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Subject: Into the mincer ... fresh meat plays Dark Souls (CONTAINS SPOILERS!) rss

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Simon Woodward
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SESSION 1

There's a been a lot of talk about this game (just look at the forum activity on VGG!) and I thought I'd give it a whirl; not expecting to get very far, as I probably don't have the dedication or patience or reflexes for it.

First up I am struck by how bad it looks; it reminds me of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and not in a good way. I'd heard this was more polished than Demons Souls, but I understand now that this doesn't mean it's actually polished.

I chose a Warrior, with health regen bonus (I always like health regen).

So the tutorial stage. Hmm I like how they deliver the tutorial, that's really clever, I haven't seen that before.

I wonder what the significance of these misty barriers is.

Beat the boss after a few attempts, obviously still figuring out the button layout, which is a little nonstandard.

And onto the main game. Met a couple of skeletons, who killed me; maybe that number above their head is their level!

0:45 hours.
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Simon Woodward
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A primer:

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=13286...

Hmm, maybe I should restart with a different class. I'm finding the Warrior a bit slow. I want to dodge, and run away!

Ah right, so bonfires are NOT save points.
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manukajoe wrote:

First up I am struck by how bad it looks; it reminds me of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and not in a good way. I'd heard this was more polished than Demons Souls, but I understand now that this doesn't mean it's actually polished.


Yeah, the textures in DS1 look like ass. The game does have beauty in it's own way but you need to get used to the game's resolution issues before that becomes apparent.

Quote:
I chose a Warrior, with health regen bonus (I always like health regen).


The Warrior is a good choice for a new player, ultimately the only difference between characters is stat point distribution. I can only assume you took the Tiny Being's Ring, not a *bad* starting gift but it doesn't do what the item description claims. It actually gives a small boost to max health not a regen effect.

Quote:
Hmm, maybe I should restart with a different class. I'm finding the Warrior a bit slow. I want to dodge, and run away!


The game doesn't explain this, so I don't consider it a spoiler. Mobility is affected by your equip burden. You absolutely want to keep it under 50%, and many prefer to stay under 25% (in DS1 those are "hard" points, there is no difference between being at 26% vs 49% ... although there are a few "faster" levels below 25% ).
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Good luck with this one Simon! I also picked it up because of all the praise and activity it was getting on here. I dropped Dark Souls real fast though. Tried out every character and didn't like any of them. Then I felt cheated after the first boss. The lore is wonderful, but the gameplay just isn't for me.
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Best of luck, Simon!

Since you're thinking of restarting, I'll share something else the game doesn't bother to explain. The Tiny Being's ring does not regenerate health. It gives you a few additional hit points, and that is all.
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manukajoe wrote:

First up I am struck by how bad it looks; it reminds me of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and not in a good way. I'd heard this was more polished than Demons Souls, but I understand now that this doesn't mean it's actually polished.


I think if you put Dark Souls and Oblivion side by side that would be a stretch. laugh

But yes, generally, these games are a bit behind their release dates in terms of technical presentation. However the sense of atmosphere is pretty incredible so I think they make up for it.

As for saving, Dark Souls continually saves your "progress," but is designed around a two-death system that gives you one chance at recovering your souls if you are defeated in battle. Bonfires restore your HP, allow you to level up, refill your Estus Flask, and function as a geographical checkpoint.

Basically, you never have to worry about saving, but you always have to worry about dying.

Don't psych yourself out too much if you lose a few souls here and there, but definitely don't hoard them either and don't be afraid to do some light back-tracking and spend them down if you want to be on the safe side.

A lot of what you will read online implies that Dark Souls is "difficult" in the sense of technical execution (precise and complicated button inputs with strict timing). That's not very accurate. What Dark Souls really stamps out is recklessness. Take it slow, size up the situation, don't walk around blind corners without your guard up etc. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Think about how you are positioning yourself in the space.

Don't sweat the starting classes too much. The stat differences point in a certain direction for future development, but you can develop your character however you want.

