Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin Tips & Tricks

Dark Souls

If you frequent VgamerZ (which you should), you’ve probably seen me posting about Dark Souls or something relating to the franchise as a whole. Nearly half of my articles on this site relate to or reference the Souls series in some way or another and it is my favourite series of all time. I consider myself a Souls veteran, though most would call me a fanboy, and I’ve learned many things throughout my difficult times in Drangleic, Yharnam, Boletaria, and Lordran.

I am here today to provide you with twelve tips that will help newcomers and veterans alike. I hope that it might enable you to have an easier time in the difficult and unforgiving opening hours of one of the hardest games on the PS4. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin.

Dark souls 2 dragon heide

I – Melentia Is Your Friend

This decrepit woman carrying way too much on her brittle back might have you doing a double take to ensure that you didn’t just turn your back on a foe, and I get that. However, you should definitely keep your sword sheathed so that you may have a lovely and harmless conversation with a woman that is almost too eager to sell you her wares.

she provides extremely useful items like Life Gems, Pharros’ Lockstone, a key to unlock the blacksmith in Majula, and numerous others that will eventually become unlocked as you progress throughout your journey in Drangleic.

You should spend some time at the beginning of the game earning enough Souls that you can purchase the aforementioned items, as they will all help you greatly. better yet, run through her entire dialogue tree and she’ll appear in Majula when you’ve cleared out the first boss!

II – The Way Of Blue Is The Only Way

Once you’ve picked your jaw up from the floor after witnessing the beauty that is Majula, you’ll notice a few lively NPCs to converse with. The crestfallen (heh) man sitting at what appears to be some sort of obelisk near the ocean is Saulden, and he has a very important Covenant for you to join if you so desire.

The Way Of Blue is a covenant that essentially protects newcomers from invaders; hostile players that can jump into your world to slaughter you in a vicious and generally humiliating fashion. It functions by automatically summoning a friendly player from the Blue Sentinels Covenant to fight alongside you as you face off against the red bully on the other side of the screen.

III – The Best Effigy Is A Burnt Effigy

Another way to protect against invaders is by burning a Human Effigy. If you want to be left alone, simply visit the Bonfire that surrounds the area you’re in, and hit the ‘burn’ option. When you select your Effigy, it prevents any sort of co-operation.

Be warned. You are no longer able to summon either, so use this at your own discretion.

IV – Vandalism Has Its Perks

If you are a new player, you might not know that you can leave messages for other players to see in their worlds. Whenever you run across some orange symbol on the ground, it’s usually a player leaving a message to either guide you, or throw you off to be that guy. You can do this too by accessing it in your drop-down menu, and it has a nice benefit.

If someone likes the message you’ve written, they can leave it a good rating and you will instantly receive full health. While it’s certainly not useful all of the time, it can be a life safer when you are low on healing items.

You also get the added bonus of helping someone who might be more inexperienced than you that is already having a rough day, so be a nice guy and you’ll be rewarded for it.

V – Smooth, Or Silky? You Decide

If you go to Things Betwixt and visit that bird’s nest, you’ll hear voices talking about their desire for something smooth or silky. It’s a very cryptic message at first, but it all becomes clear as you play through the game. Smooth and Silky Stones are random items of no use, or so it seems. Drop one of them on the bird’s nest and suddenly you’re given an item.

The item you get is always random, and it comes from a pool of multiple potential items, so your chances of getting something good are slim. That said, it’s still highly recommended that you frequently return to drop the stones, as you could find yourself with a rare weapon or a nice ring. Just remember to drop one at time, as dropping multiple at once will not work.

VI – Something Petrified

When creating your character, you’re given the option to pick a starting gift. They all seem really random and some seem downright useless, but one amongst them stands as my ultimate favourite starting gift, and it’s probably the one you’d least expect.

Petrified Something is a seemingly pointless item, but like many things in Dark Souls II it has a hidden use that you’d probably skip. Drop that item on the bird’s nest that I previously mentioned and it gives you a random item from the aforementioned pool. The great thing about Petrified Something is that it is the best item you can drop for the birds, so your chances of getting something good are increased.

I’ve had many runs where I’ve received a nice ring or some upgrade materials that I could use immediately to raise my weapon’s stats, so it’s worthwhile to choose this gift over the others.

