Combat is the focus of Dark Souls 2. This page features a list of combat mechanics with in-depth insights to their workings and correlations, as well as helpful tips for beginners and veterans alike who are looking to take the next step in character development.
Lock-On is a feature which focuses the camera on a target letting the player easily direct their attacks and other abilities. It makes it harder for the target to get access to the player's back and forces the shield to face the enemy. Moving around the target also becomes easier.
As shown in the Twelve minute reveal for Dark Souls 2 Gameplay, the lock-On mechanic has returned. So far it looks to be done slightly different as the camera doesn't quickly snap to whatever the target is. Instead it seems a lot smoother. The player is also able to move more freely during lock-on, and is, for example able to roll and run away from the target while remaining locked on, whereas in the previous game lock-on would always make the player face the target. However, lock-on will no longer cause your weapons to autotrack the target; the player must manually aim swings with the left stick.
Stamina consumption looks to have increased for Dark Soul 2. While before the use of one handed weapons could allow for seven swings on what looks to be a high stamina character, Dark Souls 2 so far seems to only allow for three to five swings on average depending on the weapon. Because of this timing of attacks as well as rolls will likely be far more important than in the previous title. Rolling, and blocking looks to also not require as much stamina unless trying to block with something other than a shield. Also, It now costs stamina to cast magic & pyromancy. Note that stamina recovery is affected by equipment load. Stamina can have increased recovery through the use of a Green Blossom, or wearing a Chlornathy ring, Slumbering Dragon shield, Blossom Kite Shield, and Shield of the Insolent. The shields appear to give a bonus of 5% stamina recovery while the Chloranthy ring appears to give closer to 25% recovery at it's +2 rank. Using the shield with the ring together gives a reduced amount closer to 28%. The green blossom stacks with the ring as well as the shield and offers an approximate base of 15% stamina recovery bonus and gives a bonus of ~43% with the ring and shield, ~40% with just the ring and 20% with a shield. It is possible to have 2 stamina recovery shields equip at a time for ~10% but it isn't exactly practical. With no stamina recovery bonus you recovery ~52 stamina per second at 0% Weight load and for each additional 10% of weight you add, you will lose between 2-4 stamina per second. You also recover stamina at a greatly reduced speed while blocking.
For more information on stamina recovery you can check out this post https://fextralife.com/forums/t31301/stamina-recovery-and-you/
Studying Stamina Recovery by AcuteAnthrax
This is the value that determines the power of your attacks. It changes depending on your stats, chosen weapon and its upgrades. Please see our Weapon Attack Rating & Scaling Calculator for details on each weapon.
Dual Wielding and Power Stance
- See the Power Stance page for details.
Dual Wielding in Dark Souls 2 allows for more effective combat than in previous versions. Most characters who choose to dual wield will start as a Swordsman class character, with a shortsword and scimitar to start. While further testing is required, it appears that it is not possible to block while dual wielding weapons. Certain weapons in the left hand (e.g., a rapier) will allow parrying, but the primary defense for a dual wielding character is dodging. It is recommended to carefully consider what style of weapon should be carried in each hand, as the greatest advantage of dual wielding is versatility. For example, a common problem while using thrusting swords is the tendency to be overwhelmed or surrounded. When dual wielding, the player has the option of equipping, say, a scimitar in the other hand. The different attack styles can then be used as the situation demands, allowing for on the fly adaptations. Additionally, it is possible to alternate which hand the character attacks with by pressing the appropriate button - depending on the weapon's attack start up time, this can allow for extremely rapid combos with a bit of creativity. Achieving 1.5x the required STR and DEX stats for equipped weapons will allow the player to enter "Power Stance" by holding down Triangle/Y. The stance change is indicated by the character raising the off handed weapon to a ready position. While in the Power Stance, primary hand attacks will be carried out as normal. Off hand attacks will be replaced by an entirely new move set which incorporates both weapons. The actual move set changes based on the weapon equipped in the right hand (needs further testing to confirm). Generally speaking however, the move set attacks over a much greater area, making it useful for dealing with multiple opponents. Each tap of L1/LB will strike twice. The Power Stance has very important drawbacks however: while the character does attack twice for each tap of L1/LB, stamina use is applied for each strike individually, effectively doubling stamina costs. Additionally, attacks animations have a longer wind up, leaving the character open to attack if used recklessly.
