Dark Souls: How to Lose Souls and Backstab People

What is Dark Souls?

Dark Souls is a franchise of action-adventure RPGs created by From Software. While renowned primarily for its difficulty, this series is defined by:

  • Meticulous level design
  • An in-depth combat and RPG system
  • Purposefully slow-paced gameplay
  • Mysterious storytelling
  • A dark, depressing atmosphere
  • An overall theme of faded grandeur. To borrow a phrase from Penny Arcade, you get the feeling that you’re sifting the ruins of empire.

The game is third-person action. There are a lot of things similar to it these days (Necropolis, Salt and Sanctuary, Lords of the Fallen) but here’s the best way to think of it if you haven’t played it before: Think if Devil May Cry was a lot slower and more strategic, and you couldn’t cancel out of anything. You had to think about the moves you were going to make ahead of time, almost like a strategy game. This is, fundamentally, what makes the series so difficult–you’re stuck with your choices.

There’s technically an archery system and a magic system, but I highly recommend making a melee character your first time around–that’s where the real action is.

These games are primarily single-player, but have several different systems of player interaction.

If you’re in online mode, other players can leave messages on the ground that have a chance of showing up in your world and warning you about danger (or luring you into some). These messages are built from pre-built phrases and therefore tend to be cryptic.

You can also play co-operatively with other players. You usually have to consume an item first–in the original Dark Souls, you have to consume an item called “Humanity” and then select “Reverse Hallowing” at a checkpoint (called Bonfires).

You can also invade other players worlds by force, trying to kill them along with the monsters, or duel them honorably by leaving a mark on the ground to do so. PVP in this game is janky, to say the least, but it has a pretty dedicated following. I recommend Dark Souls 2 or 3 for PVP, there’s too many problems with DS1’s PVP IMO.

Why should I play these games?

The most common thing people mention about the Souls series is how hard it is. I really don’t like that. The games are difficult, and the difficulty is an important part of them, but what makes them interesting is their attention to craftsmanship and detail. Overall, the games make you feel like you’re living in a world that’s moved on, where the great events of history are long behind you. No great catastrophe or villain ended things–time just moved on. The overarching theme of every Souls game is that you’re a straggler in a world that’s run out of heroes and armies. Even the monsters you fight are just living on the fringes. I have never played a Fallout game that communicate the sense of living post-apocalypse better than any choice from the Dark Souls series.

What Dark Souls games are there?

There are three games in the series, all available on Steam!

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition comes with the Artorias of the Abyss expansion. It’s really old now and only costs $20! It’s also available on PS3 and Xbox 360.

Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin comes bundled with all available expansions and changes some aspects of the game (changing monster placement or adding new monsters) in ways most of the fandom agrees with. You can also get the original Dark Souls 2 with all available expansions for the same price. Having tried both, I highly recommend Scholar. It’s available for $40, and also available for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.

Dark Souls 3 does not come bundled with any expansions, but a season pass is available. Currently there is only one released expansion, Ashes of Ariandel, but a second, The Ringed City, is set to release March 27th. It’s available for PS4 and Xbox 1 as well.

Demon’s Souls is the spiritual prequel to the series, unfortunately not available on Steam–it’s a PS3 exclusive. I wouldn’t recommend starting on this one, it’s a great deal more punishing than the core series. You can probably find a used copy on the cheap.

Bloodborne is the spiritual sequel to the series, also not available on steam–it’s a PS4 exclusive. You can find a copy of this cheap as well. Bloodborne has a lot of core differences from the Souls series–the gameplay and combat is much faster, the setting is more Victorian Lovecraft than Dark Medieval Fantasy, and the RPG elements are toned down significantly, placing a heavier focus on the action. There is DLC available, called The Old Hunters. It’s a lot more directly out of Lovecraft than the series is, complete with an Innsmouth-esque level.

Where Should I Start?

I highly recommend starting with either the first Dark Souls or Bloodborne.

Dark Souls 1 is cheap, available on PC, and shouldn’t be too rough on hardware.

I highly recommend getting the DSFix mod if you get this game on PC, it solves a lot of framing issues and lets you play with the graphics a lot more than the vanilla version.

Bloodborne you can get used for around $20 on Amazon. I’d only recommend starting with this if you already own a PS4, since that’s a pretty hefty price of entry if you haven’t tried the series yet. While the gameplay is vastly different than the rest of the series, it gears you to a certain way of playing the game that makes the rest of them more fun. Hbomberguy did a freakishly long video on exactly how it does that.

