The Mystery Behind Dark Souls 3’s Seemingly Useless Poise Stat

The Mystery Behind Dark Souls 3’s Seemingly Useless Poise Stat

One of the more common ways to play Dark Souls is bulking up with huge pieces of armour, knowing you can withstand attacks. This isn’t the case in Dark Souls 3, as it appears one of the game’s stats has become pointless. Glitch? Intentional design change? Nobody knows. The stat in question is called poise. Here’s how the game describes it:

The ability to withstand attacks without breaking form.

In practice, it’s supposed to mean that the player doesn’t stagger when attacked, and prevents their animations from being interrupted. It’s modified by upgrading stats (in Dark Souls 3, that’s vitality) and equipping rings/armour. This is useful for certain types of PvP builds centred around speed; even if a player can hit you a bunch of times in a row, poise will let you hit back. In PvE, a boss can hit hard and you’ll still be standing.

But as you can see in the GIF, the player keeps getting interrupted, despite wearing the heavy Havel armour, the Wolf Ring (which increases poise) and equipping Yhorm’s Greatshield (also a bonus to poise). Between those three, you should be able to withstand some substantial hits, yet they’re unable to maintain composure when facing the game’s earliest enemies.

Here’s what it like when fighting the weakest enemy in Dark Souls 3, who should have no business interrupting a character with endgame equipment:

Video Credit: SteamBoy27

This is a problem because it removes one of the greatest advantage of heavy armour; it could be argued it renders heavy armour mostly useless.

As it stands, it appears poise has zero impact on the player, despite what a number of item descriptions suggest about their intent. It would be less of a problem if From Software had communicated these changes, but they didn’t. If anything, the game appears to be intentionally misleading!

This story gets stranger, though. Players have started picking apart the code for Dark Souls 3, and discovered a value that seems to turn poise on.

Video Credit: ANDELE3025

The folks who discovered the change haven’t publicly disclosed how it works “due to ‘respect’ for IP/it breaking terms of service and first sale doctrine applying for private use only”. If you were to modify the game’s code and go online, you would be banned from Dark Souls 3 in short order.

But its existence is baffling, and suggests Dark Souls 3 really does have a fully working poise mechanic that was either removed from the game or From Software somehow shipped it without flipping the poise stat back on.

Even without cheating, there are trace elements of poise, through the use of specific weapon art moves. (Weapon arts are magic-draining special moves that vary per weapon). The fist-based Heavy Caestus weapon features a weapon art called “Perseverance”:

Cross arms in front of the body to temporarily boost poise. Damage reduced while activated.

And here’s how that looks in practice:

Video Credit: SteamBoy27 (YouTube)

That’s what poise is supposed to look like — the character doesn’t budge.


From Software hasn’t answered my questions about poise yet, nor have they addressed community concerns publicly or through patches.

Top Image Credit: SteamBoy27


  • If it’s anything like the Dark Souls 2 60FPS durability glitch, they’ll spend a year publically denying that there’s any issue before quietly patching it in.

  • This was my number one complaint about an otherwise excellent game. I got frustrated countless times when my attacks would get interrupted by low level enemies to the extent that I didn’t have it in me to do NG+

    Sure you can interrupt them too, but it only works on a handful of enemies. Whereas on the player they interrupt you 100% of the time.

  • It made rat rooms pretty fatal as the rats could stagger their attacks and stunlock you to death, regardless of what you wore.

    • That room with the Giant and the rats in Profaned Capital/Irithyll Dungeons, goddammit. Giant itself was easy, but the first time I went in there the 30 rats just stunlocked me so the giant stomped my face in. It still gives me the twitches.

      • That’s weird. I was able to kill all the rats in that room without waking the giant. Did you accidentally thwack him in the ankle or something?

        • I actually wanted to kill the giant, which would have been easy were it not for the rats. I wanted dem souls haha. Should have just made a run for the shortcut past him rather than killing him on the way.

          • Yeah, I made a few aborted attempts on him up top, then by the time I realized I wasn’t going to get him down from up there, I did the shortcut run past him on the other side of his arm and went to mentally ‘map out’ the rest of the area so I could come back to him once I was confident I had the rest of the zone sorted out.

            Yeah, if you come from the other direction once you’ve unlocked all the doors/elevators etc you can drop easily down to his feet without agroing him, and just kill all the rats without his interference. THEN you can take him out for daring to exist.

    • Nothing like being chain stunlocked by enemies who would die if you could simply get half a second to send a stern look in their direction, right?

      Rat rooms are more serious business than 90% of the game because of it.

  • I don’t care about poise you should be dodging like a madman. What I care about is their netcode. People can’t join me to fight bosses. The fog wall stops them from entering, not just me that is having this problem either. Also why does the game version say that it’s 1.4 yet steam has it at 1.3 still. Lastly the best “feature” no cloud saves, you get one save file for all characters. Mine got corrupted on a CTD (which are less frequent than dark souls 2 to be fair) but that’s it. Level 71 character gone.
    2016 game, 1996 level of backup feature and customer support.

    • I remember backing up my save every time I killed a new boss in the original dark souls, looks like I will have to keep doing that for the new one as well 🙁

  • Considering you need like 40 vitality alone to wear this stuff while fast rolling and probably around 70-80 if you throw in a great shield and heavy weapon this makes it all a hard blow hopefully it gets addressed soon defensive bonuses arnt worth this kind of vitality investment. especially when you start to get deeper into ng’s.

  • The folks who discovered the change haven’t publicly disclosed how it works “due to ‘respect’ for IP/it breaking terms of service and first sale doctrine applying for private use only”. If you were to modify the game’s code and go online, you would be banned from Dark Souls 3 in short order.

    Heh. Actually, someone did disclose how it worked – right down to the specific flag to be toggled. And yes, they were almost immediately banned.

    • Did you happen to see what the value was? I’ve been hunting all over the internet, and I can’t find it for the life of me.

  • I saw a video on the weekend where they spoke about poise. Poise does seem affect the stun lock after a roll, it may also affect the 2nd hit in a R1 combo allowing the player to avoid the 2nd hit, parry or try sneak a hit in if their weapon is fast enough.

  • In the first video, the guy’s animations aren’t being interrupted; he’s not doing anything. He’s sitting there, being swung at, asking why he’s still flinching. Poise is supposed to prevent your attacks from being interrupted. It’s not supposed to allow you to just tank hits like it did in Dark Souls 1, where you could literally armor up, walk through somebody’s sword swing and backstab them. Nobody should want that back, either.

    The reason the caestus buff does allow you to do that is because it does more than just grant extra poise and damage reduction. This is a souls game – you should never assume that a weapon or spell or effect’s description is either completely accurate or a full description of the effect.

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