Dark Souls is a series of games well known for its crushing difficulty and unforgiving traps, a lot of the games can boil down to trial and error as you learn which direction the boulder that's about to knock you off a ledge and to your screaming doom is going to come from.
With the ability to go anywhere you can see on the map, it also gives you the sense of being very, very small in a very large world. A perceptive player might be able to discover a few secret favorite locations or paths they enjoy taking to help them combat the challenges the series presents. I'm a fan of running through the graveyard in the first game right after you get to Fire Link shrine in a mad dash to grab a few of the weapons and souls you can collect from the corpses there. Typically I do this while screaming at the top of my lungs and being chased by a horde of skeletons, then doubling back and climbing through the Undead Burg for example. A friend of mine, however, loves going down into New Londo first as they swap my mad dash away from skeletons with a panic fueled run through a ruin filled with angry invincible ghosts.
Chances are if you've played the series you've picked up a few techniques and tricks to suit your own playstyle. We've collected 25 of tricks players have shared in order to try to make your life a little easier.
25 Dragon Slayer: Dark Souls
When walking across one of the early bridges in the Undead Burg (the really big stone one with all the charred bodies on it) for the first time, you might be startled by a massive red dragon. The colossal creature swoops down and torches you and everything on the path until you're crispier than my poor attempts at home cooking.
Trying to run at the Dragon to remove the pest from the tower it perches on leads to it flambeing you as you try to rush it and only leads to a quick trip back to the last bonfire you rested at.
You can kill this Dragon super early in the game though by taking the route under the bridge to where its tail hangs down and melee attacking it until the tail falls off, then stepping back and pumping it full of arrows until it's dead. Doing so nets you The Drake Sword and a cool 10,000 souls.
24 Forest Of Farm: Dark Souls 2
The journey between bonfires and a fully restored bar of health can be a long one, and while the game gives you the essential Estus Flask, sometimes it's not enough to see you safely through. For times when your flask is empty Lifegems can be the difference between hours of lost progress and a long attempt to touch your bloodstain or a simple walk.
Thankfully, a little bit of playing with the enemy spawning system can help you farm a ton of these handy little gems. If you go to the Cardinal Tower's bonfire, in the Forest of Giants, and walk past a bit of wall rubble before looking down you'll see a platform. Go down it, murdering everything, and then go right back up and spawn em again. Repeated until the enemies there get wise to your plot and stop spawning or until you have as many life gems as you desire.
23 Leap Of Faith No More: Dark Souls 3
There's a lot of leaps of faith in the Dark Souls series, long jumps that either requires a good run at them or a long gunt-wrenching drop, normally accompanied by the player muttering curse words when they come across them and then trying them anyway.
Only for that traitorous bastard momentum to rear, it's ugly scientific head as your precision landing suddenly transforms into a rage inducing roll off of the tiny bit of safe space you were aiming at.
Dark Souls 3 fixes this issue though after seven years of players plummeting to their death and breaking glass with their wails after realizing how much progress their mistake cost them.
After jumping simply stop pushing the stick in the direction you're going, put the controller down if you have to. You'll stick a good ten point landing and won't roll to your doom that way.
22 Not Evil, Nope, Not At All: Dark Souls
"Aww but Patch he was just locked up, look he's gonna give us stuff later."
No, kill Lautrec.
"You're just one of the gamers who kills everyone you're able to aren't you?!"
Look, I'm not gonna spoil here, in fact, if you've played Dark Souls before you probably know why I'm saying it, hey I even made the mistake of not running my Gravelord Sword through this bastards chest in my first playthrough...
If you have any lick of sense about you, you're gonna kill this guy after you've freed him and see him chilling out in Firelink shrine, I'll even make it easy for you.
Smack him once, then get face to face with him, he'll jump back and plummet off the cliff behind him, save, quit, re-load, his stuff will be right at the edge of the cliff where you can collect it and you'll have done the world a favour.
21 Overwhelming Force: Dark Souls 2
The Pursuer is a tenacious boss who will... well, pursue you once you trigger the fight and will do so relentlessly until either you or the massive knight has been slain. Likely you. When you first encounter him in The Forest of Fallen Giants though ,there's a way to two shot him for he was one crippling weakness.
Like most things, The Pursuer is weak to heavy artillery fire.
