For everything that Dark Souls 3 does well, it's not necessarily the easiest game to simply pick up and play.
That's not to say the gameplay is bad by any means, it's just that the game doesn't always explain its various systems: once you learn what everything is or does, it's not all that hard to wrap your head around, but the game will leave you to figure out most everything on your own.
Usually, that mystery is a big part of the fun — but when it comes to making a character, the lack of explanation can be frustrating. What's worse is that, without any real way to reverse your choices, it's entirely possible to end up playing as a character that you don't like.
That's what this guide is for: instead of making blind choices based on a single menu screen at the beginning of the game, we've broken everything down so that you can make the best possible character build based on exactly how you want to play:
Building Your Character
In a lot of ways, combat in Dark Souls 3 begins as soon as you boot up the game. Your initial class may not necessarily tie you down to any one playstyle, but knowing what sort of character you want to play as will help keep you from wasting precious souls.
When it comes to combat, there are five main attributes that you'll want to focus on: Vigor determines your overall Hit Points, Endurance dictates your Stamina, Vitality manages how much you can carry and equip, Strength will help you wield larger weapons and Dexterity will allow you to use specialized weapons like katanas and bows. It sounds like a lot to manage, but once you determine what sort of character you'll play as, it's really not that complicated.
Most beginning players will want to choose between one of two archetypes: a heavy-hitter or an agile fighter. Using weapons like greatswords or battle axes will require a lot of Strength and Vitality, so it's best to focus on those attributes — on the other hand, anyone using dual scimitars will need a lot of Dexterity and Stamina. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from picking a balanced build with a few points in everything!
Thankfully, the early hours of Dark Souls 3 introduce a lot of weapons for players to try out, so don't worry about making the "wrong" choice early on — just make sure to try out each piece of new gear and see if you like using it!
Make Mine Magic
Swords and shields aren't the only aspects of combat in Dark Souls 3. Using magic can fundamentally change how you play the game — but before you start slinging Soul Darts, you'll want to pick which type of magic to take into battle.
Anyone looking to play a support role will want to stick with Miracles, as they largely focus on healing and characters buffs. Players hoping for long-range offensive magic will likely gravitate toward Sorcery, while close-range bruisers may want to look into the game's fire-based Pyromancy spells. It's important to make this choice early on: whereas new weapons are relatively easy to find, new spells are both rare and expensive. It's not nearly as easy to switch from one spell class to another, so newcomers may want to use magic in a more secondary role.
Now that you've got your magic, it's time to focus on one of three main attributes: Attunement determines how many Focus Points and Spell Slots you'll have, Intelligence dictates the strength of Sorceries and Faith affects Miracles. Just level up your class' specific attribute, and you'll be flinging magic missiles in no time!
Pyromancies are the odd man out, as the strength of your flame is dictated by the "Pyromancy Hand" equipment. As strange as it sounds, upgrading your Hand will allow for stronger flames, so there's not quite as much to worry about when it comes to specific stats.
Head of the Class
In terms of starting classes, there's no real wrong answer or bad pick — that being said, there are definitely stronger candidates than others.
Heavy hitters will likely want to start with either the Knight or Warrior classes. If you're thinking about trying out a bit of magic, stick with the Knight — otherwise, the Warrior starts with the highest Strength out of any of the other classes.
For agile fighters, it's hard to beat the Thief or Assassin classes. Again, it really comes down to whether or not you want to use magic: the Assassin class starts with slightly better stats for using sorceries, so you may want to start there.
Purely magic-based builds will want to start with their corresponding classes: Sorcerers and Pyromancers are pretty self-explanatory, and the Cleric class is a good place to start for Miracle-users (though the Herald class makes for a great balance of Faith and Dexterity).
Finally, stay away from the Deprived class: yes, it has the highest stats of any class, but you'll start the game with a stick and no armor. This is for advanced players only!
Now that you've got your character all sorted out, it's time to jump into the true meat and potatoes of Dark Souls 3 — the combat! Granted, the combat in Dark Souls is a bit more complicated than one might think — if you need a bit of help getting started (or just need a refresher) make sure to check out our dedicated combat guide!
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