Dark Souls: Melee Guide - Guide for Dark Souls

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Dark Souls In Depth Melee Guide
Version 01
October 25, 2011
By: Akiba "the Krazed"
[email protected]


Table of Contents

Use CTRL+F and type in the number enclosed in brackets to jump to a certain 

[0] Table of Contents

1 to 5 are Basics

[1] Before you start
[2] Introduction
[3] Equipments (Armors and Weapons)
 [3.1] Stamina Guage Basic Knowledge
 [3.2] Attacking and Stamina
 [3.3] Blocking and Stamina
[4] Line of Swing
 [4.1] Swinging Weapons
 [4.2] Stabbing Weapons
[5] Stagger and Poise

From here on are techniques

[6] Defensive - Take it slow
 [6.1] Block then attack
 [6.2] Just Block
 [6.3] Wait for a parry
[7] Offensive - Up close and personal
 [7.1] Steal a step
 [7.2] OverPower
 ----Short Notes on Lock-on System----
 [7.3] Back Stab Baiting
[8] Common Mistakes


[1] Before you start

I assume that you know and understand the controls and basic functions of the
commands / buttons, as well as how each attribute or equipment works.

I am just going to discuss the concepts of combat system
in Dark Souls especially Melee (sword and shield) and 2-handed

Feel Free to Skip to Techniques (6) onward if you already know the basics


[2] Introduction

I would like to thank everyone that makes this game enjoyable.
Thank you for reading this guide.

This is an in-depth guide concerning ONLY MELEE combat.

I feel that many new players have difficulties just trying to survive each
combat, each opponent. You must be aware that EACH opponent no matter how weak
they may seem, are capable of killing you. 

This what makes the game great and somewhat a realistic concept.
You are not a hero, you are just a guy.


[3] Stamina Management

[3.1] Stamina Guage Basic Knowledge

-You spend "stamina" (the green bar) for each attack, block, dodge, sprint that
you perform.

-Stamina regenerates slowers with your shield held up.
-If you completely or overspend your stamina, you will need to wait until it
is fully regenerated until you can sprint again (be careful!)

-The lighter your total equipment load (weights), the faster your stamina
regenerates, and vice versa

[3.2] Attacking and Stamina

-Swinging a weapon with 2 hand takes more stamina than with 1 hand
-You can still perform an attack 1 more time if you have any Stamina left,
even if it will be an overspend.

[3.3] Blocking and Stamina

-The bigger (heavier) the shield, the less Stamina it takes to block an attack.

-The Heavier the attack, the more Stamina it takes to block.
Ex: You can break opponent's guard faster/easier if you attack with a 2-handed
swing rather than 1-handed, which might not break guard at all.

-If your stamina is depleted while blocking, your guard will break and the next
attack will hit you. You will not be able to roll out of the combos either.

-Blocking Magic, Fire, Lightning attack depletes more stamina than physical
attacks, and also depending on the resistance of your shield vs that attacks.

-Black Knights and Tough enemies have a move called "Shield Bash", using their
shield to hit you which GREATLY depletes your Stamina Guage while blocking and
MOST Likely to Break your guard.

[4] Line of Swing 

Having trouble hitting the annoying flies?
Can't seem to hit the slimes or leeches?
You should be aware of how weapons are swung.

Note: Assuming your main weapon is in Right Hand

Vertical Attacks:
-Swinging a right hand weapon by lifting it up and swing it all the way down
-2nd attack reverses the 1st strike (upward swing)

Horizontal Attacks:
-Swinging a right hand weapon from its readied position from right to left.
-2nd attack reverses the 1st strike (swung left to right)
-Hits Ground Targets (slimes) and Nearby Flying Targets (flies)

Diagonal Attacks:
-Swinging a right hand weapon from user's right shoulder downward to the front
of his left leg
-2nd strikes reverses the swing

Stabbing Attacks:
-Straight attack forward from user to target without swinging.
A very fast, but narrow attack.

[4.1] Swinging Weapons

Weapons such as Daggers, Swords, Axes, Halberds, Maces.

-Weapons which are swung horizontally diagonally will be deflected if a wall or
a pillar is in the line of the swing, and the attack will be canceled.