P.S. This is my first time trying to make a thread like this, please let me know if I should add anything!


Dark Souls 1 was my first and my favourite. I go into each SoulsBorne game trying to relive that magic but they never stack up quite as well. Still a huge fan. Shoutout to Siegfried of Catarina.

Played 1/2/3 as well as Bloodborne and all of their DLCs, hoo doggy do I loooooove these games! Honestly though, as good as the Souls games are, I’d have to say that Bloodborne is my favorite out of all of them. The only caveat of playing as much of it as I did, is that it ruined my more defensive tendencies in favor of BB’s more offensively-minded playstyle.

It took more playing of Dark Souls 3 than I’d care to admit before I was able to reacquaint myself to not getting rally heals anymore.

Dark Souls 1 is one of my favorite games of all time, but it took me a couple of years to even give it a chance in the first place. I had heard about the difficulty and the invasion mechanics which didn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, and I was also really annoyed by the “git gud” crew and those people who wouldn’t shut the fuck up about Dark Souls in general. Eventually gave it a go after watching a few videos from Geop’s LP, and proceeded to spend a few hundred hours playing the game (many of those were spent invading people while wearing Princess Dusk’s dress with a darkwraith mask and wielding a great club - I’ve never been any good at PvP so I usually got my ass kicked, but it was fun so whatever). Dark Souls 2 was all right but didn’t really grab me and I’ve never finished it.

Bloodborne took me almost two years to finish (just completed that playthrough a few days ago, in fact!) but that’s certainly not a knock on the game itself and l actually like it almost as much as Dark Souls 1. The faster-paced combat and the gothic horror/Lovecraft vibe just clicked with me.

Dark Souls 3, on the other hand, I have never played and honestly don’t have much interest in doing so. I haven’t even bothered to watch more than a few LP videos, as I just don’t care enough. I think at some point the series started hitting diminishing returns for me, so I’ve kinda had my fill.

It’s still the same formula as the rest, but they add a “special ability” system that honestly makes the game more interesting depending on the weapon you use. They also made the gameplay a little bit faster–it feels like they hybridized Bloodborne and DS2. Humanity equivalent (Embers) gives you bonus health.

However if you’re not on fire for it I wouldn’t recommend getting it at its current price, but keep an eye out for it. DEFINITELY get it if you have friends playing. It’s the only souls game I enjoy the PVP in other than 2. The netcode is WAY better than the previous games.

I started off with Demon’s Souls 'cause it was free with PlayStation Plus once. Kinda hated it! The series had gotten that awful “this game HATES YOU and WANTS YOU TO DIE” reputation by then and that really hurt my first experience. I never bothered to learn how to play 'cause I assumed I was doing fine and the game was just being a huge asshole. Played it for a bit, gave up after first death to Flamelurker.

Left the series alone for a while after that, but then Diabetus started streaming Dark Souls. I got lots of good starter tips from the first session, and that got me interested in trying the game out. Picked it up on PS3, had a great time, put 100s of hours into it, watched a bunch of LPs, fell in love with the series.

Played through II after that, liked it, wasn’t as good but I didn’t have a bad time with it. Went back to Demon’s Souls a bit later, loved it this time, died less in that whole playthrough than I did in my short first experience with it. Then Bloodborne came out and I bought a PS4 for it (among a few other things), loved that one too.

And most recently, Dark Souls III. I loved this one as well, but I’m kinda glad the series is over now. Partly because it might have gotten stale with a 4th game, and partly because I’ve gotten too skilled at these games and things just aren’t as threatening anymore. My first playthroughs of the other games were really exciting, every new area and enemy was terrifying ‘cause I had no idea what to expect. They were great experiences and I didn’t get those feelings with III because I was so used to the series’ tricks and traps, and I was always sure I could easily beat up whatever was waiting around the corner. I still had fun, just not the same kind of fun as I had in the other games.

I’ve always been curious about difficult games, although I would never say I’m any good at videogames in general (and certainly not after seing Chip plow through Revengeance like it was nothing). Anyway, I watched Slowbeef play Dark Souls 1, and got the game soon after because it looked intriguing. To my own not unconsiderable surprise, I did eventually manage to beat it, offline too, without help. I’ve since started, but never finished a few playthroughs of the game with different builts, and I’ll most likely get Dark Souls 2 eventually (don’t have the hardware for the other games in the series).