If you're inclined away from a tank-like two-hander, consider a mage or a one-handed sword style (or both in one).
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Simon Woodward
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Why do they give the Warrior a Heater Shield and a Longsword, when they can't be used together (since Longsword is two handed)?
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Todd Pytel
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Weapons aren't necessarily one- or two-handed in DS. They simply have a stat requirement, and wielding two-handed gives you a bonus towards meeting that requirement. (Probably that's only for STR weapons, but I don't remember.) So if you have enough STR, you'll be able to wield the sword one-handed. Maybe you can already - there's a button press (triangle, I think?) to toggle between one and two handed use. Maybe you've toggled into two-handed without realizing it.

As others have noted, your starting class choice isn't nearly as important as it is in most games. It just determines your starting equipment and initial stat spread, which pushes you into a certain combat style early on. But in the long run it matters very little.

Otherwise, lots of good advice from JRJ. It's not a demanding game in terms of reflexes or button pressing. But you have to pay careful attention to your enemies and really think about what you're doing. The game brutally punishes recklessness.
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Simon Woodward
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SESSION 2

Oh ok pressing T toggles one handed/two handed. S uses the item. Got the longsword-shield combo working well now.

Ok if you die you drop your souls collected and respawn at last bonfire. And enemies respawn too. Sadly.

How do I deal with those bloody firebombs? Where can I get a ranged weapon? Where am I going?

I'm sick of fighting the same enemies over and over. I've got to the Taurus Demon twice out of about 10 attempts.

I don't mind levels in games where you have to do everything right, but not sure I can stomach a game where the whole game is like that. Reminds me of tough platformers like Donkey Kong Country Returns.

2:00 hours.
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Todd Pytel
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manukajoe wrote:
I'm sick of fighting the same enemies over and over. I've got to the Taurus Demon twice out of about 10 attempts.

This suggests that you're trying to rush and you're not learning enough about the enemies you're fighting. You may get yourself killed the first, second, third... fortieth time you encounter a patch of enemies you haven't mastered yet. No problem. But once you figure out how a certain group of enemies moves and attacks, you should be able to reliably (95%) pass them. If you're saying "I've got to get to the boss" in your head, then you're probably not paying close enough attention. Focus on the task at hand and do it really well, because everything in DS can kill you.

This is "fun".
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manukajoe wrote:
SESSION 2

Oh ok pressing T toggles one handed/two handed. S uses the item.

Ok if you die you lose respawn at last bonfire. And enemies respawn too.

How do I deal with those bloody firebombs? Where can I get a ranged weapon? Where am I going?

I'm sick of fighting the same enemies over and over. I've got to the Taurus Demon twice out of about 10 attempts.


One other quick note, resting at a bonfire also respawns enemies. For firebombs, don't get hit -- learn roughly where they'll be thrown then run through afterwards or beforehand (or cheese the thrower from range once you have a bow). You get a 50% bonus to strength (for both requirements and damage scaling) if you use a weapon with both hands.

Here's some light undead burg ranged weapon spoilers:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
There's a light crossbow you can pick up in Undead Burg if you explore a lot-- alternatively they can drop from the crossbow users as loot. You can buy a short bow from Undead Male Merchant (back down from the bonfire, cross the bridge and fight the two shield users, break the boxes to reveal a staircase, and be careful.)
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Todd Pytel
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cylonathalf wrote:
For firebombs, don't get hit -- learn roughly where they'll be thrown then run through afterwards or beforehand...

That's what I would've suggested too, but I was hoping he'd figure it out himself.

While it's possible to use ranged weapons, I think it will be much more efficient to learn and abuse the enemy's patterns. For various reasons, the game doesn't particularly reward dabbling in other combat styles. A melee warrior can sometimes solve a problem with a bow, but it's usually the slow way around. I can only think of one location in the whole game (Sen's Fortress) where I found a ranged attack was almost necessary, and that was only for a couple of specific enemies. In general, focus on doing your thing well rather than looking for different gear to solve a problem.
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I actually disagree almost completely with that advice. Any build should have efficient ways of attacking both up-close and at range. Strength builds are probably the worst at range, but they've got crossbows, and high STR lets you use the more exotic ones.

