Dark Souls III is a brutally hard game, we all know that. It might not be as tough as other entries in the SoulsBorne franchise, or even the hardest Dark Souls game, but that isn’t saying much.
New and experienced players alike are going to struggle with certain aspects of DS3, whether it’s New Game+ runs, PvP, or even making it through that first playthrough. That’s why we’ve put together this list of DS3 tips and tricks.
Keep in mind that we’re not going to be talking about the basics here. We’re also not going to be talking about the top-level stuff either. Instead, we’re looking to strike a balanced middle-ground with these advanced Dark Souls III tips.
If you’re already well into your first run, or you’ve already finished it, this is for you. If you’re already on NG+1 or higher, you probably already know about everything we’re going to talk about.
This list has advanced DS3 tips for both PvP and PvE. So if you only play one or the other, not all of these tips are going to be relevant to you.
We’re also not going to be going over anything like stat distribution, builds, items, or anything like that. We’re going into this list with the assumption that you already know the basics, meaning you know how your build works, what weapons are good, and what items you need.
Alright, that’s enough caveats for one day. Here are 9 advanced tips for success in Dark Souls 3:
- 9. Learn How to Build Craft
- 8. Get Good With Curved Swords
- 7. (Controller) Hold Down on the D-Pad to Cycle Items
- 6. Stop Returning to Neutral
- 5. You Can Cancel Jump Rolls
- 4. Navigate the Swamp Faster with Dagger Weapon Arts
- 3. Shields Parry in a 360 Degree Radius
- 2. Stop Double Rolling
- 1. Don’t Be Afraid to Study
- Wrapping Up
9. Learn How to Build Craft
Looking up builds is all well and good for your first or second playthrough, but eventually, you’re going to need to learn how to design and create your own.
“Why though?” I hear you asking. Well, it’s all about versatility and variety. There are only so many good builds out there online, and a lot of them revolve around the same playstyles. You’re going to struggle to find fun and viable builds for some of the more niche weapons in the game.
Being able to create your own builds means that you won’t be limited by what’s popular, giving you more options for all of your subsequent playthroughs.
Plus, on top of that, it’s going to exponentially increase your general knowledge of how DS3 works. As you gain more experience with different skills, weapons, miracles, sorceries, and pyromancies, you’re going to be honing your knowledge of how certain playstyles work. The importance of that cannot be understated when it comes to improving your PvP game.
So, how do you learn to build craft? First, you need to understand how all the skills work in the game, what weapons and magic scales with each, and where the softcaps/hardcaps are.
There are plenty of great YouTube videos on the subject of builds that arm you with all the potential information you’re going to need. After that, it’s just a matter of experimentation. The more you play around with weapons and stats, the better at build crafting you’ll be.
8. Get Good With Curved Swords
Why curved swords particularly? Well, for PvE, no reason. You can use them for your general playthroughs if you’d like to. If not, then no harm is done.
For PvP, though, getting good with a curved sword is going to make a massive difference to your skill level. Despite being the subject of what should have been a pretty devastating nerf in 2017, these guys have remained at the top of the meta for years now.
Curved swords aren’t all that on a fundamental level. It’s not some overpowered weapon type that is going two destroy everything it comes into contact with. Instead, curved swords scale with the skill of the player using them.
It’s a nuanced weapon type. What I mean by that is that curved swords are great for abstract things like applying pressure, punishing, and roll-catching players during duels. These are techniques that you learn to use as you delve deeper into the PvP landscape.
Compared to using a weapon type like long swords, though, curved swords will exponentially increase the rate at which your technical skill improves. They will unlock PvP for you in a way that other weapons won’t, giving you the greatest return on time investment when it comes to improving.
You don’t have to main curved swords forever, just long enough to develop the kind of competitive insight needed to really start playing DS3 PvP to its full potential.
7. (Controller) Hold Down on the D-Pad to Cycle Items
This tip is exclusive to the players out there that prefer a controller over a keyboard and mouse. Let’s be honest, though, if you’re playing through Dark Souls 3 on KBM then you’re already a lost cause.
Using a controller is infinitely superior for Dark Souls 3, but it does have its limitations, mainly its lack of buttons. There are no binding items and consumables to your number keys. Instead, you need to cycle that menu the old-fashioned way.
When you have 10+ items on your quick bar, that becomes a massive inconvenience, especially in PvP. Ever died because you were in a panic and couldn’t cycle through to your Estus Flask fast enough? Yeah, we thought so.
You don’t have to suffer through that pain anymore, though, because there’s a quick way to automatically jump back to the first item equipped in your quick bar without going through the others; all you have to do is hold down on the DPad.
Needless to say, your Estus Flask should be the item in your first slot to take full advantage of this. You’re going to be saving potentially seconds each time you need to heal in a duel. That might not sound like much to some people, but trust us when we say it’s going to make all the difference.
6. Stop Returning to Neutral
Here’s one for all of you beginner PvPers out there. If you tend to create space every time you manage to get a hit or two in, you’re giving away any potential advantage before you get it.
Neutral, for our purposes, is referring to a state in a duel where neither player is pushing. You’re both staring each other down, controlling space, looking for an opening. The entire point of a duel is to destroy the state of neutrality and apply pressure, so the last thing you should be doing is returning to it each time you deal damage.
Rather than backing up, keep pressuring your opponent. Don’t give them time to heal and compose themselves, you want to be up in their face making life as difficult as possible. Just because you might have to roll out of an attack doesn’t mean you need to go halfway across the arena. Stick close and punish your enemy for panic-swinging at you. You’ll start winning a lot more fights if you do.
