Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dark Souls: Play Smarter (Play Cautiously)

Quote by Bruce Lee

Dark Souls makes no qualms about being a difficult game.  The world is dangerous and it wastes no time in telling you that.  It is a series where dying is a fact of life but also of gameplay.  You play either as a soul trapped within the Nexus beneath the confines of the Arch Demon ravaged world ala Demon's Souls.  Alternatively in Dark Souls you play as one cursed by undeath seeking to restore your humanity and rekindle the fire left in the world.  Dying is expected of you as it is deeply ingrained into these settings.  Those that die too often, that lose their humanity become hollow twisted versions of themselves, even NPCs can fall victim to this.  Death is not the end of the world.  Instead dying teaches you; it teaches you not to make that mistake again.  Should you possess the skill and the patience to return to where you perished you may reclaim all the souls (universal experience and monetary unit) and humanity (universal gameplay unit) that you had lost.  In this respect you are encouraged to keep playing, to get back to where you slipped up and start again without having starting anew.  Death does not impede progress, it makes you more prepared for what else awaits in your journey.  Death is the key to becoming great and fulfilling your destiny.  Death will force you to be smarter, and you will grow to be very cautious.

Swift Death from the upcoming Dark Souls 2

The first lesson in caution that any player will learn is to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew.  Once you've tackled your first few enemies you begin to learn their patterns, their strengths and weaknesses but once you've got multiple foes it becomes a whole other ball game.  Look no further than the most deadly representation of flanking I've experienced.  Keeping two enemies in your view is difficult but once you've exposed your flank you can expect punishment to follow suit.

Should you display your enticing backside a backstab can easily wipe out what little health you have remaining if not kill you outright.  It gets far worse when you introduce agile enemies into the mix, dogs and royal knights, giant mosquitos and leaping basilisks; keeping locked on one will surely mean another gets to blindside you.  A cautious player will try to lure as few enemies as possible and he will quickly learn the limit to the amount of foes they can handle at once.

It is important to try and pick your battles and to get the right terrain for you.  One that is familiar ground so there will be no unexpected surprises.  One where you can minimize your weaknesses or provides a great if temporary advantage.  Consider ledges that will allow you to drop down and impale slower enemies (or at the very least access to their unprotected backside), higher elevations can also let you lob throwing weapons farther, weakening enemies from a distance before you are forced to deal with them in the perilous world of hand-to-hand combat.

Pick off enemies whenever you can but don't waste arrows on easily dispatched or foes that are simply too hardy

You can try to keep your back to the wall, to keep an easy line of sight of approaching enemies, but you are hamstringing your mobility, if you become trapped in a corner don't expect to emerge unscathed (if at all).  Try to lure enemies into choke points whenever you can so you can face off against them one at a time.  Be very mindful of your stamina because expending too much can clear some enemies but will leave you without the ability to tuck and roll and your shield arm to weak to fend off any of the foes your hacking and slashing did not vanquish.  Spend too much stamina and the next attack will crash through your shield leaving you completely open to be pin cushioned.

Sometimes you can't quite keep your wits about you, you may run away to a safer vantage or maneuver yourself into a better position.  Sometimes this new position will draw more enemies with the sound of combat or the sight of you; even worse you may have stumbled into a room full of enemies or an ambush.  You may try to exit a crowded close quarters room only to find more enemies waiting outside and those on the roof throwing flaming oil on you from above. It is important to take note of your surroundings and retreat rather than press forward.  You never quite know what's on the other side but you can be assured that is likely as bad if not worse than what you currently face.  Always clear a room of its pesky inhabitants before blazing through until you're familiar with the area, you don't want anything blocking your escape or coming up on you from behind.  Run if you have to but remember if you run past you're going out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Continue to Part 3 here:

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