50 Dark Souls Tips and Tricks

This page contains useful tips and tricks for learning all the ins and outs of Dark Souls – how to survive, how things work, and how to win in your fight against the toughest enemies!

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EditStarting Tips

  • While your starting class can give an outline of the character you want to be, you’ll soon be able to grow in any direction you wish, so don’t worry if you don’t want to be stuck as a Warrior, etc.
  • Don’t hoard Souls – it’s the currency you need to level up, and you’ll usually want to spend them soon instead of running the risk of dying in place where they are harder to retrieve.
  • You’re going to die – there’s no way around it, and even the best players eventually mess up. Don’t get frustrated: learn how encounters work, what types of attacks bosses use, and where traps are. Each time you return to an area, you’ll get a bit better as you learn more. Souls can always be farmed again.
  • There are plenty of weapons to choose from – and most all of them are effective enough to use throughout the game, just remember to upgrade the ones you enjoy using the most so they become more powerful.
  • You can and should be exploring everywhere you go. As long as you remain cautious, you can often find valuable treasure or Important NPCs.
  • Most NPCs you’ll find have wise words, hints, or sell things (though some people may turn out to be very untrustworthy…) It is unfortunately very easy to accidentally press the wrong button and kill a friendly NPC – so make sure to put your weapons away and keep fingers away from the attack buttons when talking to friendly people – you might not get a chance to reverse a mistake.
  • A high defense and heavy armor may look enticing, but many times being light and mobile and dodging attacks are much more important than blocking and soaking damage up.
  • Always have a spare Homeward Bone on you – there may be times where you’ll be in a dicey location, or trapped in a boss room with souls you don’t want to go to waste.
  • Many Merchants are friendly, some are not. Others may have interesting items that can be claimed much earlier in the game if you kill them – like the Male Undead Merchant’s Uchigatana. It comes at a price of not being able to do business with him – but if you want a great weapon early, check out the video below:
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  • Enemies are most threatening when encountered in groups – so try to draw attackers into a 1v1 scenario – they’ll be much easier to read and defeat. Similarly, fast enemies like Dogs should always be targeted first.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to summon help for a boss fight – it’s why summon signs exist, and there are almost always players willing to help, in addition to NPC summons like Solaire.