You really don't want to be without either melee or ranged combat abilities.
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Maybe it's just a difference in styles. You certainly need some option for melee if you're mostly playing ranged, because enemies aren't just going to sit there and suck up your arrows or spells. But I never felt ranged attacks were all that helpful for my melee warriors except for those one or two spots. In any event, you don't have a lot of gear options that early in the game, especially if you're playing unspoiled. (It's not obvious for new players whether that spot with the crossbow is accessible at that point.) In the specific case of the undead firebombers, I'm quite sure that learning their patterns and running at the right time is faster than dinking around with a crappy bow.
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I played through Dark Souls the first time focused on Sorcery. However, I had a lot of applicable knowledge coming off of Demon's Souls. Also, midway through that run I had a decent enchanted longsword so it was more of a hybrid style. I believe I used the spider shield as well... pretty decent blocking.

The second time I played through the game, I used a heavily armored Zweihander/Great Club build, flattening everything with slow, powerful and far-reaching blows (no shield). But I think I would have failed pretty badly trying to do that the first time out.

I only used bows occasionally with my third and final Faith/Dex build that was oriented around Darkmoon Blade (most powerful weapon buff in the game... fairly specialized).

Firebomb enemies are a bit annoying at first but once you are familiar with them it's feasible to just roll/dodge your way into close quarters and take them down before they can do much.
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tppytel wrote:
Maybe it's just a difference in styles. You certainly need some option for melee if you're mostly playing ranged, because enemies aren't just going to sit there and suck up your arrows or spells. But I never felt ranged attacks were all that helpful for my melee warriors except for those one or two spots. In any event, you don't have a lot of gear options that early in the game, especially if you're playing unspoiled. (It's not obvious for new players whether that spot with the crossbow is accessible at that point.) In the specific case of the undead firebombers, I'm quite sure that learning their patterns and running at the right time is faster than dinking around with a crappy bow.

Ranged options are always helpful, just because of how they let you manipulate aggro.

All four damage stats have both a melee and a ranged option associated with them. Str has large weapons and (likely elemental) crossbows (yeah, no scaling, but the better crossbows have high STR requirements, so it's six of one and a half-dozen of the other); Dex has curved swords, daggers, and bows; Int has magic/enchanted weapons and spells; Faith has Divine/Occult weapons and some miracles such as Sunlight Spear. Even Vit/End gouge builds have elemental weapons (both melee and ranged) to get around the need for stat scaling.

Most of your power in Dark Souls comes from your gear, not your stats, and if you stubbornly stick to one gear setup, the game will find a way to punish you for it. Don't want to tank? Here's Four Kings and Kalameet. Don't want to abandon your shield and 2-Hand? Here's Smough and Gaping Dragon. Don't want to play light-armored and rely on well-timed rolls? Here's Artorias and Gwyn. Any one setup is going to struggle somewhere; but you have almost infinite flexibility at your fingertips, no matter your build, if you look for it (as long as you don't do something weird like "no points in Endurance" or "No points in Vitality").
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Cynical wrote:
...if you stubbornly stick to one gear setup, the game will find a way to punish you for it.

Eh... I don't completely disagree, but I feel this is an overstatement. However, I'm not going to argue the point further, as I think too much talk from experienced players can distract new players from enjoying their first encounter with the game. He'll either find his own tactics and adaptations or decide it's too much work and give up... that's the way it is with Dark Souls.

edit: As JRJ implies, much of this discussion takes on completely new depths as you become more experienced and look for ways to progress more efficiently. The sense of discovery on so many levels is the best thing about Dark Souls. I think we should let the OP discover the game himself.
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tppytel wrote:
edit: As JRJ implies, much of this discussion takes on completely new depths as you become more experienced and look for ways to progress more efficiently. The sense of discovery on so many levels is the best thing about Dark Souls. I think we should let the OP discover the game himself.

I'm not certain I entirely agree. I'd agree that discovering the world is part of the fun, but one of the reasons I have more fun with each successive game in the series is that a better understanding of how to turn the gears on the system makes me more able to create characters that are fun to play.
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Simon, have you considered picking up Dragon's Dogma? It is "tough but fair" in a way that is very different from Dark Souls.
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manukajoe wrote:
And enemies respawn too.


