my ‘sweet’ time with Demon’s Souls and as I know what to expect from the latter, I’d beat the game quite easily with very few deaths. And then the naive illusion shattered. I’ve died. Then I died again and again. Before I realised it, the number of deaths reached second digit, and it didn’t stop there. That’s when I got bitchslapped by reality – There are games that will spit on your experience with the particular genre, it’s the unique design that keeps surprising you. Reflexes and patience alone won’t save you, as the game requieres much improvisation and swift tactic-making, in which case it requieres you to stay focused and it’s not that easy considering the panic attack that you are about to go through.

If you wonder whether you should buy it or not – I can only tell you that it’s a long, emotional journey. The game wants to (and will) troll you, so you have to ask yourself – Are you the kind of person who won’t give up and show the game that you can overcome it? If so, persistance and patience is your best weapon in this dark RPG world.  Don’t misunderstand though, I did (and still do) enjoy the game, be it because of complex ways you can build your character or simply because I can see that I’m getting better at it. Just remember, the game gives you a choice: You take the red pill and play it for sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, or the blue pill and you play to win, in which case you might aswell use exploits and watch walkthrough videos to complete it and dominate the PvP.

That being said, like an elder who once was a young fool, I have to admit that I hated the game for some of the zones where I had hard time beating a specific enemy or simply because I’ve got stuck and didn’t know how to progress further (Example: Shining door in forest) and now that I think about it – it wasn’t actually that bad and demanding, I simply made the mistake of rushing through with the progress and doing silly mistakes.  In these cases I’ve searched for advices on the wiki chat/reddit and in the end, I don’t regret seeking help. The game is just full of various solutions and different ways to complete an objective. Dark Souls’ community is one of the greatest I’ve had pleasure to see and that’s mainly because the game creates such a perfect environment for it. There are many mysteries, each player solves a part of it and as a community we exchange that information and eventually we find out something new and exciting. I bow my head down to /r/DarkSouls and the group of helpful people on Dark Souls PS3 Chat, these communites are what make DS an unforgettable and ever-changing experience.

Now I feel like I should try to contribute a bit, so here are some useful tips I’ve gathered thanks to the mentioned communities but also my personal experience  with the game for anyone who’s smacking his way through the first playthrough (For advanced hints scroll to the end):

Movement/Techniques:

– Pressing ‘roll button’ while on a ladder makes your char swiftly go down with no fall damage.

– To backstab press R1 without any other key while standing perfectly behind an enemy (Some enemies can’t be backstabbed!), one of the best ways to do it in pve is by blocking an incoming attack and then swiftly circling around the enemy and clicking R1 with the right timing.

– Pushing the movement pad forward (not holding) and pressing R1 at once results in a kick animation that on some weapons changes to Special Attack.
– Pushing the movement pad forward (not holding) and pressing R2 at once results in a jump attack that on some weapons changes to Special Attack 2.

– Using R2 while holding some of the weapons with both hands causes special magic ability. (Example: Stone Greatsword does aoe slow and endurance decrease)


Character class that will suit you

Before you begin your journey, consider doing a bit of research on the Wiki’s page. Read a bit about each class, unless you’re decided on something particular, go for Pyromancer, it’s the class that starts from scratch, and that means you have the freedom of leveling it as you please, it’s not limited to becoming caster! Pyromancer is actually the class that can become anything with the least effort. As for the gift,  Master Key is pretty much the only choice you should consider until it becomes apparent what Pendant does.

Weapons, armors, playstyles

(for more specific hints concerning equipment scroll down to advanced tips)

– Don’t go around asking people what you should choose as a :random class name:, it all depends on your playstyle. Even if you play Knight, you can still choose between heavy or light armor, slow or swift hitting weapon. When you want an advice concerning your equipment, then just say that you plan on going STR, DEX, INT or FAITH, and from there the choices become narrower. The research can be easily done yourself, especially if you have the full strategy guide where you have all weapons, their dmg on each upgrade level etc. Still, there’s whole lot of fun when you experiment, so just go ahead to Wiki weapons site, search for a weapon that has scalling in the stat that you like plus a reasonable requirements for your future build, then scroll down to the bottom of the page for explanations of each upgrade. Then navigate here for all the necessary info on how to upgrade. Let’s say you chose Uchigatana (Because you just fucking love katanas), it has ‘B’ scalling for Dexterity, which is really nice so you should pass on Lightning,  and Flame upgrades as they remove stat scalling and instead you could go for Crystal or simply +15 normal upgrade for great damage. Once again, it’s all about your preferences.