VII – Champions Are Overrated

When you first venture into Majula, you’ll be tempted to explore every single nook and cranny that won’t result in your demise. You’ll also be tempted to talk to every NPC and engage in as many dialogue options as possible for their potential rewards and quests. If you make your way to the highest point in Majula, you can find a stone tablet that allows you to join the Covenant of Champions.

While it sounds like an intriguing and fun covenant to align yourself with, be wary, as joining it results in the game becoming permanently harder. It’s the equivalent of being in New Game Plus on your first play-through, and it is definitely not a pushover.

Furthermore, joining this Covenant will prevent all types of jolly cooperation, so forget about ever taking part in an invasion or having a friend join you for a boss fight.

VIII – Jack And His Trades

Most players that will venture through the game will find that they adopt a weapon that feels most comfortable to them. It’s nice because regardless of play style, there will always be at least one weapon that feels perfect for you.

The problem is that with Dark Souls II, Fromsoftware took the idea of weapon durability to an entirely new level. Instead of it slowly wearing down over time, it now drops drastically as you fight. It’s made worse by the fact that the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game all have a durability bug that drops it even further, so this entire idea of favouring a weapon is no longer valid.

You will want to swap weapons consistently throughout each stretch. Find two or three weapons you like and level them evenly (or make one a dominant weapon, it’s your choice), as you will never have enough durability to successfully explore the entire map and take out the boss in one fell swoop.

IX – Backtracking? Maybe Just This Once…

While your natural instinct will be to push forth and seek the king, you would be wise to backtrack to a specific area for an item that could help immensely with invaders and enemies.

The area? Things Betwixt. The loot? The Stone Ring. The way? Start at the Bonfire and trek through the house. Once you reach the bridge, cross it and head through the little gap in the rocks on the right. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see footprints in the dirt. Swiftly end the life of that disgusting cyclops and the ring is yours.

The Stone Ring is a ring that buffs your poise, a stat the is centred around staggering your foes leaving them open for combos. It is a fantastic ring to equip early game, as it adds a considerable amount of poise to your character and practically ensures that any small enemy you encounter will face the wrath of a good stun-lock.

How early you go is up to you, but I generally go the moment I get done making my character.

X – Parry Is Gonna Get Back Stabbed

Dark Souls II, like the other Souls games, holds two unique attacks that you can utilize to exploit almost any foe the game throws at you for massive damage.

The first move, the back stab, is rather easy to pull off and rewards you with a combo that both destroys the enemy’s HP, and leaves him begging for mercy on the ground. Simply walk behind an enemy (as the name implies), and plant your sword in his back by means of the R1 button. You have to almost perfectly align yourself with the back, so practice it well.

The second move, and the more challenging to master, is the parry. To parry an enemy, you must hit L2 to smack the weapon of your opponent away with your shield as he is just about to land his blow. It is very tricky to get it down, but when you do, it gives you the opportunity to follow up with a crushing riposte. Just tap the R1 button directly in front of the enemy when he is stunned, and you will be watching his corpse fade away into the wind.

XI – Classes Aren’t For Schmucks

Picking a starting class is a unique experience in the Souls series. Most RPGs cement you into your class and force you to play by the rules of that specific class, but in Dark Souls II it’s different.

You can choose any class and come out of it using any weapon or spell, depending on how you decide to build your character. That said, it’s still vital that you choose a suitable class to start the game with.

I personally like to choose the Knight, as it offers me enough Strength to wield any early-game strength weapon, and enough dex that if I add a few points to it, I can also wield any dex weapon I find. It offers great vigor and enough vitality that you can wear most medium armour with the exception of the Drangleic set.

How you build your character is up to you, so consider what you want to be doing and choose accordingly.

XII – Team Playin’ Is The Best Kind Of Playin’

If you find that you’re struggling with a particularly frustrating area or boss, it might be wise that you summon help. Furthermore, if you require souls but hate the idea of grinding them, you can always place yourself in another player’s world to aid them in their time of desperation.

To summon a player, you must be in your human form. You can check this by looking at your health bar to see if it has it’s maximum health reduced, or by the colour of your character’s skin. If you aren’t human, defeat a boss, successfully help a player, or pop a human effigy. Once you’ve done this, you’ve met the only requirement to summoning for help.

Look for a white or yellow sign on the ground, as they are other players or NPCs that will join your world to fight alongside you. Simply walk up to it and hit X and you will be on your way to victory in no time.

