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Dark Souls



by mrjhwar

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Dark Souls In Depth Melee Guide
Version 02
November 9, 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

Combat Systems

[1] Before you start
[2] Introduction
[3] Stamina Management - Don't tire out during the fight!
 [3.1] Stamina Guage Basic Knowledge
 [3.2] Attacking and Stamina
 [3.3] Blocking and Stamina
[4] Line of Swing - Know how your weapons attack
 [4.1] Swinging Weapons
 [4.2] Stabbing Weapons
[5] Stagger and Poise

Combat Techniques

[6] Play it safe, take it slow
 [6.1] Block then attack
 [6.2] Just Block
 [6.3] Wait for a Parry
 [6.4] Wait to Roll
[7] Rush Them Down!
 [7.1] OverPower
 [7.2] High Poise Stop Hit Trade

[8] Nimble and Fearless - Lose your Lock
---Lock-On System---
 [8.1] Back Stab Baiting (Knight Slayer)
 [8.2] Giant Slayer
 [8.3] Clearing the Trahs
[9] Common Mistakes

Version Change Updated

+ Corrections on Table of Contents and Topics
+ Rearranged Basics and Techniques
+ More detailed informations on ALL topics

+ More techniques for certain types of enemies
+ Added a youtube video link relating to the guide


[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.

This will explain the concepts of combat system in Dark Souls especially
Melee combat for PvE with little on PvP.

Don't overlook some of the basics, they all add up to advanced techniques.


[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. Don't get cocky!


[3] Stamina Management - Don't tire out during the fight!

[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.
Fastest Recovery when at less than 25% of total equipment load
Medium Recovery when at more than 25% but less than 50% of total equipment load
Slow Recovery when more than 50%

[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.

-You can delay your attacks between combos for a slight stamina recovery between
each swing, while also being able to chain that combo onto weaker enemies with
lower poise. It is also an offensive stamina management when you have enough
time to combo on a boss.

[3.3] Blocking and Stamina

-The bigger (heavier) the shield, the less Stamina it takes to block an attack.
Look at "Stability" Stat of that shield. The higher means the less stamina it
drains when you block. Shields with higher Stability can even block very strong
attacks from Giants or Bosses.

-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. *Unless your shield is highly stable.*

-Some enemies also have "Unblockable Attacks"
When a silver knight raises his shield AND point his sword while running towards
you, that is an unblockable thrust....Don't block it!
There are more, but will add later when I have confirmed them.


[4] Line of Swing - Know how your weapons attack

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

***This part is important in judging your opponent's attack***

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)
-Hits Ground Targets (slimes) and Nearby Flying Targets (flies) above you

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 when player's camera is looking on the ground in front
of him, and NOT Locked on to target.

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, long reaching, 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 additional attribute introduced in Dark Souls from Demon's 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 Slower weapons users
-Very useful against dogs or rats which have very fast attacks that interrupt.

Combat Techniques


[6] Play it safe, 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.

1) Hold your shield up. Look or Wait for an opening in opponent then attack.
2) Wait till opponent's attack is deflected then counter attack.
3) Wait till opponent stops attacking then you start attacking.

Note: Be sure that your opponent STOPs attacking before lowering your shield.
If you make mistake, you may take their delayed 2nd or follow up attacks.

-If the opponent staggers, 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 

-When you are not sure of your enemy's attack pattern. (PvE)
Staying back and observing slowly maybe a good decision.
Even if you die, at least you learn that enemy's pattern for the rest of your

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. (Does not work on some High Poised Enemies)

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.

-Run through!
You can just hold your shield up and sprint through an area with enemies.
You will eventually take some hits from the sides or back, but it is
better than nothing.

You can also hold your shield up to block, wait for your opponent's attack to
either be blocked or miss, then you can run away. Works either way.

----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.

-This is not recommended since it is risky. If you fail a parry, you will take
damage from that attack.

-I am not fully aware of which attack from which enemies can be parried either.

[6.4] Wait to Roll

Rule 1) It is better to ROLL LATE than ROLLing TOO EARLY
-Why? you ever see an enemy holds up his sword, about to slash you, you then
roll and his sword hits you as you are about to get up from your roll?

Be patient! Don't Panick! Time your Roll correctly.

Rule 2) Some enemies have "Tracking Attack"
-If you roll too early or to a less appropriate direction, the attack will
still hit you.

Rule 3) Horizontal(Diagonal) Swing, Roll to the direction that swing comes from.
-You will roll under it. If you roll any other way, you "may" get hit.

Rule 4) Stabbing (Thrusting) Attack, NEVER EVER roll AWAY.
-The reach of enemy's thrusting attack is ridiculously long. You WILL get hit.

Rule 5) Giant Sized Enemies, Roll UNDER (between his legs) him.
-The safest place from a swing is at its center point


[7] Rush them down!

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.

2 hand your weapons if you have to. Kill them before they kill you!
The longer the fight = the less healing flash you will have.

