Dark Souls Remastered is upon us, and while I won’t pick it up until it’s a tenner, I’m sure many of you have, or are at least thinking of doing so. Of course if you were to ask me whether or not you should buy it, I’d tell you to but 3 instead, because it’s the best one to start with. But for those of you who either own DSR already or are determined to buy it, and in either case are new to the series, I have some tips to ease things along.
1. Shields and the usage thereof
When I first played Dark Souls, I relied on a shield/one-handed weapon combo. I did so until playing Bloodborne, which opened my eyes to how dull the turtle playstyle really is. Now a lot of people will tell you that turtleing is the best way to play Dark Souls, and it seems to be generally considered the way to play it, but that’s really not the case. Dodge rolling with a two-handed weapon is the way I play every Souls game now, and while it might not work for you it’s worth trying out. Take some time in the Undead Burg to try both styles, get used to how long dodging takes, how much stamina blocking with a shield uses, how much compared to dodging, that sort of thing. Obviously play the way that suits you best, but don’t think you have to use a shield. If you do favour rolling, keep an eye on your armour weight limit. Speaking of which…
2. Stamina and Weight Limit
The stat that increases your stamina bar when you put upgrade points into it also increases the amount, in weight, of armour you can wear. Wear too much and you run slower, take much longer to roll (or if it’s heavy enough, can’t roll at all), and use more stamina when attacking. Stamina is vital, as it governs almost every physical action you perform in the game, and being able to move freely in heavy, more protective armour is incredibly useful, especially if 1) you’re a melee character and 2) you take up the dodging style I talked about in my first point. There’s hidden armour about halfway through the game that will see you through to the end no problem, but it’s really heavy, so invest in endurance points early.
3. About that boss
Okay so this one is a bit spoilery if you want to go in blind. At the very least it outlines enemies, weapons and a boss found in the game, and so if you don’t want to know about any of that, skip down to point 4.
Still with me? Okay, so Ornstein and Smough in Anor Londo are where I originally quit the game. A two-on-one (unless you summon, which brings its own problems) fight, where one boss powers up upon the other’s demise, it’s absolute bullshit and I hate it. But that said, I do have a way to make it easier. Once you get past the archers and down to the bonfire where Solaire is hanging out, almost every enemy is a silver knight, who give a lot of souls upon death, drop powerful weapons, and are quite straightforward to beat if you get the parry timing down (if not just use whatever method you kill everything else with, if you’re in Anor Londo it’s clearly working just fine). Do a loop of the area killing silver knights until they drop a weapon; silver knight straight sword works best for me, but any of them will do. Be wary of the strength and dexterity requirements for each weapon though; if you want to use this plan then you might want to look up the weapons on the Dark Souls wiki. Anyway once you’ve got the weapon you can get to the giant blacksmith (down a big stair case on the left side of the main hall, with the O and S fog gate in front of you) who sells the materials required to upgrade silver knight weapons, which you can buy and then upgrade with all the souls dropped by the knights themselves. Go in with a fully upgraded silver knight weapon and at least one summon (I use Solaire because I play offline), and Fat Man and Little Boy pose much less of a threat. They’re the gate to the whole second half of the game, where all the interesting stuff is, so you’ll want to kill these two however you can. Speaking of which (again)…
4. Don’t be ashamed to use a guide
Fairly self explanatory, this. There’s a lot of cool stuff you can easily miss, and you need all the help you can get. It’s a famously hard game, a lot of stuff goes unsaid, don’t needlessly struggle.
5. Git Gud
Ignore people who say this, they’ve overcome the game’s difficulty and want to make themselves feel good by putting down someone who is in the very same position they once were. It’s annoying, unhelpful and anyone who says this unironically is a twat. Anyway Dark Souls isn’t the perfect, flawless, “Every death is your fault” masterpiece people say it is. The game can be immensely cheap, unfair, and irritating on top of famously being bastard hard. That whole “Prepare to die” shtick isn’t just a marketing gimmick, it’s good advice: prepare to be frustrated, prepare for the game to not play by the rules, and prepared to spend a lot of time not getting very far. The only way to improve at Dark Souls’ core gameplay is to persevere.
Anyway those are five things I feel everyone playing the original Dark Souls for the first time should know. If you get through it all and enjoy the game, I fully recommend continuing with the series and its spiritual successor Bloodborne, all of which are vastly superior. For now, all the best and don’t you dare go hollow.
By James Lambert