How to play Dark Souls

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DaHeckIzDat
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How to play Dark Souls

Postby DaHeckIzDat » January 7th, 2018, 8:43 pm

Over the past year, I went from a Dark souls naysayer to it and Bloodborne being one of my all time favorite franchises. That's because, as cheesy as it sounds, I didn't GET the game. I didn't understand how it worked, or how I was supposed to play it. There are a lot of people who have this same problem, and it hurts because I know they're missing out on a great game just because they're looking at it the wrong way. Some people just won't ever like it because it's not they're type of game, and that's fine, but I think people who give up on it early on just because it's too hard are doing it and themselves a huge disservice, so I decided to write this list of tips for new players to hopefully help ease them into Dark Souls. Feel free to add your own suggestions as well, and ask questions if you have them.

1. This game is not that hard. Okay, hear me out here. Dark Souls is challenging, to be sure, but the people who complain about it being too hard are trying to play it like other games. Dark Souls plays by its own set of rules, and you MUST play by those rules as well. That said, once you discover what these rules are, the game becomes... well, not easy, but I went from thinking "This is impossible!" to "Yeah, I can totally do this!"

2. The game may be strict with its rules, but those rules are still flexible enough that you can adapt them to how you want to play. If you like tanking hits and getting up in your enemies faces, play a knight. If you want to use long range attacks, play as an archer or a wizard. If you like a mixture of the two, a pyromancer is a good choice. There's an option for just about everyone, and being able to play your way, again, takes an impossible feeling game and makes it possible.

3. Don't shy away from grinding. Like any RPG, you get experience (see: souls) from winning fights, and then you use that experience to level up. Unlike other RPGs, though, you level up how YOU want to. Don't think you can take enough hits? Level up your HP. Want to hit harder? Put points into your strength. If you don't find a class that perfectly suits your needs, choose the closest one you can find and then build him up into who you want him to be. And besides that, the best way to learn to play the game is to play the game. Which brings me to...

4. Patterns. Every enemy has patterns. They may not use the same sets of moves every time, but their moves themselves don't change. What you'll find is that every move has some amount of buildup to it. Memorize this, and memorize the move that comes afterwards, and you'll never get taken by surprise again. Find out how to exploit the buildup, or even the move itself. If the boss is charging up for a huge swing, roll close to them. Believe it or not, just being near the enemies when they attack won't hurt you. The weapon itself does that. Take the spear guys for example. Stand in front of them, lower your shield, and bait them into attacking. They'll raise their spear, and when they do you can use that time to run behind them, because they are now locked into that animation. They'll attack where you just were, but you'll now be behind them, letting you do a backstab.

5. DODGING. IS. EVERYTHING. You have a shield. That's great. Get a good enough shield, and you can block just about everything. But every block consumes some of your stamina, meaning that there are two outcomes here: 1. the enemy eats up all of it, and then keeps right on attacking while you can't do anything, or 2. you survive the onslaught but then can't attack back because you're out of stamina. More often, getting out of the way of the attack entirely is preferable to just taking it. But here's the thing: you don't have to dodge away from the enemy! When you see their weapon coming, you can often dodge into it, letting you roll right underneath the attack and out of harms way, most likely putting you behind the enemy's back as well. This is more true for bosses than for regular enemies, but it's still one of the most useful things in the game. You'll have to practice to get the timing down, of course, but that's okay because...

6. You will die. Just accept this. Even when the game stops being impossibly hard, it's still hard. You may die less, but you're still going to die. This is definitely a punishment, but its also a learning experience because every death means the same thing: you did something wrong. Go back, try something different, and see how that works out. One boss might need constant dodging, attacking only at certain points, while another should be bum rushed and fought head on. Sometimes the solution is that you might need help, so seek out a summon sign to bring a buddy (real or NPC) to help you kick some bad guy butt. Maybe you've wandered into a higher level area and just aren't ready yet. Maybe you need to grind some more and level up. Just don't ever do one thing: get discouraged and give up.

7. Attack from behind. Seriously, this is the key. Attacking regular enemies from behind gives you a backstab, which takes out a huge chunk of their health. Attacking a boss from behind will usually (but not always) put you out of the way of their attacks. That doesn't mean they can't turn around, or jump behind you or something, but attacking their ugly booties will make things a ton easier.

