Dark Souls – Tips for Beginners


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Dark Souls’ reputation as one of the most difficult yet satisfying games on the market continues to draw in new players, and even though these gamers typically understand what they’re getting into, nothing can truly prepare them for what they’re about to experience. It’s brutally unforgiving, and just getting past the first boss can be a daunting task. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably experienced the pains I just mentioned, and are ready to commit to beating the game. If you stay dedicated, and heed the following advice, you’ll be able to accomplish your goal. Here are my top 10 tips for Dark Souls beginners.

Patience, patience, patience.

Don’t get hasty. Take your time. This is a game where even the weakest enemy can take you down if you’re not careful; especially if you’re just starting to learn the world of Dark Souls. I’ll say it again, because I don’t think it sunk in. Be patient! Take you’re time, and don’t get hasty! I can’t stress the importance of this.

Keep your shield up.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I walked around a corner, not knowing there was a guy standing there waiting to strike. The result was often a one-hit KO that I could have easily avoided if I had kept my shield up while exploring. There’s hardly any downside to keeping your shield up while walking around the environment, and it will undoubtedly save your unsuspecting ass a couple of times.

Don’t worry about dying.

It’s going to happen. It happens to the best players out there. Dying is part of what makes this game great. It’s what gives you that thrilling sense of accomplishment once you finally defeat that boss on the 10th try. Without it, the game wouldn’t be the same. Learn to accept that you’re going to die, and you will start to appreciate the game more and more.

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Again.

You will lose your souls, and that’s okay.

This one coincides with the last one. You will die, and you unfortunately won’t always recover your lost souls. The first time you lose a large amount of souls, it hurts. You want to quit and never play again. Don’t. Keep playing. You will soon learn that you didn’t really lose all that much.

Practice Rolling.

Rolling will save your ass; guaranteed. If you time your roll at the moment of an enemy’s attack, you might dodge the attack completely. Practice this dodging technique on weak enemies near a bonfire at first (like Hollow Soldiers in the Undead Burgh), and see how you do. Try to time it so you’re in mid-roll at the moment of the enemy’s strike. Think of it as the enemy swinging and missing! Some attacks are very difficult to dodge, and some can’t be dodged. In those cases, rolling still provides a quick way to put some distance between you and an enemy.

Know when to heal.

Healing leaves you vulnerable, so never heal unless you are a safe distance from an enemy or you’re certain there’s enough time to heal before they start attacking again. Even if you’re health is extremely low, and the next hit will kill you, it is better to keep your shield up and continue dodging attacks until you have a safe window for healing. Think back to the first tip in this article. Practice patience, and you’ll reap rewards.

Know when to attack.

As you’ve probably already discovered, spamming attacks is not the best strategy. If you do, most enemies will get some hits in before you kill them, causing you to unnecessarily lose precious health. A few enemies will also parry and counter attack, so knowing when to attack is key. Keep your shield up, and study each enemy’s patterns. Most of their attacks won’t break through your shield (just watch your stamina), and you’ll be able to spot an opening. A good time to attack a lot of enemies is right after they hit your shield, but still be careful. Some may continue with follow up attacks, and if you go in for the kill too early, you’ll pay the ultimate price. Be patient, and study their patterns.

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“Spoiler: I’m the shit.”

Use a weapon that works for you.

There are tons of weapons to choose from in Dark Souls; each different from the rest. They all offer unique movesets, and will greatly affect the way you’ll approach enemies and play through the game. Find one you like, and learn to play with it. The weapon with the highest damage isn’t necessarily the “best” weapon, especially if you don’t like using it. Even if you choose one you don’t particularly like, become familiar with its moveset, and learn how to use it.

Upgrade your weapons and armor.

Upgrading your weapons and armor is considerably more important than leveling up your character. Pumping up your strength stat won’t do you any good if you’re using a weapon that doesn’t scale well, especially in the early parts of the game (your character will be too low-level to benefit at this point anyways), so upgrading is the way to go. Most weapons can be upgraded to +5 with 9 titanite shards, which you can buy from a blacksmiths for just 800 souls a piece. A +5 Longsword does 120 damage – 40 more than a non-upgraded Longsword. Taking it a step farther, a fully upgraded Lighting Longsword, for example, will do 200 physical damage and 200 lightning damage. Even if your character’s at level 1. So, upgrade your shit.

Keep an open mind and have fun.

It can be a slow grind the first time through this game, so make sure to keep an open mind and have fun with it. Yeah, you’re going to die, but keep reminding yourself of all the small steps you’ve taken at becoming a better player. Keep pushing, and you’ll keep getting a little farther with each push, until you’re finally near the end of the game and it will dawn upon you how far you’ve actually come.

Well, that’s it for now, but there’s always plenty more to learn. For in-depth help on specific topics, check out the wikis: www.darksouls.wikidot.com and darksoulswiki.wikispaces.com. YouTube is also a valuable resource. Sometimes watching is easier than reading. I’d recommend Lobos Jr, Kazamieras, and EpicNameBro.

So, next time you load up Dark Souls, keep these tips in mind. You’ll soon find yourself actually enjoying yourself for a change. And once you’ve conquered the game, keep practicing, because there’s always New Game +.

Bonus Tips!

My favorite early-game weapons: Longsword, Winged Spear, Hollow Soldier Shield

Turtle up! Hide behind your shield while attacking with a spear. This allows you to attack and be protected at the same time. This is very useful when facing multiple enemies, but it drains your stamina quickly.

When you have little to no souls, go on a “suicide run” (running through a tough section to pick up an item). When you die, you’ll revive at the bonfire with the item in your inventory. Good examples are the Winged Spear in the graveyard, and the Firekeeper’s Soul in the New Londo Ruins.

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Scott Charboneau

I'm a full-time accountant, part-time pizza delivery guy, dedicated blogger, and pure blooded Pokemon trainer. I enjoy craft beer, movies, hockey, and watching my three year old son play videogames.

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