STRUGGLING WITH DARK SOULS 2?
HERE’S A SHORT GUIDE FOR MAKING PROGRESS!
Dark Souls 2 has been a big hit across the world. The sequel to one of the most highly regarded games of all time launching back in March 2014 to critical acclaim, leaving a passionate and ever-growing fanbase divided as to where the new title sits within the triumvirate of it, Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls.
Yet it’s easy to assume that newcomers to the series may click with the new game as easily as established fans, for even amongst the most ardent of Souls aficionados, many had a little push-pull before the love affair truly began.
While Dark Souls 2 is a good way more streamlined than its predecessors, there are still a few pieces I’d like to lay in place for those who may be struggling with the game.
As the game starts hitting the £20 mark, I’ve spoken to a few folks who’ve picked it up and have hit a barrier. The adrenaline rush of kicking on and making progress has been there initially, but when a wall has been hit, the game has been shelved, else traded.
Don’t give up!
EXHAUST ALL DIALOGUES
Most NPCs will give valuable information within conversations. Some of this may seem throwaway, but clues are there pertaining to early moments of lore. Moreover many will give you something before moving on from that location, with many ending up more conveniently back at Majula.
In particular make sure you have a good chat with Pate in the Forest Of Fallen Giants. Take his dialogue on and he’ll give you a white sign soap stone. If you’re struggling with the difficulty, even within a certain area that may be frustrating you, this is a massive, massive way to not only reduce the difficulty, but gain fabulous rewards in return.
SO THEN, SOAP STONES?
Equip within your item spaces. Bring it up and press square [PS3]or A  and your character will write on the floor, leaving a glowing mark. This sign will be visible to other players and enable them to bring you into their game and fight alongside them.
The upswing of this is not only being able to learn a level, but the ensuing boost in souls you get from battling alongside others – particularly against a boss – you can then use to level up. Not only that, but a successful summon will turn you human again.
BEING HUMAN, AND HUMAN EFFIGIES.
Every time you die, you lose a little health and your character starts to visually erode. This isn’t purely the game being spiteful, it’s to encourage helping other players and turn human again. You can also do enable this yourself by using a Human Effigy.
Some merchants sell Human Effigies, but generally they’re in short supply. One can be found upstairs in the room with the red robed ladies near the start of the game if you’re struggling. Yet beyond the increase in health and not looking like a dog chew, there’s another huge reason to be human.
Being human means you can summon in other players.
Yep, in the same way as you can jump in to another player’s game, learn a level, earn souls and return to a full health bar – being human means you can bring others in to help you.
You can only do this while being in human form.
So, say you’re human, bring in a couple of extra folks and die during a boss battle? You come to, have hollowed and there are no signs on the floor to bring players in and have another go.
So, lay down your sign and help someone else, whilst getting to know the big nasty a little better. The result? Another chunk of souls, you’re human again and other players signs litter the floor once more.
Moreover, you might see another player using a weapon or set of armour you haven’t considered, or a tactic you’ve yet to employ.
Try it, play loose and feel free to experiment! There’s no one way to beat the game, and Christ knows I adore watching numerous playthroughs as well as battling alongside friends and strangers that have done things very, very differently to me.
Once you have a good welly of souls, return to Medula and speak to the Emerald Herald. She’ll allow you to convert those souls into increasing your stats.
Taken at face value these stats may look double, double confusing, but clicking ‘start’ will give an explanation of what each of them does.
My initial recommendations would be to find a sword you fancy, and level up strength and dexterity to be able to wield it. You’ll do more damage to the enemy, as well as veering towards a playstyle.
Early on this fella – the Heide Knight – is a tough little scrap, but he drops a sword imbued with a little lightning. It’s not the be all and end all, but may give you a little early momentum once you have it.
As I mentioned earlier, feel free to mess about, try different weapons and see what works. You have three slots per hand to play about with, so having something quick and nippy, alongside something with reach, or a heavier weapon is a distinct advantage.
SO, WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Dark Souls had a sword called the Drake Sword, which was somewhat overpowered for it’s location, yet was a cracking for making a ton of progress.
Whereas Dark Souls was a little obtuse in presuming you’ll have a pop at shooting off a massive Drake’s tail to get it, Dark Souls 2 is more open with finding the Fire Longsword. Get it, level it, it’s a beauty.
As the name suggests, the Fire Longsword imbued with a touch of elemental to add to the physical attack, but it also has a rather fabulous lunge stab when held with both hands and R2 is pressed.
