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.
However, if you keep reading, you won’t have to worry about avoiding any situations. This guide will start with the essential tips that will get you well on your way to enjoying the game at its best. After that, we will cover the mechanics you want to know to progress as quickly as possible.
Part of the fun of Dark Souls is the game’s mix of challenge and creativity. We won’t be leading you towards the broken items that will trivialize the game, but you will have all the information you’ll need to conquer one of the greatest games at your own pace.
Before You Get Started
The Dark Souls series are action RPGs unlike any other; with a strong focus on the cinematic experience and 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 difficult problem. Setting up a build for a spellcaster is a bit more complicated, so we will touch on them later.
If you want to use larger weapons that attack slower and do more damage, you will invest in strength like Greatswords and Warhammers. However, for players who wish to use quicker 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
One of the nice things about Dark Souls is that you don’t have to worry about finding a bulky item you can’t use because you can turn almost any item you find into a healthy one. Every weapon has a different attack style, which carries on to the enemies you will face.
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.
The Philosophy of Dark Souls
This will be the last section before we get into the specifics, so it’s essential to know how to approach Dark Souls to enjoy it even if you don’t want anything spoiled, which makes sense Souls is nearly at its core, a journey of exploration. From discovering a new spectacular area to facing off against a gargantuan enemy that you never dreamed you could defeat.
Dark Souls is about experiences and how you overcome them. There are no enemies that you have to beat (besides bosses). Every encounter can be avoided for the moment, and sometimes you can find exciting paths to help you cut off hours of gameplay.
Figuring out what works makes Dark Souls so fascinating, whether it’s how to dodge a specific type of attack or beat the game in an hour with no armor. It is all possible for anyone who takes the time to enjoy the game and doesn’t mind the trial and error of outstanding achievement.
Unlike many other games, there isn’t a perfect time you can always press to dodge and catch the ideal invincibility frame. You will have to learn enemies’ attacks and patterns and memorize them, but figuring out how an enemy will attack just by the beginning of their windup for the first time is part of what makes the game special. Then once you are deftly avoiding attacks from monsters and online challengers alike without batting an eye, there’s nothing else like it.
Basic Gameplay Mechanics
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. It is judged separately along with your stamina when you get hit; 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 equip burden will affect how fast you move as 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.
For example, if you are at 26 for a 100 equipment burden, you will begin using a medium-speed roll. All movement speeds are possible outside over 100%, so 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. While blocking, many attacks can still damage you, so avoiding them is usually the best case. However, you can also find shields that block 100% of all physical damage. Strength will be the most crucial stat for making sure you can use the sturdiest guards.
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 under the attack stat 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 episode you find, you will first have to attune it. The first thing you will need will be a catalyst to cast the spell.
Many characters start with a catalyst, but they all can be found. Sorcery catalysts 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.
Once you have chosen the spell you want to equip and have the catalyst, you will equip the trigger in one hand and equip the spell in the other. Then you can attune the spell to your character, though this depends on how much attunement you have.
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.
Humanity, Death, Hollowing, and Online Mechanics
It is possible to enjoy Dark Souls Remastered without touching the online gameplay, but Dark Souls has a rich online experience that can significantly enhance your experience. Though nobody would call the Dark Souls online system simple, it isn’t too tricky once you understand the basics.
There are two modes in Dark Souls: human mode and hollow mode. The best way to tell which method you are in is to look at your character. You are in human mode if you resemble an average person with normal healthy skin. If you are starting to look like a skeletal form reminiscent of something you might find at a graveyard, you are in a hollow way.
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. Another death will still make you remain in open mode. Your death will also leave a blood pool with a glowing green orb.
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. Even if you can’t level up, you can purchase items that won’t disappear and could be useful in the future.
One of the more advanced techniques that players use is called suicide running. Players will ultimately run past the enemies and obstacles in some areas to reach the items because they will keep them even after they die. You can use this method to grab some extra powerful equipment early or some Estus flasks upgrades to increase your healing capabilities.
It would help if you always were a little prepared to die in Dark Souls, so hoarding too many souls isn’t a good idea. The good thing is that souls are infinite, and you can always find more though finding more Humanity can be a bit more complicated.
