BY RYAN JONES: With the Dark Souls Remastered hitting stores, it is the perfect opportunity for people completely new to the series to give it a go. Dark Souls is a game with a huge reputation for being incredibly difficult and for that reason many people have shied away from trying the game. I was among these people initially. Why would I want to spend my limited time playing games that require a ridiculous learning curve? I simply do not have the time to be getting frustrated from dying repeatedly in a game with no progress.
But eventually, I did give it a go. And to my surprise, I actually loved it. The world and atmosphere that From Software has created are truly remarkable, each area holding something new to find. The gameplay is hard but satisfying and rewarding enough to really be worth the trouble. It’s definitely a game series I think everyone needs to experience at least once.
I believe a lot of the reputation surrounding the game to be quite an exaggeration. It is certainly not the most difficult game in the world, but don’t get me wrong; it is unforgiving. You will get punished for your mistakes. But with this list, I will give you everything you need to know to get a real headstart on the Dark Souls Remastered, so you don’t have to spend the time working all this out on your own.
#1 – Play Defensively
Within the Dark Souls Remastered, prudence is the name of the game. The absolute best tip I can give you is to take things slow. Too many new players will try to rush, quickly sprinting through dangerous areas and swinging their sword recklessly without thought at enemies. If there is anything that is going to get you killed in the early game, it’s this. Your character is not a superhuman, a few scratches and they’ll keel over.
It’s best to treat Dark Souls as an entity that is always trying to kill you. There are countless traps and ambush points expertly designed to punish those who aren’t careful. Try to think from a level designer’s perspective; if you are entering an interior with a lot of corners and blind spots, you can really count on an enemy waiting within one of them to stab you in the back. If there is a chest in a room by itself, perhaps give it a punch before you excitedly open it. It could be a mimic, and nothing is sadder than being eaten by what you thought would be amazing loot.
This tip also extends to combat. As I mentioned before, swinging your sword wildly in the general direction of the enemy as soon as you see them will get you quickly countered and murdered. A great way to approach combat within this game is to let your enemies attack first. Block that attack or evade it, then counter while they are wide open. This is the safest and most effective way to deal with enemies in the game.
#2 – Stamina Management
Understanding how stamina works is a key concept to your survival in the Dark Souls Remastered. It’s what I see new players struggling the most with during the early hours of the game. Once you have a feel for how it works though, you will find the combat a lot easier to manage.
Underneath your red health bar is a green stamina bar. Make it a habit to keep an eye on this during fights, as it is much more important than it first appears. A lot of the actions you take within the game deplete stamina. Sprinting, attacking, blocking, and evading all will whittle away your energy. If you run out, you will find yourself unable to perform any of those actions. Which as you can imagine, being unable to block or dodge out the way of a huge greatsword coming down on your head isn’t exactly ideal.
So during combat within the game, you want to always make sure you know how much stamina you have left and leave yourself enough to be able to dodge or block an attack. If you attack too much, you will find yourself without enough energy to defend yourself. Not performing any of the actions I listed above will cause your stamina to begin to regenerate after a short delay. So you have to find a balance of offense and defense in your fights. Clash with an enemy until your stamina starts to look a little low, then back off and let it regenerate before reengaging. Find that rhythm, and you will really begin to benefit from it.
#3 – When and When Not To Shield
Shields can be incredibly useful within the Dark Souls Remastered. It’s much safer than trying to evade an attack and can serve as a very good first line of defense in a lot of cases. However, it is not a cure-all; in some situations and against certain enemies it may actually prove to be a detriment.
To understand why we’re going to have to take a quick look at how shields work. There are a huge amount of different types of shields within the game, some big and some small. But generally, they all work the same. Blocking an attack will cost you stamina, the amount of which depending on what type of shield you are using (a simple buckler will cost more stamina to block with than say, a tower shield as big as a door) and the strength of the incoming attack. If a blocked attack depletes all your given stamina, you will find yourself knocked off balance, open to further attacks. Which of course, we do not want.
What you need to focus on as a beginner though, is the point about the strength of incoming attacks. The starting shields you will find within the early game will be completely fine at deflecting attacks from skinny undead with broken swords. This is where shields are at their peak performance; blocking fast weak attacks. However, trying to block a blow from a giant hammer of a knight three times the size of you isn’t going to work out well. In these situations, evasion is truly your best bet. Unequip your shield, and use your sword with both hands for more damage. Enemies that are strong enough to rip through shields are generally slow enough to be evaded relatively safely, so be careful and get countering.
#4 – Play Online
Playing the game in online mode brings with it a huge list of benefits which can directly help you with your treacherous adventure. You might be a little put-off at first from playing the Dark Souls Remastered online; you may have heard the game has player vs player aspects and you certainly don’t want to be immediately destroyed by a player who has completed every game in the series while you are still trying to just acquaint yourself with the controls.
