If you havenít guessed from the title, something magical happened this week. Something that will go down as one of my biggest video game achievements. I beat Dark Souls! It took me about 52 hours total, which Iíd say is a pretty decent time for my first time around.
By the time I defeated the final boss, my character was at level 82. I had a nice DEX-based build going on, with plenty of HP and Stamina to keep me alive through the though battles. I chose DEX for my main stat because a Katana I found at one point (the Iaito) did extra damage based on DEX, as did my trusty bow. Between the two of them, nothing could stand in my way for long. Especially not with the bleed damage from my katana and the extended range of my bow. The downside of all this is that I was severely lacking in magic. I could only cast the most basic of spells, and even they werenít really worth it. Why cast Soul Spear at 14 INT when a couple of 35 DEX arrows do the job just as well? Another item that was instrumental in my victory was Havelís Ring. What this does is simply to increase your maximum equipment load. Which is MASSIVELY helpful, as your actual equipment weight compared to your maximum load determines how fast your character moves (among other things). In the end I was walking around with over 50 pounds (kilograms?) worth of equipment and I was still light enough to dash at a decent pace and do combat rolls.
Of course even with my build, weapons and ring, Dark Souls was far from a walk in the park. A lot of areas were pretty doable as long as you take it slow and steady, but it goes without saying that others were far less forgiving. I think the most trouble I had in the game was with a couple of specific bosses, and the Dukeís Archives. There are a lot of enemies in the latter, and they most certainly arenít above all ganging up on you. And they hit hard too!
As for the bosses, I definitely had the most trouble with the bosses you canít fight one-on-one. With the exception of Four Kings, that is. For all the horror stories that Iíve heard about them, they died on my first try. No, who I mean in particular are the Bell Gargoyles and Ornstein & Smough.
- These assholes right here
The Bell Gargoyles gave me a lot of trouble early on in the game. I hadnít upgraded any of my weapons, so my damage output against these things was pathetic. And while my shield could withstand one gargoyleís attacks perfectly fine, there was simply no keeping up with two of them. They are very clever about supporting eachother too, all of which made this fight a massive pain. In the end, I learned that you can hide from one if you keep him on the other side of the roof youíre fighting on, giving you just the slightest opening to attack the other. Besides that, I learned to upgrade the living bajeezus out of my sword, so that getting a rare attack in actually did something worthwhile. That was the key to success, and the gargoyles finally fell.
I didnít have that much trouble with a boss until Ornstein and Smough, pictured above. These guys will hunt you DOWN. They will hunt you down and kill you stone dead. The big guy is Smough; he hits incredibly hard and is faster than appearances would suggest. The smaller one is Ornstein; he is much faster, has nasty combos and has electric powers. Together, they are a pain. Good luck getting an attack in when you just know the other one is right behind you shoving a spear up your butt. Oh, and did you know they can combo you to death in like a second? They totally can if youíre not careful. But wait, it gets worse! When you finally kill one of them, guess what happens? The other one consumes the power of his fallen comrade and gets supercharged. He will then proceed to wreck your shit all on his own. If Smough dies first, Ornstein grows to twice his size, keeps his speed and elec damage and gains new even more insanely powerful attacks. If Ornstein dies first, Smough keeps all his power, but all of his attacks now gain Ornsteinís elec damage.
Ultimately, this battle was decided by my trusty bow. I managed to kill Ornstein first with my Katana, resulting in superpowered Smough out for blood. The thing is though, Smough doesnít actually get any faster in his super form. All of his attacks just hit even harder than they already did. In fact, he is slow enough that you can play keepaway if youíre careful. So thatís what I did! I kept backing off from him until I had the time to shoot an arrow right in his gut, and kept it up until he was dead. I had numerous VERY close calls doing this, but he finally fell and I could claim my prize. I was never so glad to have my bow with me. I donít know how I wouldíve done this fight without it.
After that, everything was relatively smooth sailing. I managed to get all of the Lord Souls pretty fast, and none of the bosses since Laurel & Hardy up there gave me that much trouble. Some of them Iíve even managed to tank, what with my +15 Katana and Havelís Ring-enhanced defense. The only ones that really gave me shit were the ones from the DLC, which is included in the PC Prepare to Die edition. Those guys are really aggressive, they never let up. But after some trying, I beat them too.
- Artorias, one of the DLC bosses, is probably my favorite boss in the game
So here we are, I beat Dark Souls completely solo (no NPC or co-op help whatsoever), with (fixed) keyboard and mouse controls, without magic but with some very significant DEX-based damage. Iím so proud of myself right now. † †