The infamous Demon's Souls has returned on PS5, and it's still tough as hell; here are some tips on how to survive in the remake of FromSoftware's original Souls game.
Demon's Souls on PS5 is a full remake of the classic FromSoftware action-RPG that began the stoic and uncompromising trend of Souls-likes that we know of today. For those who experienced the dangers and threats within the kingdom of Boletaria in 2009, you'll quickly find that the tough-as-nails gameplay and sense of anxiousness when exploring remains intact. However, for those who've never played a Souls game or who focused on the Dark Souls series or other iterations, you'll quickly find that Demon's Souls has a particularly sharp edge to it in areas you'd least expect. And most often, it leaves much of the finer details of its gameplay for you to uncover.
With the launch of the Demon's Souls remake, we've put together some tips that will help make your opening hours a bit more manageable. If you want to read more on Demon's Souls, check out our full Demon's Souls review from Tamoor Hussain.
Pick Your Starting Choices Carefully
Once you begin your journey, you'll create your character and choose their starting class. While traditionally character classes have defined stats and skills, the classes of Demon's Souls are merely a starting point for your journey. Once you begin collecting weapons and using the souls of fallen enemies to level up and amplify critical stats, you're free to evolve your character in any way you see fit. So a humble barbarian has the means to evolve into a magic-wielding glass cannon by the game's end.
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Still, your choices here can have a significant impact on your chances of surviving. For beginners, the Knight, Soldier, Temple Knight, and Royal classes are solid picks as they cover all the bases for attack and defense, and have reliable weapons and armor to back them up. The Royal class, despite starting at level 1, has access to the powerful Soul Arrow, which can easily wipe out enemies from a distance. After you pick a starting class, you can also choose a starting item. A majority of these are one-time use items, so you're better off picking something with a longer shelf life. We'd recommend picking the Providential Ring, which will increase Luck and raise the drop rates on healing items and crafting materials. In the early hours, this can be a massive boon for your survival.
Get To Know The Nexus, And Keep It Safe
After meeting your inevitable first death at the hands of the Vanguard Demon (or, if you manage to beat him, the Dragon God), you'll find yourself whisked to the Nexus. This place will serve as your main hub, and it's the one true safe haven in Demon's Souls. In this location, you'll get to meet the game's key characters, merchants, and supporting allies who will offer you advice on how to proceed. While at the Nexus, you can upgrade your equipment and manage your inventory, which is excellent for improving your chances in the many locations you'll explore. The upper levels of the Nexus also include an interesting take on player leaderboards, which keeps track of the online community's standing in the game.
The Nexus' most important character is The Maiden, who will help players level up with the collected souls. You'll eventually have more characters enter the Nexus who can offer you new items, magic spells, and other insights on places to explore. Depending on your choices, though, you may set into motion events that can put your allies at risk. So if you meet someone who seems "sus" and wants to visit your place in the Nexus then maybe you shouldn't ask them to come back to your only safe space. Always use your best judgment when it comes to new faces looking to journey to the Nexus.
Don't Be Afraid To Explore Elsewhere
Unlike the Dark Souls series' winding, interconnected levels, Demon's Souls has five standalone worlds that are all tied to the Nexus. Inside the Nexus, you can travel to each location in the game from one of five Archstones. The places you'll visit include the Boletarian Palace, the Stonefang Tunnel, the Valley of Defilement, the Tower of Latria, and the Shrine of Storms. After defeating the Phalanx boss in the Boletarian Palace, you'll have access to each of the Archstones, giving you more freedom to explore the different realms.
It's important to stress that you are not expected to complete each Archstone in a single run. Once you've defeated a boss in one realm and unlocked the next waypoint, you've essentially completed the first part of that realm. It's a much better use of your time to head out to a new location and make progress there. While it's possible to keep proceeding forward, you'll quickly find that the monsters and enemies after a completed boss fight are much more challenging, so don't be afraid to venture off to a new space if you feel like you've hit a wall in your progress.
Only Take What You Need
Inventory management is just as essential in Demon's Souls as swordplay and carefully dodging traps in the environment. Each item and piece of gear in the game has a unique weight attached to it. Depending on your character's endurance, you'll find that items you have in your inventory will eventually begin to affect your character's movement and what they can pick up. An inventory that hasn't been managed can be especially troublesome when you find a valuable item but can't pick it up when you need it.
With this in mind, you need to keep track of what your character has on them, even for smaller items like healing grass--which can add up. In the Nexus, you can talk with Stockpile Thomas to access the game's storage boxes, allowing you to offload spare items, unused gear, and crafting materials. Early on, it's best to ditch things you don't need and place them inside. One fantastic quality-of-life improvement with the Demon's Souls remake is that you can instantly send items to the storage box if your character's weight limit has reached its limit. While this can still prevent you from using certain items at the moment, it does take the sting out of missing out on valuables forever.
Leave A Helpful Message Behind
A hallmark of the Souls games is their communication system, which players can use to leave helpful messages or vague notes in the environment for others to find. These notes can point out upcoming threats, offer insight on nearby items, or sometimes be used for nefarious purposes to lead players into a deadly trap. The remake of Demon's Souls has the original's messaging system intact, and given the incredibly harsh stakes in the opening hours, paying attention to these notes--while also using your best judgment--is key to survival.
Using the touchpad, you can select the option to leave a message based on a preset list of keywords. Besides being a great way to help fellow dungeoneers, it also allows you to get a sudden health boost if another player gives your message a positive affirmation. While its usefulness can be a bit situational, that boost can potentially be a massive help when exploring a lengthy dungeon. So be sure to take advantage of the message system when you can.
Know Your World Tendency
One of Demon's Souls' more intricate features is the world tendency system. Essentially, your actions and choices, which include defeating key characters, bosses, and even your instances of death, can shift the balance in various realms of Boletaria. The world tendency systems move between both white or black tendencies, and these shifting tendencies alter the way you explore dungeons and fight enemies. For instance, exploring dungeons with black world tendency will have more aggressive enemies and a larger frequency of enemy Black Phantoms invading your world. However, the black world tendency will also lead to higher drop rates for specific items, which adds some incentive to stick with the added challenge.
What made this feature such a strange system in the original was how vague it was to understand how things were shifting clearly. Thankfully, the remake makes the world tendency system a bit more evident with the inclusion of a new menu that shows off the balance of each realm and your character. Coming to grips with world tendency will not only make it easier for you to understand your current odds, but it will also allow you to understand how to tip the balance in your favor. In some cases, you may want to shift a particular realm to the black world tendency, which can open up a pathway to a hidden encounter. So the sooner you learn how the system works, the better you'll understand how to pull the various threads holding the world together in Demon's Souls.
Be Patient, And Always Be Prepared For A Fight
Despite its uncompromising approach to combat, Demon's Souls is a largely fair game when it comes to each encounter and boss fight. The trick is understanding that you'll need to think several steps ahead before you engage in a battle. More often than not, you'll meet your end when fighting aggressive foes with wild attack patterns, falling into pits, or simply running too fast down a hallway and barrelling straight into a crowd of enemies. It's never a pleasant sight to see a death, but each one is a learning opportunity.
The keys to overcoming the many challenges in Demon's Souls are perseverance, patience, and understanding the threats you face. Combat is one of the core pillars of the game, and while the introduction will walk you through the various ins and outs of its standard attacks and defensive skills, sometimes it's much better to let enemies wear themselves out with their attacks and then rush behind them for a backstab while they're catching their breath. The moment-to-moment experience of playing Demon's Souls can be tense and challenging, with countless outcomes for every move you make, so always take a second before an encounter to analyze what's to come.
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