Demon's Souls tips for beginners

A guide for new adventures and brave souls.

Find out how to ensure your first few hours in the inhospitable realm of Boletaria are exhilarating, not exhausting.

6 things newcomers need to know

1. Souls are everything

The souls you harvest from fallen foes is the central currency of this bleak, oppressive world; you’ll use them to level your character up and to purchase items at vendors. But beware, the souls you harvest are always carried upon your person. If you die, and can’t survive the battle back to where you were slain, it’s gone. Forever.

2. Death is not the end

Death may seem like a heavy penalty to pay for getting a little too overzealous with an extra sword swing in battle, but there’s nothing quite like creeping through an unknown land, pockets bulging with spoils only for death to come knocking, and you’ll lose all those precious souls. The question is are you brave enough to get them back.

The sooner you come to grips with this fact, the sooner you’ll learn that every journey through a level is a learning experience – one meant to teach you the location of hazards, enemies and their attack patterns. That knowledge, however, will have to be paid in lives until you finally defeat your foes and are rewarded with glorious victory and their souls.

3. Shortcuts abound – search high and low

It’s hard to overstate how much of a relief it is to find a lever or ladder that can be activated to lead you back to an Archstone portal you thought you left behind ages ago. Demon’s Souls’ level design is littered with shortcuts to help shorten your arduous quest, though they’re not always easy to discover...

4. Watch what you're carrying

Unlike many RPGs, your inventory is finite, and keeping your encumbrance in check offers massive gains in the distance you can roll and how far you can sprint.

Your total item weight is viewable in your inventory; yellow means you’re becoming encumbered and you might want to drop something. Red means you’ll move like a corpse in the ichor of the Valley of Defilement. Never go into a fight without knowing how fast you can dodge your enemies blows, and remember that seemingly small items like healing grasses have weight as well. It can all add up quickly and soon become your demise.

5. Your quest has many roads

Upon your arrival in the Nexus you’ll be greeted by five Archstones leading to distant lands. Each of these lands contain roads that progressively become more dangerous, always ending in a demonic battle. There’s no shame in returning to the Nexus to try another land and another route, in fact this is advised by the most knowledgeable scholars. They say the leftmost Archstone is generally considered where a novice adventurer starts and ends their quest.

6. Don't worry too much about being whole or a soul

There are a host of reasons why you might choose to stay either as an actual human, encased in your bodily form or a walking ghost, your soul form whilst in Body Form you possess your full lifeforce, in Soul Form your ghostly remains can only muster half – but don’t get too hung up on trying to restore your humanity. It’ll happen automatically after defeating a great demon. Soul Form is where you will mainly exist, and it’s easier to wrap your head around that being the “true” amount of life you have rather than expending valuable items to stay human.

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Choosing a starter class

Upon accepting your quest, you will be asked to choose a class. A knight or a thief, or maybe a wizard, each has distinct benefits and weaknesses. But remember this is just the starting point of your epic journey. Over time you can learn and evolve, developing new skills to become the Slayer of Demons. Your character’s only limitation on weapons, armor and sorceries are stat points, so you’re free to upgrade and experiment as much as you like. But to become the most powerful you must concentrate your efforts on your best skills. Trying to become a Jack of All Trades will be your downfall. Play to your strengths.

The Royalty starter class is arguably the “easiest” choice for a new adventurer who would brave the lands of Demon’s Souls. Royalty is blessed with a catalyst and a knowledge of the dark arts and spells. With the ability to lock onto enemies with a click of L3 and fling Soul Arrows from afar enemies have to close the distance to do damage. A distinct advantage in this brutal world. Some of the sorceries that can be acquired later in the game can be incredibly powerful. But remember everything has a cost, including the mental fortitude to cast Soul magic.

Royalty also carries a sword and shield, although you won’t excel at hand-to-hand combat, you’ll have versatility on your side, and the focus on ranged attacks makes it a good fit for the more cautious adventurer.

Expert tip: The Cling Ring
There’s one item, found early in the game, called the Cling Ring. Tucked between two gates that serve as a shortcut after exploring the bowls of the castle.

The rings power gives those in Soul Form an invigorating boost to their life force, increasing the cursed half health whenever you are a ghost. Any advantage you can get against the hordes is invaluable, so don’t miss it. 

How multiplayer* works in Demon's Souls

  1. Blood messages. Scrawled by other adventurers, these can indicate shortcuts, the approach to lair of a great demon, or tricky, deceptive foes. Some are a malevolent fib to make a trusting adventurer jump off a cliff to their doom by promising a valuables just out of sight. Be wary but don’t always dismiss them out of hand.

  2. Summons. Real-time interaction comes in the form of summoning, allowing you to summon up to two other real players in the form of Blue Phantoms to assist you in your quest to defeat the great demons.

    There are a few catches, though. To summon someone, you must be in your Bodily Form. If you feel like helping and are in Body Form, you can use the Blue Eye Stone to leave a summon sign and join someone else’s game. Should you and your allies complete your quest and fell the demon, they’ll be sent home and restored to Soul Form, just like you.

  3. Invasions. If you feel like ruining someone’s day, you can use a Black Eye Stone in Soul Form to actually invade a Body Form player’s game as a Black Phantom where the enemies will completely ignore you, allowing you to stalk the level to find and slay your prey. Kill the host, and you’ll return home with that fresh Body Form, plus some handy extra souls.

Expert tip: Black Phantom, Heart of Gold There is an unorthodox option while playing as a Black Phantom, though: you can help the invaded player by killing the enemies in the level, thus making it easier for them. You’ll still have to fight them eventually, but who says Black Phantoms can’t throw the fight as a random act of kindness?

*Internet connection and active PS Plus subscription required for multiplayer.
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Demon’s Souls’ Tendencies in detail

Tendency is the “state” of the world inside each of the individual Archstones, and of your adventurer, regardless of where you are. Represented as a range from Pure Black to Pure White, the World Tendency menu will show you the state of each of the Archstones and your character as they slowly grow dim or light up. Felling a boss, repelling an invader or helping another character who summons you shifts things toward white, while invading and killing a player or dying (yes, really) shifts tips toward black. 

Generally speaking:

  • White Tendency effectively makes the game easier; enemies do less damage and have less health, but offer up fewer souls and items the closer the world is to Pure White. 
  • Black Tendency makes the game harder; enemies have more health, but they drop better items and offer more souls when they’re defeated.

A final word of caution

Hopefully, this guide has given you a few handy hints as to how you’ll start your game. Much of the fun (and tension) of Demon’s Souls lies in not knowing what’s around the corner, so care was taken not to spoil things too much.

There is something absolutely fundamental that can ruin a new player’s game for good, though, so let’s spoil the surprise. NPCs – that is people you can actually talk to instead of bludgeoning to death on sight – can be killed or turned hostile. This includes an innocent wayward button press while setting down the controller, and once an NPC is gone, they’re gone for good. This can mean losing access to entire storefronts for the rest of the game, so be on guard while near a friendly face or you may pay the ultimate price.

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