Overall, while Dark Souls was immensely frustrating at times, it turned out to be one of my favourite games of all time. There’s just something about the mechanics and the level and enemy design that really hits the right spot for me. I’ll never “git gud” or whatever in these games, and I don’t give a single fuck about PvP or multiplayer, but I do still enjoy Dark Souls for what it is, a challenging, but amazing experience.

I love the Souls games, although I think the first Dark Souls is the best by a large margin. It has some real problems in the second half of the game and there’s a lot of quality of life stuff the latter two introduced, and the PC port ain’t great, but there’s just so much to love. The atmosphere, the world design, the lore, the enemy design, the world design, the characters, the dialogue, the world design, the combat system, the weapon design, the boss fights especially, did I mention the world design?

Like I really cannot think of any other game that’s captured that sort of intersecting structure that the first souls game did, the real vertical scale of Lordran and the way everything kind of spirals into each other and all connects together is really compelling and it kinda sucks the sequels basically abandoned it, there’s still neat moments like how you can see the whole world map from the vista just after Vordt in DS3 for example but nothing really feels like progression around Burg and Parish and going to the points you’ve seen prior, looking back and the descent into Blighttown coming back up into New Londo and then into Firelink, it all feels so well built.

Also if you’re interested in video game art books, the Design Works are worth a look, the first one is kinda short (128pg) but I mean, they’re Dark Souls artbooks so it’s still pretty dang great

Dark Souls III is my favorite to play.
Dark Souls II is my favorite to criticise (still a great game)
Dark Souls is my favorite to experience.
Demon’s Souls is my favorite to soak in its atmosphere.
Bloodborne is my favorite to start playthroughs of and get distracted halfway through. Only finished it once.

Overall the series is my favorite.

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I’ve been playin DS1 and 2 for years and while I enjoy the games to some extent, I’ve never beaten any of them. I’m just not… that good at them, and I always hit a frustrating wall where I’ll hit like a level in the 60s and just stall because I end up being just bad enough at the game where I’ll die often enough (even while leveling) and lose a bunch of souls that I’ll feel like I’ve wasted massive amounts of time and give up on the game for several months in frustration.

I don’t have a lot of time to play games anymore and feeling like I wasted a bunch of progress in a game is a big reason while I give up on a ton of games either for a long period of time or permanently.

I really want to enjoy them more because I feel like they’re good games but it’s just never clicked for me because my lack of skill makes itself apparent way too often.

Dark Souls 1 is my favourite, though I think only the upgrade system is an issue in Demon’s Souls. Other than that it seems pretty easy to understand, and contrary to popular belief, the game does explain a lot about itself as long as you read the manual and check out all of the messages in that back hall of the Nexus.

Dark Souls 2’s everything-except-combat I find so poorly done in comparison to Dark Souls 1, which is why it annoys me that I find the core gameplay loop so good in 2. I haven’t played 3 yet, since from all reports I need to have a PC more powerful than God to run it.

Dark Souls III is just weird on PC, some computers can run it just fine, other’s have issues.

My old three year old AMD card ran it just as poorly as my nwe Nvidia 1070. I get occasional stutter but it usually takes about 30 minutes of playtime until it occurs for the first time. I don’t know what exactly you need to do to make that game run well but it does seem to run well for about half of the population.

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I played 1, 2 (Though I never got the DLCs), and (some of) 3. Overall I did enjoy 1 the best, and 2’s updated re-release just looks tedious to me. 3 I really liked the gameplay of, but have a lot of… problems with. (see below)

Oh my gosh this. I still get the lighting bug and I lost multiple many-hour saves to reoccuring graphics issues that caused me to crash to desktop (and occasionally just take my drivers with it until a restart) when loading or encountering specific bonfires. It pretty much made me swear off PC Souls games until they get a better port team.

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Honestly, you missed some of the best content in the series here.

I’m hoping to do the whole series once I get a capture card, as my co-hosts have very little to no experiance with these games and I have way too much. I’ve found the best LPs of these games tend to be a new player with an experianced mentor to make sure they’re not totally screwing themselves. The only ones I’d want to be playing are Demon’s Souls because that one would be way too hard for a newcomer, and Bloodborne because fuck them that one’s my favorite. :dogee:

Bloodborne was my first and honestly still my favorite. I LOVE lovecraftian horror so much and it’s so rare to find ANYTHING like it. Bloodborne is a disgustingly beautiful game with honestly my favorite aesthetic in the series. So dark and grimy and eventually otherworldly and horrifying. Plus, fuck, I love Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower so much.