Breakdown of Dual Wielding and Power Stance Mechanics
The power stance move set is determined by a priority system of these things: the weapon itself, heaviest weapon class, weapon type, and right hand weapon. But to put it simply, what determines the move set is the weapon that will be referred to as the dominant weapon.
The dominant weapon is determined by the following set of rules and priorities. Keep in mind that there may be exceptions, as almost all, but not all weapons were tested with this system in mind.
Primary Priorities & The General Idea of the Game
1. The dominant weapon's specific move set - Note that some weapons that are the same type as others can have different move sets. For example, the Warped Sword has a completely different strong attack in power stance than other curved swords, such as the falchion.
2. The heaviest weapon class - All weapons have been broken up into rough "weight classes." No matter which hand the "heaviest" weapon is in, it will become the dominant weapon. Priority is as follows:
I. Super heavy - Ultra Greatswords, some Greataxes
II. Heavy - Great hammers, Greatswords, Greataxes, Curved Greatswords, Halberds
III. Medium - Axes, Hammers, Spears, Halberds, Reapers, Lances, Twinblades
IV. Light - Straight Swords, Curved Swords, Katanas, Thrusting Swords, Whips
V. Super light - Daggers
Within their individual weight classes, there are certain priorities that must take place as well, as explained below. Also note that some weapons can only be used in power stance with another weapon of the same type, such as whips.
Now, if you've played for some minutes, you've probably noticed that the game has a lot of dangerous situations, but every encounter in PvE & PvE breaks down this way:
- Know the controls, and know the different attacks, gear and scenarios in the game. Get a sense of attacks and scenarios that you have a solution for, and attacks that you don't. It pays off big time to contemplate, and study a bit to win at the game.
- You have to attack quickly, and be able to recover from doing your attacks. That means don't get trapped by weapons with slow animations. Keep your attacks as short as the game mechanics allow, because enemies are great at countering, both in PvE and PvP.
- Know the levels of power and varieties of builds. This is how you enter PvP and assume effective problem solving.
- Don't touch aggro. Just don't do it. Step out of the aggro zone, and move around it.
- Time your dodge rolls. You are invincible for 3-16 frames during this, and when your torso is parallel with the ground, you have the perfect timing point. Dodge rolling in the opposite direction of a horizontal move will remove a big chunk of tactical failures in the game. Moves that attack in the vertical or diagonal direction tend to have big invisible hitboxes, and cause a player to be hit, so again, only attack when your opponent is really not able to hit you.
- Wait for your opponent to fail a heavy move, but expect a counter, or an ambush.
- Breaking your lock-on after an enemy charges a move can increase the chance that they miss.
- Spamming causes a higher chance of getting countered, or cheap-shotted.
- Opponents have calm moments, fake calm moments, fake aggro moments, and aggro moments. You will see these in how their body parts queue up, and calm down.
- Always scan the room piece by piece. Sometimes something as small as a goblet on a table is a key item, or a progression item.
- Groups of opponents are always smoke and mirrors. There is always one or two doofus opponents that leaves an opening for damage out of a lack of mind, and you have to see those openings.
- Use your camera to look around corners. Corners and such indestructible barriers are also great as shields against opponents.
- Use a melee build. This will be more dangerous, but you get more openings to take against opponents because casting builds tend to be slow.
- Try to keep every species of the top-performing weapons and armors, with every infusion, to deal with all the different situations, when time and energy are scarce. (So you want the best bow, spear, sword, knife, hammer, etc.) This is not necessary, but it makes the game nice and smooth. Focusing too much on damage types can make a player forget about DPS, accuracy, and flexibility of use, as well, so don't get hung up on that stuff.
- Filter out the stuff that is natural to you, and manually put focus on the aspects of a scenario that you don't have a solution for. This is how you stop yourself from getting killed before it happens.
