If you’re tired of seeing the game over screen regularly, learning to effectively parry and riposte in Dark Souls 3 could end up saving you a lot of time. Dark Souls 3 is too hard to be doing the same fight repeatedly, so mastering the parry is essential to dominating the game and getting all the achievements.
All you need to parry is a shield or weapon with the parry ability and the timing to hit the R2 button right as the enemy attacks. Once the enemy staggers, a quick tap of R1 will land a crippling riposte.
However, executing the process can be easier said than done, and figuring out the right timing for every enemy’s attack is half the battle. Now let’s get into the details so you can become the parry king and start making one of the most challenging games of all time look effortless.
Since you know the basics of parrying, it’s also essential to understand why it’s such a decisive move that every Dark Souls 3 player needs to master to survive. A properly executed parry will block all damage and leave space for a riposte. Ripostes are great because you will be completely immune to damage and stuns during the animation on top of doing critical damage.
If you mistime your parry a bit, you will perform what is called a partial parry. When this happens, you will take a bit less damage and avoid being stunned by the attack, but you will also lose a chunk of stamina.
It’s essential to learn the proper timing for parrying, but you also can’t rely solely on your ability. There are many attacks in the game that is impossible to parry, so knowing your opponent is crucial. If you walk around spamming the parry button, you won’t be successful so try to parry sparingly.
The best Dark Souls players will integrate parrying into their bag of tricks but understand it is not a leading source for doing damage. Since parrying is all about timing, it can also be an issue when playing online dealing with latency issues.
A decent way to test if parrying will be possible while playing online is to equip a throwing knife. You will then want to throw the knife at your opponent and listen for when it hits. If the visuals match up well with the knife hitting’s sound effect, you probably have a good enough connection to parry.
There are many items in the game you can use for parrying beyond just shields. You can also parry with weapons, bare fists, or any shield with the shield icon next to them. Using different tools can change how you parry, so learning the deeper mechanics of parrying can save you some scars as you know a new timing.
Parrying Mechanics In-Depth
The first thing any master of parrying will ask you is, what do you know about frames? Frames are essentially the moment-by-moment snapshots of your character as they execute a move. There are three parrying frames you will want to keep in mind as you progress through the game.
The Start-Up Frames are always the beginning of the parry animation. If you are in this frame as an attack is hitting, your parry will be unsuccessful. However, you can still achieve a partial parry for reduced damage and stamina hit.
Next are the Active Frames, which are what you are aiming to achieve. Suppose the enemy hits you during the active frames. In that case, your parry will be successful, staggering the enemy and opening up for a quick riposte.
Finally, you have the Recovery Frames during this portion of your parry, you will be unable to perform any actions. This is your most vulnerable period where you will be open to attacks.
Each parrying tool draws from different frame data tiers that alter your timing for executing the perfect party. These tiers are, for the most part, determined by the weapon class. This makes it so even tools like parrying daggers and parrying shields can feel different from using equally long active frame periods.
Regardless of which tool you are using, every parrying item in the game has the same sweet spot for timing, even as their parrying abilities extend slightly longer in either direction. If you can master the sweet spot, it won’t matter what tool you are using to parry.
Katana’s can only parry within the sweet spot, so mastering that execution will translate to every other item in the game.
Figuring Out How to Parry Different Attacks
Now we will head into how to determine when to parry across the many different attacks you’ll see in the game. Before we get started, however, these tactics won’t work as well for charged heavy attacks. For these kinds of attacks, the timing will largely hinge on how long the attack is charged.
Running attacks are the most common from enemies as they rush in to close distance. If your opponent uses a Dagger or a Long Sword, you want to start your parry as their hand starts to rise on the right side of their body. If they are using Gotthard Twinswords, you then want to parry as the left-hand start to rise.
Claymore wielders come at you with a spinning motion where you will want to start your parry right as the spin is ending. The blade should still be behind the opponent right before they whip it around. For a Great Sword with its overhead arching attack, you will want to start your parry when the blade is fully arched back.
Scimitars use a quick stabbing motion that can be difficult to time, instead of watching the blade start your parry when the attacker hunches over. The same technique can be used when facing Sellsword Twin blades.
The Exile Greatsword is similar to the normal Great Sword parry, but the attack won’t arch back as far, so it is quicker. For an enemy with an Estoc, they will point the blade at you before hopping into a lunge. Start your parry as they point the tip at you before the hop.
Washing Pole’s are long but still have a quick animation. You will want to begin your parry here as soon as the blade starts to move. When facing a Hand Axe or Great Axe, you can keep the same principles as the Great Swords, starting your parry when the attack is fully arched back.
This is the most common attack style you will see as the same method carries over to the Drang Hammers and Large Club. With the Large Club, you will want to parry as the weapon is almost entirely arched back.
For the Saint Bident with its lunging spear attacks, you will want to parry when the spear moves to the side. The Drang Twinspears are slightly different as you will want to wait until both spears are on the attacker’s left side.
The Lothric Knight Long Spear is a bit unique as one of the few weapons you will want to parry right as the tip is about to hit you. Meanwhile, the Red Hilted Halberd returns to the overarching style, except you will want to parry right as the halberd starts to rise.
Great Scythes are another weapon that arches back and returns to parrying when the attack is fully arched back. Claws also arch in a way, but what you are looking for is when the left-hand claw moves to the right.
Parrying Rolling Attacks
Some enemies use rolling attacks though they aren’t as tricky as running attacks due to much less variety. You will only need to learn two proper timings for rolling attacks for the most part.
Against a fast-rolling attack, you will want to parry the moment the roll is ending. For slower attacks with most weapons, you will want to start your parry as the opponent gets back to their feet.
Claws are one of the few exceptions as enemies will use a double roll attack. When faced with this, you will need to start your parrying in the middle of the second roll.
Watch out for Gotthard Twinswords or Drang Twinspears, as these weapons have swift rolling attacks. For these, you will want to parry during the middle of the roll.
Just Getting Started
With this guide, you should quickly learn how to parry the many different attacks in the game. We are only brushing the surface as there are also Weapon Arts and many other mechanics like spell parrying to learn.
To master the art of the parry, you will have to familiarize yourself with the different stances and the ways they alter an attack animation. However, with quick fingers, reflexes, and attentive eyes, you will be destroying the forces of darkness in no time.