If this is your first time playing Dark Souls, you'll need all the help you can get. These tips and beginner build ideas will help get you started with Dark Souls: Remastered.

  • October 23, 2018 4:00PM EST
  • October 23, 2018

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Dark Souls is back and better than ever. The 2011 video game that changed an industry and spawned two sequels returned this month as Dark Souls: Remastered with supercharged graphics and superior performance.

Veteran players know what's in store for them, but if you're just starting out, the game's complexity is part of the fun. You will struggle, you will die, and you will have to start over several times. But it's all worth it when you finally get past those tricky enemies unscathed.

If this is your first time playing through Dark Souls, you'll need all the help you can get. Below, we outline what you need to know in order to have a fighting chance, whether you're playing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, or Steam.


  • 1 Know Your Class

    When you start a new game, you will have to choose a class for your character. There are 10 to choose from, and each possesses their own starting gear and stats. The game contains eight attributes that begin at varying levels based on the class you select: Vitality, Attunement, Endurance, Strength, Dexterity, Resistance, Intelligence and Faith. Each attribute controls a different aspect of your character's abilities.

    Cycle through the different classes and take note of each one's attributes. Classes like warriors, knights, and bandits offer strength, endurance, and vitality, making them ideal for melee combat. If you're looking for a character who's nimble in battle, wanderers and thieves are a good bet.

    Looking to attack from afar? Sorcerers use magic and rely on high intelligence and attunement. Hunters can attack from a distance using a bow. A pyromancer offers both melee and ranged attack power, while clerics are high in faith, and can therefore use healing magic. Selecting Deprived will provide you with a well-balanced character, but no equipment to speak of, making this option a challenge for seasoned players.

    Do you prefer to run head-first into combat? Do you want to attack with ranged weaponry? Do you like a balanced approach, or would you prefer to stay light on your feet? There is no wrong choice because it really comes down to what skills you prefer and how you want to play the game.


  • 2 How to Level Your Character

    Once you start playing, the only way to give your character a fighting chance is to level them up, and the only way to do that is to keep fighting. When you defeat enemies in Dark Souls, you will collect Souls from their bodies, which can then be used to level up or buy new weapons and armor. You can also level up at bonfires and allocate points to the attributes you want to improve. But without leveling up, you'll be too weak for your new weapons and armor to be worth much.

    We also advise that you play to your strengths early on. Meaning that if your class is a knight, which is high in strength and vitality, you should increase those attributes first in order to make your character more effective. If you're too balanced, you'll just be equally bad at everything. Worry about balance once you're strong enough to hold your own.

    Don't hoard your Souls, either; it's better to use them and improve rather than risk losing them when you die. Following your death, you have one chance to reclaim what you lost in battle. If you can make it back to the spot where you fell, your Souls will be waiting for you. If you die before then, they are lost forever.


  • 3 Managing Your Humanity

    One essential, yet massively misunderstood concept in Dark Souls is that of Humanity. You must maintain your state of Humanity by collecting Humanity and converting it at bonfires in order to increase your defense and give you a better chance to find items.

    Since dying is such a big part of the game, when you die and return to your last save point, you will come back as a zombie-like creature known as a Hollow. By collecting Humanity and then Reverse Hollowing at a bonfire, you will return to your human form and enjoy all the delights of being human. You will have the ability to create bonfires and your status will also improve your standing with certain covenants you have entered into.

    Humanity also plays a role when it comes to the online capabilities of the game. Humans can summon other players to their world in order to help them fight enemies, while Hollows are in danger of being invaded and attacked by other players. You can gather Humanity by defeating enemies and bosses, simply finding it out in the world, being summoned by other players, or defeating invaders.


  • 4 Know the Basics of Combat

    Unlike other open-world adventure games, where you can hack and slash your way to victory, Dark Souls requires a lot more finesse. Essentially you need to pay attention to how enemies engage you, and then react when they offer certain tells. At specific moments in their attacks, these enemies will be vulnerable to attack, which is when you should strike. The same overall strategy is true for bosses, too. Just don't panic, and you'll do fine.

    To give yourself the best chance of victory, you're going to want to set up one-on-one battle scenarios as often as you can. Getting into fights with more than one enemy at a time is a good way to get overwhelmed quickly. The best way to ensure these scenarios is to use the game's targeting system to engage an opponent and then lure them into an isolated area, if you can.