You want this to happen - this is how you get your skills up. Every time I get to a fog wall I ask myself "Do I want to: A) lose these souls or B) use them to get stronger?" Then I go back to the bonfire and reload the enemies and do it all over. When you're no longer making significant progress towards the next level in one trip, start attempting the boss.

Playing this game for the first time will probably require a lot of grinding - you also get materials for upgrades this way. It's kind of an outdated idea, but I guess it's what all of us Dark Souls fans wanted without even knowing it.

Also, don't be afraid to summon help before entering a boss room - I firmly believe that many of the bosses aren't meant to be fought solo. If they had been, the designer wouldn't have included this feature.
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Ciaran wrote:
manukajoe wrote:
And enemies respawn too.


You want this to happen - this is how you get your skills up. Every time I get to a fog wall I ask myself "Do I want to: A) lose these souls or B) use them to get stronger?" Then I go back to the bonfire and reload the enemies and do it all over. When you're no longer making significant progress towards the next level in one trip, start attempting the boss.

Playing this game for the first time will probably require a lot of grinding - you also get materials for upgrades this way. It's kind of an outdated idea, but I guess it's what all of us Dark Souls fans wanted without even knowing it.

Also, don't be afraid to summon help before entering a boss room - I firmly believe that many of the bosses aren't meant to be fought solo. If they had been, the designer wouldn't have included this feature.

Nah, there's no need to grind like that. Souls from boss kills alone will level you up plenty. Experience from DS2 tells me that the games get easier if enemies stop respawning (and From knew it too, hence why that game's hard mode turns off the limited respawn mechanic).

I strongly doubt that any of the bosses weren't meant to be fought solo. There's only two bosses in the entire game whose AI can even handle two people, and one of those is harder if you summon someone than if you solo them. Every boss in Dark Souls is readily killable without summons.
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Ciaran wrote:
manukajoe wrote:
And enemies respawn too.


You want this to happen - this is how you get your skills up. Every time I get to a fog wall I ask myself "Do I want to: A) lose these souls or B) use them to get stronger?" Then I go back to the bonfire and reload the enemies and do it all over. When you're no longer making significant progress towards the next level in one trip, start attempting the boss.

Playing this game for the first time will probably require a lot of grinding - you also get materials for upgrades this way. It's kind of an outdated idea, but I guess it's what all of us Dark Souls fans wanted without even knowing it.


I almost never grinded for souls. I certainly didn't want to be grinding for souls. laugh

Although in later runs I did get copious amounts of extra souls by helping other players out against bosses in co-op, but that's just because I thought it was fun to team up against bosses and help people who were stuck.
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Cynical wrote:
Every boss in Dark Souls is readily killable without summons.

They are definitely killable but the word "readily" means "quickly or easily."

We are posting in the thread of a player who is new to the Dark Souls series - I would like him to give the game a fair chance despite its high level of difficulty. I don't think implying that the bosses are easy is the best way to go about this, especially since the vast majority of players think they are brutally hard.

Yes, there are builds and techniques that can make the game a cakewalk. Most people aren't going to luck into these on their first time through, and you're missing out on a lot of the fun if you look up these strategies. I built my first character as a heavy shielded tank, thinking that the game designers would allow any build to be viable - bad move. Trying to fight O&S with no mobility was an exercise in futility.

This is when I finally turned to summoning help...my buddy died near the end of the fight, and I barely won with a sliver of health remaining. Then I realized what a stubborn ass I had been for most of the game. There are so many bosses that consist of multiple mobs - the gargoyles, Capra demon, Pinwheel, Nito - and many others that would turn too quickly for me to get past their defenses as a heavily armored character.

I originally viewed it as a crutch, but summoning is an integral part of the game design - it's also the focus of one of the covenants. Avoiding it completely is like not playing the full game.
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There's a grand total of two non-DLC bosses that have any difficult execution associated with them if you have a reasonable strategy (and by strategy, I don't mean "character build", but rather things that almost any build can do, such as "select gear according to X criteria, place yourself in position Y, attack at times A, B, and C").

You have a button that gives you a full quarter second of invincibility while moving you out of danger whenever you want. Raw execution difficulty is almost non-existent in Dark Souls. It's all about not choking under pressure.
 
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