There's a few ballista's nearby and if you can line them up right (I'd recommend just parrying him once he's in the desired spot so it stuns him for a while) run your sweet ass to one of the contraptions and fire. Wash, Rinse, Repeat, by your second shot he should be mostly dead and a few short swings from your weapon should wrap this fight up.
Careful though because he can destroy the ballista's and ruin your plan.
20 Easy Identification: Dark Souls 3
A split second can mean the difference between life and death. In some cases, you don't have the time to spare before you need to be moving on again, if you're stuck with a train full of baddies chasing after you passing by a chest can be heart-wrenching as you imagine the goodies inside, but what if it's a mimic? Normally you can spend 8-10 seconds to see if it's breathing or not to tell them apart, but while in combat or being pursued you might not have time to do this.
If you've got a good eye though, next time you encounter a chest that you're not certain if it contains delightful treasure or rows of teeth waiting for an undead snack, look to the chain on side of the chest if it's curled inwards and faces to the back it's safe. If it faces outward and away from the chest it's a mimic.
19 Eat This!: Dark Souls 3
While we're on the subject of everyone's least favourite Dark Souls enemy, there actually is a way to nab the items a mimic is concealing without the long dangerous fight that might end up not being worth what it was trying to tempt you with.
You just have to drug the fake chest.
The way you do this is by either finding or purchasing some Undead Hunter Charms, you can get them for 500 souls a pop off the Shrine Maiden as long as you've given her Paladin’s Ashes.
Once you're loaded with a few of em just huck one of the charms at the mimic, it'll eat it and be pacified for a short bit of time allowing you to open it up and reach inside to retrieve its treasures.
18 Reduce Your Losses: Dark Souls 2
When you die in Dark Souls 2 the game gets harder as it figures losing your souls and progress wasn't punishment enough, it also causes you to slowly start morphing into a hideous zombie which comes with the added effect of cutting down your max HP by percentages until you're down to 50% of what you should have.
You can fix this problem by burning a human effigy, but those don't exactly grow on trees. If you're having issues with keeping your HP, I'd recommend getting your grubby little zombie hands on the Ring Of Binding ASAP.
It can be found in Heide's Tower of Flame, take the leftmost path to get to the Cathedral of Blue, kill the Old Knight and pull the lever near him, a drawbridge will lower letting you go up and loot the chest at the top that contains your prize.
17 Parkour!: Dark Souls 3
Chest high walls that your character for some reason can't climb are annoying as hell and unless you want to pay the shrine keeper 20,000 souls to get the key to a door, one stops you from gaining access to Firelink Shrine's rooftop and the goodies within.
Unless you're a ninja.
At the Belltower door, look down and you'll notice a large tree stump near a low part of the rooftop, if you sprint up the stump, perform a running jump and manage to curve yourself to the right you can leap over the low wall and bypass the payment required to access this area. It's gonna take you a ton of tries but the Estus Shard, Covetous Silver Serpent Ring, and the odd Crow who'll trade items with you are super helpful, especially if you do it early.
16 Run Like Hell: Dark Souls
Ceaseless Discharge is a frightening foe, triggering his boss fight guarantees you a bad time of running back and forth, dodging desperately and getting in a few hits whenever you're able.
There's a trick to beating him and you don't even need a weapon to do it though, you just have to have nerves of steel and be wearing your best running shoes.
Firstly dash up to the body on the altar and grab the Gold-Hemmed Black Set to annoy him. After that, get his aggro then sprint like a madman towards the Fog door, be a little cautious, however, during your headlong dash as he can nick you with his first swing if you're too close. If you make it to the fog door before he can strike again, he'll impale himself on a column allowing you to attack him freely until he's dead.
15 Bring Fire With You: Dark Souls 2
The Torch is a very underappreciated item, but then again you do have to either sacrifice holding a weapon or a shield to use it so most people just opt to wander around in the darkness rather than lose the ability to block.
In some areas, though, a torch can help you turn awful things which lurk in the dark into cowering useless creatures that don't even fight back as you end their misery.
The next time you're traveling through a pitch black area, bring a few torches and keep em lit. There are a lot of enemies in the game that are afraid of the light and will flee from you if you approach them holding a light source, it feels nice to be chasing after something afraid of you for a change.
14 Below The Belt: Dark Souls 3
Everything is fair in Dark Souls, enemies won't show you any mercy nor will they pull any punches, plus after all the cheap tricks they'll lure you into you owe'em a few dirty punches back.
