So you’ve made the decision to purchase Dark Souls 3 after watching every trailer, with your friends peer pressuring you through each one. Dark Souls is known as one of the most challenging video game franchises available — and rightfully so. It’s a game that tests your patience, rewarding you for effort with an overflowing feeling of success once you pass a test, whether it’s a boss, challenging area, or environmental obstacle.

But with a complex RPG-like system and loyal player base adept in the ways of the Dark Souls franchise, there’s a few things we here at Inverse think you should know.

Explore Every Corner

Useful items are littered across the landscape for you to take advantage of. 

Dark Souls games are always filled with hundreds of secrets, and Dark Souls 3 is no exception. While it may be intimidating to explore every nook and cranny of any given area (given limited health recovery and difficult enemies) make sure to take the time anyway. Many of these areas are littered with useful items and unique weapons that can make your journey much easier than sprinting from boss to boss.

Pick a Character Build and Stick to It

Character builds in souls titles are extremely important to prepare and stick to. 

Dark Souls is a game rooted within traditional RPGs, which means your character build is extremely important the further you advance in the game. While you’re starting class doesn’t really matter because any character can evolve into any role, it’s important to consider what type of build you want and allocate your levels according to that build.

For example, I personally chose to build a paladin-type character that focuses on melee damage, armored defense, and faith-based spells. As a result, I’m going to be allocating points into Attunement (for additional spells slots), Vitality (for more equipment load), Strength (for heavier shields and weapons), and Faith (to cast healing and lightning spells). I’ll also be putting points in Vigor and Endurance as well for increases to my base health and stamina values.

By sticking to a set build you’re going to create a more powerful, focused character which will make your life towards the end of the game (and in subsequent playthroughs of new game plus) much easier to live with. Don’t worry about it if you’ve already started to throw random points into different attributes though because you will be able to redistribute your points within Dark Souls 3.

That said, if you’re having a tough time I’d recommend starting out as a knight or pyromancer. The knight has a shield, longsword and very protective set of armor alongside good attributes from the beginning, while the pryomancer gives you the ability to cast some powerful spells early on.

You’re Going to Die, Don’t Worry About It

If you have the patience to kill this crystal lizard in the starting area, make sure to do so for a rare crafting item early on. 

Dark Souls games are designed to be a learning experience with death being an integral part of the process. In Dark Souls 3 you are going to die a lot during your first playthrough because you’re learning the areas, boss encounters and various mechanics behind each of the new enemies. While you occasionally might make it through unscathed on the first try, don’t get discouraged by continuous deaths because you are meant to learn from them and improve your next attempt. Plus, it makes you feel much more satisfied when you finally kill the boss who took you down so many times.

Contrary to popular belief, death has meaning in the Souls franchise and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for learning from it.

Summon Cooperative Buddies to Help You

Buddies always make the pain of navigating a new area a little more bearable. 

Like previous installments in the franchise, Dark Souls 3 has a summoning system that allows you to pull other players into your world to help you navigate difficult areas or kill bosses. In order to gain access to the system, you’ll have to consume an Ember and then touch one of the various summon signs placed by another player. This will summon them into your world to help you until the boss of the area has been killed or until they die themselves. While many hardcore players opt to avoid cooperative play for the sake of a ‘true souls experience’, it’s a fun alternative to beating your head against a boss for hours.

Interact with Every NPC

Always happy to see Andre back at work. 

Every NPC in Dark Souls is an integral part of the lore behind the franchise whether they are a returning face or a new one. Speak with every single NPC and exhaust their dialogue while playing through Dark Souls 3 because they help to provide valuable insight about the world around you as you play - fleshing out stories about the bosses you’re working to kill, discussing the history of a weapon you might have discovered, or providing you with unique items and benefits that you won’t find anywhere else.

Practice and Utilize Critical Hits

Successfully parrying a boss attack takes practice, but is worth the damage return. 

While it may take plenty of practice to get the timing and movement down perfectly, using critical hits is key to mastering combat in Dark Souls 3. By parrying at the exact moment an enemies weapon connects with you, you’ll force them down into a vulnerable state for a brief second allowing you to perform a critical attack for a heap of bonus damage. This applies to a handful of bosses in Dark Souls 3 along with most normal enemies, which is a welcome change of pace similar to Bloodborne’s visceral attacks.

These attacks can also be performed on many normal enemies if you strike them from behind as well, granting you a brief window of invulnerability while you finish your strike.

Hit Every Chest Once Before Opening Them

Loot chests aren't always your best friend. 

Every time you find a loot chest in Dark Souls 3 remember to take one swing at it to see if it wants to kill you. Many chests in the game are actually traps that turn into difficult monsters when you try to open them. Most of the time, opening a chest means your death - although some have been known to survive it. Either way, it’s always worth a swing to keep you alive.

Photos via Nicholas Bashore