You can find Humanity as an item in the game, which will be stored in your inventory. This is called Hard Humanity. Using this will heal your Humanity and also grant you Soft Humanity. This is represented by the number you’ll see by your health bar and is lost on death. Soft Humanity can be used to kindle a bonfire, slightly increase your defense, and has other uses and should be balanced with hard Humanity.
While playing online, there are a few ways to change the game. 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. They 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 die 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.
You also won’t be able to use Estus, but you can heal with hard Humanity or healing miracles. 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.
This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the game and learn strategies to play more efficiently. If you see someone using an interesting weapon or system to defeat a boss in record time, you can message them after you are done. Even though Dark Souls is a primarily single-player experience, the game’s communal aspects can help it shine.
Despite many pleasant interactions to find online, there are also invasions, and you might enjoy defeating any challenger who crosses your path. When someone invades your world, your first assumption should be that they are coming to take you down sometimes, a benevolent invader can appear.
However, taking any items from false allies can be dangerous, as some players will exchange bugged or hacked equipment. 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 you can assume are active invitations for an invasion duel. These are players looking for an honorable contest or possibly just a chance to display how overpowered their gear is.
Upgrading Your Equipment
You will undoubtedly want to take the time to figure out how to upgrade your equipment while playing Dark Souls. While each weapon can be upgraded to at least +5, most of them won’t reach +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. You are reaching those levels 6 through 10 though it will require an item found in the world and likely another one to reach levels 11 to 15.
As for armor, it can all be upgraded to reach +10. When it decides between boosting a weapon or increasing the stats you will use to wield it; the upgrade will win out more often than not.
You should remember that Dark Souls is loaded with weapon options, and a lot of work was put into ensuring that they are almost all viable. If you find something you like, don’t be afraid to upgrade it, even if it was from the game’s beginning.
You don’t necessarily find better weapons in Dark Souls, just different ones. Once you have reached +15, pretty much every weapon feels great. Your starting weapon can be used throughout the game like the base longsword, with the speed and versatility to be one of the most balanced weapons in the game. It is entirely up to your preference how you want to balance upgrading weapons with finding new ones.
How could the ultimate Dark Souls guide go so far without mentioning the many different class options you have at the beginning of the game? The classes in Dark Souls aren’t as important as you think, especially for a game that could be considered an RPG.
A game built around exploration should carry that principle into its character selection. There are no real class limits to how you play. You can turn a pyromancer into a rapier wielder or give them a giant greatsword; it depends on how you like to play.
Selecting a different class can affect how quickly you can reach another playstyle, but you are never locked in. Think of classes in Dark Souls as your starting point, but in 10 or so levels, you can quickly build your character in another direction. It is still best not to waste too much time and choose something that is how you would like to play, though.
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, who starts a couple of levels lower with more space to grow.
The Warrior is another reliable option because its strength and dexterity will allow you to try various weapons despite lacking poise. Some people also choose the Thief because it starts with the Master Key, allowing for a different starting gift (more on that shortly).
Of course, Deprived is the most challenging starting class, but that is self-explanatory. The types are more about role-playing than actual challenging concepts. If one character’s stats appeal while the other characters’ look appeals, know that you can adjust either aspect of your name just by playing.
This isn’t much of a question in Dark Souls Remastered for most players, unlike other Dark Souls games. Despite every item being found in the game, the Master Key is the most useful for most players.
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. For this reason, regardless of your class choice, most players start with the Master Key. Still, we will highlight the other options if you want to start as a Thief or find a Master Key later on your own.
Divine Blessing – this 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.
Black Firebomb – these are throwable projectiles that deal with heavy fire damage. A black firebomb does 21 poise damage, and ten are received as gifts.
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.
Binoculars – used to spot distant threats and environments. A critical item that can be used more than once.
Pendant – has no physical use but can be traded with an NPC for another item.
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.
Please don’t fret about your class selection or starting gift too much, as they can all be found and altered throughout a game playthrough. The most important thing is to remember to practice patience and not get frustrated when you fail.
Dark Souls Remastered is a tough and challenging game, but anybody who has dedicated any decent amount of time knows that it is equally rewarding.