Which is why you should go for Vordt of the Boreal Valley's crotch.
Now I'm not advocating this, or even trying to pretend it's a fair tactic, but hell the dude freezes you solid if you lose your concentration for even a split second so if you think that warrants some low blows I won't stop you.
Once you're in close, and that hellish staff isn't as much of an issue as it was, you'll find that Vordt isn't very good at protecting his family jewels and should be easily killable.
13 Loot N Run: Dark Souls
It says something about the game when one of the best starting strategies involves just pell mell running through high-level areas like a lunatic grabbing everything that isn't nailed down.
If an anxiety fueled marathon sounds like your cup of tea, choose the Master Key as your starting boon, it gives you instant access to all the tough areas near the starting point, then run for your life through them grabbing as much as you can before being slain. You'll keep all the stuff you got, and it's a fast trip back to Firelink shrine.
I recommend for a more adrenaline inducing experience to make a beeline for the Dragon Crest Shield and Astora’s Straight Sword in the Valley of Drakes.
12 Deadly Drop: Dark Souls 2
The giant well in Majula is a tempting way to go early in the game, but can spell doom for a player who doesn't know the trick on how to get down it safely. The platforms down there might look very inviting, but an attempt to drop down it without the needed item is going to end up splattering your character's blood all over the bottom of it.
The proper way of getting down it is to go look through all of the houses until you find the cat merchant residing in one of them. He sells the Cat Ring (why a cat would need a ring is beyond me), and it severely lowers the amount of damage you take from falling, it's pretty expensive though so you may want to save up for it and come back later.
11 Put It Out Of Its Misery: Dark Souls 3 Ringed City DLC
The first boss you'll fight in the Ringed City DLC for Dark Souls 3 is actually a trio of bosses, The Demon From Below, The Demon In Pain and then The Demon Prince. It opens up with you fighting both TDFB and TDIP at the same time, they have the exact same move sets apart from one of them being on fire and the other one being covered in poison.
Killing one causes the survivour to transform into the Demon Prince and regenerate all its health and depending on which one you killed first it'll have a different move set and will either be fairly easy or soul crushingly hard.
You need to make sure you kill TDIP first, other wise the Demon Prince will be able to summon a giant ass meteor down on your head that is nearly impossible to dodge.
10 Darkroot Farm: Dark Souls
Everyone has a different favourite spot to farm souls in Dark Souls with various results, but what if I told you there was a safe place to farm a total of 7000 souls on every run by simply standing in one strategic spot with a small investment.
By spending 20,000 souls in order to buy the Crest of Artorias you can open up the way to Darkroot Garden, if you did the mad dash recommended previously in this article at the start of the game and resist the temptation to use the souls you gained to level up you should have enough at level 1 to do so.
Once you do draw the aggro of the Hunters in the garden then run back to the ledge near the stairs of the door and put your back to the cliff. When the Hunter's do their annoying "Jump over you move" they'll launch themselves right off the cliff.
9 Take A Deep Breath: Dark Souls
Dying sucks, but it happens. Much like the cycle of life, death in Dark Souls is unavoidable sometimes, maybe you got turned into mulch by a boss who's pattern you haven't figured out yet, maybe you turned a corner and found yourself eviscerated by a skeleton or perhaps you fell for an orange sign's advice of "valuable treasure below" and jumped off that ledge.
For whatever reason, though you've now lost hours of progress and a veritable treasure cache of souls, you'd been saving up for something nice. Before you go rushing off to touch your bloodstain though, stop a moment, take a deep breath and relax a little, if you're all stressed out you're only going to make more mistakes and lose more progress.
8 Lockstone: Dark Souls 2
The creepy faces you'll run across in the walls and the floor occasionally have a secret, with the right item they can be opened revealing hidden areas normally with some good loot or some sort of help with nearby areas, like lighting up a long dark hallway or allowing you to get nice and wet so you can survive a stroll through some lava to retrieve other chests and items.
To do so though you'll need a Pharros Lockstone which are consumed on use and can be tracked down in a few areas, the easiest way to get them is to try and farm them by going into the Royal Rat Authority boss fight, killing the small rats and grabbing the lockstone if they drop one, then teleporting out with a homeward bone to reset the fight and respawn the rats. Killing that boss locks you out from doing this though so be careful.
