Maybe you thought the original Dark Souls was too hard. Maybe you thought it was too dreary. Maybe it looked boring. For whatever reason, plenty of people missed playing it the first time around. Dark Souls Remastered is out today, and it’s a great excuse to check out the series for the first time or to give it a second chance. Here are some things you should know before you play.
If you’re a series veteran, you know the drill. Dark Souls Remastered is a near one to one experience to the original game. But if you’re new, there’s some important things you should know:
Defeat is a fact of life in Dark Souls. You’ll have some pretty tragic and sudden failures while playing. Embrace the messiness and keep pressing forward. Try not to get angry. You’ll improve with each new attempt and eventually kick a lot of ass.
There are 10 different classes to choose from when rolling a character, each with different stats and equipment. Choose what you think looks fun. You’ll eventually start upgrading the stats you like for your playstyle. However, be aware that picking the Thief automatically grants you the Master Key, which can be used to unlock many different doors throughout the game.
You’re also given the choice of a few items at the start. You can pick up the aforementioned Master Key, which can be useful, but I don’t necessarily recommend it for your first playthrough. There’s some good alternative though. If you want to make early boss fights easier, take the Black Firebombs. Both the rings are useful. The Old Witch’s Ring will allow you to talk to an NPC later in the game. The Tiny Being’s Ring boosts your health, which can be helpful at the start of the game.
When you level up, you get to choose which stats to increase. Here’s what they all do:
- Vitality - Increases your max HP
- Attunement - Increases how many magic spells you can carry
- Endurance - Increases stamina and the maximum weight you can carry
- Strength - Allows you to wield strength-based weapons and increases damage of STR weapons
- Dexterity - Allows you to wield dexterity-based weapons and increases DEX weapon damage and casting speed for magic spells.
- Intelligence - Allows you to use sorcery spells and increases damage of INT weapons and spells
- Faith - Allows you to use Miracle spells and increases damage of FAI weapons and spells.
All equipment has minimum stat requirements to use effectively. They also “scale” with certain statistics. For instance, a katana will usually scale with Dexterity. That means if you want to do more damage, you need to upgrade that stat. Take a close look at your favorite weapon to check what stat it uses.
As you fight enemies, you collect souls that can be used to level up. If you die, you lose them all but can pick them up again if you run back to where you died. Make sure to grab them; if you die a second time without picking them up, you’ll lose all your souls.
Dark Souls’ bonfires are iconic at this point, and for good reason. They act as checkpoints where you can level up and restore health. When you die, you’ll return to the last bonfire you rested at. Keep a lookout and rest at a bonfire whenever you can.
As you play, you’ll gain “humanity.” You can then use it to restore your human from at a bonfire. You need to be human if you want to summon other players, so keep that in mind.
While I don’t personally recommend relying on your shield too often, it’s still good to have one around. Equip it in your off-hand and use it if you feel overwhelmed. Once you learn attack patterns, ditch it and dodge instead. (If you want to turtle up, you can do that to. I just think dodging make things more fun.)
It might be tempting to dodge roll all over the place or spam attacks, but you’ll run out of stamina quickly if you do. Do your best to leave enough for an emergency dodge. Otherwise, you might hack and slash only to get smacked when the enemy retaliates.
If you change your stance, you can hold your weapon with both hands. It will increase your damage and help you use weapons even if your Strength stat is below requirement. Combine this with well-timed dodges and you’ll beat up bosses nice quickly.
If you’re not two-handing a weapon, you can use your off-hand to parry attacks. The timing changes a bit with each enemy, but it’s still pretty generous. Don’t be afraid to parry attacks. If you succeed, you can counter with a critical attack.
If you circle around an enemy, you can do a powerful stabbing attack. The window for backstabs in Dark Souls is really generous compared to the rest of the series. Don’t be afraid to exploit it if you need to.
Magic builds require stat allotment that can be tricky to grasp on a first playthrough. Luckily, there’s always Pyromancy. Unlike Miracles or Sorcery, Pyromancy spells have no minimum stat requirements. All you need is Pyromancy Flame, which you can get either by selecting the Pyromancer class at character creation or finding an NPC named Laurentius in the Depths.
If you do use magic spells, remember to equip them when you’re at a bonfire. Using the Attune option in the menu will let you slot spells into your action bar. The amount of slots is tied to your Attunement stat. If you want to hold more spells, you’ll have to dump points into that stat.
Your Endurance stat determines your “carry load,” which determines how much armor and weapons you can equip before moving slower. For instance, if you only have 8% of your total load, you’ll dodge roll nice and fast. 50% or higher, you’ll basically belly flop. Try to keep your equipment load low if you can.
Throughout your journey, you’ll find Titanite shards and chunks that you can give to blacksmiths to upgrade gear. You’ll find Andre the Blacksmith near Sen’s Fortress, and there’s another blacksmith hiding below Firelink Shrine. Visit them to buff your weapons as often as possible.
Dark Souls has some really neat characters and side quests. When you meet someone, talk to them until they start repeating their dialog. That’s usually enough to have them move to their next location and continue their storylines.
Dark Souls levels have a lot of hidden items, merchants, and special enemies. Check everywhere and really take time to search your surroundings. You’ll find gear, shortcuts, and useful bonfires to rest at.
Chances are that oddly placed chest is a Mimic, a monster that will chomp your face off if you open the chest normally. You can either fight it or use an item called a Lloyd’s Talisman to calm it and earn the loot inside.
A lot of new players leave Firelink Shrine and head towards the graveyard. It’s full of skeletons that can’t be killed unless you have a divine weapon. Beyond that, you can’t even fight the final boss down there until later in the game. Head towards the Undead Burg instead.
When you’re in your human form, you’ll be able to summon friendly players and NPCs using magical signs on the ground. It’s fun to beat the game by yourself, but if you’re stuck, don’t be afraid to summon someone. Eventually you’ll meet a cool dude named Solaire, who will give you an item to leave your own summoning signs so you can help folks too.
Part of the joy of Dark Souls is being surprised and learning new things. These tips should help you get your bearings, but it’s up to you find your own path through the game. Don’t stress the small stuff. Embrace chances to learn and grow. Make mistakes, get up, and keep going. You’re going to do great.