‘Dark Souls III’: How To Survive Lothric, Or At Least Die Less Often

Dark Souls III is, like its predecessors, a pretty tough game. But it’s a lot of fun, and once you get into it, you’ll be playing for a while. Here’s what you need to know to keep from dying too often.

Just Accept That You’re Gonna Die A Lot

Let’s just get this out of the way — unless you are a master of these kinds of games, and even if you are, you’re gonna die. A lot. And that’s okay! Despite the hype, and the game’s mechanic of slightly reducing your health every time you die, the challenge is that the game is easy to play and hard to master. Realistically, this is the most finely tuned, highly polished game From has ever put out. It’s not going to be easier to play than this.

Don’t Worry About Your Starting Class: Focus On Starting Gear

You’ll level up fairly quickly in this game as long as you regularly return to bonfires and cash in your souls. In fact killing the first boss gives you enough souls to boost your stats in several areas once you find Firelink Shrine. So don’t worry about stats: Focus instead on your starting gear. The knight has heavy armor and the pyromancer starts as a walking flamethrower, so those are two good places to start.

Master Blocking And Dodging

No matter what your class, the most effective techniques for avoiding damage aren’t blocking or dodging, but a mix of the two. For example, on knigh-type enemies, luring them into a strike, dodging to the left or right and whacking them before leaping back to dodge the counter is an effective strategy, if you have room for it. Often tougher enemies require it, and bosses absolutely need it. And don’t forget: The more stuff you’re carrying, the slower your dodges will be.

Use The Lock-On To Spot NPCs

You “lock on” to an enemy by pressing the right thumbstick, but it’ll only work with enemies. Anybody you can speak to and potentially get a side quest or buy something from, you won’t be able to lock on. This is pretty useful because, well, it’s the only way to figure out who’s who.

Don’t Hesitate To ‘Cheat’

Dark Souls III is built for you to use the game’s AI and level design against it. Something like luring a big enemy down a path to a narrow doorway and hacking at it from a distance while it tries to get at you, or running past an enemy you’d have a tough time with and lighting a bonfire to renew your health, isn’t just a sound, if cheap, strategy, it’s actively encouraged. As in, the game’s own manual tells you to do this.

My personal favorite strategy? Hitting an enemy in a pack with a throwing knife or an arrow and getting them to run at me, leaving the group behind.

Take It Slow

A good way to get through this game is to pick a direction, explore until it’s too tough, and then run away from the fight back to the bonfire. This is both useful for exploring the many, many, many side alleys and hidden areas on the map, and for figuring out many of the game’s more baffling riddles. Fighting enemies one at a time is also a lot more manageable than groups.

Elemental Damage Is Your Friend

Once you get “elemental” gems it’s easy to add upgrades and experiment with different elements. Often, knowing the elemental weaknesses of different enemies is key to putting a bullet in a boss with ease and dying repeatedly.

Attack Chests

The hated mimics are back, and while they’re still relatively easy to spot, it pays to strike a chest once or twice and see what happens. If they’re a mimic, they’ll react. If they’re a chest, you can open it.

It’s Not Paranoia When They Really Are All Out To Get You

Finally, the most important thing you can do with this game is be suspicious and trust your gut. If something looks like a trap, treat it like one. If something is too good to be true, assume it absolutely is. If an area seems suspiciously devoid of enemies, assume they’re in the rafters. Do that and while you won’t be able to anticipate every nasty moment, you’ll be able to dodge a whole bunch of traps and nastiness.