Tips For Playing Dark Souls 3

Tips For Playing Dark Souls 3

The land of Lothric is a deadly place, and Dark Souls 3 doesn't go out of its way to lend a hand. I'm here to help. What follows is a combination of tips for people who are new to Dark Souls — such as "watch out for mimics!" — and things that are specific to Dark Souls 3.

Please drop your own tips into the comments!

Pick Whatever Class You Want, It's Not A Big Deal...

There aren't specific "class" designations in Dark Souls 3, outside of what you arbitrarily pick in the beginning. Even if you decide to start out as a warrior, it's possible to become a sorcerer later. The only difference is that you'll open the game with slightly different stats and starter equipment. Everything else in Dark Souls 3 is the same for everyone, and it's even possible to respec via an NPC.

...But If You're Having Trouble, Choose These

Dark Souls 3 doesn't have a difficulty levels to choose from; everyone is on the same playing field. That said, some classes have things a little easier than others early on. If you keep dying over and over, think about switching over to the knight or pyromancy classes. With the knight, you'll start with bulky armour, in addition to a shield. With the pyromancer, you can toss powerful fire magic.

Here's A Great Spot To Farm For Souls Early In The Game

Kotaku's Chris Person has a handy guide to start racking up souls early on:

Spend A Few Minutes Killing That Bad Arse Dragon

Dragons are cool, but they're also prone to killing you all the time with fire. This particular dragon, found in the High Wall of Lothric, is hiding some loot that's tough to grab without shooing it away. Fortunately, all it takes is a bow, a few minutes of patience and a ton of arrows to take the beast down. It's possible to snipe the dragon from a few places nearby — just make sure to keep your distance. Near death, the dragon will fly away and the path clears up for you.

Tips For Playing Dark Souls 3

Not All Flasks Are Made Equal

For the first time, Dark Souls has two flasks: estus and ashen. One refills your health, the other refills magic. There are also two upgrades: shards and bone dust. The former increases the number of flasks, the latter amps up its abilities. Depending on what kind of character you're playing as, you may be more interested in refilling magic than health. (Sorcerers, for example, have access to health spells.) In that case, speak with the blacksmith and modify how many of each flask you have on-hand. It's possible to have four estus flasks and two ashen flasks or two ashen flasks and four estus flasks. It's up to you.

Bow And Arrows Are Your Best Friend

Look, Dark Souls 3 is a tough game, and you need every advantage you can get. That's where the bow comes in handy. See a group of enemies up ahead? Shoot one of them with an arrow and they will come running after you, while the others (usually) stay behind. Is an enemy charging your way? Snipe them in the head with an arrow and it's likely to stagger them for a few seconds. Learn to love being cheap and dirty with the bow and arrow; there's no shame in it.

Enemies Will Stop Running After You... Eventually

You're likely to be in lots of situations where you've been overwhelmed by enemies and the situation is looking bleak. That's when it's useful to run the hell away and live to fight another day. If you put enough distance between you and an enemy, they will get bored and head back to their guard post. This can be used 'n abused, if you're patient; it's possible to hit an enemy, run away and repeat the process until they're dead. This is even easier with a bow and arrow!

Summoning Makes Dark Souls Less Lonely

A hardcore Souls player might say a "true" fan plays the game solo, but screw that! If you want jolly cooperators to ease the burden, go right ahead. The game doesn't really explain how co-op works, but it's simple enough. When you beat a boss or use an ember, you'll be able to see "summon" signs on the ground. These might be NPC characters or other players, depending on the sign. With Bloodborne, From Software finally introduced the ability to matchmake with other friends using a password system, and that's present in Dark Souls 3, too.

Armour Isn't That Important, Focus On Looking Cool

It's easy to get bogged down in stats, but while armour plays a role, it won't usually make or break a fight. (That's less true if you're going for a "tank" build, though.) You're going to find lots of equipment while journeying Lothric, and it will be tempting to ignore clothing that doesn't make you stronger. That's an option, but that means you're gonna get stuck with some boring armour. Mix it up! Try something weird! Worst case, you go back to the old armour.

