A Beginner's Guide to Dark Souls - 7 Steps to Sucking Less

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A Beginner's Guide to Dark Souls - 7 Steps to Sucking Less

Are you so terrible at Dark Souls that it's not even fun? Yahtzee details how to be less bad at Dark Souls so you can actually enjoy it.

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Just as an addendum to that thing about cheesing the armoured piggy; if you're evil enough you can position yourself such that he will set himself on fire trying to reach you and go down like a sack of heavily armoured potatoes.

Also, kill the dogs first.

I must disagree with the starting class choice, I'd definitely go with Pyromancer since he's the only class that starts at level 1 (in other words, giving you the most room to allocate your stat points) and he has 8 charges of fireball which completely dominates enemies earlier on at range. And then from there on, make a DEX/INT build and you're practically unstoppable (at PVE anyway).

This is great! Dark Souls is my favourite game of this generation, but I've always felt its major flaw lies in taking the whole atmosphere of mystery too far. Don't tell us where to go or what to do, that's absolutely fine, and a large part of what makes the game enjoyable to me - but at least explain the basic mechanics properly. Having to look up how humanity and bonfires and stuff all work almost put me off the game, because figuring out that stuff by trial and error is just bullshit.

So yes, helpful stuff here Yahtzee. Especially the bit about summoning for the gargoyles. I've never died on that fight and never understood why people get so worked up about it, and I imagine that's all down to the fact that I invariably summon for it.

Captcha: jump over

Fuck you, orange-soapstone-wielding captcha.

Rule 1: You can't be wrong in Dark Souls, unless you level up Resistance.
Rule 2: Make a +5 Lightning weapon of your choice as soon as humanly possible.

OuendanCyrus:
I must disagree with the starting class choice, I'd definitely go with Pyromancer since he's the only class that starts at level 1 (in other words, giving you the most room to allocate your stat points) and he has 8 charges of fireball which completely dominates enemies earlier on at range. And then from there on, make a DEX/INT build and you're practically unstoppable (at PVE anyway).

While I do think the Pyromancer is a good class, I have to disagree: it is not a good class for FIRST time players. The fireball is nice, as is the soul level 1, but if first time players are finding that they're dying too often or aren't really getting the hang of combat, the defensive classes are usually better to start with. Pyromancer is more the build for those that want to level up certain stats early for a specific build. Knight is the most defensive, meaning first timers can take more damage before dying, which if nothing else helps to teach enemy attack patterns and combat timing. The Warrior isn't necessarily defensive, but it does make a good transition from super defensive to super offensive with a nice balanced in-between.

In the end, starting class is sort of irrelevant, since it's only really meant to cover you from beginning to around the lower undead burg (maybe depths)

Besides, if you reeaallly want to be unstoppable, you're better off becoming...The Legend

I could probably just easy easily twist point one into "step one don't play the gaem" and be better off playing something else but still it's an amusing guide none the less.

Dark Souls can definitely be cheesed and just because it's Dark Souls doesn't make it a good excuse. It sounds like a "the game isn't playing fair, so I'm not going to either" -mentality. There are numerous enemies and even bosses (like Manus) who can just be sniped with arrows if you just stand there and shoot and you've got an hour to spare.

After you get past the general "obtuseness" of the game there are actually very few parts where it's truly unfair (like Bed of Chaos, especially pre-patch). If you watch a couple of SL1 runs of the game you'll see how straightforward and skill-dependent the game can really be. Stuff like mastering invincibility frames while dodging and learning enemy attack patterns will allow you to beat any boss without much of a hassle, and that is no cheese, only skill.

Wanna kill two birds with one stone?

When in a new, unexplored area, put down your Summon Sign with the White Soapstone. Getting summoned makes you invulnerable to losing your souls upon death, and thus allows you to scout on ahead and get a taste of the Boss without fear of reprisal.