-Bigger Enemies (Black Knights, Tower Knights with Big Weapons will defy that
law above and swing through walls, pillars and kill you.
(happened to me and many people, I know)

-Some weapons when 2-handed are swung with different Line of Swing.
Ex: A Claymore is swung Horizontally right to left when 1-handed,
but Vertically downward when 2-handed

[4.2] Stabbing Weapons

Weapons suchs as Rapier, Estoc, Spears

-You can hold a shield up AND attack at the same time with stabbing weapons

-If a stab is blocked, your weapon will be deflected and you are vulnerable


[5] Stagger and Poise

"Stagger" State

-when one is hit and "ahh" opened for more follow up attacks
-not able to perform anymore action while being continuously attacked (combo)
-cannot roll out or block once staggered
-If one is about to attack, it will be interrupted

"Poise" is an attribute introduced in Dark Souls
Its number shows how heavy of the attack one can withstand before "Stagger"
Poise stats can be found in heavier armors

-one can continue to attack even when being hit and taking damage
-can perform ANY actions while being hit
Ex: can cast spells / miracles, roll, sprint, block, anything.

-Recommended for Slow weapon users
-Very useful against dogs or rats which have very fast attacks that interrupt.



[6] Defensive - Take it slow

[6.1] Block then attack

The very first simple and basic gameplay.
This is basic for beginners and even seasoned player. You should always have a 
shield up while walking forward, even if you will attack with a 2 hander.

-Wait till opponent's attack is deflected then counter attack.
-If the opponent stagger, keep attacking in a combo
-If the opponent does not stagger (Ex: Black Knights, Serpant Guards, Golems)
only do just 1 quick hit and go back to block

-After a block or while blocking, you can circle behind your opponent and
try a backstab. Better chance if the opponent is staggered

[6.2] Just Block

There are many uses for this. It is seen more in Co-op plays, however.

-If you are on a edge or a cliff where you are the one facing the fall and
your opponent's back is against the fall, this is the best time to do it.

REMEMBER "300" !?

Keep your shield up, face your opponent and let him hit you.
If his attacks are deflected, he will bounce back 1 step. Eventually he will
fall off the edge or the cliff.

This is useful when you do not wish to risk falling yourself after you perform
an attack. It may just be better to wait it out.

----Online Play----

-Bait for your teammates
When you play online, you can bait an enemy to target you, facing you while
your friend goes behind him and perform a backstab.

-Buy your team some time to heal or to kill other targets
When facing a tough enemy or a boss, if they get your attention, your teammate
can fall back to heal or cast offensive spells if they are casters.

When facing many enemies at once, you can bait the attentions while your team
goes for the higher priority targets like enemy archers or casters

[6.3] Wait for a Parry

Sometimes you find yourself ending up back against a cliff or a wall, where
there is no escape or too risky to move around - you might wanna try a Parry.

-Hold Shield up and wait it out. Study your opponent's attack pattern. When
you see him telegraphing an attack, Parry and Riposte, then get into a better
position if possible.


[7] Offensive - Up close and personal

When you play melee you cannot chicken out. You need to stay close to your
target to do damage. If you can't get to them = you can't hurt them.

[7.1] Steal a step

-Hold up your shield then run up to your target while circling him and slowly
closing up your distance. Wait for an attack, then observe carefully if he will
perform follow ups or just a single hit. Once you notice a pause after that
attack, immediately Lock-Off target and sprint behind him to attack.
(If enemy is Giant-sized, roll under him and hit the back of the leg)

-If you stay Locked-On target, you CANNOT sprint around your target.
Also, if you attempt to roll under the legs while Locked-On, your camera may
mess up the view. Therefore, Cancel Lock-on right when you want to quickly 
get behind your opponent, then Lock back on to face him again for a block.

-On non-bosses, you can perform Back Stabs if you manage to get behind them
this way without Locking On target at all.

[7.2] Overpower
Does not work VS Heavy opponents (Ex: Black Knights, Tower Knights, Giants,
Golems, Slimes, and Bosses-duh)

Overpower means you use your strength as an advantage against weaker opponents.
This also works in online PvP especially casters with smaller shields.

