I‘m a long time player of the souls series, having been one of the few people to actually get excited at the Demon’s Souls announcement in TGS back in the day, more than a year before it made it over to the US. Since then, I have witnessed many players get hooked in the series, and many others return it out of sheer frustration, and perhaps a few smashed controllers, TVs and split discs. I’m one of those players that has to re-learn the game from zero via many deaths for every cycle, so I can relate to early game frustrations!
With the wikis, we all collaborate to create a common body of knowledge that we can rely on as a shared notebook on what is where. But for launch day I wanted to bring you my Dark Souls 3 Getting Started Guide, per se – apt for all ages and experience levels, now with minimum spoilers!.
Choosing your class:
This is not the end all, you can build your character anyway you like, and only min-maxers will care in detail. If you’re new, the Knight is often the best all-round class as it comes with a trusty longsword and a decent shield, and stats that can go any way you want it.
Choosing your Gift:
There are only two gifts that are worthy: the Fire Gem and the Life Ring. If you are new to the series, pick the Fire Gem, and imbue your weapon with this as soon as you can. You’ll do good damage for no stat investment and can focus on putting points into vitality/vigor/endurance so you can learn to stay alive.
Your Stat spread is an important part of the game, and one that can be easily messed up when experimenting. The base “build” stats will be important for weapon requirements and scaling: Strength, Dexterity, Faith and Intelligence. However you cannot neglect endurance, vitality and vigor if you aren’t certain of your optimized build, as you will need them for your stamina, equipment load and Hitpoints. Additionally, there’s a luck stat that increases bleed and poison damage apart from Item Discovery, so you will likely have a hard time choosing a build. The good news is that you can re-spec both your stats and character appearance via this NPC. Also, if you’re a vet from other games, be mindful that soft-caps have moved and are no longer where you may think!
Choosing your weapon:
Dark Souls 3 has more weapon variety than any other souls game to date, simply because the Skills of the weapons are so unique and diverse that they can really affect your gameplay. I encourage you to avoid diving into one specific build too early, as you will find more weapons and spells that you may want to try. If in doubt, research the wiki Weapons page to find out requirements, skills and movesets that may interest you. To get you started, you can pick up a Deep Axe in the second game area – the extra damage from the infusion will surely help out vs stronger enemies while you try other movesets on weaker ones. You will also find the art of Soul Transposition interesting: trade in boss souls to obtains weapons, spells and rings from the remains of the champions you have defeated.
Armor is not upgradable in Dark Souls 3, so you will have to find the right set for the right situation. You can also increase your resistances with rings, miracles and consumable pellets. You will want to consider if you are a roll or shield person, and look for the right mix to balance your equipment load.
As with Dark Souls 2, you will upgrade your weapon with regular titanite and then infuse it with special gems. What is new, however, is that there are 15 different infusions! Locked behind key items called “Coals”, there is an infusion for every build in the spectrum. Some weapons upgrade with Twinkling Titanite or Titanite Scale and go only to +5, but they all need Titanite Slabs to reach peak power, so chose wisely!
You cannot infuse Bows, Greatbows, Crossbows, Chimes, Talismans, Staves, Pyromancy Flames and any weapon that upgrades with Twinkling Titanite or Titanite Scale. Everything else will have the option to apply scaling benefits, or physical or elemental damage. A clear overview of each infusion is provided on the upgrades page on the wiki, and you can see individual numbers on each weapon page if you need.
The Ashen Estus Flask:
This new flask is automatically added once you pick it up and will likely go unused if you’re not a caster, at least until you before familiar and comfortable using your weapon’s skill. For this reason, my advise for beginners is to go to Blacksmith Andre and reallocate the flasks to obtain more healing. You are unlikely to need to replenish your mana, but your health is certainly going to want it!
Find the Estus Shards:
The item that increases the amount of flasks you can carry. They are now an upgrade material that you can hand to Blacksmith Andre. Check out the locations for estus shards in the wiki as you play to make sure that you don’t miss any, as you will be happy to have more!