These are all pretty good tips but I will contradict one. The starting class. The biggest pro tip in dark souls is to keep your armor bellow 25 percent, not 50 percent. This will enable the fast roll. The fast roll can be doubled up which dodges almost every boss attack in the game (This is especially true for the super hard expansion bosses). So you want a starting class that has a good light weight armor, good stats, and good items. That class is the pyromancer. He starts with the fast roll, his armor is pretty good because it has high fire resistance. Its a solid armor till you find better light armor. The fireball is very effective early on for handling tougher guys (black knights). His hand axe is a good weapon. It can actually take you through the game pretty far. It attacks very fast, the range is shit, but it can dish out damage better then you think. It can certainly hold you out till you get the Claymore or the Halberd which are both in the Parish and easy to find.

The next think I would suggest is to not be so hastey upgrading any old stat. Vit, End are always pretty safe bets but watch their number because they will get diminishing returns (40+). As for Str and Dex, besides getting to 16 or so in each for basic weapon requirements, you will need to pick one and run with it. Str and Dex are actually not good builds for beginners. This is going to take some explaining but here goes.

STR, DEX, INT, FAITH, really only effect the stat scaling of different Weapons/Spells.

STR weapons tend to be slow and good stat scaling ones are often hard to find, and you better enjoy massive slow weapons. Using big slow hammers, clubs, and axes can make bosses very challenging for new players. If you don't use proper STR scaling weapons, you will just have suboptimal damage output.

DEX has some of the same issue, good DEX weapons are hard to find, unless you are lucky to know where to get the Uchigata early on in which case DEX IS GREAT!. Now when you do find good dex weapons, Dex can be amazing.

Now comes the "best beginnger" stat and maybe the "best actual stat". INT which only problem is that you have to know how to use the very obscure upgrading system. But once you do, INT scaling is often A or S ranked which means you can find yourself out damaging STR and DEX. Not to mention this scaling can be applied to the weapon style you like best as well as your bow. Then on top of that you will get access to the late game broken spells.

Faith is sort of in the same boat but its a bit weaker then INT (scaling is often B/C ranked, miracles are not as OP as sorceries, etc).

That paragraph is probably the problem with dark souls in general.. Happy Hallowing!

Rabidkitten:
These are all pretty good tips but I will contradict one. The starting class. The biggest pro tip in dark souls is to keep your armor bellow 25 percent, not 50 percent.

Until you're actually excellent at dodging, the fast roll isn't worth it at all.

Most new players, myself included, simply had to tank a certain amount of damage and the 50% carry weight spent on armor takes care of that.

Fatrolling is bad and should be avoided, though.

OT:
Good stuff. I would add an addendum to the "Summon Solaire for the Gargoyles" which is "Apply the lighting dust crap you get from the house in the Burg".

With that on a weapon, you can usually take down the first bitch before the second even spawns.

Why are people so exited about lightning weapons? Are enemies specially weak to them or something?

Started playing as a rogue myself, went for Dex build (level 84 now, dex 37, strength 20, stamina and health stats 26 and 28 respectively), usually i carry +10 katana (the one with thrust heavy attack because it's good for tight corridors) and a +10 shield (blood something) and light armor.

ATmatey36:
Dark Souls can definitely be cheesed and just because it's Dark Souls doesn't make it a good excuse. It sounds like a "the game isn't playing fair, so I'm not going to either" -mentality. There are numerous enemies and even bosses (like Manus) who can just be sniped with arrows if you just stand there and shoot and you've got an hour to spare.

If you figure out a strategy yourself (manus sniping) how is that not 'fair'? It's in the game for you to do and you certainly feel one hell of a sense of accomplishment when an outside the box plan comes together.

That said, if you snipe manus because you gave up fighting him and googled it, that's closer to 'cheesing' IMO. I mean, reading walkthroughs or strategy tips beyond some vague starting advice defeats the whole point of the game to me. But there you go.

---

I think the biggest tips I would give to a first time Dark Souls player would be general stuff about paying attention and reading into the environments as well as item descriptions and the like. There are visual cues and patterns that make the game a breeze to predict which people don't seem to look for.