7 Fire Is Your Friend: Dark Souls 3
The Torch continues to be one of the most useful items in Dark Souls 3 as it can help you stave off maggots and leeches trying to cover your body and suck the blood right out of you.
If you're being covered in leeches equip the torch and take a few swings with it, boom, no more leeches, and now your bleed bar isn't being filled up anymore.
The same goes for things like Corpse Grubs and other maggot based monsters, hurling a firebomb or swinging at them with either fire based attacks or weaponry will cause them to freak right the heck out which makes fights against them much easier with less of a chance of you gaining the incredibly annoying bleed debuff.
6 The Rock's Cooking: Dark Souls
If you started with the Master Key as your boon (which of course you did since you're not an utter moron and you read this article from beginning to end), then you can do this fight fairly early on if you learn his attack patterns and are okay killing him by slowly chipping away at his high health.
Go to the watchtower in the undead burg and challenge the might Havel the Rock to a duel by simply showing up, he looks pretty intimidating in his full suit of armour, doesn't he? Good, he should be he's a rough fight early on but drops Havel's Ring which increases your max equip load by a ton, meaning you can wear heavy armour and still sprint around if you manage to kill him.
5 I'm Blue Badadeeba: Dark Souls 2
Sick of the red jerkwads who get their jollies on invading your game and ruining possible hours of progress? Fear not for so is the covenant named "The Way Of The Blue" and if you want an easy way to deal with invaders at a low level joining them is your best option.
Out near the ocean is a sad looking man who goes by the name of Saulden and talking to him unlocks the covenant for you to join. If you do anytime you're invaded the game will automatically summon a player or two who also follows your Blue Path so you can get immediate assistance and be guaranteed to have your would be attacker outnumbered thanks to Jolly Cooperation.
4 Mind The Gap: Dark Souls 3
If you've played Dark Souls 3, chances are you've sorted out the weird, tricky two level elevator in the Undead Settlement, but most people don't know that in between the middle floor and the top floor there's a hidden drop off point.
Time your exit carefully, and if you manage to survive the inevitable fall damage you're going to take you'll get access to a nice sized secret area with a hidden boss. Take him out (with Seigward's help), and you'll earn the right to loot the buildings on the far side of the area which contains a lot of attractive items just waiting to be claimed including The Chloranthy Ring and the Mirrah Set of armour.
3 Bolt From The Heavens: Dark Souls
Sen's Fortress is a trap filled torture zone filled with rolling rocks, arrow traps, false floors, and lizard people hoping to cook you into a nice soup (likely paired with a chilled white wine). So I don't blame you if you just say "Screw this crazy shenanigan filled place" and hightail it through as quick as you can. However, you should at least stay long enough to nab the Covetous Gold Serpent Ring and the Lightning Spear.
The ring majorly increases enemy drop rates and the Spear is probably one of the best first run weapons in the game since not a hell of a lot has resistance to lightning damage and spears are fairly easy to stun lock people with.
You can find the spear inside of a mimic somewhere in the fortress (half the fun is guessing which chest is the mimic!)
2 Vandalize Everything: Dark Souls 2
"Giant Chest Ahead" Read the orange symbol in Dark Souls as I met Gwynevere for the first time, it's stuck with me ever since (the chest too).
You've probably seen hilarious, helpful, or downright trickery in the orange messages that other players leave on the ground every now and then across the series. We've all likely fallen to the "Illusionary Wall Ahead" one at least once and while it can be tempting to trick other players into looking foolish as they swing their sword into a very real wall, Dark Souls 2 rewards you for good messages.
Drop a few helpful hints down and if someone rates it as "Good" you'll get your health instantly restored to full which can save you a few uses on your flask or a ton of healing items.
Just don't tell people to jump off ledges to their doom.
1 That No Pump A Rum: Dark Souls 3
Picklepum the crow will forever be my favourite merchant, and you can find her on the rooftop of Firelink shrine in Dark Souls 3 (see earlier in the article on how to get up there without spending the 20,000 souls). As always she takes an assortment of items and will trade you nice stuff for them.
Once you get up to her nest just drop the item you wanna give her into her nest and if she wants it she'll drop something else off for you to take, normally much more useful than what you gave her. Like giving her a firebomb gets you a Large Titanite Shard which is useful in crafting.
Like any good collector though, she only takes each item you give her once, she doesn't need doubles... what a crow needs with a Moaning Shield though I'm better off not knowing.