Find the Undead Bone Shards:
The item that increases the amount of HP you regenerate when drinking Estus. You must bring and burn this item at the Firelink Shrine central bonfire to upgrade your Estus performance in all regions. Check out the undead bone shard locations in the wiki!
Like in previous games, you must find and talk to NPCs who are out in the field in order for them to facilitate their services to you at the Firelink hub. Make sure to explore areas thoroughly and revisit old areas to check if NPCs have moved in or around. You will have one default merchant, the Shrine Handmaid, who will also assist you in the event one of your NPCs meets an untimely end. By bringing her ashes, which you find out in the world or where a loved NPC died, you can unlock items in her inventory that should help you get by.
Dark Souls is all about exploring and finding shortcuts, minibosses and secret items. Killing optional but tougher enemies nets you powerful items, so don’t run through and engage enemies to find what they are protecting or what they may drop. If you need area tips, we have maps to help you get by!
All online play on the console platforms requires PSPlus and XboxLive subscriptions, including asynchronous ones like bloodstains and messages. If you have the subscription, you should buy a white sign soapstone from the Shrine Handmaid. She also sells you the Dried Finger, which allows you on use to break the normal 4 player limit on one world and increase it to six (max 4 coop 2 hostile). You must use an Ember to be able to summon others and be invaded, but you can be summoned regardless of your ember status. An important note about matchmaking: it is done on Soul Level plus weapon upgrade level, meaning if your weapon is under +3 you’ll be matched with people in that category. This will prevent a degree of overpowered PvPers and summons interfering with your experience. You can bypass this limit by using a Password, which will allow you to match with anyone and balance them down or up to your level of damage.
Aim to have a good mix of a 100% shield (with the right elemental resistance for the zone you’re in), rolling iframe rings, a fast and a heavy weapon and the torch. Playing it safe and luring enemies out one by one with a bow or throwing knives is a legitimate strategy, as is luring large scary enemies into smaller confinements so you can throw firebombs on their face until they die. Trust me, they would do this to you if they could. Having a bow and arrows for some areas with too many enemies is also a good idea, as you can thin them out before going to explore.
Similar to Dark Souls 2, but with a few curveballs. The first is Curse, that will immediately kill you if the bar is filled. You do not respawn with any further negatives. Secondly is Frostbite, that will remove health and slow stamina regeneration. You will also find an enemy who can reduce your health to zero without touching you! Then there’s Bleed, that has a nasty effect from some specific enemies who apply leeches onto you – keep a torch handy to equip and remove the worms! Finally there’s a story-centric mechanic, obtained via the Dark Sigil, called hollowing. See its page for details.
Dark Souls 3 covenants revolve around multiplayer, and are closer to Bloodborne in the sense that you can enter and leave them without penalty and on-the-fly. So you can obtain the items for all covenants and join them and level them at your convenience, of course you will want to be mindful of Sidequests and how being in a specific allegiance may affect them!
The game is relatively linear, however it is very easy to miss out on little things such as the trading crow or a certain mischievious returning character. If you want to do the best for your playthrough, we recommend you follow our Game Progress Route, and pay special attention to NPC questlines as many things are irreversible and can impede your progress in covenants and more! Also remember that New Game Plus will bring new items, enemies, and opportunities to experiment with other questlines and endings.
Stuck at a boss/area:
If you can’t beat something, the best thing to do is become a white phantom for someone else. Go help other players and learn from them, experience the level without fear of invasions or loss of souls, and if you defeat bosses you can amass souls rapidly and level up, making you stronger for your world challenge. You can use the wiki’s password: “Fextra” to find help. If online is not an option, then returning to earlier zones to farm souls from easier enemies is always a viable way to improve your character and obtain more items to help you. You can also visit the wiki chatroom or the dark souls 3 forums to ask for tips.
So these are my initial tips to get you started. Of course you will need more in-depth assistance for details, and that’s where the wiki and community comes in! And please, feel free to share your extra tips on the comments, or add them to the New Player Help page.