8. Don't give up. That's my final piece of advice. You're going to die, you're going to get frustrated, but just keep at it. Remember: you have to learn this game. Once you do, it stops being so frustrating and that's when you'll begin having fun. And have fun you will. Oodles and oodles of it. There's nothing more addicting than realizing "Wow, I'm actually doing it!" Keep going. Learn. Level up. THINK! It might take a while, but eventually you'll see what makes Dark Souls tick, you'll start to figure out how to play the right way, and the game will crumble before your godlike power and thou shalt raise the banner of victory above... what was I talking about again? Oh, right. Don't give up.

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ptdebate
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby ptdebate » January 7th, 2018, 11:08 pm

This is a great guide, and I agree 100%.

Many years ago I actually got so angry the first time I attempted Demon's Souls that I traded it in back to Amazon before even beating the first boss. A few months later, it started to bother me that I gave up, and I rebought the game again. After I finally beat the first boss, I *got it*. That feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment is what keeps me coming back to the series almost a decade later.

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby DaHeckIzDat » January 8th, 2018, 11:02 am

I had to buy, resell, then rebuy Dark Souls at least three times before I got it. I won't even say that something clicked for me. More like it eased in. I just decided I wasn't going to give up this time, and eventually (somewhere after the Taurus demon I think) I realized I was actually having fun!

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scotland
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby scotland » January 8th, 2018, 11:22 am

Just wanted to say what a great post this is. I haven't played Dark Souls, but I appreciate all the advice and the time it took you to come up with this.

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby DaHeckIzDat » January 8th, 2018, 11:38 am

Glad you guys are enjoying it! Here's two more things:

- Weapons. Just like the classes, the combat is customizable because there are a literal buttload of weapons, and they all handle exactly like they would in real life. If the one you have doesn't match your playstyle, find one that works better. I almost always go for a one handed axe, because I can swing it faster than a heavy weapon, but it packs more punch than a sword or spear. But don't stop there! Find the blacksmith (every game has one, sometimes two or three) and upgrade them. Do that to your armor too. Leveling yourself up is essential, but so is this. Upgrading your armor lets you take more hits, just like raising your HP, and upgrading your weapons lets you hit harder, just like raising your strength.

- Items! Never disregard any item you pick up. Always go into your inventory (after finding a safe place, of course) and find out what it does, what it's stats are, etc. You might pick up a ring that raises your max equipment load, letting you wear heavier armor without slowing down. Or that weird "estus shard" you found could permanently increase the number of estus flasks (see: healing potions) you can carry at a time.

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Gentlegamer
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby Gentlegamer » January 8th, 2018, 12:21 pm

git gud

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby DaHeckIzDat » January 9th, 2018, 5:32 pm

Here's another!

- Explore! The levels are fairly linear, but what you might not realize is that they are all interconnected, winding around each other in a big maze. What does this mean for you? Shortcuts! If you see more than one way to go, try one out, then go down the other, because more often than not branching pathways means that one of them will open up a shortcut that'll keep you from having to do the entire level again if/when you die. If not that, then at the very least it'll lead you to some nice loot.

GameOfThrones
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby GameOfThrones » January 9th, 2018, 7:15 pm

I have dark souls on pc and xbox1 (it is backwards compatible). I played it for some hours and hated it.

Though since you have put this guide up I will read it and hopefully have some time to play it. Though tomorrow I am studying algebra and graphs.

I always appreciate people putting time into explaining great games to other gamers. I explained to my brother how to play dead rising as he just did not get it. I knew it was just his type of game and when he got it, he was like. I love this game. So hopefully your post will get me saying that about Dark souls.

Remember winter is coming.

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby DaHeckIzDat » January 12th, 2018, 11:57 am

Some of the things I talked about, like running around attacks, are better explained visually. So check out this video... which may or may not have been my inspiration to start this thread.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmB8wBNkpps&t=562s

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: How to play Dark Souls

Postby VideoGameCritic » January 13th, 2018, 12:12 am

This thread has obviously generated a lot of interest and is much-needed.

My question is, what does it say about a game that requires a thread like this?
Is it a knock against the design of the game? Or maybe the lack of a manual?


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