Mark is a college lecturer from Liverpool. He has a keen interest in Japanese culture and loves video games. A proud father and grandfather.
If you're starting out on your Dark Souls III journey, count yourself lucky. I wish I could go back and play it again for the first time. However, I also wish I had known certain things before playing.
Here are some tips and tricks to give you the best start on your Dark Souls III journey. This guide does not contain any story spoilers. Discovery is half the fun.
1. The Best Starting Class
If you are a new player, the best starting class is either the Warrior or the Knight.
These classes give you decent armour and a decent weapon. Although your dodging is slower, these tools will help you survive the early game.
2. Watch Your Stamina
When you first start the game, or when you equip a new weapon, try a few swings and see how much stamina you use up. The stamina bar is the green bar under your health bar.
If this runs out in combat, you will be defenseless while it recharges, leaving you open to attack. Managing your stamina is the key to a successful combat encounter. If you're holding your shield up, your stamina recharges very slowly. You are better off moving away and lowering your shield to get your stamina back quickly.
3. Explore, Explore, Explore
You may have played RPGs before where the game shepherds you to what it wants you to discover. Not Dark Souls III.
You can play through until the end and miss large sections because you didn't discover them. Always explore. The game will not hold your hand, so it's up to you. Taking a risk by trying a different path is usually rewarded. You may discover rings, armour and new weapons, or souls and shortcuts. It is rarely a waste of your time.
4. Look Out for Messages on the Floor
From the very beginning of the game, there are orange messages on the floor. At the start, they are tutorial messages giving you the controls, but later in the game, they are written by other players... and some of them are not truthful.
Be careful when taking advice from a message. Sometimes they will lead you to your death.
5. Collect Souls to Level Up and Buy Items
The most important collectible items are the souls from vanquished enemies. You will get a different number from each enemy, depending on how powerful they are and which map you are in.
Souls can be used in Firelink Shrine to level up your character by speaking to the Firekeeper. Souls can also be used to buy items from numerous vendors, like the old woman in the tunnel running to the blacksmith.
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6. What to Do if You Lose Your Souls
If you get killed, you drop your souls at that spot. You have one chance to go and collect them. If you die again before retrieving the souls, you lose them forever.
This is the game's way of teaching you a lesson. If you don't learn from your death, then it comes at a cost.
7. What to Do With Boss Souls
When you beat a boss, you get a special boss soul in your inventory. You can get a big chunk of souls if you consume it, but before you do, you can swap this soul for two unique items by speaking to Ludleth of Courland in Firelink Shrine.
You can do this after you have given him the Transposing Kiln, which is dropped by the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, one of the early game bosses. Save any boss souls until you see what it could get you.
8. Always Read Item Descriptions
Every time you pick up a new item, read the description. Go into your inventory, select the item, and press Square/X. These snippets of lore and information help flesh out the story and also give you a hint as to what they can be used for.
9. Listen to NPCs
Always exhaust dialogue options when speaking to NPCs. They may only give out information after you have spoken to them multiple times. Keep pressing to talk until they start repeating themselves.
10. Vary Your Attacks
There are many ways to attack.
- R1/RB is the light attack.
- R2/RT is the heavy attack.
- L1/LB is block when you have a shield equipped.
- L2/LT is parry.
Experiment with these and mix things up.
You can go through the whole game with the same weapon you started the game with, or at least one you collected in the first level. But you can also pick up consumables that buff your weapon, which can be devastating on an enemy if you get the right one.
In your inventory, put the buff in one of your consumable slots. Before a fight, press down on the direction pad to select your buff, and then press Square/X to add it to your weapon. For example, Charcoal Pine Resin/Bundle adds fire damage while Pale Pine Resin adds magic damage.
11. It's Okay to Run Away
There's nothing wrong with a hasty retreat. Although dying is all part of the game, and the way you learn what not to do, sometimes retreat is the best option.
You can return when you have leveled up a bit more, or backtrack to see if you have missed an alternate route you may have missed.
12. The Blacksmith Is Your Friend
Throughout the game, you pick up items that can be used to reinforce your weapons and armor. This is just as important as leveling up your character.
Each weapon can be upgraded to level 10, and you'll notice the difference as soon as you add just one level.
Estus Shards hidden throughout the game include:
- Titanite Shard Level 1-3
- Large Titanite Shard Level 4-6
- Titanite Chunk Level 7-9
- Titanite Slab Level 9-10
The Blacksmith will reinforce your flask for you, too.
13. Keep Up Your Roll Game
Keep your Equip Load under 70% unless you want to "Fat Roll."
I find a fast dodge and roll away from an attack is usually preferable to a heavy armor set that can take a hit, but the choice is yours. When you time your roll well, you can avoid damage even if you get hit because, when you roll, you get a few "I frames" or "invincibility frames."
14. Becoming Embered
In Dark Souls III, when you die, you lose your ember. You can tell if you are in an embered state because your clothes are smoldering. You can re-ember yourself by selecting an Ember and using it.
The advantages to this are that you can now see summoning signs of NPCs and other players willing to help. These are a massive assistance to new players, especially when facing a boss that you are having trouble with.
The downside to walking around Embered is that you can now be invaded by other players. They will be around your skill level, but they are trying to kill you.
15. The Most Important Tip... Have Fun!
Have fun and don't get too frustrated if you die a lot at the beginning! You will soon level up and go back to areas that were giving you a hard time and wonder how you struggled as you destroy enemies easily.
The game teaches you through adversity. But Dark Souls III is one of the best games ever made. Persevere and you will understand why!
© 2022 Mark