There’s no denying how gorgeous and stunning Demon’s Souls is on the PlayStation 5. However, given the immense challenge rooted in its gameplay, many new players will either have a rough go of it upon entering the fog-infested lands of Boletaria, or simply be too dissuaded to even try.
Don’t fret. Despite being the origin of the Soulsborne series, Demon’s Souls in actuality plays a bit easier in certain circumstances than Bloodborne, Dark Souls, and the latter’s third iteration. First, newcomers must learn the basics of this strange land, discovering the intricacies of the environment, the varied movesets of enemies, as well as the godforsaken World Tendency, which is probably the most complicated mechanic to understand in the game.
First and foremost, though: who are you?
Crafting The Right Build
In 2009’s Demon’s Souls there was absolutely no question that the royal was the most OP class of character to begin with. Not much has changed in the remake, yet two more classes make perfect choices for Demon’s Souls newbies: Temple Knight and Soldier. Even the base knight is a perfect fit for interested new players, so long as said player knows the best strategies for making them overpowered.
It doesn’t simply stop at who you are specifically, as Demon’s Souls requires players to level their character with the utmost attention. One wrong stat leveling slip up could be detrimental for an entire run, whether it be unintentionally ignoring strength, magic, or even faith. My advice to newbies is to focus mainly on dexterity, endurance, strength, and vitality, but our very own Kirk McKeand has an in-depth build breakdown of where best to start your Demon’s Souls experience.
Necessary Equipment For Survival
As important as stats are in Demon’s Souls, so too is what weapons players utilize throughout their playthrough, in addition to what items they keep on them at all times. The new mechanic of sending items to the stockpile in the Nexus when over-encumbered is a welcome quality of life improvement, yet that doesn’t mean you should be running around willy-nilly without at least paying some attention to what you are carrying and where you are carrying it.
For instance, if you are headed to 5-2, Valley of Defilement’s Swamp of Sorrow, it’s best to have a large amassing of Noble’s and Widow’s Lotus, in order to counteract poison and plague status effects on a whim. You’ll also want to have at least 150 arrows on you at all times and a good bow to match – one can be found on the parapets in 1-2, which will come in handy for taking out that pesky Red Dragon. It goes without saying, but you’ll want to be carrying a lot of grasses, especially if you don’t know the game as well as others.
Two weapons I recommend picking up immediately upon a new run are the crescent falchion, which can be found in 4-1 near a relatively strong red-eyed skeleton on a cliff, and the wood catalyst, a wand that is located in a cell at the end of the hall in 3-1. These will give you a bit of a boost in combat; strong close-quarters attacks for the former, and varied distant attacks with the latter. Just don’t forget to buy and learn spells, specifically soul arrow and flame toss, from Freke’s apprentice in the Nexus.
Farming For Loot
From Boletaria to the Shrine of Shadowmen, items of varying importance can be picked off of fallen enemies as well as the aforementioned singular equipment pieces found throughout the environment. A perfect example is 1-1 itself, Boletaria, which is filled with enemies who drop both varying grasses and, of particular importance for fighting Phalanx, firebombs. Know and learn these areas, because they will come in handy when you are running low on specific loot.
Main among farming spots would have to be Stonefang, where players can always find shards of varying stones necessary for upgrading weapons and armor. This is also where players will find Blacksmith Ed, a valuable acquaintance who will upgrade your weapons using different boss souls at the initial cost of the Searing Demon’s Soul.
Other major farming spots include 3-1, Tower of Latria, where Mind Flayers will drop both Aged and Fresh spices, in addition to dreglings dropping valuable Noble’s Lotus. Later on, in 3-2, players will come across flying gargoyles, which will drop uncommon soldier souls, which can be of extreme value when on a dying-streak.
As for leveling, the Shrine of Shadowmen is a great place to gain souls and level up fast, but I would grab the morning star from the Valley of Defilement before even attempting it and bring a good shield. Try your best not to die too much, otherwise, you may find yourself stuck with a black world tendency, in which case 4-1 becomes even more difficult than it needs to be.
Stay Firm And Persevere
All Souls-like games are certainly not made for the faint of heart. These experiences will test your will, ensuring you immense frustration, anger, and maybe even a bit of regret throughout the experience. Don’t let this discourage you. Dying is a very different prospect in Demon’s Souls, specifically. It launched an entire franchise dedicated to a new way of thinking: overcoming adversity and challenging oneself even in the most daunting of situations.
As both Damien Mecheri and Sylvain Romieu write in their book titled Dark Souls: Beyond The Grave:
“The cycle of rebirth is central to the game design of each Souls game…We must therefore start again, and again, to understand why we failed. The intentionally high level of difficulty is not intended as punishment, but rather to test the player. Through the defeats, it isn’t the character who gains experience, but us, as players.”
In other words, you will die A LOT. Learn from these mistakes, do not let them cloud your judgment or your ability to appreciate this phenomenal experience. Death in Demon’s Souls is not only a test but also a lesson. What did you do wrong? How can you amend it the second time? Not to mention the fact that you aren’t alone on this journey. Many will try, fail, and immediately give up, giving in to their inner voice that says: “You Suck.” You don’t, believe me. It’s all about learning the environment, feeling for the right route of victory, and, above all, trusting yourself.
Do you have what it takes to lull the Old One back into slumber?
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