Pyromancy's pretty good for a first-time player. It does hella good damage, there's a trainer for it not too late in, and you don't need to sink souls into leveling up a stat for it.
Another tip: Specialize. Don't try putting levels into every stat, find what you can use and stick to it, because being 'good' with everything isn't going to kill anything as fast as being 'great' with one or two things.

I generally don't have a problem using exploits as long as it doesn't destroy the games difficulty.

The Gargoyle was not the last enemy, that made me curse and bite my shield.Stepping through a gate and having to fight
that Goat-Demon with so little space to move was another big pain in the ass.

nyysjan:
Why are people so exited about lightning weapons? Are enemies specially weak to them or something?

Started playing as a rogue myself, went for Dex build (level 84 now, dex 37, strength 20, stamina and health stats 26 and 28 respectively), usually i carry +10 katana (the one with thrust heavy attack because it's good for tight corridors) and a +10 shield (blood something) and light armor.

Pre-patch the lightning weapons were kinda broken, and even post-patch, very little has a resistance to it (unlike fire) Long term, standard +15 is actually the best for STR/DEX builds, while enchanted or divine is best for INT or FTH builds.

I had alot of trouble starting the game as a rogue, dying endlessly with virtually no progress.

Then I switch to sorcerer and breeze through the game like it was nothing, using spears and shield helps too. Last boss with kill with 2 cast of crystal soul spear.

Whoever claims the game is hard need to stop playing melee classes.

My bits of advice:
1. Take the master key, the other gifts are pretty crap
2. If you don't start as a pyromancer, go get the flame at the first opportunity (I think you can rescue a guy who will sell it to you in the lower burg, if not the lady in blighttown will) since it doesn't draw from any stats, making it great for warriors.
3. Once you find the blacksmith in the parish, buy the seal of whatever from him. It unlocks a big door in the forest next to a fake wall hiding a bonfire, and leads to an area where you can trick high-level enemies into jumping off cliffs for grinding purposes.
4. Once you kill Havel the Rock (under the tower you fight the bull demon on top of) put on his ring and never take it off. It's great to be able to fast roll in decent armor.

Rabidkitten:
These are all pretty good tips but I will contradict one. The starting class. The biggest pro tip in dark souls is to keep your armor bellow 25 percent, not 50 percent. This will enable the fast roll. The fast roll can be doubled up which dodges almost every boss attack in the game (This is especially true for the super hard expansion bosses).

I don't know about that. For me, a lot of bosses a much easier with heavy armor, because of high resistances and poise. For example, I really don't like fighting four kings/demon centipede/firesage demon in light armor, it's much easier to tank their damage.
On the other hand, fighting in PVP without fast roll is not the best idea

TheEvilCheese:

ATmatey36:
Dark Souls can definitely be cheesed and just because it's Dark Souls doesn't make it a good excuse. It sounds like a "the game isn't playing fair, so I'm not going to either" -mentality. There are numerous enemies and even bosses (like Manus) who can just be sniped with arrows if you just stand there and shoot and you've got an hour to spare.

If you figure out a strategy yourself (manus sniping) how is that not 'fair'? It's in the game for you to do and you certainly feel one hell of a sense of accomplishment when an outside the box plan comes together.

That said, if you snipe manus because you gave up fighting him and googled it, that's closer to 'cheesing' IMO. I mean, reading walkthroughs or strategy tips beyond some vague starting advice defeats the whole point of the game to me. But there you go.

---

I think the biggest tips I would give to a first time Dark Souls player would be general stuff about paying attention and reading into the environments as well as item descriptions and the like. There are visual cues and patterns that make the game a breeze to predict which people don't seem to look for.

but it's just so satifying to look everything on the internet and then tell people how easy dark souls is because they didn't know where every trap was.

personally, the most fun i ever had is when i figured stuff by myself, i was so damn proud when of myself when i figured out who to not spawn the brdige dragon so i can get the claymore and bonfire early.