I used this loads when enemies were coming straight towards me, particularly if I could bottleneck them in a doorway when doing so. Two-handing it also gives a little push to the attack, using the enemy’s momentum against them as well.
The Fire Longsword is located in the Forest Of The Fallen Giants. A little way into the level, there’s a drop down onto a series of wooden scaffolds onto a rather wobbly grassy floor below. There are quite a few enemies here, so draw them out one by one if you can.
As you walk forwards there’s a little cave off to the left, inside which there are flames on the ground. It’s okay, you can enter it, but watch out for enemies that drop down behind you and try to ambush you.
Just to the left again is a little room containing a chest, and in there is the Fire Longsword. Outside is a fire salamander creature barfing out fireballs, but you should be able to twist left with little problem.
After you beat the Persuer – his first appearance as a proper boss – you’ll encounter a series of broken ledges to drop down onto. A few falls and you’ll find the Drangleic set.
Not only does it give you hella, hella good protection, but it’s one of the prettiest armours in the entire game. All dark steel and flowing red cape. I used it throughout most of my first playthrough. It’s a belter.
BOW AND ARROW.
I found this essential. Not because it does tons of damage – at least not at first – but because of other abilities it brings to the fore.
Firstly you can take out enemies at huge distance. This might be picking them off from afar, from tops of buildings or whatever, but it gives you a massive advantage.
At the very least it will draw a single enemy towards you, meaning you can deal with a bad lad one on one, rather than encroaching into and area and getting swarmed.
Be warned though, I did whallop a few NPC’s from distance, just because I saw something moving at a window and made a judgement. Oh Gavlan!
Look for shields with 100% damage limitation if you can, or at least as high as possible. This will limit the enemies ability to damage you with a hit, even if your shield is up.
I’d recommend the Drangleic Shield [above], which comes along with the aforementioned armour set. Decent shield, 100% limitation. You won’t be able to upgrade it yet.
LEVELLING WEAPONS AND ARMOUR.
To level a weapon, shield or piece of armour requires another element, with the earliest version being Titanite Shards.
The first Titanite Shard is found in a chest on the top floor of the Maughlin The Armourer in Medula merchant, giving you a head start for levelling that newly acquired Fire Longsword.
[Also, spend a decent amount with Maughlin and he will start selling some very interesting items indeed – including boss armours!]
As you progress down the path of upgrading a weapon Titanite Shards will become Large Titanite Shards, Then Chunks, then Slabs. This comes much further on, so just concentrate on the regular shards for now.
Medula’s Blacksmith Lenigrast is your boy for buying a few Titanite Shards early doors too, also for the aforementioned weapons upgrades.
Lenigrast also sells arrows. Go for the cheapest, as it means you can buy tons of them and the difference in hit between the basic arrow and those of greater expense is negligible.
COVENANT OF THE BLUE & GUARDIANS OF THE BLUE
Covenants are factions in the game that, when explored can give weapons and rewards beyond the main game. Some involve you helping others, whilst certain covenants will actively involve hunting down players and attempting to nobble them.
There’s lots of fun to be had here when you get a little further in, but don’t concern yourself with that just yet.
If you fancy a little extra push to your progress, be sure to join Covenant Of The Blue by speaking to the Crestfallen Man sitting at the main monument in Medula.
Invasions are a big part of the Souls games, meaning a Black Phantom can invade your game and attempt to kill you. If this happens and you’re a part of Covenant Of The Blue, a member of Guardians Of The Blue will be sought to jump into your game as soon as possible and help you out.
Should you get a little wind underneath your wings and fancy repaying the favour, Guardians Of The Blue is a fun next step.
So then, in summary …
Soapstones. Practicing levels and earning souls. Being human and bringing others in to help you.
Drangleic Armour Set & Shield.
Bows & Arrows.
Hopefully all this helps, and opens up some of the best mechanics for you. There’s tons to do, lots of explore and experiment with.
Oh and ..
When you meet another player, be it on friendly terms or otherwise, it’s courteous to bow, give a wave or any one of the other gesticulations available in the game.
Lots more of these unlock as you go through the game, particularly from meeting merchants and chatting with NPC’s – so keep an eye out for them.
That said, be wary. Some folks will seek to take advantage of a courtesy and attack immediately. This is a mechanic to be taken advantage of, or not. There are good guys and bad guys. Choose your side!
I hope the above helped, and be sure to let me know if that’s the case.
And if you fancy listening to discussions on the games, the adventures during, as well as some ace special guests, be sure to check out the Twin Humanities Podcast I co-host with my friend Patrick.