Hey guys, MrPort here aka The ManBeast, and today we are talking about the fiendish Dark Souls. First up, I’d like to point out that I’m writing this as I’ve been playing and whilst I believe I’m getting it all right, I can’t guarantee it. Now let the frustation and crying begin!
This game, as with its predecessor, has the motto, “Prepare to Die”, and I can’t stress enough; as gamers with large egos, you will go into the game as I did, expecting to cleave and smite you way through foes and emerge bloodstained and victorious with treasure and princesses. Get ready, for the most ultimate “Ha! Pwnd” moment.
I’m going to cover a few key points, especially for the early game, that I felt were never properly explained enough and to stress a few more myself.
1. Defensive maneuvers.
Firstly, when you get your shield in the “tutorial asylum”, practice with it. I cannot emphasize this enough. Practice not just reading and blocking attacks but also parrying to ripostes and evading. You need stamina to do pretty much any movement, but if you evade and/or block correctly, you can defeat opponents without a scratch.
To further expand upon this point, get a decent metal shield. The vendor in the Undead Burg sells one if you need it (more of him later). Most of the starting shields are all wooden ones, and while that’s better than nothing, wooden shields do not give 100% physical protection. In simple terms; you’ll still take some damage when you try and block. Metal shields stop this and also can have some other desirable bonus effects, be it bonus stamina regeneration or resistance to magic, whatever. Basically metal is better than wood; our ancestors figured this out ages ago, let’s not make them facepalm from beyond the grave.
2. Take your time.
Normally we assume haste to be a helpful thing in games; casting more spells or stabbing faster is never a bad thing right? While I’d agree with you any day of the week, but here I’m referring to reckless speed, in that charging into fights, rooms or even areas is a good way to start running back to reclaim your souls.
There’s no bonuses for killing things faster and no penalty for taking your time. Get a ranged weapon or spell and try and pull things one at a time to more favourable locations. It’s always better to engage enemies on your terms rather than being ambushed and having an all too frequent “crap crap crap CRAP!” moment.
3. Know your vendors.
Ok, this section may contain tiny spoilers, but nothing related to the plot, just a few key locations that are easy to miss, but you really ought to know about them. The most important thing to know about vendors is don’t attack them; they become hostile to you and you end up with no option but to kill them, denying you of items, spells and whatever else they are selling.
In short, bad monkey. When you get to Firelink Shrine, explore the area. There’s a portly cleric wielding a mace and shield in the large building with lots of pots, who after repeated conversations offers to teach you miracles, aka white/healing magic.
Near where the bonfire is located, you will see some stairs heading down. The woman behind the bars is important; return to her when you find a Firekeeper’s Soul item, (don’t just use them for extra souls) and she’ll upgrade your flask so it heals more per charge.
Down another set of stairs past her, then an elevator, are some ruins.
Don’t stray beyond the initial area with the basic zombies as there’s several nasty things that will kill you quickly, but in that first area is a blacksmith behind some bars as well (people seem to have an imprisonment fetish in this game, I swear) and he will repair and upgrade your gear, and also sell you the incredibly useful spell at low levels, Soul Arrow. Both of these spells do have a low stat requirement but are well worth grinding souls in the initial starting area until you get the required amount, as they are worth their weight in gold.
The final vendor is just before the bonfire in the middle of the Undead Burg, off to the side where two undead pikemen are standing. Defeat them, break the boxes and descend the stairs. He’s sitting just outside and will sell some incredibly useful things from keys and arrows to repair reagents, just to name a few.
He also is the first chance to acquire a metal shield if you didn’t choose a class that gets one by default. All these vendors can be missed if you aren’t careful/don’t even know they are there and it’s extremely useful in the early game to have these spell and tools under your belt.
4. Needlessly suffering alone.
Dark Souls has the option to be played in online mode, and whilst it’s not mandatory, I would recommend it. Yes, you do run the risk of having your “world” being invaded by other players, but on the other hand, you are able to read messages left by other players. This can be useful, as people will leave helpful tips and insight into locations or strategies for encounters. But bear in mind, you also runs the risk of being trolled and misled by less than savoury people.
The other real benefit, is that whilst you are in human form, you can see the summoning sigils left by other players, most often near difficult areas or boss fights, and grouping up is a good way to overcome otherwise insurmountable challenges. If not other players, keep an eye out for the rare special items, most often acquired from key NPCs, that let you summon them into specific boss encounters, greatly increasing your odds of success, or at least not getting your arse handed to you.
Ok that’s it from me, hope this helps the death counter a bit. Like always, if you want more advice or have questions, feel free to drop me a line in the comments. ManBeast out!