Tips For Playing Dark Souls 3

There's A Quick Way To Access Your Favourite Item

If you hold up or down on the d-pad, it will scroll to your first item or spell.

Fight One Enemy At A Time

One enemy might not be that tough, but two or three? Things can get out of control quickly in Souls, which is why you should avoid the temptation to attract the attention of too many creatures. If you can focus on one enemy at a time — again, the bow and arrow helps with this — it makes combat more manageable. In a pinch, items like firebombs can be useful to collectively stun enemies.

Use Your Damn Items

Items and souls are scarce for a while, but you'll have way too much shit by the end of the game. My inventory is full of items that I should have used, as I kept telling myself "oh, maybe I'll need it later." Apparently, "later" means "never". Make use of those magical coatings for your weapons that let you attack a little harder. Equip an ember to get a little more health. Go wild!

How Come I Can't Roll Worth A Shit?

That's the "equip load" stat, and you can upgrade it. It's easy to get overencumbered in Dark Souls 3, and it's most noticeable when you roll. The more overencumbered, the slower your rolls. Given how crucial rolling is to dodging attacks, this can be a huge problem. If you're playing as a tank who is meant to take endless hits from the enemy, maybe you don't care, but for most players, you'll want to find a balance between armour and efficient rolling.

There's A Hidden NPC Sitting In Firelink Shrine

It's possible to make it through most of Dark Souls 3 and not know what to do with the boss souls dropped by the game's most powerful creatures. You can consume them and quickly level up, but you might be tempted to turn them into unique sets of armour, items and weapons. The NPC who takes care of this for you is hiding in plain sight: they're sitting on a throne in Firelink Shrine.

The Fire Keeper Enjoys Dancing

Try using emotes on the Fire Keeper in Firelink Shrine and see what happens.

Check Each Weapon's Attribute Bonus

Let's say you've decided to focus on dumping upgrade points into strength. When you come across a new weapon, make sure to see what stat it gains an "attribute bonus" from. If you're choosing between two nearly identical swords, for example, but one of them gets a E attribute bonus for strength and the other gets a C, you might want to consider the C; it means you'll get bonus points for being a strength-based character. Different weapons have different bonuses!

Tips For Playing Dark Souls 3

Run After Those Glowing Lizards

They seem like very nice creatures, but they also drop the rarest items, like the twinkling titanite upgrade material. After you've killed one, though, it's gone for good. However, if you're not able to take them down before they disappear into the ether, simply warp to another part of the game and come back.

Attack Every Chest Before You Open It

There's great treasure hiding in the chests of Lothric, but they're also homes for one of the game's nastiest enemies: mimics. Players will often drop a helpful note about mimics, but they're just as likely to be tricking you, too. It's possible to attack a non-mimic chest several times without destroying it, and if it happens to be a mimic, you'll get a few attacks off before it can do anything. It's definitely worth killing every mimic, though: they're holding powerful items.

Don't Accidentally Hit An NPC

They will fight you, try to kill you and leave your game. That sucks. (That said, if you want their unique equipment, that's the only option in front of you.)

The Lock-On Mechanic Is Your Friend

Even if you don't lock-on to every single enemy while you're fighting them, it's useful to figure out who (and what) is hoping to kill you in Dark Souls 3. The lock-on will never target anything friendly to you, such as an NPC, and if you've entered a room that seems suspiciously quiet, the lock-on can give you a heads up on what might be hiding in the shadows. (Or, often, above!)

Read The Messages Players Leave Behind

While it's true that some people are tricksters, more often than not, the messages are helpful for figuring out where a bonfire is hiding or if an ambush is ahead. Players are able to rate messages in the world, and the ones with a ton of recommendations tend to be the most useful. Also, be a good Souls citizen and leave messages for others! It will make you feel good inside.