OT:
buy a bow and 999 wood arrows, kill havel. one of the best rings in the game
and pick a weapon more based on moveset then stat, you can beat the game with pretty much any weapon at +15 your first time around(damage wise) and being comfortable with the attacks is more important imho. i literally only made a dex build when a friend told me about curved greatswords, because fuck fast attacking

I'm sick of people claiming the "barriers to entry" are so high for Dark Souls. Dark Souls demands a few things from you:

1. Patience.

2. A desire to explore.

3. A desire to learn.

4. Don't expect to beat the game on one life.

That's it. They're not unreasonable expectations, but they are things most modern games don't seem to care about anymore.

Also, spears are the most user-friendly weapon. Being able to block and attack at the same time makes for a very safe fighting style.

Branindain:
Just as an addendum to that thing about cheesing the armoured piggy; if you're evil enough you can position yourself such that he will set himself on fire trying to reach you and go down like a sack of heavily armoured potatoes.

More than position, you can actually throw alluring skulls at the fire. The game conveniently places them on the ledge just above the fire, as if to say, "it's okay, you can allow yourself the easy way out from time to time".

Also and veering a bit off topic, about the PvP, he's all too right about the smug (and/or cheating) vets who just troll the lower levels decked out in really high quality gear.

On one hand, I can understand the urge. If all you want to do is to PvP, then wasting potential hours getting your character to the "official" PvP level plus hunting for all gear can be a chore if you have your mage build all figured out and all you want is to just get to that point. Maybe a revision of the gazebo thing where you could costumize your character on the fly could mitigate the problem. Imagine: regarding level, you could level up as high as your highest campaign character. So, if your max SP character is 125, you can level up to that. Similarly, you could choose loadouts with the only restriction being that you found the item in the game at least once. So, no Grass Crest Shield or Havel's set until you actually find them in a playthrough. You could improve your weapons as high as you improved them in game. Say, you make one Chaos Zweihander, you could apply the same to ONE of your duel arena weapons. If you improve 2 Chaos weapons, then you got two possibilities for dueling. etc.

It would still encourage manic completionists, avoid most needs for hacking, and generally keep unfair ganking to a minimum. I don't mind being invaded, and I don't even mind if the invader uses the environment to his advantage, but starting a fresh new game and being trolled at level 20 by some dad build whose gear totally outclasses me... it sucks a lot of the fun and I don't think it is the game working as intended.

ATmatey36:
Dark Souls can definitely be cheesed and just because it's Dark Souls doesn't make it a good excuse. It sounds like a "the game isn't playing fair, so I'm not going to either" -mentality. There are numerous enemies and even bosses (like Manus) who can just be sniped with arrows if you just stand there and shoot and you've got an hour to spare.

After you get past the general "obtuseness" of the game there are actually very few parts where it's truly unfair (like Bed of Chaos, especially pre-patch). If you watch a couple of SL1 runs of the game you'll see how straightforward and skill-dependent the game can really be. Stuff like mastering invincibility frames while dodging and learning enemy attack patterns will allow you to beat any boss without much of a hassle, and that is no cheese, only skill.

There's a way to snipe Manus without repercussions? Explain please.

Spot on points there, Yahtzee. I especially liked your two rules of "Starting Class: Warrior or Knight" and "Summon Solaire".

Because those two will be the ones that benefit players a lot. While every other rule was good advise, people not choosing a class that's easy to balance or adapt to can screw them over. Also, trying to solo bosses at first without being prepared is torture (especially since the gargoyle boss has another gargoyle come afterwards to help kill the host) so learning how to summon Solaire will make them appreciate jolly co-operation! :D

Oh and kill the dogs first. Always. No excuses. Never allow them to live while you're fighting someone else.

Chuppi:
The Gargoyle was not the last enemy, that made me curse and bite my shield.Stepping through a gate and having to fight
that Goat-Demon with so little space to move was another big pain in the ass.

