I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a casual Souls player. While I desperately crave the bragging rights and accolades that accompany the completion of the game (at the very least), I just don’t hate myself enough to make it all the way there. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of self-loathing powering this weak mortal vessel, although it’s usually reserved for career, finance, and relationship regrets. Nevertheless, like clockwork, every time a new Souls game drops, that nagging voice comes slithering up from the depths, whispering in my ear, “What are u? Casul?”
“Yes!” I scream out, to no one in particular. So what? A casual player can still appreciate the beauty of a Dark Souls game!
After three games of research, it turns out that, no, a casual player cannot. You’ll maybe claw your way to the first handful of bonfires, but that’s it. In one week’s time, you’ll be nervously standing at some desolate Gamestop counter hoping to god your membership card has not expired; you need that additional 10% trade-in value. Is the employee behind the counter, knowing full well the game’s only been out a week, going to judge you as you stumble over your excuses for giving up? Yes. Yes she will. Did you also talk a big game when you picked your copy up a week ago? Yes, yes you did. Cue the self-loathing.
In this, the two thousand and sixteenth year of our lord, I will new game plus the shit out of Dark Souls III. I’m already three bosses in, and I’m getting better. The three (four including Bloodborne) admittedly half-assed attempts made over the last few years have surprisingly primed me for what will surely be a magnificent descent into madness. In an effort to help those like me, with similar aspirations, I present to you my ’10 tips to have a decent chance at not abandoning Dark Souls III.’
1. Trade in your copy of The Division
The Division is like an old girlfriend you text late at night after sending a couple unanswered messages on a dating app. You know it’s a bad idea, and on the off-chance she engages, you’re back on that same wobbly bike with the deflated tires you swore you’d never ride again. Sure the graphics are some of the best you’ve ever seen, but honestly the moment you start to patrol the same-y locations taking down the same four different enemy types over and over, you’ll wish you hadn’t. The Division is still fetching about 40 bucks at Gamestop, so get it over with while you can still get out the door with your copy of Dark Souls III for twenty dollars.
2. End all romantic relationships
It’s depressingly sad, it’s true, but if you were thinking about picking up Dark Souls III anyway, odds are your relationship is not going that great. End it now before your significant other hears cuss words they didn’t even know were in your vocabulary. End it now before you slump into bed at 5am, waking up your petite-amie with bemoaned grumbles about a fucking bullshit camera angle that just fucked you harder than any amount of sex you and your lover might share. If you do in fact stay the course with Dark Souls III until the end, you’re getting dumped regardless; so save them the hassle of slowly falling out of love with you as you transform into a petty, sleep-deprived misanthrope.
3. Clean your room
It’s bad enough that you’ve stayed up until 3am trying to retrieve that small green pile of souls laying at the feet of a tormented beast, only to dodge roll off a cliff into oblivion. What’s worse is trudging up the stairs or down a hallway to a piece of shit bedroom drenched in dirty clothes and piles of gas station receipts. Clean your room. At the very least, after you’ve wasted your last ember by getting disemboweled by a Hell Hound, thus forfeiting any chance of summoning a phantom to help you, you want to cry yourself to sleep in a clean, happy place. Trust me.
4. Don’t tell anyone you’re playing Dark Souls III
When you tell people about the insurmountable odds you’re about to tackle, they’ll probably want to check in with you in a few weeks time to see how you’re doing. If you never tell anyone you got the game in the first place, you never have to admit that you gave up after you lost 13k souls because you forgot to wait for the goddamn fucking piece of shit elevator. I mean, fuck! Why can’t the elevator reset like every other goddamn monster in this dumb-ass game?! It’s ludicrous that I have to remember that on top of every other detail, lest I plummet to certain death! Cocktwinkies!
5. Convince another casual friend to purchase the game
A little friendly camaraderie and competition goes a long way in a Souls game. Plus, it’s imperative that you have a shoulder to cry on after you’ve been swarmed by five cleaver-wielding maniacs who tore you limb from limb while you rolled helplessly into the sixth. It minimizes the pain when a good friend is there to gently caress your thinning hair as you stare off into the distance, a pained scowl wrapped tight across your face. They won’t judge you the way veteran players will, who often chastise you for not playing by the game’s rules, or just say, “That’s Dark Souls for you, man.”
6. Befriend a veteran Souls player
This is the most sure fire way to enjoy the game. Having a veteran player sit behind you and tell you exactly where to go, which monsters to fight, which monsters to run from, and where to get the most valuable gear, is probably the only way to beat this godforsaken game. Another option is finding a ‘Sun Bro’ willing to invade your game and sherpa you through every level and boss until you’ve reached new game plus. Don’t worry about looking weak and insignificant in front of a visiting Sun Bro, they already know what a moopy pile of nothing you are and get great pleasure from charging into battle and melting every beast in sight as you cower twenty feet behind them.
7. Walk away
It’s crucial to know when to walk away from Dark Souls III. You can trust that when your controller is telling you to recharge it, and you’re chewing a piece of gum that turns out to be the bottom portion of your lip, it’s the universe’s way of informing you it’s time to take a break. A frustrated Souls player is always a sloppy one, and the game will punish you for losing patience. You become so focused on rushing back to the place you were slaughtered that you forget about the ambushes, the trap doors, and god knows what else that’s lurking in the darkness, hoping you don’t remember that’s it there.
8. Have a backup game
Should you heed my advice and walk away from the unrelenting torture, it really helps to have a back-up game that’s more of the bunnies and clowns variety. If you don’t, the desire to play a game, a new game, and having nothing but the long bleak corridor of Dark Souls III ahead of you, just might ruin video games for you forever. Obviously this is an undesirable outcome as it might lead to more sleep and possibly some friendships or whatever. Coincidentally, the new Ratchet and Clank released the same day (on PS4), and while I haven’t played it yet, I would assume that it would be the perfect title to ween you off the drugs ever so slightly.
9. Take drugs
Whatever your poison is – dope, Tito’s, whatever – make sure you’ve got plenty on hand for your first Dark Souls III play through. If you’re sober, I would recommend a “safer” drug like caffeine, nicotine, or Ambien, as the slightly inebriated state really allows you to become one with the controller. Much like that date you fucked up last week, drinking and/or doing drugs really allows you to stop thinking with your rational brain and rely solely on your most basic, primal instincts. The less you care the better you’ll do. I repeat: The less you care, the better you’ll do.
10. Remember to call your family
You need to carefully map out times to call your family and let them know you’re okay. What you absolutely want to avoid at all costs is picking up a call from your mom just seconds after you’ve lost all your souls to a low level shielded skeleton, who you foolishly decided to go blow for blow with. A), Shame on you for not circling around him until his backside was exposed, and B), Despite your best efforts to put on a happy face, your mother will know immediately that her child is no longer there, and has been replaced by a mouth-breathing, broken down crab that once resembled a human being. You will be interrogated thoroughly, and the excuse that you just got your ass handed to you in a video game will only make matters worse.
It occurs to me now, having seen these words on the page, that before I trudge back into Lothric, I should probably call my mom. Happy Souls-ing, Casuls.