Also, if you have a big weapons, this tactic works very well.

-Hold your weapon in 2-Hands, run up to your target and either perform a 
Leap-in attack (secondary attack + forward), AND keep attacking him even if he
is blocking. Eventually this will break his guard and your next follow up
attack will land. 

In the case that he rolls away after your 1st attack, catch up and stay close.
At least you have closed up the distance.

Don't forget you can KICK your opponent's shield to break his guard then attack.
This however, does not work on Heavier Opponents (again)

You can also Kick opponent off edges. Remember that!

Before I move on, I would like to tell you something about the Lock-On system.

*****Lock On***** Very essential
When you are "Locked" onto a target, your MOVEMENT is LIMITED.
You CANNOT Look behind you, turn around, or roll freely.

You HAVE an option to Toggle LOCK ON and OFF AT ANY TIME.
You DO NOT have to STAY LOCKED on to your current target.

If you are to learn these next techniques, you need to learn to toggle Lock on
or off on a target. This makes hit-and-run, baiting, back-stab possible.

This is the foundation and the essence of all advanced techniques.
You will be amazed at how ridiculous it is once you get used to it.


[7.3] Back Stab Baiting

*Note* Do NOT Lock-on target or any of this will not work.

1)Sprint to your opponent, the closer the better (right in his face!)
2)Try to sprint to your opponent's left (since weapons are held in right hand)
3)Keep sprinting and circling your opponent in a counter-clockwise

4)There is a short "pause" after an opponent attacks, that is when you can get
right behind him and Back-Stab.

Be Careful, sometimes the enemy's attack TRACKS.
You have to keep circling until the attack stops, or you might get hit in the
back with their horizontal attack.

-You can also try to wait for a sweeping horizontal attack, then roll under it.
-For a Giant-Sized opponent, you can just sprint through their legs.
-You can out-run projectile like Soul Arrows or Arrows this way.

NEVER EVER turns your back on your opponent to run away.
You will get backstabbed (most of the time in PvP they wait for you to do this)

Instead, Lock-On, hold your shield up...and walk back or roll back a distance
before you Toggle Lock-off, turn around and sprint (if you have to)

This technique enables you to take on Black Knights at the beginning if you
are good. Keep baiting him to attack and go for a back stab.


[8] Common Mistakes

Locked on using Lock-on

Many new players are not aware that they CAN toggle it off while fighting.
I saw many people stay locked on and then did not know what was behind them
until they either fell off the edge, cliff, or get hit by another enemy at
the back.

Toggle it off when you need to re-position yourself, and Lock On only to face
target to block. Sometimes you can just manually face targets and block or 

LEARN to attack WITHOUT LOCKING ON target. This will make boss fight a lot
easier. You can sprint around the boss, hit him one time or two, then run out.

Some Boss Locked on targets are ridiculous and makes you wonder why your attacks
are not hitting them even when you are locked on and standing next to the boss.

Unwanted Jump

When you are not Locked on, and sprinting either away or toward your opponent,
keep in mind that if you press ROLL while doing so, you WILL JUMP before you
actually roll.

This happened to me many times when I tried to sprint and roll under a horizonal
swing from Gargoyle which got me killed many times LOL. It was like I saw him
starting to swing, then I ran to another side, he swang, I pressed roll but
my dude jumps first and got hit by that swing in the back. It was ridiculous.

Therefore, when sprinting, stop 1/2 a second, then press roll if you are just
trying to run and roll past a sweeping attack.

Incomplete Swing

Most of the time you have some wall or pillars in the way of your swing.
Try to fight at where you can fully use your weapon.
Also note that luring enemy into hitting pillars or wall is a good strategy.

And people come on, why would you want to use a 6 feet long weapon in a narrow
corridor or hallway? You can't swing it! (horizontally)

Holding Shield up all the time

Your stamina guage regenerates very slowly while you are holding up your shield.
After a block, and you notice that no follow up attack is coming, let go of the
block to recover a little of stamina before holding it back on.

End of Version 1.0

Thank you for reading.
Please send comments or suggestions to
[email protected]

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