What to Know if ‘Dark Souls Remastered’ is Your First Souls Game

Jeremy Ray
Games Xbox
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Dark Souls Remastered, much like the original, does a terrible job of explaining itself. Many of the game’s basic systems aren’t revealed, let alone the finer points of the game.

We’ve been playing this franchise for almost ten years now, if you include Demon’s Souls. So what did we wish we would’ve known when we started?

There’s a lot to this game, and some of it should remain hidden and discoverable. So don’t worry, we won’t spoil anything. Here’s your primer for getting started in Dark Souls Remastered.

First Steps into the Fog

There are no classes. By which we mean, just ignore the classes. You’ll find all the equipment while adventuring, and your character attributes will be decided by how you level up. The class choice only affects what you start with. Don’t worry too much about it, and always choose the Master Key for a starting item.

As for the best way to level up and progress? It’s best to pick a weapon you want to target, and aim for the required stats. That’s what constitutes a “build” in Dark Souls Remastered.

We get the catch-22 here — if it’s your first time, you won’t know which weapon to target. We’ll put some of the best weapons below. But if you start investing in a particular attribute like Strength, Dexterity, Faith, or Intelligence, you will definitely come across a weapon that scales with it eventually.

Undead Burg hollows torches Black Knight Sword
The wide swipes of two-handers are great against swarms

Normal RPG playstyle conventions apply here. If you’re upping Strength, you’ll see lots of hammers and clubs that scale well with it. Dexterity weapons will be more like katanas and falchions.

Spellcasters will also need to find the relevant teacher out in the world. Laurentius of the Great Swamp for pyromancers. Griggs of Vinheim for sorcery. Petrus of Thorolund for miracles. There are more advanced teachers in the world, but we won’t spoil that for you.

Lastly, it’s never explicitly stated but sorcery is Dark Souls Remastered’s unofficial easy mode. A bit of range gives you more openings in many boss fights. And the damage sorcery can put out is fearsome.

Choosing Your Equipment

You can two-hand a weapon if you have half of the Strength requirement.

The weightier your armour is, the slower your roll will be. But heavy armour usually has more Poise. This stat decides how much you can take before you’re staggered. A high Poise rating means you’ll be able to shrug off a few attacks without being interrupted.

Armour doesn’t play as much a role as it does in, say, Dark Souls 3. So don’t worry too much if one piece of gear has slightly less defence. Go with what you think looks the best! #fashionsouls

Resistances, however, do matter. Pay attention to things like fire resist and poison resist. There’s no such thing as toxic resist, so be wary of that. Curse resist is important in specific parts of the game. When the curse meter fills up, it’s instant death.

You can make weapons out of boss souls, but for practical purposes, they’re niche. They moreso look cool, and feel cool. You’ll get better numbers from a basic weapon +15, with some exceptions, such as the Moonlight Greatsword’s scaling with Intelligence.

Lautrec the Embraced in a jail cell
Would you let a knight in gold free?

Progressing Through Lordran

The early game hub is the Firelink Shrine, and from there you have a few different directions you can go. The “standard” path is to head across the big bridge into the Undead Burg.

If you have a specific reason to detour or just want a different way, you can go down through New Londo Ruins, use the Master Key, and head into either Blighttown or the Valley of Drakes and Darkroot Basin.

One thing you shouldn’t do without a very specific reason, though, is head into the Catacombs. It’s right next to the Firelink Shine, and that has fooled many a new player. Leave that for later, unless you’re speedrunning.

Talking to Siegmeyer at Firelink Shrine
NPCs may not stay in the same spot for long. They have their own business.

After you’ve explored an area and killed most of its cursed inhabitants, it’s time to walk through the fog and kill a boss. It won’t happen on the first try. That doesn’t mean you have to kill every enemy as you run back, though — it’s perfectly fine to sprint past most enemies back to the fog gate.

For the most part, Dark Souls Remastered is tough, but fair. If you died, it’s probably your fault. Examine why you died. What you could do differently. Was it just a mistimed roll? Or a problem with your overall strategy? Would changing gear help?

