Top 12 Tips for Beginners of Dark Souls 3
Hopefully our Darks Souls 3 review has tempted you enough to commit to buying Dark Souls 3 on launch, or even beforehand if you changed your location to Japan and bought it online. So by now you will be psyching yourself up and trying to find the best advice for the up and coming slog ahead. So to give you the upper hand we thought we would write up our top tips for beginners, although I am sure everyone could do with a refresher in the series – it has been a few years since we last traversed Drangleic Castle.
Pick a Canvas. Create a Masterpiece.
If you are new to the Dark Souls franchise, the first thing you’ll find intimidating is the Character Creation screen. It is filled with statistics that might not make much sense just yet with varied classes that have a wide armament of gear available to them and some starting items you may still be baffled by hours into the game. Fret not! As your starting class is only important for the first hour or so of the game, until you can wrap your head round the game’s mechanics and freely choose how your own playstyle will unfold. The best starting class for beginners would arguably be the Knight. Boasting moderately high Vigor (HP) and the highest Vitality (Equip Load) of all starting classes, the knight is a starting tank. Allowing the player to -more or less- run headlong into a skirmish not having to worry too much about damage being done and with good starting armour to last a decent percentage of the game. As a bonus the Knight also starts with a 100% physical block shield, meaning you won’t suffer any residual damage while blocking most physical attacks.
Fortune Favours the Brave
Not every enemy you come up against will impede you from moving forward, but there are a few that will, and your first reaction will be either to evade them or avoid them all together. This may seem smart and avoiding them will obviously reduce the amount of damage taken, but it is often the worst choice. Loot drops aren’t an uncommon thing in RPGs and Dark Souls 3 is no different. The most noteworthy prizes are items dropped by those seemingly difficult enemies that lurk down the multitude of off beaten paths or from behemoths blocking your route. Running away is a good tactic, but facing them, learning attack patterns, and developing strategies is even better. This course of action will help you learn the game a lot faster. In addition, you’re more or less guaranteed to get some good loot while you’re at it.
It’s All An Illusion
The hardest and most useful rewards are hidden away in the many secret areas of Dark Souls 3, these are usually referred to as “Illusory Walls”. These walls usually appear out of place in the environment by placing a wall in a clear avenue of exploration to simply block it, resulting in a dead end – they can even be teased by visible items dangling in unreachable areas. Hitting these walls will let off a slight humming sound and then dematerialise. They aren’t terribly hard to find and when you do find one it’s almost guaranteed to hold something valuable and possibly something deadly. An example of one can be found within Firelink Shrine itself (the hub area). If you have amassed enough souls to afford the Firelink Shrine Tower key then you can drop down to where you can see a birds nest, directly below this -on the interior- you’ll find yourself on top of a couple of rafters with an Estus Shard fragment. Directly across from where you entered is an Illusory Wall that takes you to a chest with a Ring inside that boosts all souls collected by a small percentage. This is valuable early on when you’re seeking to level yourself up.
Stats Are Just a Number & Helmets Are Just Fancy Hats
We always want to have our characters to be equipped with the highest rated gear and weaponry to ensure that we can survive as long as we can, but all we ever do is look at the numbers. The numbers that determine if a piece of gear is better or worse than what we already have equipped, in Dark Souls 3 a higher numerical value doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better. There are a vast amount of weapons to choose from, each with their own unique movesets. That heavy greatsword you have may visibly do more damage, but the slow swinging arcs may leave you vulnerable to a counter attack, instead you may be better of with a spear; keeping the same range but being able to hide behind a shield and attack simultaneously. It’s all about experimentation, finding the right weapon for you – a weapon needs to “feel” good, not just look good. Armour also works in a similar fashion although they are more straightforward. Heavy armor will slow you down and make your rolling capabilities much less effective, lighter gear on the other hand does vice versa, offering less protection as a deficit. Again, it’s just a matter of what “feels” good to you and not necessarily what does the most damage/protection. Find the right combination of gear that sutis you. And don’t forget that some areas might favour a switch in armour based on poisonous enemies or similar status effects, so always be on the look out for gear suited for the enemies you fight and the areas you fight in.
Not everybody likes to listen to incessant NPCs babble on about meaningless nonsense, most of us like to just jump straight into the meat of the game and get to adventuring. However, listening to the nonsense that the characters babble will more or less benefit you in the long run. Specifically those that travel to and from the Firelink Shrine. Each and every NPC in the Firelink Shrine will offer you some sort of service or send you on an errant quest. Such services may include selling items or leveling your character up; take specific note of the Shrine Maiden as she is your means of leveling up your character. Finishing an NPC’s quest line will usually net you some kind of reward and possible companion to summon for a boss fight later on, so it’s always good to travel back to the Firelink Shrine every now and again to keep up with the latest gossip.
Selling Your Soul
Would you sell your soul for a massive damage dealing sword? I certainly would! After every successful boss defeat you’ll receive the remnants of that boss’s soul. There are two ways in which you can use a boss soul: consume it to receive a large amount of souls or, trade the soul in with a friendly Firelink Shrine NPC to receive a new weapon or spell. To be completely honest, you are better off trading a soul than consuming it, as the soul gain for consuming a boss soul is negligible to the souls you could easily gain by killing enemies in the world. It’s important to note that you won’t be able to do much with these souls until you gain the Transposing Kiln from not to far into the game, so if you are confused as to how to go about this, search the Undead Settlement.