– When it comes to shields, most of them are very similar. So you just pick the one with most defense and preferrably 100% physical block (As most of the enemies do physical damage). But it’s always smart to have the highest Fire and Magic defense shields ready to equip in particular parts of the game.  Be aware though, Spider Shield is great for blocking poison, Dragon Crest Shield for blocking fire damage and Grass Crest Shield increases stamina regeneration even if you use weapon with your both hands, same thing with Bloodshield but increases resistances instead. For more info scroll down to advanced shield hints.

– Armor, one of the hardest choices in the game.  When it comes to physical damage, it’s usually ‘heavier = better’, but that affects your movement drastically, unless your ENDURANCE stat is high and/or you use a ring that increases it. If you’re a player who likes to block rather than roll (which comes down to good stamina control) then by all means you should wear the best defense armors. But, if you consider rolling important part of your gameplay then forget it and go for armor that has lower defense. What’s worth knowing is that the light/medium armors have much better magic/poison resistances, so take it under consideration too, but of course, a good player won’t stick to one armor and will switch them depending on the situation. So the best guess is – Gather all of them! Experiment and you’ll eventually find out what’s best for you.

Leveling: Should you really grief over lost souls?

The answer is: Not that much. The game is harder on lower level (doh!), so the fact that you don’t level frequently gives you harder experience. If you create some solid build for yourself and stick to it, SL is nothing more than difficulty meter. That’s why on your alt you might consider keeping it low while trying to progress, so it’s still a challenge.

Okay but how do I create a solid build?

At this point you should already know more or less what you want to do with the equipment. The second part of character building are stats. IMO the most important stat for the beginners is VITALITY, everytime you have spare SL (meaning you already have the needed req for the weapon at this stage of the game) just level it. Once you hit about 20 you can make a long break and level Endurance/Faith/Int/Dex/Str depending on what you want to do with your character. Just a reminder: Don’t follow strict builds made by someone else, this ruins the fun completely. The only satisfaction you’re gonna get is from becoming strong, but then you’ll feel regret for not reaching that point with your own strength and creativity. (I mean come on, why else play an RPG?)

Co-op: How to and should I really?

First you need to know that Dark Souls wasn’t created with friend-friend co-op in mind. It’s supposed to be random and it will stay like that. But there’s actually a way to do it. As it turns out, players are scattered over whole wide bunch of servers and to summon your friend you should:

1. Make sure you’re in 10% SL range of your friend.

2. You (as the host) need to be in human form. (Doesn’t matter for the one who gets summoned)

3. Zone in which Host is, the Boss must be alive. (Doesn’t matter for the phantom)

And at this point, simply go to the precise location, then the friend who wants to be summoned should place sign using White Soapstone and wait 30 seconds. If after 30 seconds host sill can’t see it, then he or she should place it again. Repeat until it finally appears on the right server.

And once again,  controversy comes in. Should you summon help? That’s a question everyone has to answer themselves. In my opinion: only on some of the Bosses that you really have trouble beating on your first playthrough. Summoning help for every Boss sounds a little cheap to me.

When it comes to helping people though, the profit goes for both ways so hell, why not?

Co-op Hints

– Using flask as the host heals every other friendly phantom, so don’t just stand there hitting the Boss when your summoned phantom is dying and you can save him.

– Don’t be a hero, as the host play defensively because even if the phantoms die, they’d still want you to finish the task, and if you die first it’s all over.

– Be nice, bow to show that you appreciate the help. (SELECT on PS3 for emote menu)

– If you’re a phantom and you were summoned at the beginning of the zone, send a PM to host asking if he needs full run or just Boss, it’s really nice and makes the situation less chaotic.

