A Helpful Guide To Dark Souls 3's Confusing Multiplayer

A Helpful Guide to Dark Souls 3's Confusing Multiplayer

Dark Souls has become more accessible over the years, but if you're new, some parts may still seem like a mystery. It's not spelled out how you're supposed to play with friends, for example. I'm here to break it down. There are two ways to play Dark Souls: offline and online. If you play online, it's possible for other players to invade your game and kill you. But you also get access to the incredibly useful messages on the ground left by your fellow adventurers, stuff that can warn of ambushes and secrets.

As you might expect, playing online is the only way to connect with strangers, whether you want to play with them or try and fend them off.

For reference, Dark Souls calls joining multiplayer games "summoning".

Asking For Help From Strangers

This can technically happen anywhere in the world, but you can't just randomly matchmake with someone; you have to find a summon sign that's been placed in the world by another player. They look like this:

A Helpful Guide to Dark Souls 3's Confusing Multiplayer

This is a screen shot from Dark Souls 2, but it looks this way in Dark Souls 3, too.

First, you need an ember. You know how your character lights on fire after beating a boss? Same idea. You can trigger the this using an ember item. Embers are available for purchase in limited quantities from NPC vendors, hidden in the world or earned by helping other players defeat bosses.

You're going to find most summon signs outside the door to a boss; that's where most people have trouble in Dark Souls. If you don't see any, it's possible that no one is offering assistance, or there might be some rotten luck with your connection. Sometimes it's useful to leave the area and come back, and see if the game's able to pull in a fresh batch of summon signs.

When someone joins you, there's no friendly fire, so swing away in battle. But the moment you beat a boss, they will be dismissed from your world, and if you want to play with someone else, you'll have to summon again.

Asking For Help From Multiple (!!) Strangers

A Helpful Guide to Dark Souls 3's Confusing Multiplayer

By using an item called the Dried Finger, it's possible to bend the rules of Dark Souls and have more than one person join your game. For every new person you summon, though, the game introduces the opportunity for a malicious player to invade. Asking for help doesn't come without its risks.

"Use with caution," indeed.

If You Want To Help Other Players

Being summoned into another person's game and helping out is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a Dark Souls player. It's addicting.

To do this, you'll need to the White Sign Soapstone from the Shrine Handmaid NPC in Firelink Shrine. (The lady who wants ashes.) It's only 500 souls, and you can use the White Sign Soapstone unlimited times.

You do not need to use an ember in order to help other players. In fact, when you're summoned into a game, Dark Souls will reduce your health and Estus Flask count, to make sure you're not completely overpowered. (An ember actually grants your character more health than usual.)

Since players have to specifically summon you, it can take some time. I recommend laying on the ground and catching some sleep while you wait.

A Helpful Guide to Dark Souls 3's Confusing Multiplayer

How To Play With A Friend

In the past, the Souls games didn't let you choose who to play with. That changed in last year's Bloodborne, which introduced a password system. Fortunately, From Software has brought the same system to Dark Souls 3.

Before you lay down a summon sign, you can attach a password to it:

A Helpful Guide to Dark Souls 3's Confusing Multiplayer

If the other person punches in the same password, the game matches you.


    Personally I take pride in finishing the entire game without needing to summon - in short, screw friends!

    Other things:

    Dropped items as gifts: If the mood takes you, you are able to go into your inventory and leave something on the ground of another player's game. A trade system can work out quite well at times.

    The 'early game' PVP area is apparently governed by not only your level, but your weapon upgrades? I have a couple of weapons over +3 so apparently I'm not going to be able to summon/get summoned much in that spot any more (you probably know where it is). The game is still new so people are still working out the minutia.

    Work out what order you want your emotes to be in. After a boss battle or invasion, I always fumble for the wrong one. Instead of the joy emote, I do the welcome emote. Sigh. Good etiquette in these games means before rushing off, you try at least one emote with your comrades as a thanks/goodbye.

    Where are the Clapping, Lie Down, and Praise the Sun emotes?

    Who can I spar with to gain the covenant rewards?

    Over the weekend, there was a hilarious example of just how stressful this game can get in multiplayer. I was summoned as a watchdog to the area mentioned above, but the host had already had their world invaded by a red (and not the AI one either). Each of us could attack each other and we definitely knew it too - we were this revolving ring of 'you strike first, no you' over and over. I got caught in the middle. Slashy slashy.

    If I enter a new area, make some progress and then find myself in a tight spot (a lot of enemies and unsure where a short cut could be. Jailers can go and die), I'll Homebone and then place a Soapstone on the ground. Last night, I was summoned pretty much instantly after putting a Soapstone down.

    If the Host finds a shortcut, then I know where to go in my playthrough (I still stay until we beat the boss or die). It's also funny watching the host react to... certain events in Irithyll Dungeon.

      Just got to the dungeon last night! I solve this kind of problem by basically running/dodging for my life and seeing how many items/paths I can discover. Usually I find most things and the next bonfire and then I double back to catch the things I miss.

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