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Dark Souls II: Tips for Beginners
Since Dark Souls II was recently placed up for sale on the US PSN, I decided to grab it up while it was a couple of dollars off and considering as I did play and enjoy Demon Souls for the limited time that we were together, I thought it was a good idea to play this one too.
Dark Souls has a simple concept. You hack, slash, cast or crush your way through enemy units with the hope of regaining what it is that you've lost. I have no idea what it is. But! of course the game won't be so simple or else I wouldn't be sitting here and writing this piece right now. No! Dark Souls II will crush your spirit and leave you raging at how each and every boss will wipe your face on the ground and spit on you, ordinary mobs will do this too. So let's get on to the tips.
#1 Know Your Play Style
I cannot stress this enough. It's really important that you know how you want to play and if you're capable of playing that way. With bosses that can kill you on a single hit, foot soldiers that can kill you in 2-3 hits and for god's sake even the cute little pigs at Majula can kill you, hence, you definitely need to know what you're doing.
Try out every character before you decide which one suits your play style. Although for beginners I would recommend one of these: Clerics for their ability to heal and use a mace. A bandit which will be a bit of a problem early on, but are extremely useful for sniping enemy mobs or sometimes even bosses. Finally the knight, which starts off with better equipment and higher HP than the warrior. Warriors are a lot more balanced than the knight though, so I'll give them that.
#2 Weight Limit!
Dropped an amazing shield and used it, but it made your dodge slower? It's cause of the weight limit. Heavy armor, heavy shields, bloody ultra great swords, all of these contribute a lot of overall weight to your character. For example an ultra great sword can weigh around 8 kilos (I don't know what the weight is called in Dark Souls II, don't judge me.) while a rapier could only be around 4.
Having your weight up higher dramatically decreases the speed of your rolling dodge and other movements. So what can you do to remedy this? place points into your Vit. I've heard that endurance does the same, but that doesn't seem to be true as nothing happens in game when I try to put stats into my endurance. Another way is to acquire the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dragon Ring and other like items which increases your equipment load.
In Addition to the peril's of being slow, I highly discourage you from having a weight limit above 70%. I don't just discourage you, I am telling you not to do it! Yeah, sure it might be nice to sport that large Cloud Strife Buster Sword, but if you get cornered it will always be either your shield or stamina that would save you. Plus boss fights where the bosses are extremely fast and flexible will be a pain in the ass for slower characters.
Keep in mind that any item on your weapon slot (when you press left or right to change weapons) are counted towards your weight limit capacity. You might want to consider removing some of them to lower the weight you're carrying.
#3 There's No Shame In Retreating
Yes! No one knows you did it anyway, so if you're running low on health or stamina, retreat! This is actually basic survival, you can't strong arm your way out of every mob as a lot of them will actually strong arm you instead. Be smart, retreat and heal then go back for more killing.
#4 Lower Your Shield
You might think that this is common knowledge, but it wasn't for me. If you're playing as a character with a shield (warrior, knight, etc.) keep in mind that when you have your shield up, your stamina won't recover as quickly as it normally would. This is very important especially when you're in a boss battle and have been guarding for a few hits. If you're stamina is nearly empty and you get hit by another attack, you will be left vulnerable for a few seconds.
#5 Keep Your Shield Up, People With Shields Only
As a sharp contrast to #4, this time you should keep your shield up. Although the applications are different cause I'm recommending you to keep your shield up while walking around and exploring ruins.
Dark Souls II has a bad habit of throwing something at you in the dark and you need to be prepared for that, shields help a lot for this matter especially when you're low in health with no bonfire to count on.
#6 Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover
Enemy is small? must be weak and fast. Enemy is big? Must be strong and slow. Nope! Face it, Dark Souls II is screwed up. Small enemies are strong and big enemies are stronger, and groups of enemies are the most dangerous of them all. It wouldn't be too far fetched to say that you're more likely to die battling a group of soldiers than a boss.
In addition to this not all hideous looking this are monsters, some, like Manscorpion Tark in the Shaded Woods. Don't kill them if you can't lock onto them. Not a good idea, trust me. I killed nearly anything my sword could reach and had to deal with the consequences of it.
#7 Learn Movements
Like an old martial art master with his flowing fabulous long beard, learn to react and read your enemies. Bosses can be especially hard when you don't know what you're doing, lock on them and watch how they attack while maintaining distance and baiting them to attack you. You'll save a lot of deaths and souls.
#8 Your Health Decreases As You Die
In Dark Souls every time you die, your HP goes down by a bit until finally it locks at around 50% of your total HP, which is awful. Even more experienced players wouldn't dare go into an unexplored ruin with only half his health bar cause that is just insane and you will probably die within the first few minutes.
There is of course a way to remove that lock on your health and that is to use Human Effigies. The problem is those items don't exactly just fall from the sky, so use them sparingly. A good way to conserve on them is to wait until you really need to use them like when you're about to battle a boss or are overpowered by the enemies at a certain location.
#9 Gray Mist = Boss?
Not exactly. Although this is true at least 90% of the time, however, there are instances when the area is blocked by a gray mist with no boss inside (usually when moving from one area to another), but... there's always a but... it's always better for you to be cautious and prepared to go into battle whenever you see one of these. Chest out, swords at hand and prepare for battle!
#10 Upgrade Your Equipment
I wouldn't necessarily tell you to upgrade your basic equipment, but look for a weapon that suits you within the first two areas and upgrade that until you find something better. For example knights, warriors and bladers can benefit from the Heide Sword which you can acquire during the first 20 minutes of the game. Even a +5 upgrade can last you a very long time.
#11 Be Social!
Speak to NPCs that you find, even in ruins. Some of them come be summoned as a spirit to aid you in battle (only if you're in human form), some of them will move to Majula and sell you their wares while others will simply give you more items. Of course this means that you might want to speak to them until they're already reciting the same sentence over and over again, but hey! you get some free stuff sometimes which is great.
#12 Bonfires and Estus Flasks
My last tip for this piece. Estus Flasks are healing items which can be upgraded and refilled indefinitely when using bonfires. If you obtain an Estus Flask Shard, you can speak to the woman called Emerald Herald (can be found near the cliff at Majula) she'll take the shard and you'll have 1 more Estus Flask to use. Other than that you can also burn a Sublime Bone Dust at the bonfire in Majula to increase the amount that the Estus Flask heals.