Dark Souls is a fantastic experience, but many people are too intimidated to give it a chance. We put together the ultimate beginner’s guide to Dark Souls Remastered so everyone can enjoy this complicated game. This guide will provide a spoiler-free breakdown of how to tackle the beast that is Dark Souls.
Succeeding in Dark Souls requires patience and exploration, as learning the different enemies’ moves and area layouts can make any fight possible. There are many ways to approach a situation; you can always return to something when you are more prepared.
The Dark Souls series are action RPGs unlike any other; with a strong focus on crippling difficulty, there’s plenty to scare off the unprepared. That’s why even the most basic plan is necessary before beginning a Dark Souls playthrough.
While your class choice isn’t as important as one might think, knowing how you want to play is essential. This comes down to three things in Dark Souls Remastered. Strength, skill, and intelligence.
You can find any class’s armor and starting items but investing skill points into an attribute you are not using is a much more pressing matter.
If you want to use larger weapons that attack slower and do more damage, you will invest in Strength. However, for players who wish to use light weapons that will do less damage for more precision, like swords and daggers, you will want to invest in Dexterity.
You might be tempted to try every weapon you find as a new player or want to invest in a stat because of a particular item you see, but sticking to an archetype will pay off in the long run.
Basics of Weapons
The uniqueness of Dark Souls Remastered stems from its wide array of weapons. Every weapon has a different attack style. How the weapon works will ultimately dictate your playstyle.
This can help in planning how you will get a hit and dodging any foes. Most weapons you find can be upgraded substantially, with the blacksmith being able to grant weapons up to +5. At some point in the game, you can find items that will help you upgrade weapons up to +15.
This makes it so that just progressing and finding new gear is always special because of each weapon’s potential. You can alternate between upgrading through smithing and upgrading through exploration, so you never fall behind.
In Dark Souls, succeeding is dependent on your stats as well as your skills. The most important stat will be your hit points, which the red HP bar denotes at the top left of the screen. You can increase your total health by improving your Vitality stat. Underneath your health bar, you will find a green bar that determines your stamina.
Nearly every Dark Souls movement affects your stamina bar, including running, blocking, attacking, and rolling. Once depleted, you will lose access to those movements, which can be increased with the Endurance stat. You can find many items and armor throughout the game that will affect stamina.
There isn’t a visual bar for measuring poise, but it is an important stat that can get you in trouble if you don’t keep it in mind. Poise is essentially how many attacks you can take before you are staggered. Once it is broken, the next hit will stagger you.
Poise is a stat that you will find on equipment, and you should try to keep it as high as possible. Beyond armor, stability can be increased with rings and certain magic spells.
You can increase your equipment burden by pumping points into the Endurance stat. Your equipment burden will affect how fast you move at specific breakpoints will start to affect your character’s mobility.
If the number is 0 to 25%, you will have the average fast speed at 25% to 50%, you will do a medium speed roll, and at 50% to 100%, you will do a slow roll. If you go over 100%, you won’t be able to roll at all or run.
Adjusting your equipment to your preferred playstyle is advised. Part of the challenge in Dark Souls is finding the right balance between poise and equipment burden.
Another important stat for staying alive, stability, is something you will find on every shield in the game. A shield’s stability is the stat that determines how much stamina you’ll lose when you are hit while using that shield.
It is possible to find Shields with such high stability that you will barely notice when an enemy attack is blocked. High stability will help you maximize your stamina for attacking and dodging instead of defending.
Almost every weapon you find will scale off either Strength, Dexterity, or both, but how can you determine how a weapon will scale? You can find every weapon’s scaling under the attack stats in a bonus area with letter grades.
Scaling goes from left to right: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Faith. Each weapon can have a letter grade from E to S to determine its scaling for that attribute. The steps in order are E, D, C, B, A, and S. So, if a weapon has S strength scaling, the higher your strength stat, the more damage the weapon will do.
Spellcasting is unique in Dark Souls as you don’t merely learn new spells and instantly have access to them. For every new spell you find, you will first have to attune it. The first thing you will need will be a Catalyst or a Staff to cast the spell.
