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 will struggle with certain aspects of DS3, whether New Game+ runs, PvP, or even making it through that first playthrough. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of DS3 tips and tricks.
Keep in mind that we’re not going to be talking about the basics here. We won’t be talking about the top-level stuff, either. Instead, we aim to strike a balanced middle-ground with these advanced Dark Souls III tips.
This is for you if you’re already well into your first run or have finished it. If you’re already on NG+1 or higher, you probably already know everything we will discuss.
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 will be relevant.
We won’t be going over anything like stat distribution, builds, items, or anything like that. We’re going into this list assuming you already know the basics, meaning you know how your build works, what weapons are good, and what items you need.
9. Learn How to Build Craft
Looking up builds is all good for your first or second playthrough, but eventually, you’ll 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 many revolve around the same playstyles. You’ll 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 will exponentially increase your general knowledge of how DS3 works. As you gain more experience with different skills, weapons, miracles, sorceries, and pyromancies, you will be honing your knowledge of how certain playstyles work. The importance of that cannot be understated when improving your PvP game.
So, how do you learn to build craft? First, you must understand how all the skills work in the game, what weapons and magic scales are with each, and where the softcaps/hard caps are.
There are plenty of great YouTube videos on builds that arm you with all the potential information you’ll 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 will 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.
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. I mean that curved swords are great for abstract things like applying pressure, punishing, and roll-catching players during duels. You learn to use these techniques as you delve deeper into the PvP landscape.
Rather than using a weapon type like long swords, 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 improving.
You don’t have to main curved swords forever, just long enough to develop the competitive insight needed to start playing DS3 PvP to its full potential.
7. (Controller) Hold Down on the D-Pad to Cycle Items
This tip is exclusive to players who prefer a controller over a keyboard and mouse. Let’s be honest, though, if you’re playing through Dark Souls 3 on KBM, you’re already a lost cause.
Using a controller is infinitely superior for Dark Souls 3, but it has 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.
Having 10+ items on your quick bar 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.
Your Estus Flask should be the item in your first slot to take full advantage of this. You’re 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 will make all the difference.
6. Stop Returning to Neutral
Here is 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, refers 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 do is return 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 must 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? We’re sure you know the roll animation you need to sit through after a running jump. It takes up a lot of time, makes your jump inaccurate, and is a pain.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s 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, you must stop moving forward once you leap. It’s that simple, 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 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 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 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 PvP and PvE.
3. Shields Parry in a 360-degree Radius
Yes, your shield carries a full 360 degrees around your body. This is one simple statement, but it can greatly improve your PvE and PvP gameplay, especially if you didn’t already know about this beforehand.
In other words, you don’t have to face an enemy to parry them; all you have to do is time the parry correctly. Knowing about this can completely change how you approach PvP, and will give you much more flexibility in duels. If you don’t have to be facing your opponent head-on constantly, you’ll have access to a greater level of maneuverability.
Next time you’re dueling a player or a phantom, try it. Turn your back on them and try to parry them; you’ll be surprised at just how effective it can be.
2. Stop Double Rolling
This tip primarily applies to PvP. It can be helpful in PvE, too, but you’ll 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’ll 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 several reasons, but mainly because you’re giving up any sort of advantage you might have established in the dual. Double rolling will 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 and punish any player that panics and whiffs their attacks.
Breaking the habit of double rolling will take practice, and you will start losing more fights. However, over time, you’ll notice that your skills improve exponentially. You’ll get better at spacing, pressuring, and maintaining momentum to 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; 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 that 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 for getting better. You need to learn from the best to be the best. If you watch how the pros play with different weapons and build, you’ll learn to imitate and adapt that into your 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 to combat, both in PvE and PvP.
Try to keep up with your favorite DS3 content creators and go through all of their old videos. Watch how they have evolved and improved and try to emulate that.
There aren’t as many creators pumping out content for DS3 as 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 ensure you actively apply the stuff you learn when you hop into your duels.