If you value helping others, take a trip to Forest of Fallen Giants and find an NPC named Mild-Mannered Pate. He can be located after the Pursuer optional encounter, near the ballista room. Talk to him and follow his advice, but be warned, as he leads you into a difficult trap and you must successfully escape it to be rewarded. When you become victorious, talk to him again and he’ll award you the White Sign Soapstone. Place this item on the ground near a boss or Bonfire, and you’ll be summoned into the world of another player.

DarkSoulsII majula

Hopefully these tips will aid you in your struggle with the opening hours of Dark Souls II! If you’re looking for more tips to ease your pain, check out my Bloodborne Tips & Tricks guide. It is also a Souls game so you can apply several tips to Dark Souls II.

Good luck and praise the sun!

Bloodborne Tips & Tricks

Bloodborne

Bloodborne, like the other Souls games, provides an almost unparalleled challenge in modern gaming. It is an experience that never stops pushing back, and it forces you to use everything you have at your disposal to tackle the many difficult challenges that await.

With this feat comes a steep learning curve. Sadly that isn’t all however, as it is as vague as it is challenging.

So with that said, I present to you a few tricks that might help ease your suffering during the opening hours of this colossal game. Bloodborne 1

I – Visceral Attacks? More Like Victory Attacks

Every Souls game has a parry of some sort. With the bold removal of shields in Bloodborne, it was a question of how parries and ripostes would work. After tinkering with the combat, it became apparent that ‘visceral attacks’ were Bloodborne‘s form of the parry.

To pull of this devastating move, you must fire your left handed weapon the moment before an enemy hits you with their attack. The timing is tricky and will take a fair amount of practice, but pulling this off has a great effect. The enemy is temporarily stunned and falls down, leaving you approximately one second to walk up to their soon-to-be corpse, and hit the attack button for a crushing final blow.

Use visceral attacks often!

II – Transforming Your Weapon Is Good For The Soul

A staple of Bloodborne is that you can switch the state of your weapon with only the press of a button. You’ve probably seen a promotional video of the main character turning his gun into a spear, his whip into a cane, his sword into a scythe. This move proves useful as you are then open to a secondary function with it’s own set of attacks. What makes this even more useful however, is the weapon switching attack.

If you do a simple R1 or R2 attack, you can follow up by hitting L1. It enables your character to use an attack while swapping his weapon. This might sound as if it’s not very useful, but it comes with it’s own strategic value.

For example. When using this attack with the saw cleaver, it grants you a speedy attack like the folded form, and the range of the unfolded form. It has a wide sweep and is in most cases capable of knocking back enemies giving you a chance to breath.

Each weapon has it’s own form of this, so use them well.

III – Shortcuts Are Your Friend

If you’ve played a Souls game, you’ll remember the feeling of bliss that comes along with finally discovering a shortcut after a particularly long stretch. Bloodborne is no exception of the rule, as it might be the most shortcut-heavy Souls game yet.

While this tip may seem obvious to some, it is no rarity to have players entirely skip exceptionally important shortcuts because they didn’t properly explore. with that in mind, keep your eyes peeled and your internal compass in check. If you’ve been walking for a while and you haven’t run into the next lantern, chances are you missed a shortcut.

IV – Charge Attacks Are Underrated

With the myriad of new mechanics at play in Bloodborne, it is easy to forget that we’ve been given a charge attack with each weapon. Holding R2 grants you a stronger form of an already strong attack that can help immensely with crowds of enemies or particularly spongy bosses.

The key with charged attacks is to remember to give yourself enough time to fully charge it, so make sure you note the length of the enemies attack animation and the distance they travel while performing it. Ludwig’s Holy Blade has a lengthy charged attack for example, but successfully pulling it off will grant you the chance to follow up with another attack while the enemy tries to recover. It is very useful if utilized properly, so practice using it with each weapon and learn their unique effects.

V – Save Those Blood Echoes

If you’re like me, you opted to buy every single weapon that became available if not just to see the unique ability it possesses. While this is understandable, it might be wise that you save your Blood Echoes and re-evaluate how well you explored the previous areas you’ve encountered. I found myself finding weapons and armour that I had just purchased after making return trips for the sake of my OCD and the feeling of completing an area 100%

There are exceptions to the rule, such as Ludwig’s Holy Blade, but even it requires you to find an item so explore well and leave no corners unchecked.

VI – Study Telegraphy

A lot of enemies in Bloodborne have some predictable move sets. The best way to defeat an enemy is to learn said move set and exploit it via telegraphy. Study enemies, and learn their attacks. If you get the timing down and you learn when a creature will do what, you can plan attacks accordingly, making each move a thoughtful one.

