I’m a Dark Souls veteran, having played through Demon’s Souls twice, and Dark Souls over nine times, but that doesn’t make me better than anyone else. My death-toll is still very much in the hundreds, and the deaths just keep on coming in Dark Souls 2. I’ve spent 12 hours this week playing and streaming Dark Souls 2, and have picked up many-a-tip on how to stay alive, so let me share with you, the Internet, what I have learned.
1- Watch That Stamina
The cardinal rule of the Souls games has always been timing and precision. Button mashing, inattentiveness, rolling without thinking, or just any other way to waste your precious stamina is the easiest way to get yourself killed. Thinking yourself better than the beast or thinking you can mash your way out of a horde of enemies is foolish, and will no doubt result in several deaths.
Make every swing count, never mash your attacks, and make sure to save some stamina in a combo to roll out of the way when the attacks come flying. Dark Souls 2 implements a temporary stun if you are hit with no stamina, meaning if you end up keeping that shield up when you have no juice left to guard with, it’ll probably cost you your souls.
2- Don’t Roll Through Attacks Anymore
Any experienced Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls player knew the best way to stay out of the red was to perfectly time your rolls into attacks to completely negate them. Dark Souls featured brief stints of invincibility when you perfectly timed your roll. Dark Souls 2 is not this forgiving. If you are still stuck on the old habits of past Souls entries, you’ll end up seeing a roll into an attack leads to many deaths down the line.
3- Choose Your Class Wisely
Classes are much more crucial this time around in my experience. Now, late game, once you have allocated enough points or decided to completely re-spec, you can make this point moot, but starting out, choosing your class wisely is significant. Do you want to be all attack? All defense? Somewhere in the middle? With the new dual wielding system as well as the additional restrictions of shield usage, parrying, and stamina (all of which have generally gotten harder and more unforgiving), deciding where you start has never been more important.
I went with the sword and shield class that boasted a lot of health, so I could stay in the game longer.
4- Be Wary of Farming
In my experience, grinding in Souls games leads more to boredom or frustration than any real, noticeable progress. Sometimes you get the good end of grinding where you get a lot of useful items, souls, and levels, but at the reverse end, you’re more often left with unsatisfying frustration. Dark Souls 2 holds an immense world, that rewards you for pushing forward and finding new avenues to explore.
Staying in the same place leads to making mistakes you know you shouldn’t have made, anger at the game when it’s really your fault, and more rage quits. You’ll never make progress if you’re stuck getting 400 souls in one place, and then losing them over and over because you’ve become too complacent. I’d recommend pushing forward, finding new strategies, and letting the reward of exploration guide you.
5- Summon for Your Life
Co-op play is absolutely essential for making it past certain humps or difficulty spikes in Dark Souls 2. There are tons of players all over the internet waves right now, and all of them want to help you beat some of the biggest, baddest bosses you have ever seen.
A lot of the tougher bosses I’ve seen in my first 12 hours of Dark Souls 2 have been huge groups of vicious enemies that won’t let up on you at any point. Having a couple other friends around to help you master these vicious foes will make your life a whole lot easier. Save your Human Effigy’s for when you need them the most, and try and stay alive as a ‘human’ for as long as you can, so as to keep summoning friendly players into your world.
6- Never Fear Death
As ironic as it may seem, dying in Dark Souls 2 will usually lead to less deaths in the future. Dark Souls at it’s core is a game where death is not the end of the adventure. Trial and error fuels the fun of Dark Souls, and entering a completely new area only to die shouldn’t prove horribly ego-breaking, but should stand as a learning experience.
Dark Souls 2 is still fresh in everyone’s disc drives, and no one really knows all of the secrets the game hides. Be daring, explore, attempt new things, try new weaknesses on enemies, and most of all: don’t be afraid of death. Just pick up your souls and press forward.