10 Tips for Dark Souls II: A Guide for the Cursed
Posted on Wednesday, March 12 @ 04:30:00 PST by Nicholas Tan
1. Prepare to die a lot. But don't give up and don't lose heart.
The Souls series has always been about conquering tough enemies and even tougher bosses. No matter your experience with the prior Souls titles, you will die many, many times, perhaps unfairly so, but most of the time you'll die because you made a mistake. Almost every enemy is monstrous and powerful enough to end you in a few hits, but is slow enough that you can read its attack patterns.
Sometimes it's best just to wait for the opponent to show its hand and block with a shield to see where there's an opening. Usually, the best place to counter is right after the enemy performs an attack string and needs to recover before resetting to its default stance. Remember that even if your attack lands, it will make you vulnerable to their attacks as well while you recover, and you'll likely deal less damage than your opponents. So stay on guard, don't get greedy, watch for telegraphs, and nail the timing.
2. Lock on and circle strafe close.
If you're having trouble with a boss or giant grunt with a ridiculously long melee weapon, usually the best option is to lock on to the enemy and then strafe around the enemy. Sometimes the best strategy is to play keep away and dodge back or to the side if the enemy lunges forward.
But don't forget that, though it seems like the worst idea ever, you can move in and circle strafe close. Most bosses have a blind spot near their legs, so dodging forward or getting close to an enemy can open up areas for attack very easily. Just remember to keep your shield up just in case, and to look at your weapon load and make sure that it's under 70% so that you can move fast or at least under 100% to make sure you're not overcumbered. Sometimes having too much armor will work against you, and your maneuverability and dodging will be too slow.
3. Pull enemies one by one if possible.
There's nothing worse in Dark Souls II than being surrounded and overwhelmed. Taking out a bunch of grunts is usually a battle of attrition that you can muster, but getting ganged up by four hulking warriors wielding greatswords and dual-whips is no bueno. So of course, being able to pick off enemies one by one as much as possible is key.
Most of the time the game is quite generous with spacing between enemies, but there are few groups that will attack all at once. Separating them means being patient and pulling one at a time, not far from aggro control in an MMO, either with an arrow shot or a soul arrow from a staff. So long as you've cleared the area behind you, use the open space to your advantage and pull enemies into it.
4. Keep your human effigies for as long as you can.
If you don't know already, dying in Dark Souls II turns your character hollow and your maximum HP reduces by 5%. It doesn't matter whether you can retrieve your soul and regain your lost souls; that 5% loss in HP remains. And it can stack up to a total loss of 50%. The only way to restore this condition to use a human effigy, so don't be so eager to use one if you think you can get through with the HP penalty.
That said, you'll need to be a human in order to summon NPCs, which may be pivotal for boss fights. Either way, it's in your best interest to save your human effigies and not use them unless you absolutely must, as the number of effigies in limited in supply. If you're running out, you can purchase five from the vendor in the middle of the forest area (right next to the second bonfire) or you can farm for effigies through loot drops but they're random at best.
5. Don't feel bad for grinding near bonfires.
Certainly, learning the core fundamentals of combat is far more beneficial than grinding, but sometimes you have no choice but to accumulate some souls to increase some attributes, if just to equip weapons and armor than require a certain amount of strength and dexterity. The same goes for spells, hexes, and miracles that need a minimum of intuition and faith. Of course, increasing vigor never hurts as well for pure HP points.
Whenever you use a bonfire, enemies respawn in the area so sticking close to a bonfire is a good idea for grinding out enough souls so that you can level up by talking to the woman known as the Emerald Herald close to the bonfire in Majula. It doesn't take that many souls to level up either, so certainly take the time to hack on a handful of grunts and giants at your leisure. Just be aware that if you kill a particular enemy about fifteen times, it will stop respwaning.
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