Due to the sudden surge in popularity of From Software’s latest open world outing “Elden Ring” more and more people are getting interested in From Software’s past titles. Especially the last entry in the Souls series “Dark Souls III”
Dark Souls III was the critically acclaimed finale to the beloved Souls series. The series started in 2009 with Demon’s Souls and continued onwards with Dark Souls. Elden Ring’s success has once again inspired interest in the Ashen One’s journey through the kingdom of Lothric. So if you’re one of the people that are about to jump into one of the best Action JRPGS of the last decade, then this guide is for you.
Should I go Pure Melee or Pure Ranged?
One of the most common questions I’ve heard as a Souls veteran is whether players should make a ranged build or a pure melee build. This is a pretty interesting question, more so in Dark Souls 3 than in the other games.
In the earlier games where you had to be doubly careful about everything as the level design was out to kill you as much as the enemies, having a ranged alternative to draw in enemies was always a paramount option no matter what build you were going for. Especially in Demon’s Souls due to some of its levels *cough* Valley of Defilement *Cough* but in Dark Souls 3 this question is a lot vaguer.
While Dark Souls 3 tries to keep the level design found in the past games where the pace was supposed to be more methodical, it’s also very much an action-focused game where the levels offer more leeway than they used to.
To alleviate that however, the enemies in Dark Souls 3 are utterly ruthless. Enemies like the Lothric Knights, the Outrider Knights, black goo hollows(Not their actual name) are all littered around every level in Dark Souls 3. So it helps a lot in these cases to pelt your enemies with crossbows or magic from a distance while melee players always have to be in the thick of things. This is why we’re going to go over the perks of both options.
Lets start with melee first. There are a ton of melee focused options across the entire souls series, the player can wield powerful bleed inflicting twin swords, giant hammers or a colossal hunk of iron that is almost too big to be called a sword.
Each weapon type offers varying differences of speed and damage in Dark Souls 3. Certain faster weapons might do good damage and land strikes more often but that might come at the cost of lower range. In Souls games a weapons range is very crucial as long reaching weapons like spears and Ultra-Greatswords tend to have a significant advantage in terms of range over lets say the Uchigatana or the Knight class’s starting Longsword.
Melee characters always have to face with both enemies and bosses head on, dodging attacks and punishing any openings with your own flurry of attacks (or a single smash of your STR based Ultra-Greatsword if you’re like me). Melee builds have a huge advantage in close range as they can most often tank a lot of damage because of their high points in Vigor which increases health.
By the end of the game most melee focused builds in these games can tank some of the strongest boss attacks in the game from both powerful enemies and some of the toughest bosses. Plus you can post your no-hit, SL 1 naked Katana or “Giant Club” runs on Youtube and show the “casual” mage users how a real character is played.
Just like melee, Dark Souls 3 offers plenty of ranged options. If you’re a melee character that’s looking to dabble slightly into ranged damage the game offers players with options like Bows, Crossbows and Greatbows. While other ranged options involve magic like Sorcery, Pyromancy or Miracles.
The irony is that despite what certain players in the community would have you believe, pure magic/ranged builds are actually just as difficult as the melee options if not more. This is because while magic users have the freedom to fight in the range they’re comfortable in i.e. pelting bosses with powerful spells at medium distance, its also just as easy to end up dying with magic builds due to their reliance on pure magic damage instead of any defensive ability.
Since magic users often have to rely on their FP gauge, leveling up their main source of damage is always a priority instead of health. Another hurdle for magic users is that they have to sacrifice some of their health restoring Estus Flasks in exchange for FP restoring Ashen Estus flasks. This makes it so that both sides are balanced around their advantages and disadvantages, and while some may wonder “Hey magic actually sounds way more difficult”
Magic users also get access to some of the most powerful sources of damage in the entirety of Dark Souls 3 with their spells. So next time some rando in the community puts you down for using magic, just point and laugh at them the next time they run towards a boss and get one-shot by some guy with a sword.
Yeah That’s Cool and All, But Which One Should I Pick?
As someone who’s been playing this series since 2016 and has beaten every Souls game including Bloodborne and Sekiro, my earnest advice is to try dabbling into both options, builds like a magic knight, or a pyro-mercenary.
Dark Souls 3 offers a lot of fun options and systems that the players can mess around with and the first playthrough of a Souls game is always one of the best experiences you can have while playing a video game. Good luck on your journey, Ashen one and remember to Praise the Sun.
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