Miyazaki’s magnum opus is widely regarded as a legendary trendsetter that has defined an entire era of gaming. The beloved Dark Souls series has been subjected to critical acclaim from the get-go, bringing tears of joy and frustration to players around the globe.
In true Dark Souls fashion, it is no mystery that the games do not hold back when it comes to throwing everything it has at the player. The difficulty is one of the most famous and ambiguous aspects of the game. That made us wonder… how hard is Dark Souls actually?
The short answer is, Dark Souls is NOT THAT HARD. The games certainly have a learning curve, but they are also very mechanical in nature. The difficulty arises from taking time to learn the patterns of enemies and the game in general. Once you nail it down and the game clicks for you, it is way easier. Dying is part of the fun.
Dark Souls’ difficulty has been overhyped to the moon and back by players worldwide but that proves to be far from the truth. Admittedly, the game has some unfair areas and some unprecedented difficulty spikes, but it never proves to be too much. Additionally, once you nail down the combat of any one Dark Souls game, it makes the rest way easier.
Curious to know more? We bet! We will be putting this topic to rest once and for all. The apple of discord has rotten by this point. There are the git gut players on the end of the spectrum and the newbies getting anxiety attacks from the enemies from Iundex Gundyr. So, without further ado, let us answer the question: how hard is Dark Souls actually?
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The Dark Souls Series: How Hard is It?
The Dark Souls fandom is not really known for being the friendliest of the bunch. A lot of Dark Souls fans tend to avoid the community altogether due to the toxicity and heated arguments surrounding the games and their difficulty in particular.
Although admittedly every player is different and what’s difficult for one might be a cakewalk for the next. But there has to be an objective viewpoint to the difficulty, right? Right! Let’s take a look.
The Dark Souls Series
Hidetaka Miyazaki cemented himself as a master of his craft with the release of the very first Dark Souls game back in 2011. Dark Souls was a major hit with critics and players alike with the eerie atmosphere and the desolate lands crawling with nightmares.
The Dark Souls series is a trilogy of action-adventure RPGs that introduced to the world a unique take on classic combat with some colorful and brutal touches. The games are lauded for their excellent world-building and intricate lore that is delivered over the span of three individual games.
Dark Souls 3 was the perfect conclusion to a legendary set of games and it is also widely regarded as the best Souls game. Coincidentally, it is the least Souls-like of the three. That does not speak of its quality, however.
Even when the first game launched, the majority of the people commented on the difficult nature of the game. The other two games were met with the same reaction. Dark Souls started an undeniable movement that refined gaming into what it is today. The Dark Souls’ difficulty is one major contributor to it.
How much truth is there to the quirky little comment we stumbled upon while scrolling the internet, “Why the f*ck is this game so hard I want to pull my hair out!”
Let’s take a look, shall we?
The Dark Souls’ Difficulty
Yes, we are using it as an adjective to really grill the point in. Dark Souls is famously regarded as one of the hardest games of the generation. The bosses in particular are known to be brick walls that halt a solid high of clearing an area without dying once. That brings us to our next point: death in Dark Souls.
A major reason why people complain about how difficult Dark Souls is is because of the absurd death count the player piles during his or her playthrough. You know what we are talking about.
It was not always about how difficult or impossible an area was, you just did not want to see that God-awful YOU DIED painted mockingly across the screen one more time, right? People die a lot in the Dark Souls games, and that is a major factor as to why Dark Souls is claimed to be so hard.
So… what makes Dark Souls hard? And how hard are the games? Let us individually check out all 3 games before we give you an answer.
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The first entry in the Dark Souls series launched to astonishing critical acclaim, often being cited as one of the greatest in the medium. Dark Souls was many things; it was raw; it was new; it was exhilarating; it was a new milestone for gaming as a whole. More importantly, it was difficult.
Players soon realized that Dark Souls was no joke. That was the root of a mixed reaction of both praise and criticism.
The enemies were brutal, and the gargantuan bosses had the power and challenge to back up their menacing looks. All of this, plus the somewhat new controls and mechanics of the time made Dark Souls a challenging experience.
It is no secret that the original Dark Souls happens to be what we can politely call a chunky mess. The world-building and the interconnected map layout of the game were phenomenal, driven by a powerful narrative that would make history in the world of gaming. However, when it came to the controls, it was slow and frustrating.