A lot of enemies have big wind up animations or noises they make as they’re about to do attacks, meaning that they telegraph their individual move-sets well.

It may sound like an obvious piece of advice, but too many new players will go into Bloodborne thinking it is a combo-focused action game. While it did abandon the shields, it did not abandon it’s focus on strategic and careful combat. Learn how to exploit an enemy via his moves, and you’re on the path to victory.

 VII – The Achilles Heel

This is a trick I didn’t learn until after I began writing this guide, and it’s definitely one I wish I would’ve noticed early on.

Some bosses and enemies have weak points. They’re a bit hard to notice at first because of how fast the combat is, but if you hear or see blood squirting from an enemy that wasn’t done by your attacks, it is a spot you can exploit.  If you focus your attack on these points, your opponent will generally fall down leaving you room to do a combo or two. It’s a subtle piece of design so you must look carefully an analyze some of the bigger enemies in the game, but doing so will reward you with a much easier victory.

VIII – You Aren’t Bruce Lee

As much as you’d like to think you are, you aren’t. You can only take a few hits from a few enemies before you die, and when 6 surround you swinging their various instruments of pain, suffering and torture, it all becomes clear… You must back off.

No, really. Use luring tactics to your advantage. The game practically beats you over the head with this idea, yet I still see people swinging their axes thinking they can attack a horde of enemies head-on. While it’s entirely possible, it’s generally going to be quite a challenge. Use those pebbles and bring one enemy away from the pack so you can reign sweet destruction upon his grotesque figure.

IX – Cocktails Soothes That Which Ails You

One of the bold moves Fromsoft made with Bloodborne was that they drastically reduced the magic and item usage in the game. No longer can you spam spells whenever you please, and no longer can you find fifty different consumable items that can buff or be thrown as a weapon.

There is one saving grace however, in the form of a Cocktail. While it definitely isn’t the only item you can throw, it is the first one you will have access to. It’s as mean as it is inexpensive, so you would be well off to invest souls in buying some Cocktails.

Bloodborne designed the encounters with enemies to be much more dynamic and visceral. This means that you are hardly going to be facing off against only one or two enemies unless they’re particularly tough. Many times you will walk into an area to see six or seven creatures all perusing the twisted corridors of Yharnam.

This opens up a great opportunity for some nice fire damage in the form of a Cocktail.

X – Locking On Is A Double Edged Sword

The Souls games have always had wonky camera angles. Sometimes it is a saving grace, and other times it puts your view in the side of a building, blocking you any sort of proper vision for an intense fight. Beyond this, the camera sometimes gets stuck on larger enemies when you lock on, so it’d be in your best interest to practice when and when not to use the lock-on feature, especially considering that when you’ve locked on to an enemy, you roll around them  rather than rolling freely.

Using this to your advantage may change your scenario from death to victory. Stay behind big enemies, and try not to always lock on.

XI – Insight? I Choose Ignorance!

Insight is Bloodborne‘s form of humanity. It functions differently than other Souls games however, and it has some adverse effects that many won’t learn until reading some sort of guide or tutorial. If you have a high number of insight (the little eye in the top right corner of the screen), it can actually make the game more  challenging. Some enemies might swap out their guns for flamethrowers, as an example. Either burn that insight via co-op, or save up 10 to unlock the Merchant in Hunter’s Dream that allows you to spend insight to purchase rare items.

It’s your choice how you use it, but I’d highly recommend keeping it below 15.

XII – Don’t Stop Swingin’

A major change in Bloodborne is the addition of being able to recover HP by attacking enemies. This only happens when you’ve been hit though, as you’re granted a little bit of time to react and smack the enemy back to regain a piece of your health.

What you might not have known, is that even as the enemy dies, you can continuously swing your weapon at his falling corpse to keep regenerating health. It only lasts as long as the enemy is falling to the ground, but you can sometimes get two or three strikes in before it cancels out. This is extremely beneficial if you want to be careful with your Blood Vials.

XIII – Enough Is Enough

With the advice of going berserk on an enemy for the sake of regenerating HP out of the way, I must also suggest the opposite. It is very important to learn when enough is enough. Sure, victory is granted to those willing to take a risk, but some risks aren’t worth it, so keep an eye on your stamina and HP bars at all times. It might seem smart to just jump at a boss that hit you so you can regain HP, but he might have three more swings left, meaning that you will certainly die.