[7.1] Overpower
Does not work VS Heavy opponents (Ex: Black Knights, Tower Knights, Giants,
Golems, Slimes, and Bosses-duh) or opponents with High Poise.

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!

[7.2] High Poise Stop Hit Trade

You need a high amount of Poise in order to perform this.
I think about Poise of 70 and up at least.
2 hand your weapon (1 hand will be too weak and may get deflected when blocked)

1) Hold your shield up (don't 2 hand just yet) and advances to your opponent.
2) The moment your opponent has an opening of any way
-when he starts to attack you
-when his first attack misses
-the moment right after he rolls

3) 2-hand your weapon, go ALL OUT on him

Note* : You will die if...
1) Your opponent has more heath, better armor, better weapon. (PvP)
2) You miss your attacks and opponent does not
3) You do not recover enough to back away after you finish the attacks (Bosses)

*Not recommended, but it is still a technique.


[8] Nimble and Fearless - Lose your Lock

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

*****Lock On***** Very essential to advanced Techniques

-When you are "Locked" onto a target, your MOVEMENT is LIMITED.
-You CANNOT Look behind you, turn around, or run 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.

***You CANNOT perform the next techniques unless you learn to switch Locking
on-off AND learn to fight WITHOUT Locking on***

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


A youtube video I made refering to the mentioned technique:


[8.1] Back Stab Baiting (Knight Slayer)

Conditions Required:

-Do NOT Lock-on target or any of this will not work.
-Enough space to be able to run around your target.
-Only works on enemies that you CAN backstab, not gaints or bosses, etc.


1) Get behind your opponent.
-Sprint behind your opponent (preferably through his left).

2) Bait for the opponent to start attacking while you are still circling him.
-There is a short "pause" after an opponent attacks, that is when you can get
right behind him and Back-Stab.

3) Lock on target ONLY TO Block his attack while trying to get behimd him.
-Some enemies like Black Knights, Silver Knights can sweep their Halberd 180'
which will hit you even if you are right behind them.
-Therefore, Lock on to face him, block the attack, then toggle it off.

4) NEVER EVER turns your back on your opponent to run away while doing this.
You will get backstabbed.
-If you need to back off, Lock On your target, hold your shield up and move
backward -OR- No Locking on, Face your opponent, "step back".
It is the same button as "ROLL" but without inputting direction.

[8.2] Giant Slayer

Conditions Required:

-Do NOT Lock-on target, or your camera WILL mess up
-Enemy has to be BIG enough for you to run, roll under or between his legs
-You must already know how to hit things without Locking On

Example on this type of enemies:

-Giant Skeleton Warriors
-Giant Sentinels in Anor Londo
-Golem Boss in Sen's Fortress
-Phase 2 Ornstein


1) Get behind your enemy
-Safest spot to attack without worrying about getting hit during your combo

2) Stay close, between the legs, or near the back of their legs
-When you complete 1), you stay there to keep attacking the legs

3) If 1) 2) not possible yet, stay near the enemy's side
-Stay close until there is a chance to do 1)

4) Back out only to heal or run away from unblockable attacks
-You can't hurt them if you are just gonna run around too afraid to go in.

5) Stay Close to enemy AT ALL TIME unless 4)
-True warriors take it up close AND Personal

6) If there are more than 1 enemy, try to fight 1 at a time(figure out yourself)
-Exception, you HAVE to RUN in this case. Separate them, line them up, hit and
run if you have to. You will get a good practice on Ornstein & Smough fight.

When you are Locked On to this type of Enemy, sometimes your attacks will not
hit them where you want to. Your character will be looking UP at their torso,
attacking and WILL not reach cause they are WAY taller than you.

Do not Lock On, hit them manually, and you will hit their Legs.
Move your camera with the right stick to see your targetted area clearly.
I know it's tiresome, but it's better than being Locked-on and not hitting.

[8.3] Clearing the Trash

Example of Trash mobs:

-Slimes in Sewer
-Rats (not the Giant one)
-Dogs (not skeleton dogs)
-Skeleton Babies
-Noobs (Lol)

Conditions Required:

-Do not Lock on target
-Tilt your right stick control to "look down on the ground"
-High Poise is recommended

Ever wonder why your attacks miss on slimes, flies, rats even when you Lock on
sometimes? it happens, I don't know why either. Therefore, no Lock on and just
hit them should be able to do it by now.

You should know that your character can attack lower or higher depending on 
where he is "looking at". When you are not Locked-On, move your Camera on the
ground and try attacking. You will see that the sweep will hit the floor even
if it is a 3 to 9 o'clock horizontal slash.

This is very useful when you are fighting multiple small-sized enemies at once.
If you are locked on, your camera may mess up after each kill, and it also
limits your ability to sprint away when you are surrounded.

-----More Techniques coming next version!-----


[9] 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.

I know many people (including myself) got pissed off uncountable times when
this happens. Falling off cliff cause my dude jumps before rolling; get hit in
the back in the air cause my dude tries to jump over a horizontal sweep.

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 2.0

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