The slow pace of the game’s combat paired with the enemies that still hit hard and heavy is a combination of rage. Dark Souls is very methodical in its approach to combat, no matter what weapons you are wielding during your playthrough.
The bosses are the highlight of Dark Souls games, and the first game is no exception. From the early Asylum Demon to the brutal Artorias, players have struggled with these challenging does throughout the game.
Dark Souls 2
Ah, yes. Everyone’s favorite Dark Souls game. The negative bias surrounding Dark Souls 2 continues to amuse and astound us because it is by no means a bad game.
Miyazaki’s big reveal that he would not be directly involved in Dark Souls 2’s production made the fans go ape and we believe that is a strong reason for the amount of hate the game gets. However, the difficulty of Dark Souls 2 is claimed to be on par with the rest of the Souls games, regardless of Miyazaki’s involvement.
A noteworthy aspect is the number of bosses in Dark Souls 2, with the number going over a whopping 30. Since bosses are tough and punishing, the game has a volumetric incline in the difficulty faced by some players. Dark Souls 2 is also quite slow and follows the footsteps of its predecessor, albeit with much more fluid gameplay and mechanics.
Considered the black sheep of the series, Dark Souls 2 prides itself on the abrupt change of pace and stands raw to serve as a sequel to a monumental game with more to offer on its own. From a difficulty standpoint, Dark Souls 2 is more annoying. There, we said it. The slow pace, the (still) unrefined combat, and the unbalanced enemy saturation are all contributing factors.
In spite of this, Dark Souls 2 happens to have the most ideal difficulty of the buck according to players. It is the middle ground between “WTF is this…” To “WTF IS THIS!?” Dark Souls 2 might not be groundbreaking, but it certainly got one thing right.
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Dark Souls 3
Ending off the trilogy with arguably the best game in the series, Dark Souls 3 is like an onion ring in your plate of fries: you did not expect something so different, but it is great nonetheless.
Dark Souls 3 is when FromSoftware got serious. The pacing, the fluidity, the mechanics, and the design took a turn for the better. As such, the difficulty spiked as well.
The learning curve here along with the new mechanics was greater and Dark Souls 3 is often considered more akin to Bloodborne than the other Souls games due to the fast pacing and far more brutal enemies.
In terms of difficulty, yes. Dark Souls 3 is definitely the most difficult of the three for several reasons like the enemy saturation, pacing, required skill, and that classic tinge of unfairness we Souls fans love so much. Thank you, FromSoft.
So… How Hard, Exactly?
Taking all of the aforementioned factors into consideration, it is safe to conclude that the Dark Souls series is not that hard.
It is a challenge surely, but nothing that warrants the exaggeration the games are met with. Dark Souls gets its difficulty from the learning curve of each game. There is an inconsistent level of challenge among the three games and each seems to retain its own identity.
Couple this with the fact that there are some unexpected and often unfair difficulty spikes (yes Dancer, we’re looking at you), and you get a difficult game that some players claim is unplayable and too hard.
That is far from the truth, however. There is some difficulty there, sure. There is also an absurd number of times that you will die in Dark Souls. However, there is hope. For when you get down to the basic formula of the Dark Souls games, they become a cakewalk for the most part.
Each game is quite linear and they follow the same “learn a pattern, wait, Parry/block/roll like no tomorrow, and then attack.” Rinse and repeat your way to victory. Once Dark Souls clicks for you, you can comfortably progress the game at a respectable pace without your hair turning white. That is how the difficulty levels are greatly mitigated.
Another minor factor to consider is the versatility of the combat system and how the game can play out much differently if you play with a weapon you are comfortable with and one that suits your playstyle instead of going for the heavy hitters.
With the slow pacing of Dark Souls 1 and 2, there is barely any challenge minus the frustrating intentional lags which are like a middle finger from FromSoftware. Dark Souls 3 is considerably challenging in comparison with some unfair walls and areas, but all of it becomes much more bearable once you get the hang of it.
Therefore, Dark Souls is, in fact, not too hard.
That concludes our guide for today where we answered the hot question: How hard is Dark Souls actually? The difficulty is greatly subjective and if you are having fun and not being pushed to the brink of demolishing your controller or monitor screen, then who cares? Have fun.
We sincerely hope that this guide helped you understand more about how difficult Dark Souls really is. If it did, be sure to leave a comment down below and let us know. Your feedback is much appreciated. Good luck, Tarnished!