EditCombat Tips

  • Performing a backstab on certain enemies will cause a critical attack that deals much more damage than regular attacks. Elite Undead Guard or the Dark Knight will be easier to defeat if performed correctly. To perform this attack, get directly behind the enemy and without blocking press the RB/R1 button; your character will perform a backstab and be invulnerable to other enemy attacks during the backstab animation.
  • Circling the enemy until they attack is a good method for non-boss enemies.
  • Attacking enemies below you when you fall from above (TACTICS!) can lead to incredible damage – if you can pull it off. Try it out on the very first boss – which you can see in the video below.
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  • A Riposte is a two-step technique that will cause more critical attack damage than a backstab. The first step involves you parrying with your shield (you can parry with most shields) by pressing the LT/L2 button right before an enemy lands their attack. If timed correctly, your character will swat the enemy’s weapon away and cause the enemy to stagger. Immediately press the RB/R1 button to counter the attack by performing a riposte. During the riposte animation, you will be invulnerable to other enemy attacks.
  • This technique will be difficult to perform due to the parry timing and that you cannot parry while blocking. Therefore, you are leaving yourself opened to a frontal attack if you failed to execute this maneuver. Lower level characters and characters with low defense/health should use this technique at their own risk.
  • Sometimes hacking and slashing isn’t enough to get rid of your enemies, and sometimes you just need some new moves to mix things up.
  • If it’s a cheap tactic and you can win, it’s not a cheap tactic. Use whatever means necessary to secure victory – even if that means throwing literal shit at your enemies (which you can see to great effect in the video below).
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  • Certain enemies, like some Dragons, Gargoyles and Bosses, can have their tails removed if you strike them at specific points. These tails double as weapons and can be very useful.
  • When in combat, avoid keeping your shield up all the time. While necessary for soaking blows, the longer you keep it up, the slower your stamina recovers. Only ready it when you know an attack is incoming
  • Turn your weapon two-handed by pressing the Y/▲ button, switching to the 2-Handed stance decreases your potential defensive power, favoring stronger blows with your weapon in your right hand. When it’s initiated, the item equipped in your left hand is either sheathed (weapons) or put on your back (shields).
  • When the item in the left hand is sheathed or put on the back, any auxiliary effects remain as if it were still in place. Fist weapons prevent the 2-Handed stance from being initiated, as they cannot be sheathed.
  • It’s tempting to dodge roll away from incoming attacks, but since you are invulnerable during certain portions of the rolling animation, it is sometimes much more beneficial to roll towards an incoming attack, as you will be in a better position to counter with your own attacks – instead of having to run back towards the enemy.
  • Dual-wielding is a commonly known term and technique, requiring a weapon in the left and right hands. Though this may seem like a dangerous technique in Dark Souls (and it is), it still has its perks. Dual-wielding has the potential of striking with more than one secondary effect, for example a fire weapon in the right hand and a lightning weapon in the left. This can lead to quickly finding your enemy’s weaknesses, and therefore maximizing your damage output. Along with the regular attack, the weapon in the left hand can either block attacks (LB/L1) or parry them (LT/L2) as well. Blocking is reserved for big and long weapons (straight swords, pole arms, axes, katanas, etc.), whereas parrying is essentially used by small and quick weapons (curved swords, daggers, thrusting swords, etc.).
  • The various weapons available as you progress through Dark Souls vary dramatically in size, weight, power and versatility. Depending on your character build you may be able to wield a weapon effectively or it may make you extremely slow, so it is important to get the right balance between character stats and weaponry.
  • Several different types of weapon also feature unique attack animations which can be used to your advantage. For example, spears behave very differently to swords thanks to their lengthier design. These can also be used while blocking with your shield, allowing you to sneak attacks in on enemies.
  • Poise is a tricky stat that isn’t really explained. The more Poise you have, the less likely you are to be interrupted by incoming attacks when performing your own attacks. Poise is mainly granted by higher armor like Havel’s Armor Set, and the bulkier you are, the more you can focus on powering through an enemy’s attack to defeat them
  • Lighter armor means less Poise, so choose your attacks carefully, and favor dodging incoming blows before attacking instead of running the risk of getting interrupted.

EditInventory Tips

  • Much of your movement and evasion is based on a stat called Equipment Load Depending on the weight of your armor and the amount of Endurance you have, your Equip Load can govern if you are able to perform a dodge roll fast or slow – or even if you can roll at all.
  • When wearing heavy armor that causes your Equip Load to reach 100 or over, you will not be able to dodge roll at all. and Equipment weight above 50 to below 100 will let you dodge roll, but at a much slower rate (also called a fat roll). Dodge rolling above 25 and below 50 allows for medium movement range when dodge rolling, and anything below 25% lets you dodge roll faster and farther. If you’re looking for ways to raise your Equip Load, items like Havels’ Ring, the Mask of the Father, and Ring of Favor can all increase your maximum.
  • Weapon upgrades are extremely important to your continued survival in the land of Lordran. Without them you’ll be stuck wielding a basic weapon for the remainder of the game. Blacksmiths can: Teach you gestures, Upgrade your weapons, Accept unique divine embers that unlock new upgrade paths for weapons, Sell you items, including important quest items, and Repair your equipment.
  • The Blacksmiths are located in various locations around the game, and each one has access to unique abilities that can upgrade your weapons in certain ways.
  • Magic weapons are fairly useful early on in the game, but not much later. They have very good base physical and magic damage, but scaling is horrible. This branch sets you up to make Enchanted Weapons.
  • Divine weapons get a pass of sorts because they have slight usefulness outside of their good base stats and terrible scaling. They do bonus damage against all varieties of skeletons. They also stop them from respawning, which is huge help against Nito. This branch will set you up for Occult Weapons.
  • Fire weapons are the same as every other weapon type in this category. Good base physical and fire damage, bad scaling. Nothing too special about them. The most useful in this tier because it leads to a very good branch, Chaos Weapons.
  • Enchanted weapons scale with your character’s Intelligence, which makes them ideal for sorcerers that don’t want to rely solely on spells. Enchanted weapons can only be upgraded by Rickert of Vinheim to +4 with blue titanite chunks. In order to get it to +5 you must use a blue titanite slab.
  • Occult weapons add magic damage that scales with faith. The scaling is better than a holy weapon but does not prevent skeletons from respawning. They can be upgraded to +4 by Andre only if you have found the Dark Ember. To enhance it to +5 you will need a white titanite slab.
  • Chaos weapons are unique in that the damage it does scales with humanity. Every humanity you have on you at the moment increases your damage and caps at ten humanity.
  • Crystal weapons have very high base damage and increase the scaling on weapons but reduce the durability to 1/10 of its original value. This path is very good if you’re using high-damage, slow-hitting weapons because it inflicts massive damage on most enemies. Crytal weapons cannot be repaired at all so they only last a short while. Use the East Wood Grain Ring to slow the rate of durability loss if your planning to use a crystal weapon for longs periods of time.

