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8 survival tips for Dark Souls II

8 survival tips for Dark Souls II
Jan-Hendrik Fleischer

Jan-Hendrik Fleischer

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Dark Souls 2 is currently one of the most difficult games on the market. To spare you a little heartache, we’ve put together a few survival tips to help you make it through, but remember, dying over and over again are part of the normal learning process in this relentless action role-player.

Tip 1: In calmness lies strength

The nasty part of Dark Souls 2 is that around every corner, a monster might be lurking, and that’s often exactly what happens. Make sure not to run blindly into a trap and remember that your character takes a great deal of damage if attacked from behind. If you get off on the wrong foot with a particular creature, don’t retaliate straight away–instead, take a break and try again.

Tip 2: Dodge properly

Only those who learn to dodge correctly will do well in Dark Souls 2. It doesn’t matter which class you’re in. In the beginning, without any training, no one is strong enough to defeat enemies in a frontal fight with shield and armor alone. The pike roll is an important alternative; the advantage of rolling at the right moment means that you can avoid attacks. For a split second, you’re not as vulnerable.

Start to dodge as soon as the opponent starts to draw their weapon. At the right moment, roll under the arc of their strike. A disadvantage of the roll? Every roll consumes stamina, which you need for attacking. It makes sense to combine rolling and normal evasive moves as much as possible. This requires a lot of practice, but the earlier you start practicing this move, the easier Dark Souls 2 is later.

Dark Souls 2 - Evade

Rolling allows you to dodge enemy blows

Tip 3: Know your opponent

In order to dodge properly, it’s vital that you know your enemy. Each has its own attack pattern; if an opponent raises his shield and then always goes for a shock attack with its spear, that’s valuable information. Use it to dodge and launch a clever counterattack.

Tip 4: The right equipment

Don’t overload yourself. If you’re too heavy, you can’t roll and it’s difficult to dodge. Balance your equipment and stamina value so that your mobility isn’t impaired. Also, make use of equipment availability and assign different weapons– this means that you can quickly switch weapons if (and when) an ax or dagger breaks in combat. If your only sword is broken, it loses much of its attack power and weakens you in battles to come.

You need to be equipped with a shield to defend against blows, which can’t be avoided any other way, but it’s important to lower the shield as soon as it’s no longer needed. If you don’t, your stamina will recover slowly. If you let this happen, you don’t have strength for blocking the next blow, attacking or to rolling.

Tip 5: Keep your distance

The enemies in Dark Souls 2 have limited sight. Leverage this to your advantage by singling out opponents and avoiding group combat. Fire an arrow at an individual and lure them out into an open area so that you have as much freedom of movement as possible. Fighting enemies individually is much easier than being surrounded.

Dark Souls 2 - Combat

Keep your distance: Lure enemies away individually to make fights easier

Tip 6: Use your surroundings

Have you ever thrown a ferocious beast off a cliff? It’s a perfect example of turning the tables and using the environment to your advantage. Often, you can lure an enemy to the top of a cliff and watch as they slip into the abyss. A proven strategy is also to attract large enemies into bottlenecks where they can’t get through. From there, you can fight them safely from a distance. Access them with your bow or magic.

Tip 7: Use your souls

Souls are a volatile commodity that you shouldn’t carry around with you, and it’s even worse when you lose  them unnecessarily. Use the souls you gain as quickly as you can to advance to the next level or buy items that benefit you on your travels.

Tip 8: Use the campfire tactically

Campfires are all-in-one tools in Dark Souls 2. You can use them to heal you, do simple repairs to armor and weapons, replenish spells, and travel the world. On top of that, they are spawn points. By building a campfire near a tough spot, you can save yourself unnecessary trips and running around.

Dark Souls 2 - Bonfire

Campfires provide health, repair armor and restore spells

Conclusion: Patience brings success

Following these tips should help you get to grips with Dark Souls 2 pretty quickly, where every death is a lesson from which you can learn and improve. You may gain some experience only to reach the boss again and die, but you’ll have learned something too. In this eternal cycle, you’ll evolve into a skillful player who the demons fear, not vice versa.

Read our review of Dark Souls 2.

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Jan-Hendrik Fleischer

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