    One of the most important things to monitor when in battle is your stamina gauge. Every time you attack, block, roll, run, retreat, or take damage, your stamina bar depletes. While it replenishes, it limits the number of attacks you can employ in quick succession, meaning you can't stand there with your shield up all the time. Instead, you'll have to time your decisions and make economical choices with your moves to give you the best path to victory.

    The game offers different types of attacks that use various levels of stamina. You will also have to watch whether or not an attack leaves you vulnerable to counterattack, and if that move is worth the risk. The worst thing you can do is rely too heavily on your sword or shield and run out of stamina in the middle of battle. This will leave yourself open to attack, and things can take a turn in quick order.

    In the end, though, it's okay to run for your life if you find yourself in a situation that is too hard. If you're struggling to stay alive, it's possible that you're not strong enough to make it through this section of the game. Retreat, heal, replenish stamina, and regroup. Better to be safe than to end up dead.


  • 5 Improving Weapons and Armor

    When determining what attributes to level up, you should also consider what bonuses your weapons will receive through the Parameter Bonus. By leveling attributes, you also have the ability to imbue certain weapons with new abilities, making them more effective as a result.

    Weapons scaling in Dark Souls is graded from S, A, B, C, D, E, from most powerful to least. Strength and dexterity can increase the physical damage a weapon generates, while intelligence and faith will increase magic damage. While this shouldn't be the first thing to consider when allocating points to attributes, it is something to keep in mind if everything else is equal.

    You also have the ability to upgrade your weapons, shields, and armor at blacksmiths with the use of Titanite. Other items can be used to ascend weapons, which dramatically improves effectiveness, adds elemental damage, and can introduce auxiliary effects. There are many different ascension paths a weapon can be assigned to, each of which adds their own powers, including Standard, Raw, Divine, Occult, Fire, Chaos, Magic, Enchanted, Lightning, Crystal, and Demon.

    It's a good idea to be aware of the kinds of improvements you can make to certain weapons. Making these kinds of adjustments can change the tide of battle, or turn a long slog into a speed run.


  • 6 Manage Your Inventory

    Dark Souls allows you to equip your character with many different weapons, shields, armor, and rings, but the game has its limits. But if your gear weighs too much, it can impede certain actions. Keep your Equip Load under 25 to move faster and run farther. Movements will begin to slow down between 25 and 100; once you go over 100, you will no longer be able to dodge or roll, and being able to move around is a vital part of Dark Souls.

    Be advised that this only pertains to equippable items, meaning other items found throughout your travels do not go against your Equip Load total. That means it's never a good idea to throw anything away. Even if you're not using something in your inventory, you can afford to hold onto it until you can find a merchant to sell it to. You will also find ways to store unused items.


  • 7 Watch Out for NPCs

    There are many non-playable characters scattered across the game, and each one holds value to you for one reason or another. NPCs can be merchants to buy and sell items with or blacksmiths who can upgrade or fix your weapons. Sometimes they can offer valuable information or allow you to enter into a Covenant that will give you new powers and abilities.

    The fun thing about Dark Souls is that not everyone in the game is easily accessible. Some NPCs are hidden away in areas you didn't know existed and could be easily missed. It's always a good idea to fully explore your surroundings.

    And while NPCs can be useful to you, not all can be trusted. The trick is to figure out which ones are which before they harm you. These characters can also be killed, so consider whether or not you want to eliminate them. Killing a merchant will take away your ability to trade with them, but you may also find them in possession of previously unavailable weapons. The choice is yours.


  • 8 Use Bonfires Frequently

    You're going to die in Dark Souls, but the trick is to learn from your mistakes in order to move ahead in the game. That's why it's a good idea to rest at as many bonfires as possible. When you die, you will be transported back to the last bonfire you rested at, so make sure it wasn't too long ago.

    Bonfires can also be considered something of a home base in this game. They aren't necessarily safe zones, but bonfires are the only locations that allow you to level up, replenish flasks, attune your spells, and Reverse Hollow. There are many secret bonfires hidden throughout the world, so make sure you explore as much as possible. It could save you a lot of grief later on.

    If you're worried about getting stuck in an area without a bonfire, you should keep the item Homeward Bone on you. This will allow you to transport back to the last spot you rested, a valuable little life saver if you're ever in danger of dying.