But while the player vs player aspects do exist, playing online doesn’t mean you have to live with constant fear of this happening.
Humanity is a currency within the game which can be used at bonfires to become human. Being human allows two major things; you can now summon co-op buddies to help you in your adventure (yay!), and you can now be invaded by players who want to kill you (not so yay). It’s a double-edged sword and one you have to be very careful with. Dying will cause you to lose your humanity and go back to being an ugly zombie.
What I recommend for the online aspects of the Dark Souls Remastered for a completely new player, is only become human when you are stuck and need help from another player. You cannot be invaded while undead which means you will be safe from invasions. But you will still be able to see notes other players have left behind. They are small tips that players can write on the floor of any given area for you to read. These can prove incredibly useful as they can warn you about potential ambushes or traps, or lead you to loot you may have otherwise missed. It’s worth it to play online just for the notes feature.
#5 – Backstabs and Parries
Backstabs and parries are a big part of your offensive kit within the Dark Souls Remastered. They allow you to dish out a huge amount of damage in one strike, effectively one-hitting weak enemies. But pulling them off can be a challenge sometimes, especially in the case of parries.
A backstab is the much safer option of these two, although it requires a lot more movement on the players part to achieve. To perform a backstab, you attack from directly behind an enemy. If done correctly, you will enter into an animation where you stab the enemy, inflicting a huge amount of damage. However, many enemies will turn around as you try and circle around them. Some enemies can be very hard to backstab due to this. The best bet in performing one is to bait out an attack from an enemy, then dodge forward past it. The timing can be difficult, but you will find yourself in the prime position to get the backstab if done successfully.
Parries don’t require the player to circle behind the enemy and are performed from the front. The trade-off with that though is that they are more dangerous; a failed parry most likely means you are going to take the full brunt of an attack from an enemy. A parry is performed by hitting L2 (PS4) or LT (Xbox One) at a very specific timing during an incoming attack from an enemy to deflect the strike away with your shield. The timing is hard to master, but a successful parry leaves the enemy in a stagger state. From here you can perform a very powerful move known as a riposte, doing a huge amount of damage to the enemy.
#6 – Avoiding Group Fights
So with the above tips, you may find yourself feeling a lot more confident fighting enemies one on one. That’s great! But as you are making your merry way through the area, suddenly you are beset by three or four enemies. You quickly keep finding yourself surrounded and overwhelmed. This is where the first tip within the list comes into play again.
Many areas within the Dark Souls Remaster have multiple enemies milling about in close proximity to each other. You really want to try and avoid fighting groups of enemies if at all possible. It just becomes way too dangerous very quickly. After all, what are you supposed to do if four enemies attack at once from different sides? Instead, it’s more desirable to only attract the attention of enemies one at a time. Try to sneak up to one enemy only, get their attention, then lead them away from others and defeat them in a safe area. Enemies will chase you once they are aware of you, so you can use this to your advantage to split up groups.
Sometimes this may be impossible, and you have no choice other than to fight multiple enemies at once. If this happens there are a few things you can do. Try and maneuver yourself so the group of enemies is all in front of you, and none are behind you or on your flanks. This way you can keep an eye on all of them. From here, keep backing off and counterattack only if you are sure it will be a safe hit, such as when all the enemies are coming out of an attack animation, or some have started to lag behind. And if all else fails, you can always run!
#7 – Stats, Equipment, and You
When you first get to level up, it can be incredibly intimidating to see all these stats on your screen. But try not to be too overwhelmed! It really is a lot more intuitive and simpler than it looks.
Basically, when it comes to stats, you have to think about a playstyle that you would feel you would like to play. Would you want to be a dexterous thief, able to evade quickly and use weapons that require skill and finesse to pull off? Perhaps you would rather be a heavily armored knight who prefers to crush those that oppose them? Or maybe you would like to be a pyromancer, and burn your foes to a crisp? Deciding what kind of character you want to build will influence which stats you wish to put points in.
This is due to the fact that armor, weapons, and magic within the Dark Souls Remastered require you to hit a minimum stat to use effectively, and also scale to be even better with further increases to that stat. The stats you need to use the equipment will make sense; for example, a small dagger will scale very well with dexterity while a gigantic greatsword will lean a lot more towards strength. The same thing goes for armor and shields as well.
As for stats that don’t really fit into equipment, I would always put some points in vitality and endurance. Find yourself dying way too quickly? Try boosting your Vitality and getting a bit more maximum health. Likewise, if you find yourself out of stamina all the time leveling endurance will help.
If you follow these tips, I guarantee you will have an easier start with the Dark Souls Remastered. It is an incredible game and is definitely worth its praise. Remember, take it slow and steady, learn from your mistakes and you will be making quick progress in no time. And maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised and become a fan of this series like I did!
Are there any tips you would like to add? Comment below!