From Before I Play
- Dying is not a big deal. You'll make back the souls and humanity you'll inevitably lose at some point, and even at its worst the end result is just a small delay on maybe 3-4 stat ups. Dark Souls is a game where your performance is determined mostly by your level of skill and knowledge. It's a lot more difficult to lose that.
- To minimize the risk of losing your souls, spend them ASAP instead of hoarding them. Consumable soul items such as Soul of a Lost Undead are not dropped on death like normal souls, and are thus best saved until you're about to level up or purchase something.
- Blocking and rolling are the two primary methods of avoiding damage. The effectiveness of a shield depends on its Damage Reduction and Stability stats. The effectiveness of rolling depends on the total weight of your worn equipment compared to your maximum equipment load. 0-25% equipment load gives you a nimble roll, 25-50% a normal roll and 50%+ a bad clumsy roll.
- Your class choice only determines your initial equipment and level, it doesn't permanently lock you out of anything as everything can eventually be found elsewhere.
- Pyromancer is one good beginner choice as the pyromancy trainer is some ways in and pyromancy itself is useful for all characters.
- Of the starting gifts, either the 3 Divine Blessings or 10 Black Firebombs are arguably the best beginner choices. The Master Key (which Thieves start with by default) is the most "impactful" gift but is best left for later playthroughs - it simply allows access to certain areas earlier than intended. The Pendant and Old Witch's Ring have no real gameplay impact, although the wearing the latter at a specific time nets you some extra dialogue. The effect of the Tiny Being's Ring is almost nonexistent, the Binoculars can be found quite quickly and easily, and Humanity is common.
- Of attributes, don't bother leveling Resistance as the benefits are miniscule compared to most other choices.
Items & Equipment
- You can increase the amount of Estus Flask charges you gain when resting at a bonfire by "kindling" it with 1 Humanity (the number in the top left corner), though you must be in human form to do so.
- The potency of your Estus Flasks can also be increased, done by offering rare items called Firekeeper Souls to Firekeeper NPCs such as the one caged in the lower part of Firelink Shrine. Make sure not to inadvertendly consume them as items!
- Most weapons are totally serviceable from the point you can meet their stat requirements to the end of the game. Don't get too hung up on the numbers.
- You must equip a specific item to cast spells. Pyromancies, Miracles, and Sorceries each require a different type of wielded item; Pyromancy Flames, Talismans, and Catalysts respectively. You can refill your available casts of a spell by resting at a bonfire.
- Even if you're not good with a bow, keeping one and some cheap arrows on you lets you lure individual enemies in from a distance, potentially helping you avoid fighting all their buddies at the same time.
Early Game Tips
- At the start of the game, the way forward is not through the graveyard. Those skeletons are meant for a stronger version of you. Find another path out of Firelink.
- There's an easily missable merchant very early on in the Undead Burg, accessible right before the first bonfire of the area. He sells a variety of very useful items such as firebombs, a repair box, and a storage box for items.