– As a phantom, always try to chop off the Boss’ tail, perhaps host needs the weapon.

– Players also have gold signs (when they’re in Warrior of Sunlight covenant) so don’t mistake them for a NPC.

– If you want to join Warriors of Sunlight covenant (so basically you need to help people with bosses as much as possible, for more info check wiki) then pick one Boss that’s close to your SL and keep doing it, for example at SL 20 you shouldn’t have problems getting summoned for Gargoyle.

Invading/PvP


The best/easiest way to PvP is by joining a specific for your needs Covenant, for a newbie I’d recommend Forest Hunters as it can be joined early in the game and doesn’t requiere much effort. When it comes to SL for Forest PvP – it can be anything starting at about SL 15 (There are rumours going on that SL doesn’t matter, but from my personal experience, on SL ~20 I was getting summoned constantly, while on 60+ barely). If you want to be the host and get invaded, simply walk into the forest beyond the shining doors in human form, just keep in mind that the limit of phantoms invading you there is 2, not 1, plus every mob in the forest is your enemy, so that’s an option once you have experience.

PvP Honor Code

If you like playing fair then by all means follow these rules:

–  Don’t use Fog Ring/Hide Body spell unless your enemy does it. The inability to lock-on for one of you is just horribly imbalanced.

– Don’t quit to avoid death.

– If you want a proper duel, as a host don’t use flasks, don’t use Stone Greatsword 2h R2 ability and Walk of peace.

– Bow at the end of the battle. (If you stay alive, doh)

The most frequently asked question: What now?

In Dark Souls we have open world, which makes it much harder to decide on the order of things in comparison to Demon’s Souls, so in here experience is the only teacher if you don’t seek for the answer online. The route can be different depending on which boss is hard for you to kill, but I’ll try to put Bosses in tiers basing on my personal experience (Of course I don’t take co-op into consideration, but consider phantom as -1 tier for the boss. I will mark bosses with plus and minus if the mobs in the zone are of higher/lower tier than Boss)

Tier 1

Taurus Demon

Moonlight Butterfly

Hydras (++)

Pinwheel (+)

Undead Dragon (++)

Tier 2

Bell Gargoyle (-)

Capra Demon (-)

Gaping Dragon (-)

Havel the Rock (-)

Tier 3

Great Grey Wolf Sif

Chaos Witch Queelag (-)

Iron Golem

Ceaseless Discharge

Titanite Demons

Tier 4

Crossbreed Priscilla

Stray Demon(-)

Tier 5

Ornstein & Smough (-)

Everything that’s beyond is pretty much Tier 6 but difficulty greatly depends on the build you went for. (I’ve skipped most of the minibosses so don’t consider them as t6)

Advanced hints (SPOILERS! Misc. section mostly for players after the first playthrough)

EQUIPMENT

Skeletons killed with Divine weapons don’t rise.

Shields:

Grass Crest Shield(Raises Stamina regeneration speed) and Bloodshield’s(Raises Poison/Bleed/Curse resistance by 50%) effects work even if you use weapon with both hands.

Sanctus Shield restores HP at the rate of 2 HP every 2 seconds (works even if weapon is held with two hands just like these above)

Spider Shield raises Poison resistance by 100 points

Crystal Ring Shield (Which can be used as a mid-ranged weapon by pressing L2 with the capability to do over 1k dmg)  increases damage depending on the weapon in the right hand (Damage depends on the weapon held in right hand)

Spiked shield instead of parry has a thrust attack with bleed build up 33 per strike and once inflicted takes 1/3rd of enemy’s total hp. (Pierced shield also has the thrust attack but it doesn’t build bleeding effect)

Havel’s Greatshield’s Shield Bash is replaced by a unique spell that coats the wielders body in stone, greatly increasing defense.

Bonewheel’s Shield’s Shield Bash is replaced by a triple hitting shield spin attack.

Headgears and Sets:

– Sets/parts that have minor decrease in stamina recovery (I’m not sure whether upgrading removes that fault or not): Armor of the glorious (only that part!), Black Knight, Catarina, Eastern Armor (Only that part!), Holy. Ornstein’s (excluding Gauntlets!), Paladin, Steel.

