A lot of people probably decided to roll through one of the previous Souls games to get ready for Dark Souls III. My choice was Demon’s Souls, and not only did I gain a new appreciation for the game, I also ended up learning a lot more about it and probably Souls games in general.
The main reason I picked Demon’s is because with my first character I never really knew what I was doing. It was my first Souls game and I hadn’t really prioritized stats or gear or anything like that. I kind of just went with what seemed best. Going in with a more planned-out approach has had a massive difference that’s visible right on my file select screen. With my second character I made the same amount of progress as with my first character in terms of bosses defeated and levels gained, but in around half the time. And that “half the time” included some grinding.
In the process of this (and playing the first Dark Souls) I ended up realizing that in Souls, it’s really all about your weapon.
I don’t mean that as an absolute, but your weapon is probably what makes the single biggest difference when taking on challenging areas and bosses in these games. Second to that is probably simply knowing your environment and the patterns of enemies. I’d known for a while that your gear means at least as much as your stats and character level, if not more, but in Demon’s Souls at least that really just means your weapon.
This was kind of the case for me in Dark Souls as well. In the end that game wasn’t extremely difficult for me because an enemy happened to drop an extremely good weapon early on, and I spent the rest of the game building my character to best take advantage of that weapon. Fully upgraded, it got me through pretty much the entire second half of the game. Maybe some people start learning this when the Drake Sword begins to fail them in Sen’s Fortress.
So before starting Demon’s Souls I asked around about the best weapons for a strength build and ended up in a somewhat similar situation after I got the weapon drop I wanted and fully upgraded it. However, I also started investigating enemy and boss weaknesses and started building up a whole arsenal of different weapons with different attributes for different situations. This process actually caused me to go through the levels of Demon’s Souls in a nonlinear order determined by where the crafting components were. It’s kind of like figuring out the optimal boss order in a Mega Man game (I’ve compared Dark Souls to Mega Man X before). If I did grind a lot, I only grinded for crafting components, not to gain levels. Now, in the middle of a new game plus, remembering the challenges of all the boss fights, I find myself gathering gear and crafting stones in preparation for bosses I know are still hours away.
The thing is though, I could go into Demon’s Souls and to a lesser extent Dark Souls like this because of the existing knowledge base for each game. I’m going into Dark Souls III pretty much raw. There will be paper guides I imagine and people are already exploring the Japanese version, but a month’s worth of shared knowledge probably won’t measure up to seven years’ worth.
Still, it’s adjusted my mindset when thinking about how I’ll go into Dark Souls III.
- This game was pretty cool when I played it back in the day. Now it’s free: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id419572408?mt=8