Capra Demon boss fight
What's your sign?

One thing that won’t fix the problem is grinding. The solution is, almost always, to learn to play better.

Occasionally though, you’ll come across something that’s just plain bad. The Bed of Chaos comes to mind. Dark Souls Remastered, much like Dark Souls, much like Demon’s Souls before it, is highly experimental. There were hits and misses. Push through it and you’ll be back into the cool stuff in no time.

Most people assume bonfires are the “checkpoints” of Dark Souls Remastered, but that’s only partially true. The real checkpoints are the permanent changes you make to the world. Opening a door, hitting a switch, levelling yourself up… When everything around you respawns when you rest, it’s the permanent changes you should aim for.

How Weapon Scaling Works

Most weapons will scale with one or two attributes. If you’re above or below the required amount to wield the weapon, its damage will be modified accordingly. You can pick up the 50 Strength hammer, but you’ll likely do very little damage with it as you stumble around, trying to lift it.

This is represented by the base damage, followed by the modifier. The above example should look something like 300 damage, -280 if you have low Strength.

Strength scaling physical damage
Our Strength gives us +8 damage when using this weapon

The scaling rating, in descending order from A to E, decides how much the attribute affects it. There’s also a higher (and rarer) tier above A scaling, which is S.

A sword that scales A with Intelligence and only requires 15 Intelligence leaves a lot of room for scaling. A player wielding that sword with 50 Intelligence will enjoy a nice bonus.

It should be noted, however, that scaling bonuses are vastly reduced after the attribute in question hits 40.

Black Knight Sword Andre upgrade reinforce

Dark Souls Remastered Weapon Upgrades

Fire and Lightning are elements that don’t scale — they just do a set amount of elemental damage. Raw weapons eliminate scaling and purely do base physical damage. Crystal weapons do a bit more damage than usual but lose a lot of durability and can’t be repaired.

Divine and Occult scale with Faith. Magic and Enchanted scale with Intelligence, with the latter more severely impacting other scaling parameters for even more Intelligence scaling.

When upgrading weapons with the various kinds of titanite, the below image is handy to refer to.

Dark Souls Remastered weapon upgrade paths

Chaos weapons scale with Humanity, and after about 10 Humanity they’ll surpass Fire weapons.

Divine weapons also permanently slay animated skeletons in the catacombs.

What Do the Covenants Do?

Covenants are Dark Souls Remastered’s way of incorporating multiplayer. Each covenant has a lore-based reason for existing, and each fosters either PvP or co-op.

This is one of the least explained parts of Dark Souls Remastered. Often you’ll be asked to enter a covenant with a particular god, without knowing the effects of doing so.

There’s a lot to go through in this section, so we recommend referring to our wiki page on covenants.

Solaire hollow
But I'd feel naked without my shield!

The Forest Hunters will invade anyone who trespasses on their land, while the Darkmoon Blades will hunt those who’ve invaded others. Serving your covenant can grant you rewards in the form of spells, weapons, and more — including ways to transform your body.

In addition to the above, NPCs will react to you differently depending on your covenant. This opens up whole new NPC storylines and side paths, revealing motivations and ultimate fates.

Dark Souls Remastered is Deep

Some people think Dark Souls doesn’t have a story. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Should you want it, some of the best storytelling in modern games is hiding just beneath the surface of Dark Souls Remastered. The lore of Lordran is told through item descriptions, level design, and your interactions with NPCs. Words are few, cutscenes are fewer, and in this lonely land it’s very much up to you to figure it out.

Gwyn Gwynevere Gwyndolin
These level design cues are deliberately left for you to piece together the story

Pay attention to your surroundings. Why is that statue missing? Why do I hear that bell sound? Could these NPCs be interacting with each other, with their own intrigues, independently of me being there or not?

If you’ve got friends to discover the game with, even better. Dark Souls Remastered has so many hidden parts, it’s more like a communal discovery project. Find what you can. When you’re ready, there are plenty of wikis and Youtube videos to show you more.