– Sets/parts that have major decrease in stamina recovery (I’m not sure whether upgrading removes that fault or not): Black Iron’s Leggings (Only that part!), Giant, Golem, Havel’s,  Smough’s, Stone, Fang Boar’s Helm, Symbol of Avarice.

– To acquire the Xanthous’ Set (which crown looks similar to Old Monk’s Spiral hat), you have to 1. Kill Crossbreed Priscilla. 2. Be in human form, make your way forward to the central plaza where the rotating statue is located. From that plaza, enter the unlevel snowfield area where you’ll find several empty containment cells. Walk toward the back of that area, and King Jeremiah will invade and attack you. Once both Priscilla and Jeremiah are dead, there should be corpse with the set at the place you fought Priscilla.

– Each part of Set of Thorns adds an Attack value of 20 when rolling into an enemy, excluding Armor part which gives 50 instead.

Sunlight Maggot illuminates the area around player (like Light spell).

Symbol of Avarice when equipped gives an additional 20% to Soul acquiring rate. Character gains an additional 200 points to Item Discovery Rate. Continuously lose HP at a rate of 5 HP per second. The failproof way of getting that item is hitting Mimic, then throwing the Lloyd Talisman on it so it goes to sleep again, each time you do it there’s chance that you will be able to loot it. It can take between 1 to even 200 talismans depending on luck.

Crown of the Dark Sun boosts the damage of all magic types

Crown of Dusk grants an additional 20% to Magic Attack, but lowers Magic Defense by 30%

Masks of the Family give bonuses: Father‘s boosts equip load by 15%, Mother‘s increases hp by 15% and Child‘s increases stamina recovery rate.

Items

Dried finger greatly reduces the period of time between possible invasions of your world.

Pendant can be used to exchange for an item with Hawk Girl (Sparkly in the Undead Asylum) for Souvenir of Reprisal. (Other possibilities are unknown)

– You can receive Pendant as a reward for killing host after being summoned by Alvina in the Forest Hunters covenant.

Dropping items in several game locations can cause a mob spawn that drops items related to SL and type of character that died in that exact place in other world.

Old Witch’s Ring Allows you to understand the Daughter of Chaos’s language.

MISC.

– You can kill any of the Firekeepers for their souls, but corresponding Fireplace won’t be usable anymore.

– Using lightning spear spell on water will case small area aoe dmg.

Dark souls is a fun game

– Using Fog Ring in PvE decreases the aggro range of mobs, meaning that it’s very useful in places with archers as they won’t see you until you’re close.  (Example: the Archives)

Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring has similar effect as above, but it’s most effective if you approach mob from behind for easy backstabs.

– You can’t be invaded when standing in an area where you can’t place the White Soapstone.

– The empty room close to the Iron Golem‘s fog gate contains a summon sign of a NPC who can aid you in the combat if you’re in human form.

– You can kill Knight Lautrec of Carim who’s imprisoned in the upper part of Church (It is recommended to free him first and then once he arrives at the Firelink double kick him so he falls off the edge, then you need to relog for the loot to appear) to get powerful Ring of Favor and Protection and 5 Humanity, also Firelink’s Firekeeper won’t die after ringing the second bell.

– During the Smough&Ornstein fight, remember to kill the one whose soul you want LAST, the same thing applies to armor that you’ll be able to purchase after the obtaining the soul under the Bridge next to the first Fireplace where you find the first Ring of Sacrifice.

Seath the Scaleless’ tail is easier to cut off with the Slumbering Dragon Ring (not verified info)

– You can actually tell apart Mimic from regular Chests, also they drop a very rare item: Symbol of Avarice.

– Overkilling enemies (for example with Crystal Ring Shield) gives more souls.

– If the enemy falls of a cliff you can relog and the loot will appear close to the spot.

– Spamming whip attack with your friends in co-op with prism stones scattered all over the floor is appearently considered a fun activity.

That would be everything I can think of at the moment. So once again, big thank you to the community for being awesome,  UMBASA.

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