Not Every Wall Is A Wall

There are "illusionary walls" hidden in Dark Souls 3, and there's no way to find them except to swing your sword around and see if a wall disappears. Sometimes, the game will hint at the location of an illusionary wall by teasing a nearby location that seems out of reach, an indication that you might want to start poking around. It's also a good reason to read messages left by other players! If you find one sitting in front of a wall, it just might be an illusion.

Embrace Elemental Upgrades For Weapons

It won't matter in the opening hours, but soon, you'll gain access to elemental gems — fire, lightning, poison and so on. Though your gut might tell you to stick with infusions that continue upgrading your physical attack stats, consider making your sword into a fire sword. If an enemy is weak to fire, you'll do a ridiculous amount of damage! By the end of the game, I was walking around with a couple weapons with various elemental advantages. Plus, if you're not happy with an upgrade, there's an item that will let you strip a weapon bare and start over.


    Been noticing Bloodborne has made me roll around far to often in DS3, I even spam roll when trying to escape, feels like I'm sonic the hedgehog or something, props on the advice to shoot the dragon, will try that tonight.

    Last edited 13/04/16 11:25 am

      Same here. Never realised Bloodborne has such a huge impact on my play style.

        I think the average Bloodborne player is going to have a much easier time in this game than those who didn't play it.

        I've noticed even early on there are some tough enemies where you vastly benefit from simply dodging than trying to block basically anything they do. The early knight enemies are a good example of this.

          Those knights are bastards if you get on the wrong side of their chain attacks!

      I do the exact same thing. Drain my stamina rolling around like a crazy man. It's funny though, prior to Bloodborne I was a tank in all the souls games. Rarely even rolled in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls 1. Now I'm running around half naked 'cause I want to move as fast as possible.

      Don't need to shoot the dragon - just wait till the actual flame attack is over and force your toon to walk through the fire (you will take a bit of damage) and you can make it to the doorway easy.
      Same with from the doorway to other parts of the platform for all the loot.

    I chose the Deprived class.

    That first boss took some doing I can tell you.

    When I found a shield it was one of the happiest moments in games I've had for a long long time.

    Not sure what stats I'm going to pump up yet.

      I'm still stuck on the first boss (played for an hour last night, Assassin Class) I've gotta learn to perfectly dodge his attacks because one of his swipes will knock out 70% health

        I kept trying to coax him into jumping off the mountain.

        Didn't work.

        I'm pretty sure his swipes go over your head if you're right up close. Even if they don't I find it easier to roll through attacks like that when I'm up close. Just avoid being greedy. Chip away with a hit here and there, stay close and keep circling counter clockwise.

        I had some issues for 2 hours on that guy - I ended up quitting and starting again as a Knight and i got through all of that bit and smashed him in about half hour...

        Saying classes dont matter is a funny statement to make as I immediately felt a difference with the increased strength and better sword for that first boss!

          This exactly - your starting class is like picking your difficulty level - I set aside my long haired bearded Assassin "Barry Gibb" and traded his smooth disco moves for a burly grey haired Pyromancer I have christened Kevin Rudd (remember they were burning a lot of houses down a few years back) and he took out Gundyr on the first attempt!

    My tips would be:
    Don't be afraid to roll. The stamina changes of Bloodborne have been carried over so dodging is a lot cheaper than in the first two games.
    Roll in the mud, roll in water. My favourite part of the game so far is watching my character slowly get muddy as I roll on the ground and then get clean as I roll through water. I spend most of my time rolling just to see it.

    Can't wait to get home and dig into this tonight.

    I really like the look of this character in one of IGN's videos. Seems to be a 2h sword wielder with a staff and magic. What stats should I be leveling up?

    Spoiler tag cause of boss name.

    This list would definitely be helpful to a new player, nicely done =)

    Quick question, i assume like in DS1 and 2 there is a way to tell if the chest is a mimic or not (a mimic chest has a curved chain whereas a normal one does not)? Because if i'm not mistaken if you accidentally destroy a chest it used to give you rubbish unless it was a quest item in which case it dropped normally.
      When standing next to a chest, maneuver the camera angle in a manner in which you can look up from the chest. If the lid appears to be slightly open then the chest is likely a Mimic. Non-Mimic chests will be fully closed. A quicker way to determine a mimic is to look at the chain on the right side. If it's a chest, it'll be curved back. If it's a mimic, it'll be pointing forwards.
      So yes.