Dark Souls Remastered Best Weapons

There’s no “best” weapon in Dark Souls Remastered, but at the same time, weapons are nowhere near balanced. Some are great, some are bottom tier. It’s up to you to decide how you want to play.

Remember, movesets are important. It’s a commonly neglected aspect of weapon balance discussions, but it’s absolutely a balancing factor. That two-hander with amazing stats might be great until you enter a tight corridor and find out it doesn’t have a thrust attack.

All of that said, here are some which are regarded as the best in the game.

  • Great Scythe – It’s very large, but has a great moveset and can be upgraded to do some of the best damage in the game. Two-hand it for best results.
  • Great Club – Pure strength. It’ll stagger enemies very easily, too. Upgrade to get an A rating for Strength scaling.
  • Longsword – Most guides recommend the Broadsword over this due to a small increase in damage, but we much prefer the reach of the Longsword. It makes a difference to not have to be right next to your enemy.
  • Black Knight Halberd – There’s only one Black Knight who drops it, and it’s not guaranteed — giving you one shot at this weapon per playthrough. If it drops, it’s one of the best in the game.
  • Sorcerer’s Catalyst – If you’re still rocking the Sorcerer’s starting gear, don’t feel bad. It remains decent until the end of the game. Though when you pass thresholds like 32 or 40 Intelligence, it’s time to start looking at endgame catalysts.

We’re a bit reluctant to recommend the Drake Sword, because it can be a crutch for new players. But it does make the early game easy, until it’s outscaled. You’ve been warned.

We’ll have an early game weapons guide up soon, but the above are all great options. It’s a good idea to first target the required attributes for these weapons, and then level up your health, stamina, etc.

Gold-Hemmed Black Set robe
One robe to rule them all

Dark Souls Remastered Best Armour

Much like the above disclaimer, there’s no one answer when it comes to armour. Some are certainly better than others, and Dark Souls Remastered doesn’t pretend they’re all equal. But you should pick the right armour for the job at hand.

These sets all have their specific uses:

  • Crimson Set – Fantastic defence to weight ratio. Using the Master Key, it’s possible to speedrun to Blighttown and grab this at the start of the game. More about this in our starting gear guide soon.
  • Gold-Hemmed Black Set – This is the best light armour in Dark Souls Remastered. Its defence stats are narrowly edged out by the Crimson Robe Set, but it more than makes up for it in poison and fire resistance. Plus, you look like a Ringwraith!
  • Elite Knight Set – Available relatively early, and has the best Poise to weight ratio in the game.
  • Havel’s Set – The highest Poise in the game, and some curse resistance to boot. Able to tank enemy attacks as you swing away. This comes in very handy later on, but we won’t spoil when.
  • Black Iron Set – Many of the Poise and fire resistance benefits, with the bonus of looking superb.
  • Smough’s Set – If you can handle looking like a blob of metallic gelatin, this set is the best for resisting Physical, Fire, Lightning, and Bleed damage. But first, you’ll have to kill Smough. Most players don’t bother to upgrade armour, but an upgraded Giant Set will eventually perform better.
Gold-Hemmed Black Set robe

Armour helps with defence, but a fast roll is important too. Truth be told, once you’re comfortable with the combat system, it’s fine to go through most of this game naked. Though you’ll definitely want resistances in the appropriate areas.

Our last Souls experience was Dark Souls 3, in which you were severely penalised for not having armour in every slot. That’s not the case here. Fashion first, then stats.

Those Mimics

They’ll getcha! If you want to know if a chest is a mimic, have a look at the chain. If it loops back up, it’s a normal chest. If it keeps heading downward, that’s a mimic.

You can also just hit the chest once to be sure.

That wraps up what we wish we knew when we started playing Souls games. Dark Souls Remastered is, gameplay-wise, unchanged from the original. So there are plenty of advanced guides out there as well. Good luck!

Jeremy Ray
Managing Editor at FANDOM. Decade-long games critic and esports aficionado. Started in competitive Counter-Strike, then moved into broadcast, online, print and interpretative pantomime. You merely adopted the lag. I was born in it.
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