There Is No Place Like Home
If I could choose any item to hang from my equipment belt it would be the Homeward Bone. The quintessential “Get me the hell out of here” item. The Homeward Bone acts as a portable teleporter, transporting you from your current position back to the safe confines of the Firelink Shrine or the last bonfire you rested at. This is an incredibly useful item for getting you out of the pickles you’ll get yourself into. If you are too far from a safe haven and you’re burdened by a mass of souls that you’re afraid to lose, simply pop a Homeward Bone then sigh in relief as you’re no longer in harm’s way; you can even use these items to escape boss fights if your nerves are getting the better of you. The only time you’re restricted from using this item is if you get invaded by another player, if this happens, you’re boned.
Let Your Fire Burn
Embers are the new equivalent to Humanity/Effigies from the past Dark Souls games. An Ember acts as a health boost and a gateway for PvP interactions. When your character’s health bar is looking a little poorly, pop an Ember to see it expand as well as gain a spiffy looking cinder effect for you character. Even though Embering your character is a beneficial move, it does have its trade offs. Once Embered you are now open to invasion from covenant affiliated players and gankers alike, none of which are too pleasing. The solution to this is to be smart when Embering. If you’re simply looking for help on a particularly difficult boss fight pop an Ember directly before the boss arena and summon help there rather than popping it back from the bonfire you started at. Embering also enables NPC invasions via red spirits that can net you brilliant items, so if you want to be a little cheeky set your game to offline and run about to proc these invasions and get some valuable loot.
Sometimes It’s Good to Piss Off the Right Folk
Every area Dark Souls 3 has to offer is riddled with monstrosities ready to bust you up and taking on these foes usually means having to fight groups of them, rather than fighting one at a time. There is a way around this. If you are a magic user or a bow wielder then you have the capability to aggro specific enemies from a distance with long range spells and arrows. Simply hitting the enemy with a projectile is enough to incite rage within them and they’ll then proceed to chase you down, allowing you to lure them to an area you’re more comfortable fighting them in. You may be accused of “cheesing” the game by fellow players but if it works, it works. You might even get super lucky and the enemy will stumble off those troublesome ledges in the way, netting you free souls in the process.
Become The Athlete You Always Wanted To Be
Arguably by far the most important tip is maintaining stamina and understanding how to apply it in a fight. Your stamina bar is the light green bar in the top left corner of the screen that determines how many swings of your sword you can manage within one string, how much energy you have left to roll and how much more of beating your shield can take before your guard breaks. Stamina is the essential survival stat, upgrading your stamina will allow you to roll more and swing more, so it’s a huge plus and a good stat to pour points into. You should always keep an eye your stamina meter so you can time your rolls properly during an enemies mid swing to apply that frame invulnerability that Dark Souls is known for having and then having enough stamina left to get out a couple of swings with your weapon as well. In fact, I would encourage players to focus on the rolling mechanics of Dark Souls rather than the Blocking mechanic as not every move can be blocked, but every move can be evaded in one way or another.
SunnyD or Raspberry Smoothie?
We’ve all chugged a fair few flasks of SunnyD (Estus Flasks) in our past Souls playthroughs, but with the addition of the lovely Raspberry Smoothie (Ashen Estus Flasks) and the ability to allot a limited number of them to our inventory, we’ll need to start putting some thought into which one is more important. Ashen Estus Flasks act as a Mana potion in conjunction with the standard Estus Flasks health potion. These flasks are used in the same way as standard Estus Flasks and can regenerate lost FP(mana) once used and are recharged by resting at a bonfire. The problematic conundrum is deciding which flasks will benefit your playstyle more as you only have a set number of flasks split between the two – flasks can be allocated at the blacksmith – so you can have say 10 Estus Flasks and 5 Ashen Estus Flasks or any combination in between. You’ll more or less want to prioritise healing Estus Flasks if you’re primarily a melee build and are required to get up close and personal with most of your adversaries. Whereas if you’re a mage type class then opting to have more Ashen Estus Flasks may be way to go so you can rain down all kinds of sorceries without fear of running dry. Again, it’s all in relation to the class you play so muck about with the combination to see what suits you best. And don’t forget some areas may benefit from using more health flasks than mana as there is little space to use magic or weapon arts.
No, seriously. Get Good. It’s all well and fine saying that players should just “Git Gud” and to stop “Gettin Rekt” but applying yourself to the game is really the only way about it. If you find yourself struggling with a particular enemy or area there is no truer and tried way to overcome it than the trial and error approach, showing that perseverance conquers all. Taking breaks in between deaths to relax your nerves and to de-stress you is a good option, as well as seeking guidance from the community. There are tons of websites and wiki pages that can give you some decent all round information on how to approach the game; just be wary of spoilers if you wander those seas. At the end of the day Dark Souls 3, and the Souls franchise in general, tend to be notoriously difficult to overcome and the series isn’t for everyone, if you can’t wrap your head around it then it’s probably not for you. One final note: never trust Orange Soapstone messages, they will be the end of you!
Well there you have it, you made it to the end of our guide. By now you will feel the blood rushing through your veins as you generate hype for your first playthrough and the tips to help you along. And if you ever get truly stuck, you can always hit us up on Twitter for some extra guidance on Dark Souls 3. Good luck Ashen ones.