        If you throw a lloyds talisman at them they transform but dont become hostile until you attack :) but i notmally just zoom in and look for the teeth/breathing

          Here's one way to find out...

          Completely forgot about mimic chests

    Tip #1: If you want to keep your sanity: Don't! ;)

    As an eager souls player who played thru the first 2 once each I thought I'd start off as a thief for something different. Oh chachi, you fool. 2 hours on the first boss later and i thought I'd try the good old knight.
    Bam, 2nd shot and I'm good to move on. So, Yeh maybe don't pick thief if you're even more of a novice than me haha.

      Did the same thing with the Herald - gave up after two hours and started as a Knight - and BAM!

      So any one wondering - Do think about which class you pick in terms of your skill level etc

        I must admit I was getting sweaty at the idea of the game being too hard for me all of a sudden before switching!
        Was making a little progress using the new weapon arts and zipping around the boss but man...thief starts at level 5 I dunno what the Herald starts at. Knight is 9 for comparison.

          The Herald wasn't too bad i think Level 8 but yeah... Considering i never finished Souls 2 because of time constraints and babies... I figured i needed a better start!!!

          Was going really well I thought then i looped back around to the first bonfire.... Lol - at least I know what im doing again now five hours in haha

            I've only gotten into the shrine, got day off tomorrow so hopefully I'll get a few bosses under my belt!
            Questions : did u kill that crystal dragon at the start? And what's with that guy to the outside left of the shrine! What a dog!
            I was gonna go back for the crystal dragon but am gonna wait until later now heh

              I missed this crystal dragon you speak of...
              And you mean the guy who just sits there and repeats the same shit? lol

              I may go back and try to find this crystal dragon... Got me intrigued!!! I had a hard enough time with the Knights through the next section!!!

                Oh sorry didn't explain very well! I dunno if dragon is a good description but it's a fairly chunky enemy right at the beginning in the graveyard, to the right of the exit that leads you out to the cliffs and first bonfire.
                And the other guy is an enemy with a staff that is very tricky ( as in much too hard to beat this early ) and even poisons you, he's situated to the left of the door to firelink shrine, if you follow the paths outside you'll see him just waiting up a path in front of what looks like a locked door hehe

                  I didnt get to log on last night but im going back to find these guys tonight - i NEED souls!!!!!

                  Last night was TV night with the Mrs and rightfully so - pretty much ignored her all week hahah

    @scarnon oh I get that, I've been mostly reading lately so I've got lots of leeway for souls now, my fiancée knows souls is my jam!
    So I killed that "crystal lizard" back in the graveyard, fairly easy to dodge his attacks. And I too have done the loop, forging ahead now...

      the wife doesnt know much about dark souls... I've been just trying to hide away and play for as long as p[ossible which isnt the right way to go about it, but shes been really good with EA UFC 2(online fighting is my jam!) and a few other big titles around recently i feel like ive been pushing it lol

      Got the big 30th bday next week so i have a few days off which i will dedicate to understanding more of this dark world i have found myself utterly obsessed with!

      I know where i need to go now but one question that has since been burning my mind. There seems to be a prisoner or someone locked up underneath the wall of lothric... Need a key to open the door and i didnt do enough exploring. im hoping by forging ahead it will make sense but this is where Dark Souls has drawn me in again - I want to know everything and it's nearly impossible to unless ones name is @Vaatividya

        Big 3-0, nice one! I'm 33, but no kids yet so I salute your gaming in between parenting. God knows I've heard it can be tough!
        Ah yes the key... once i made it to the boss i realised i hadnt come across it. I play a lot of games and don't want to spend ages figuring everything out myself, so I'm not averse to looking things up once I've made it to the boss and explored the whole level.
        So, I will give u a hint...
        In the area where judgement is raining down from above, search the place where people talk to their lost and loved...

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