Getting Started Guide: Fex’s Tips for Dark Souls 3

Last updated on July 5th, 2016

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.

Leveling Stats:

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.

Your Defenses:

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.

Weapon Upgrades:

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!

Weapon Infusions:

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!

NPCs:

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.

Exploration:

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!

Online Play:

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.

Combat:

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.

Status Effects:

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.

Covenants:

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!

Game Progress:

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.

Fexelea

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MMO raider by day and guide writer by night, Fex enjoys multiplatform gaming, good books and animes, and streaming with a cold beer.

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23 comments on “Getting Started Guide: Fex’s Tips for Dark Souls 3”

  1. Avatar Serious_Much says:

    Serious Tips for Dark Souls 3:

    Class- Choose deprived

    Proceed to bang head against the wall as you cannot defeat the tutorial boss

    Go hollow

  2. thflame says:

    I respectfully disagree that the Life Ring is a good starting gift. If you want one, you can buy it for 1000 souls. The Sovereignless Soul is worth 2000 souls (or a Life ring AND 1000 souls). The only downside is that you don’t get the extra health for the first boss.

    Also, Fire Gem sucks. Split damage with no scailing. RAW is better until you get you’re stats up and the Raw Gem is quite common in the first area.

  3. Avatar TSMP says:

    The Life Ring is not purchasable at the beginning of the game, mate. It is only available once you get a certain ash item about 3-4 bosses in.

    A Raw weapon does do more damage than Fire after defenses are calculated, but the Fire Gem is extraordinarily useful against those giant abyss snake hollows who drop upgrade materials and effigies. Picking a Fire Gem to kill them first thing isn’t a bad way to start out, and nets you a +1 weapon right off the bat after you kill both of them. Then you use the Raw Gem right next to the second one to make your weapon even better.

  4. Avatar TSMP says:

    Fex, you forgot to mention Poison and Toxic under the status effects.

  5. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Liked tips haha.

    Also – they work the same as before so no reason to bring them up I thought. If I went through everything it would have been a very long video xD

    Btw: the status effects page needs editing, please! <3

  6. Crazcane says:

    Note there is a spoiler in that article about a certain NPC who handles upgrades, so be warned!!

  7. Avatar ace569er says:

    So that is the first I heard of Toxic being in the game. I was getting worried. So can I apply it with a weapon, or is it PvE only like curse?

  8. Avatar TSMP says:

    Poop is back, and you can throw it at people to inflict it. There's also the Toxic Mist pyromancy from Dark Souls 1 & 2. There are no weapon infusions or resins that apply toxic, and I don't know of any weapons that inflict it.

  9. Avatar The_Greyhawk says:

    Thanks for the Estus Shard and Undead Bone Ash locations especially fex!

  10. Avatar Serious_Much says:

    This guide isn’t a min/maxed be/end all. It’s just a set of things designed to help new players cope with the game without too much hassle and not require them to fully scour every area (not all players do), or farm early minions which they don’t know drop specific things most likely.

    I think a new player would much rather just take an item at the start than have to search for it or farm it from enemies to progress, don’t you?

  11. Avatar ace569er says:

    There must be at least one weapon I hope……

  12. Avatar PrimeraEspada91 says:

    Fex, I think you forgot your trusty Firebomb strat ; )

  13. Avatar lordnoah says:

    i think the only items worth it are the sovereingless soul, rusted coin and the creacked red eye orb

    the souls gives you 2000 souls which is the price of dried fingers or even a soul arrow or a halberd , or the chest and legging of the chain armor, any way its much more useful

    the cracked redeye orb is simply because some people have fun invading

    the rusted gold coin can be very useful if you start as a deprived and want the knight’s armor

    if you really need a weapon that ignores scaling get the deep axe form the mimick, you dont need to waste gem

    the life ring its utterly useless i wouldn’t recommend that to anyone

    the blessings re so rare it feels like a waste to use then

    you can get a white branch every early in undead settlement so there is no need to need to pick it

    blackbomb its joke i don’t think i need to explain its not good to pick it

  14. Avatar Fexelea says:

    What? I specifically put that! :P

  15. Avatar PrimeraEspada91 says:

    haha nvm must have read it too fast U . U

  16. Avatar Zephynoir says:

    "Chosing a weapon" You may want to do a quick edit to add the extra "o" if you haven’t already.

    Otherwise, very informative! Thank you so much

  17. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    If you’re looking for a good bump in starting souls, forget the sovereignless soul gift.

    With a bit of navigating, you can "convince" the Crystal Lizard to pursue you to near the bonfire and…ahem…fall off the cliff, netting good souls and upgrade material I can’t use right away.

    I of course made a video because it was hysterical.

  18. thflame says:

    Why not both?

  19. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    Lol, both would certainly work. Between The Lizard and The Judge (that’d make a sweet band name), I hit Firelink with over 8,000 souls. With just what I did exploring the tutorial area with no farming, I was leveled to the point where 2,000 souls would have given me one level max. I’m not saying the soul as a gift is useless. There’s early enough merchant access where spare souls are useful. At most my trick diminishes the impact of a couple thousand more souls.

  20. Avatar Fexelea says:

    With the release of The Fire Fades edition, new players are joining in!

    Bumping this for reference – and if any old players wanna share some new tips, this is the time!

  21. Avatar Rizen says:

    Can people with the FF Edition and normal version play together if they have the same system?

  22. Achtpuntzes says:

    yes they can.

  23. Avatar Rizen says:

    Oh good. Thanks.


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