In Dark Souls, Humanity is one of, if not “the” most important resource in Lordran. All philosophical nonsense aside, it’s the practical application of this resource that will make it invaluable. Humanity serves many important functions.

  • When you aquire the item itself, using it will provide various benefits. With Humanity you can: Reverse hollowing, returning you to your Human form, kindle bonfires which increases the total amount of estus flasks you are permitted to carry while saved to a specific bonfire, summon player allies to aid you in battle against the game’s epic bosses, and upgrade your current standing with the various covenants you join permitting you access to hidden routes, items and spells.
  • There are several methods for acquiring Humanity: By being summoned to another player’s game as a phantom and assisting in the kill of the area boss, or farming large amounts of enemies while the boss of the area is still alive, or as a random drop from mobs, or Killing players and phantoms that invade your world or when you have invaded, and finally bought from certain merchants.
  • An easy way to farm humanity is to kill sewer rats in the Depths. (Does not require the Gaping Dragon to be alive) After you kill the Capra Demon and get the key to the Depths, make your way through until you encounter the bonfire. From the bonfire, continue through the Depths killing every single rat you see. You’ll find that making several passes through the depths circling back around to the bonfire can potentially net you a decent amount of humanity. This method of farming may take some time, but it is effective due to the rat’s strange, yet decent, drop rate of the resource.

EditThe Curse

If you’ve ventured into the Depths below the Undead Burg, you have probably encountered a slew of relatively weak frog creatures called Basilisks. If you allowed them to breathe on you, you probably became the victim of their curse. Not only does being cursed immediately kill your character, but it also drops your maximum HP down to half until you can get yourself cured.

  • Before venturing into the Depths, it is highly recommended that you have already rung the first bell. We say this because there is an ominous robed figure at the bottom of the bell tower who offers to absolve your sins and leave your covenant as well as sells you the Purging Stone for 4000 souls; this stone is one of the only means of reversing a curse placed on your character. If you get cursed before you ring the first bell, you’ll have to face off against the Twin Gargoyles who guard the tower in your weakened state.
  • Another way to cure your curse affliction is to find the vendor on top of the stone house in the New Londo Ruins. However, this is recommended for higher level players only due to the fact that the area is crawling with ghosts who will chop your lower level character to bits long before you can reach your goal.

EditExploration Tips

  • Need to get down ladders in a hurry? Press O on PS4 or B on XB1 to slide down.
  • There’s lots of good stuff hiding in every corner of Dark Souls. Be sure to check and double-check every last corner for good loot – or check out our complete list of Illusory Walls to find more treasure and hidden Bonfires.
  • Expect ambushes and traps wherever you go – and utilize your camera to peek around corners or slowly traverse a new area to be wary of attackers lurking out of sight.
  • Not every boss and area is required to complete the game. Your main objectives consist of ringing the bells and then the four Lord Souls to fill the Lordvessel. Along the way you’ll find many optional areas and bosses – and many can provide great rewards for those who want to risk extra fights.
  • You’re going to find yourself wading through water and muck numerous times throughout Dark Souls. This hampered mobility can lead to very quick death. Venturing back to the Undead Asylum after you’ve rung the first bell, you will find the Rusted Iron Ring, which allows you to retain your footing on even the most atrocious of terrain. This includes water and swamps, making it the perfect ring to have equipped in Blighttown and at bottom of Darkroot Basin.
  • Note: in order to access the Rusted Iron Ring in the Undead Asylum, you must first find the Undead Asylum F2 West Key, which is located on a rooftop in Firelink Shrine.
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SOURCE: IGN.com

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