Knowing when to strike and when to retreat for healing purposes is a game of life and death, so I go back to an earlier tip when I say study telegraphy.

XIV – No Cheatin’, Ya Hear?!

While everyone likes some tips and tricks to ease their pain and anguish, one must reflect on the game they have purchased and what the point of it is. Bloodborne is a game about overcoming your fears and challenges for the ultimate feeling of satisfaction. If you look up walkthroughs and boss strategies, you numb the best feeling this game can give you because you take yourself out of the experience for the sake of having a less frustrating time.

Bloodborne isn’t hard, and none of the other Souls games are. Rather, they’re games that don’t hold your hand, don’t tell you what to do, and don’t stop you from playing the way you want to play.  You’re thrown into a world of madness and mystery and you must discover what lies at the end of the tunnel on your own.

Do yourself a favour and don’t cheat. With that said, good hunting!

TGS 2014 Bloodborne Trailer Was Born From Nightmares

Bloodborne

Tokyo Game Show is happening right now, and with Japan’s best at show, it’s no surprise that Bloodborne has received a new gameplay trailer. Comprised of entirely new gameplay footage, the trailer is full of gothic horrors, creatures spawned from the pits of hell, and bloody, visceral combat that looks more impressive each time it’s shown. You have all you need to get hyped.

This is not all however, as Fromsoftware has released the first images of the Collector’s Edition. What’s more, the game is coming to North America on February 6 2015.

Here’s the trailer in its entirety.

Every time we see Bloodborne in action, it surpasses expectations that were built using previous teases. The game never ceases to both excite and terrify me, and every moment is rife with material that even the best in horror fiction would strive for.

New Bloodborne Gameplay Screams “Buy Me”

Bloodborne

Bloodborne, FromSoftware’s newest monster, has been given the ‘new trailer’ treatment at Gamescom 2014, and by Gwyn, does it ever hit hard.

Miyazaki dropping the more methodical approach of Dark Souls combat in favour of a more visceral, on-your-toes action game appears to be a smart move, as the action looks even more exhaustingly difficult and punishing than ever.

Imminent trailer ahead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WsqQtqwP9E

My gushing for all things FromSoftware never ceases. With that however, comes exceptionally high expectations. Luckily, it appears that Bloodborne is shattering all of them with every new video.

Only time will tell if this game can manage to surpass the absolutely ridiculous standards FromSoftware has set for themselves. If this trailer is any indication, they’re on the right track.

New Dark Souls II Lost Crowns DLC Screenshots

Dark Souls

The first Dark Souls II DLC expansion, Crown Of The Sunken King, comes ever closer to its imminent release. In anticipation of this, Bandai Namco has graciously released a slew of screenshots to fuel the ever-burning hype train.

The screenshots show a variety of new enemies, tight, dank corridors and chambers most likely filled with peril.

Crown Of The Sunken King is expected out on July 22nd, followed by Crown of the Old Iron King on August 26th, and Crown of the Ivory King on September 24th. Each piece of DLC content will cost $9.99.

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Bloodborne Gameplay Trailer Leaked

Bloodborne

Bloodborne tickled everybody with its impressive CGI showing at this year’s E3. It perfectly captured the type of atmosphere, dread, and grotesque nature of Miyazaki’s vision, but it lacked something. It lacked gameplay.

Mere days after E3, Katana of Youtube has leaked the first gameplay trailer of Bloodborne. It uses images found in the previous leak but this time, it remains intact and in HD for your viewing pleasure. Check out the trailer below:

After a bit more digging, a few details came to light by the way of the Dark Souls subreddit. 

Here are some the major differences to the Souls games mentioned by Patrick Klepek at Giant Bomb’s E3 Show LIVE:

  • NO SHIELDS

  • Victorian Setting

  • No Heavy Armor

  • There will be a shotgun in the offhand slot that serves to stagger enemies.

  • More enemies to face at a time (up to 8-9)

  • A dash/sidestep alongside the roll.

  • A one hit attack to staggered opponents, similar to the backstab, except executable anywhere on the enemy.

  • ENEMY PLACEMENTS ARE RANDOM; when the bell rings, enemies will roam and scatter to other places.

  • BOSS PLACEMENTS ARE RANDOM (you will get locked into an area with soul gates upon the encounter.)

  • There will be weapons that have two modes, like the “flip scythe” seen in the reveal trailer.