- If you want your own meta-strategy for the game, just think of the game in the most dangerous case, in the most scary, dangerous scenario, with the most dangerous, scary enemy, and then solve for that scenario across an indefinite amount of time. That way, you get a solution for the whole game. Practicing with bad equipment and an intentionally weak build also helps a lot, too.
- For bosses, it makes sense to allocate the total amount of Estus you have, subtract 1, and then divide the boss' health bar by the resulting number, so you have an idea of when to heal. For example, if a boss has 10,000 HP, and you have 11 Estus, divide 10,000 by 10, and then it means that for every 1,000 points of damage, you can heal, and then you have one Estus left for emergency, in case an attack is coming, but you don't get yourself to safety.
1. Weapon type - Depending on weapon types, the dominant weapon can be determined by which types take precedence over others, despite being in the same weight class. This gets a little complicated, so here's a brief look at some of the weapon combinations in various weight classes: the dominant weapon is noted with (D).
Ex. Left hand weapon / Right hand weapon (D)
(D)Lion Greataxe / Greatsword - Interestingly, the faster-swinging move set of the Lion Greataxe takes precedence over the much slower, ground-smashing move set of the Greatsword. This is an example of odd priorities, making it possible to exploit the normally slow but hard hitting ultra greatswords into swinging as fast a normal greatsword when utilizing power attacks.
(D)Large Club / Claymore
(D) Bandit Axe / Longsword
Light weapons require a mini-priority list:
I. Straight Sword/Curved Sword
III. Thrusting Sword
Ex. 1 (D)Falchion / Uchigatana
Ex. 2 (D)Longsword / Rapier
Daggers have the lowest priority of all and will never be a dominant weapon over any other type.
2. The right hand weapon - This takes very last priority and cannot be relied upon to determine the dominant weapon.
(Breakdown contributed by: SummonTheNight)
In Dark Souls 2 it would appear that attacks fluidly come one after another while having what looks to be three standard animations per weapon. It is possible one is simply an R2/RT attack. Regardless combos look to be heavily possible as they are shown in the gameplay trailer.
It is possible to knock projectiles out of the air using larger weapons, while not explicitly stated during a gameplay reveal the player needed to switch over to a large two handed sword to try and knock away a thrown axe. It also seems that possibly only large projectiles can be knocked out of the air.
Poise has made a return. It seems that more enemies that have been shown will break poise in one hit though it is shown that some are unable to stagger the player on the first hit with armor being worn. While it may function similarly to Dark Souls one shouldn't assume the poise break-points will be the same. Poise itself is a stat which is based upon your armor and denotes whether the player character will get staggered upon taking a hit or not. This allows one to take hits without getting stunned for a second allowing for a variety of tactics to be used depending on the situation. It is especially helpfully against enemies with fast attacks which can stunlock the player, or for Player versus Player.
Blocking is the act of using a shield or weapon to reduce or completely negate the damage that would be otherwise taken. It involves holding up said weapon or shield in the direction of the attack coming at the player. Certain shields and weapons will block higher percentages of damage and also reduce different types of damage. For example a shield might have high magic resistance but low physical. The blocking of an attack also will cost the user stamina, depending on the shield or weapon used the amount of stamina consumed will be different. For example weapons will use up more stamina to block an attack as opposed to shields. Blocking is more difficult to rely on for every situation in Dark Souls 2 due to how aggressive enemies can be, they will often hit so fast and so hard that stamina will not regenerate fast enough to allow for further blocking. When the player runs out of stamina as their shield is hit during a block the shield will be knocked away. During this time they will take more damage, but the player may also be riposted when their shield is knocked away.
Parry, Guard Break and Riposte
Parrying is the act of using an offhand weapon or shield to knock away an oncoming blow, riposting is the act of using this opening to get a critical hit. In Dark Souls 2 it seems that parrying an enemy player will cause them to fall onto the ground in a seated position for a short time. The parry animation has a longer wind up than in Dark Souls. In addition to the longer wind up, it would seem that the 'Partial Parry' feature from Dark Souls has been removed. Riposting seems to involve using a downward attack on the seated player dealing significant damage, (As of the final beta, Riposte damage is LESS than backstab damage) it is unknown how the parry animations will be for all enemies but most human sized enemies should involve a similar animation. It is also now possible for players to be riposted after they have had their guards broken.
