13. Backstab (and drop attack bosses!)
Sneaking up behind an enemy will allow you to backstab for massive damage just by hitting the standard attack button. This can even be used on some bosses. When you’re fighting named bosses, try to get some height and leap down for a drop attack and lob off a chunk of their health bar.
14. Rolling is the name of the game, but master the parry and riposte
When I asked our editor for his biggest tip, he kept it simple: “get used to dodge rolling.” Rolling is your main way to dodge attacks. If your weight is light enough, you’ll even gain a few milliseconds of invulnerability. Adding to that, parrying an attack with a weapon or shield, then following up with a standard attack with give you added damage. Timing is tough on this one, but worthwhile to learn.
15. Remember to kick!
Pressing forward and standard attack at the same time allows your character to kick. This is an important skill. First, it allows you to break the guard of enemies with shields. Second, it’s an easy way to launch others off ledges!
16. Understand animation priority, learn patterns
If you’ve followed the series at all, you have probably heard this term bandied about. What it means is that once you commit to an action, the entire animation must play out before you’ll have control of your character again. This can feel foreign at first, since many games allow you to interrupt animations and immediately control your character at all times. You get used to it. Just know that when you push a button, you’re committed to seeing that action through.
17. Watch ALL animations closely
Success often depends on being able to anticipate attack patterns. Watch animations to learn how enemies telegraph their next moves. Don’t be afraid to die as you’re learning, especially with bosses (so spend your souls before big fights!).
18. Change tactics when something isn’t working
It’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of what should work, but sometimes it just won’t. If you’re failing to beat a boss, try a new tactic. Get close, get far. Roll away, roll behind. When something isn’t work, it’s time to change things up. See tip 12.
19. Don’t get greedy, even when it looks like a sure thing
Find a strategy that works and stick with it. Enemies can do a tremendous amount of damage if you’re not careful and getting greedy is a surefire way to throw off a working pattern. Learn your enemies tricks and go in for attacks of opportunity. Nothing is worse than having a boss down to the last hair and dying because you had to get that one extra swing in.
20. Factions can have a big impact on gameplay, consider waiting if you’re new
Dark Souls 3 also added a faction system. While this is interesting and offers rewards, they really seem designed for veteran players ready for multiplayer. Factions can call you into other player’s worlds and lock out other quest lines you may not be aware you want until it’s too late. If you’re new, consider waiting until you wrap your head the larger game first.
21. Kindle Yourself Before Bosses
In past Souls games, you could lose your humanity and become a Hollow, which would drop your health pool considerably. Dark Souls 3 has something similar in the Kindled system. You start out as an “Unkindled,” but can re-kindle (humanize) yourself using an ember. This will give you a nice health boost but also open you up to invasions from other players (or AI if you play offline). You can also use embers as a general healing item when your health is low and you’re out of Estus, but be careful! Embers are in limited supply in the world! You don’t want to heal yourself with an ember unless you have to.
22. Hold Item Switch to quickly switch to your first Quick Select item.
This is useful for those of us who like to keep lots of items on our Quick Select bar but need to switch back to Estus in a flash. Keep your Estus in that first slot and you’ll be able to replenish in an instant.
23. Keep your equipment load under 70%
Dark Souls models weight in an interesting way. Rather than make you walk instead of run, being too heavy makes dodge rolling lumbering and awkward. Unless you’re playing a high defense character, keep your equipment load under 70% to stay graceful as you leap from enemy’s attacks.
24. Don’t give up before the miracle happens!
Look, we know these games are tough. Many players are put off by the “prepare to die” reputation they have. But one thing we all have in common is that, at some point, everything clicked and we started to have fun. Somewhere along the line, the same thing will happen to you. Probably after a boss fight, where you’ve scraped through by the skin of your teeth, only to see that big bastard fall for the last time.
Prepare to die, then come back and show the game what you’ve learned from it.