Sorcery staves can’t be used to cast miracles, and faith catalysts can’t be used to cast sorceries for the most part though there are a few exceptions. Generally, miracles are affected by your faith stat and sorceries, your intelligence stat.
The more you build your attunement stat, the more spells you can attune to your character at once. You can equip or attune a spell at a bonfire, and using a bonfire will replenish your spells.
While in human mode, you can summon other players to assist you or be invaded by other players’ attacks. You can also place down a summoning sign, allowing other players to call you into their world.
In hollow mode, you will not be able to summon other players for help or be invaded. However, you can place a summoning sign down to allow other players to call you.
Whenever you are in human mode and die, you will come back to life in a hollow manner, except for a few exceptions. You also drop a pool of blood in the place you die.
Collecting the mass will return all the souls and Humanity you had at the time of death. Remember, though, that you will lose these permanently if you die again. Finding a way to spend your soul if you have a lot and progress into a problematic area is always recommended.
In human form, you can summon two ally phantoms to help you. They can be two real players, one real player, and an NPC phantom or two NPC phantoms. The summons will not be able to heal independently for any combination and will be slightly healed when you use your Estus flasks.
They will remain with you until either one of you dies or the area boss is defeated. The same is pretty much right for when you are pulled into another player’s world. However, you won’t lose souls or Humanity on death.
Once you have defeated an area boss, you can no longer summon or be invaded there, but you can still let other players call you to help them.
Even though Dark Souls is a primarily single-player experience, the game’s communal aspects make it shine through.
Despite many pleasant interactions to find online, there are also invasions. When someone invades your world this means the game has now turned into PVP.
If an invader can kill the host of a world, they will receive souls and Humanity. The same is true for the world’s owners, so it is best to assume they are there for a challenge.
Sometimes you will see red summoning signs, which are active invitations for an invasion duel. These are players looking for an honorable contest.
Each weapon can be upgraded to at least +5, while others can be upgraded to +15.
You will also need to find many different items to upgrade your equipment to the max. Typically the blacksmith can upgrade nearly any weapon to +5. When you are upgrading to +6 and +10 beyond, it will require special items found in the world. As for armor, it can all be upgraded to +10.
You don’t necessarily find better weapons in Dark Souls, just different ones. Once you have reached +15, pretty much every weapon feels great. With upgrades, your starting weapon can be used throughout the game.
Selecting a class means choosing what kind of playstyle you prefer. There are melee classes and spell-based classes. Think of classes in Dark Souls as your starting point, but in 10 or so levels, you can quickly build your character in any direction.
Choosing the Knight or Pyromancer is recommended for your first playthrough. The Knight starts with the highest poise, defensive stats, and a reliable weapon. The Pyromancer begins at the lowest level giving you space to craft your character as you see fit and an excellent weapon and good magic stats.
On the other side, Bandit and Sorcerer are two of the more challenging classes. The Bandit has high starting strength but isn’t quite as versatile as the Warrior. The Sorcerer has high attunement and intelligence but lower vitality than the Pyromancer.
The Warrior is another reliable option because its strength and dexterity will allow you to try various weapons despite lacking poise.
This isn’t much of a question since the Master Key is the most useful item of them all. Starting the game with a Master Key will allow you to get into many areas you wouldn’t be able to access until later in the game.
Other good starting gifts include:
- Divine Blessing is a single-use consumable item that can be used for healing. It will restore full health and cure bleeding, poison, and toxins but will not cure the curse.
- Twin Humanity – increases Humanity by two when consumed and also heels for over 2600 health. You can sell this to a specific NPC for souls or trade it for equipment.
- Tiny Being’s Ring – increases your maximum HP by 5%.
- Old Witch’s Ring – allows the user to speak with a particular NPC who otherwise only responds with a question mark.
Dark Souls Remastered is a tough game with convoluted mechanics, but anybody who has dedicated a decent amount of time knows that it is equally rewarding. Starting the game isn’t the issue; sticking to it till the end is where it truly shines.
Follow our beginner’s guide to make sure that you start Dark Souls Remastered with the right footing, and check out our other guides for more in-depth Dark Souls coverage.