I’ve also played every non-DeS game. Dark Souls was my first(A year after I first played BB lol) and, while I like it, it’s rough. It’s got a fantastic world, but some bosses were just unfun. [details=Controversial Opinion]I know it’s blasphemy, but the sheer unfair difficulty spike of Ornstein and Smough is trash. I hate that boss with every fiber of my being.[/details]

Dark Souls 3, on the other hand, is the perfect Souls game to me. It’s quicker, smoother, louder, more ambitious. I love it tons. I’m one of those people who strangely prefer the ending to the series being a sequel and not a whole new entry with tons of open ends of its own(Though god… I want more Deep details.) I love the lil/big callbacks and frozen Anor Londo was the sickest.

Dark Souls 2 is… a hard thing to talk about. I hate it. Straight up. I hate how it feels to move. It’s the only Souls game I returned. BUT! The version I played was Scholar of the First Sin, and some of my biggest gripes with it was unfair enemy placements(FUCK Heides Tower of Flame and the million Heides Knights). So if I had played the first version, I might’ve liked it. Sad :confused:

All in all, I love Souls to death, but Bloodborne is a game I’d sacrifice all the others to get a sequel for.

Yeah, one of the reasons I haven’t been so keen on Dark Souls 3 is all the stuff I’ve been hearing about technical problems and crazy hardware requirements. My three-year-old PC is probably not going to cut it. Meanwhile, the console versions have terrible frame pacing issues which make the game look like it’s running at a lower frame rate than it actually is. To be fair, Bloodborne has the same issues and that was totally playable so it’s not that bad, but still…

2 stumbles really hard in the gameplay department, I can’t deny that, but it has some of my favorite lore and flavor of the entire series. I don’t think this is much of a spoiler, but it’s all about the cycle of the undead and how deeply disturbing and messed up the curse really is.

3 has the tightest gameplay of the series besides Bloodborne (and being on the same engine, that makes a lot of sense,) but it fumbles so hard on the lore stuff it’s not even funny. Callbacks have always been a part of the series, sure, but 3 is LOUSY with them. fucking fucking fuck why is the stormruler here why are there two of them god fucking aahhhhhhh Sure, it’s sometimes used to good effect, it’s my favorite iteration of Patches, who has never had a bad iteration so that’s saying a lot, Anor Londo is used to good effect, and the Abyss Watchers basically being a cult dedicated to Artorias is neet, but it just feels oversaturated, and what original lore stuff that it does have is really hit or miss.

This isn’t to say that I think 3 is bad, I’m of the opinion that all of the games are roughly of equal quality, considering their hight points and low points. (Even bloodborne has the god damn chalice dungeons) It’s just that my specific predilections makes me much more keen on 2 than I am with 3.

If you don’t already know about it, Bonfireside Chat is a really fucking excellent podcast. They do a deep, deep dive of the entire series, including King’s Field 4, Shadow Tower, and a bunch of various influences like Bezerk. They have a similar take on the series that I do, what with their interest in the series being more skewed towards the flavor of the series, but I think they’re worth checking out either way.

Edit: I should maybe mention that I’ve been with the series since Demon’s Souls, which might be why I’m more willing to overlook a lot of that game’s flaws.

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I used to really hate 2 but after playing through Scholar I got an appreciation for it. I still think it is the 2nd weakest in the series(I’m a huge Bloodborne hater) but I do like DaS 2 much more than I originally did. DaS1, DeS, and DaS3 are my absolute favorites in the series. I’ve wanted to LP all of them for a long time since I’m a huge lore nerd and wanted to do lore runthroughs with discussions and such but most people would probably just find that boring and there are so many LP’s of them already.

I should probably mention I’m kind of a loser with this series in that I’ve collectively put in more than 10,000 hours with Dark Souls 1 taking up almost 4,000 hours of my time. I’d play Dark Souls 1 every day if I had a working PS3 again, I just love that one so much.

Is anyone excited for the upcoming Dark Souls 3 DLC? I’m really looking forwards to it while short I loved Ariandel and I’m really hoping to see more of the Sable Church.

I was a bit dissapointed with the first DLC (although nowhere near as much as some other people,) but I mean, as down as I am on 3 it’s still a dark souls game, so I’m always going to be excited for more content from… From.

Dark Souls 2 and Bloodborne were kind of the opposite for me in that their extra content kind of turned me off more. But that had more to do with the difficulty than anything else, I just found them a bit too hard. Though the Dark Souls 3 DLC is fairly hard it still didn’t strike me as being as ridiculous as the general enemies in Dark Souls 2 and Bloodborne’s DLC. Though I also find those to be the hardest in the series.