Yeah. Especially because getting to him is such a chore.

nyysjan:
Why are people so exited about lightning weapons? Are enemies specially weak to them or something?

Because they haven't played the game post patch and their knowledge of the game is immensely out of date. Lightning weapons and Pyromancy were both nerfed quite a bit with the Artorias DLC. They're not useless, but they're not hilariously OP anymore.

Prior to the patch a +5 lightning weapon would essentially out damage other upgrade paths, including basic stat scaling. Why get 40 points in DEX and tons of resources for your sword to go +15 when you can just get a small amount of DEX and STR to hold it, make it lightning, and have it be just as if not more effective?

However, that's not the case anymore and pure stat scaling is going to out damage lightning weapons.

It's not that lightning and fire don't have their place. They're great when you have low damage stats and can really help dish out some firepower early game, but they now tail off late game in favour of other stat based upgrades.

That said, most bosses either have a weakness to lightning or not much resistance to lightning. That, along with you get the ability to upgrade lightning weapons way earlier (unless you've really slugged it out to get to Vamos), makes lightning preferred over fire.

-----------------------

OT: To anyone claiming getting any advantage you can is "cheesing", shove it. I remember when Demon's souls first came out and people on the Namco Bandai forums were claiming they were stuck on Flamelurker. A namco representative then posted in the thread with the advice "Try getting him stuck on the geometry and shooting him with arrows".

If you can do something to beat the game (that isn't blatant hacking/cheating), then go ahead and do it.

dmonkoff:

Rabidkitten:
These are all pretty good tips but I will contradict one. The starting class. The biggest pro tip in dark souls is to keep your armor bellow 25 percent, not 50 percent. This will enable the fast roll. The fast roll can be doubled up which dodges almost every boss attack in the game (This is especially true for the super hard expansion bosses).

I don't know about that. For me, a lot of bosses a much easier with heavy armor, because of high resistances and poise. For example, I really don't like fighting four kings/demon centipede/firesage demon in light armor, it's much easier to tank their damage.
On the other hand, fighting in PVP without fast roll is not the best idea

You used 3 late game bosses as examples. It should noted that the Demon Centipede is a very easy boss as well. Mobility is key to survival in dark souls and every one i know who has taken the "ditch the armor" advice has not regretted it. Sure you can tank the 4 Kings but that isn't what I'd call a beginners guide. Because the increased mobility is going to save you against the Taurus Demon(shots are generally impossible to block early game), the Gargoyles, Capra Demon (have fun "taking" his damage), the Gaping Maw Dragon (can't tank him either), Que'lag (mobility is amazing in this fight), and most of all the Dynamic Duo which is probably "THE" fight for most new players and increased mobility is a boon there more then anything. And then again in the late game bosses like Sif, Manus, Kalamet, Nito, and the Bed of Chaos all benefit from mobility.

Thanatos2k:
I'm sick of people claiming the "barriers to entry" are so high for Dark Souls. Dark Souls demands a few things from you:

1. Patience.

2. A desire to explore.

3. A desire to learn.

4. Don't expect to beat the game on one life.

That's it. They're not unreasonable expectations, but they are things most modern games don't seem to care about anymore.

Also, spears are the most user-friendly weapon. Being able to block and attack at the same time makes for a very safe fighting style.

Sadly you also have to deal with:

1.) One of the worst (and ugliest) UIs I've seen in years
2.) One of the most unintuitive controls I've seen in years
3.) Dying due to camera or opponent lock being silly
4.) Slog through the same opponents over and over and OVER and OOOOOVER again because you died on a (mini)boss due to a mistake.
5.) Deal with your character being responsive like a 90-year-old-grandpa.

I'm really trying to stick with this game due to all the praise... but repeating whole areas due to dying in boss fights, cheesiness of some deaths (random traps jumping out of walls, hidden enemies, which you can't foresee if you haven't died there yet) and awful UI with little to no explanations of icons and stats is really killing the whole experience for me. I'll stick around and see if it gets better... but if the trick to beating this game remains in just dying on every new encounter so I see the opponents attack/trap and then repeating the whole area again... I'll just fire up Bayonetta on hardest difficulty again. At least there you die due to mistakes in skill, not cheesiness.