Parry Frame Data
Video showing how to parry & riposte
(UPDATED by Donkey Freckle)
Backstab has made a return, but works different than the backstab from the original Dark souls. In the previous game, the backstab worked like a "grab", which glued the enemy to the backstabber, which resulted in an animation with both characters. The backstab is now a unique attack animation for each weapon class that only can be started when standing behind the attack. The victim is still free to move from that animation, but when hit, will go in its own animation, which will keep the victim in the reach of the backstab animation. A successful backstab will knock most enemies down. Some enemies cannot be backstabbed. Also, there seems to be different distances depending on the weapon, where you can backstab. For example, ultra greatswords will require much more distance to backstab with than a dagger. Also requires that the backstabbing weapon be in the right or both hands, and the requires that the player be attacking in the direction of the enemies back.
Rolling and backstepping have both changed in Dark Souls 2. Rolling is not only dependent on your equipment load, but it is now affected by another stat called "adaptability". Adaptibility gives the player more invincibility frames in their roll, along with making it recover slightly faster. The speeds for rolls with the adaptability cap are now 38 adaptability with 35% or below, 36-70% will cause you to do a shorter roll, and 70.1-99% will cause you to do a fat roll with small iframes and a motion where the player needs to recover, along with making your backstep take longer to recover. Backstepping also scales with adaptability and how much your equipment burden is.
The guard breaking kick of Dark Souls has been replaced with a shoulder push. The developers have said the push performs the same function as the kick, the comparable effectiveness remains to be determined. Using the shoulder push, you need to be more careful compared to kicking. The shoulder push makes you step forward, so there is the possibility that could fall off a ledge during or after the animation. After breaking a humanoid foe's guard with the shoulder push, it is also possible to perform a riposte-like combination attack if timed properly.
There are four main status effects in Dark Souls 2: Poison, Bleed, Curse, and Petrify. All status effects have associated "resistances," which lengthen the bar that appears when hit by the effect. The length of the bar determines how much exposure (termed "build-up") a character can withstand before succumbing to the status effect.
- Poison, in terms of killing potential, is much more similar to Toxic from Dark Souls 1, draining a significant and continuous amount of HP very quickly. Poison can be cured with Poison Moss, Monastery Charms, and Dragon Charms, with the latter two also restoring health. Using the Estus Flask two or three times as one's health gets low can also generally counteract the effect. Lifegems slow the HP drain somewhat, but heal too slowly to fully counteract it. Toxic also exists in Dark Souls 2, being even stronger than Poison. Items that cure Poison also cure Toxic, so Toxic is seen as a stronger variant of Poison (although a player can be inflicted by both at the same time).
- Bleed, when it triggers, does significant damage to HP instantly (30%?), as soon as it is inflicted after build-up, and has the secondary effect of reducing a target's maximum Stamina by about 25% (need testing to see if multiple inflicts stack) until the effect ends. Note that in PvE, enemies and bosses do not have stamina, limiting the use of bleed against such foes. In PvP, bleed is quite effective due to its ability to limit both of the target's main resources.
- Curse has been toned down significantly since Dark Souls 1, but can still be a major setback in certain instances. Curse causes the target's hollowing to increase by one step, just as though the target had died (albeit without killing him or her). This causes the character's maximum HP to be reduced by 5%, down to a max of 50% (for most characters). This means that characters who are currently in human form lose their humanity, becoming hollowed (this also causes the player to lose the ability to summon for co-op!). Players cannot inflict the curse status. Curses are treated as hollowing, so are cured in the same way, via human effigies.
- Petrification is new in Dark Souls 2, but bears many similarities to the version of curse used in Dark Souls 1. Petrification results in instant death. Fragrant Branches of Yore may be used to cure or break the build-up of petrification, but be warned--there are many better uses for the branches; it's usually better to take the death than to waste a branch. Players cannot inflict the petrification status.
Fire, Lightning, Magic, Dark, Normal
Camera Position Aiming
Tilting the camera up or down will aim certain weapons slightly, allowing you to hit over objects or attack small enemies.
Aiming with Magic (First Person View)