5. You Can Cancel Jump Rolls
What do we mean by this? Well, we’re sure you’re aware of the roll animation you need to sit through after a running jump. It takes up a lot of time, makes your jump inaccurate, and all in all is just a pain.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s absolutely handy in certain scenarios, but it makes calculating regular jumps (a difficult enough task already in a FromSoft game) even harder.
To cancel out that roll animation, all you have to do is stop moving forward once you leap. It’s that simple and yet so many of us seem to miss it. Just stop pushing the thumbstick or holding down W. You’ll still maintain your momentum, but instead of rolling out when you land, you’ll come to a dead stop.
There aren’t too many spots in the game where this is vital. DS3 wasn’t built for platforming, after all. Having that extra option in your toolkit is always helpful, though.
We all know just how bad Farron Keep is. It’s one of the few areas in the game that actually gets worse on subsequent playthroughs. It’s not overly difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but navigating the deep water in the swamp is annoying enough to deter players from ever even starting NG+.
That’s a shame, too, because there’s a cheeky way to avoid the massive speed debuff you get while in the swamp: the dagger weapon art.
For those of you that have never used a dagger build before, the weapon art is quickstep. The action is fairly self-explanatory. When you use it, you make a fast step/dash. As well as being useful in combat, this art is a lifesaver because it isn’t subject to the speed debuff that your regular movement is.
In other words, you can quickstep your way across the swamp in a fraction of the time it’ll take you running and rolling. This single trick takes Farron Keep from being one of the most annoying areas in the game to being nothing more than an inconvenience.
It’s great for combat, too. Quickstep grants you invincibility frames and is a great way to mix up your movement in both PvP and PvE.
3. Shields Parry in a 360 Degree Radius
Yes, your shield parries a full 360 degrees around your body. This is one simple statement but can actually mean a lot for improving both your PvE and PvP gameplay, especially if you didn’t already know about this beforehand.
To put this in other terms, you don’t have to be facing an enemy to parry them, all you have to do is time the parry correctly. Knowing about this can completely change the way you approach PvP in particular and will give you a lot more flexibility in duels. If you don’t have to constantly be facing your opponent head-on, you’re going to have access to a greater level of maneuverability.
Next time you’re dueling a player or a phantom, give it a try. Turn your back on them and try to parry, you’ll be surprised at just how effective it can actually be.
2. Stop Double Rolling
This tip primarily applies to PvP. It can come in helpful in PvE, too, but you’re going to get more bang for your buck practicing this while playing against other players.
So, what do we mean by double rolling? Whether you notice it or not, you’re going to be rolling twice out of most engagements in PvP when you first start dabbling in it. Typically, newer players will get an opportunity to get in a hit or two, double roll-out, and return to a neutral position (which we talked about earlier).
This is a massive problem for a number of reasons, but mainly because you’re giving up any sort of advantage you might have established in the dual. Double rolling is going to put you out of range of your opponent, destroying your spacing and giving them a chance to heal and get back in the right.
If you only single roll to create space, though, you leave enough room to continue applying pressure, as well as to punish any player that panics and whiffs their attacks.
Breaking the habit of double rolling is going to take practice, and you will start losing more fights as a result. However, over time, you’ll notice that your skills begin to exponentially improve. You’re going to get better at spacing, pressuring, and maintaining momentum so that you can convert your PvP wins.
Next time you’re in PvP, make a conscious effort to only single roll when you need to back up. Even if you end up getting hit most of the time, practice that spacing and get used to working with it. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t double roll at all, only that you need to stop doing it automatically.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Study
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to study.
We know, we know, studying isn’t fun, but we promise you that studying Dark Souls is far more enjoyable than studying calculus.
Playing and practicing is only one-half of the puzzle when it comes to getting better. You need to learn from the best to be the best. If you watch how the pros play with different weapons and builds, you’ll learn to imitate and adapt that into your own playstyle.
Thankfully, we live in an age of content. There are countless videos on YouTube from T1 DS3 players walking you through how they approach combat, both in PvE and PvP.
Make a point of keeping up with your favorite DS3 content creators and go through all of their old videos. Watch how they have evolved and improved over time and try to emulate that.
There aren’t as many creators pumping out content for DS3 as there were a few years ago, but that shouldn’t stop you from searching them out.
You’ll passively be getting better at the game and be entertained at the same time. Just make sure that you actively apply the stuff you learn when you hop into duels of your own.
That’s all 9 advanced tips for success in Dark Souls III. Some of you probably already knew about everything that we’ve mentioned. Some of you might have even known them all. If that is the case, we’re sorry but you’re already too good at the game.
For everyone else, though, we hope you managed to get some sort of value from these tips and tricks. Dark Souls 3 is a hard game, especially for newcomers to the franchise.
The tips and tricks we’ve covered here were chosen with somewhat experienced players in mind. If you’re still coming to terms with DS3’s basics, we have plenty of beginner-oriented guides that you might find helpful.
Dark Souls III is a massively deep game. You can never know too much about it. While plenty of other SoulsBorne games will come and go, DS3 remains as popular as it ever was, and that’s a testament to just how well made it is. We’re constantly creating new guides designed to help you navigate DS3, so if you ever have any questions, chances are that we’ve answered them.
We’ve also got plenty of guides for all the other Souls-like games out there. Sekiro and Bloodborne are both far more difficult than Dark Souls III, so don’t be afraid to seek us out for your runs through those worlds. You’ll regret it if you don’t.