As what probably qualifies as a veteran Dark Souls player, (I've beaten it twice) I wholeheartedly approve of everything on this list. I would add 'look up strategies on every single boss you fight', if only to know which ones you don't have to bother with if you're not so inclined.

This saved me trouble with Ceaseless Discharge, for whom one of the easiest, 'cheesiest' strategies in the game exists that will ensure you take no damage provided you're reasonably fast and have a decent weapon. (Pick up the gold-trimmed cloak to trigger the fight, run all the way back to the start point, await him to grab onto the ledge nearby, two-hand your weapon and swing for the fences. He should lose grip, fall, and die.) You can only do this strategy the very first time you fight it, I hear, so not knowing about the trick would have apparently forced less fun ways to be experimented with. Not to mention the Bed of Chaos made easy-ish.
Note: The strategy these same guys give for the Capra Demon was kindof crap for me, just skip the spell and run to stairs, killing the dogs as they follow you.

TheEvilCheese:

ATmatey36:
Dark Souls can definitely be cheesed and just because it's Dark Souls doesn't make it a good excuse. It sounds like a "the game isn't playing fair, so I'm not going to either" -mentality. There are numerous enemies and even bosses (like Manus) who can just be sniped with arrows if you just stand there and shoot and you've got an hour to spare.

If you figure out a strategy yourself (manus sniping) how is that not 'fair'? It's in the game for you to do and you certainly feel one hell of a sense of accomplishment when an outside the box plan comes together.

That said, if you snipe manus because you gave up fighting him and googled it, that's closer to 'cheesing' IMO. I mean, reading walkthroughs or strategy tips beyond some vague starting advice defeats the whole point of the game to me. But there you go.

---

I think the biggest tips I would give to a first time Dark Souls player would be general stuff about paying attention and reading into the environments as well as item descriptions and the like. There are visual cues and patterns that make the game a breeze to predict which people don't seem to look for.

I'm all for creative thinking, however I'm not a fan of the game making you waste your time if you choose to snipe Manus from above. If you would prefer a ranged battle, I'd still prefer it to require skill instead of just taking a million years. Actually another creative boss kill that I like a lot more is throwing dung pies over the wall to poison Capra Demon, partly because it's hilarious and partly because he'll die in less than a minute.

I've convinced myself I WILL buy Dark Souls, after talking myself out of it since its release.

And I admit, I'm a newbie to this and worried stiff at the prospect of just not having fun with the game due to the steep difficult and obtuse game mechanics.

I'm almost paralyzed with indecision for what is the "best" starter build for a person like me that doesn't have the best reflexes or skill, and often gets myself killed in other games by exploring outside of the boundaries.

I admit, if the game had a simple "easy" mode, I'd have jumped on this game a long time ago.

sageoftruth:

ATmatey36:
Dark Souls can definitely be cheesed and just because it's Dark Souls doesn't make it a good excuse. It sounds like a "the game isn't playing fair, so I'm not going to either" -mentality. There are numerous enemies and even bosses (like Manus) who can just be sniped with arrows if you just stand there and shoot and you've got an hour to spare.

After you get past the general "obtuseness" of the game there are actually very few parts where it's truly unfair (like Bed of Chaos, especially pre-patch). If you watch a couple of SL1 runs of the game you'll see how straightforward and skill-dependent the game can really be. Stuff like mastering invincibility frames while dodging and learning enemy attack patterns will allow you to beat any boss without much of a hassle, and that is no cheese, only skill.

There's a way to snipe Manus without repercussions? Explain please.

On the cliff where the fog gate is right before Manus you can point your camera downwards and you'll see his red glowing eyes down below. That's where he can be sniped, even though it'll take forever.

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