This page contains general information regarding the online aspects of Dark Souls. See our Guide to Co-operative Play for more specific help with co-op play.
You will occasionally see a bloodstain on the ground. When you stand on it, you can activate it. Doing so will replay the last few seconds of another player's life at that location, ending with their death. The death usually does not take place at the actual bloodstain, similar to how your own bloodstain is usually not precisely where you actually died but rather where you were several moments before. The replay shows the slain player as a phantom, but does not show any other aspect of their death such as what specifically killed them (unless the phantom falls off a cliff or the like). However, much can be inferred from the replay, including possible nearby computer enemies that may be in ambush, or if PvP invaders are particularly active in the area (typically when the phantom is repeatedly circling and attacking, and then backstabbed or slain in only a few hits).
Illusions (Light Blue Phantoms)
As you explore the game, you will catch glimpses of other players who are in the same place at the same time. These will look like the phantom images you see when you activate a bloodstain, but will represent actual "live" players who are traveling through their own game worlds in real time. They cannot be interacted with directly, although it is possible to gesture at one another should the mood strike.
Near bonfires (and only near them), the above phantoms of other players may appear more distinct and visible than elsewhere in the game, showing all of their equipment and even whether they are in human form or not. Seeing other people resting at the same bonfire helps players realize that these people are probably facing the same challenges. Testing suggests you are also more likely to see distinct phantoms of those players at or very close to your own level, giving you a helpful sense of how active the area is at your level if you wish to place a summon sign at that bonfire, or look for signs to summon help.
Bonfire Strengthen (Kindling)
"If someone strengthens a bonfire, this will be transmitted to people "nearby" (in network terms) who are using the same bonfire, giving them an extra Estus Flask. Strengthening a bonfire costs valuable Humanity, but you can use it to help out strangers and gain a sense of solidarity with your fellow strugglers." [ 1] These extra Estus Flasks can exceed the limit of a particular bonfire, up to a maximum of 20 (the same limit for a fully kindled bonfire once the player has the Rite of Kindling). Thus if you anticipate dealing with a difficult area, idling at a popular bonfire for a little while (in Hollow form to avoid invasions) can give you additional Estus Flasks above your regular capacity.
Players can be called into other's worlds, to aid their summoner. Players can also leave summoning signs for other players, and once summoned can drop recovery items to help their fellow players. You get the White Soapstone item that enables you to leave your own summoning sign by speaking to the Solaire Knight in the Undead Parish. By putting your sign down, other players will be able to select it and "summon" you into their game to help defeat the boss of that area. As a phantom, you are unable to heal with your own Estus. Instead, you are healed whenever the host heals. Upon defeating the boss or death of the host player, you will recover as though you have rested at a bonfire (Full estus and magic recovery.). You must be human to summon other players into your world.
From Namco Bandai:
Due to several contacts we've received from users confused as to how the summoning feature works in game, we have provided this list to help.
Conditions for summoning ( White Sign Soapstone):
- The host (person who's game world will be used) must be human. The client (person joining the game) can either be human or undead.
- The client’s level must fall within approximately 10 and +/- 10% of the host’s level. See our Summon Range Calculator for an easy plug and play tool.
- The area Boss in the host’s world must still be alive in order for a host to either summon allies or to be invaded by another player. A client can still be summoned even if the client has already defeated their own area boss.
- The host must not have placed down a summoning sign. Summoning signs from other players will not appear in a host’s world if the host also has placed a summoning sign down. This is to prevent a network conflict of the host joining someone else's game world while the clients are trying to join the host's game world
After successfully summoning, the client will return to their world if the area boss is defeated, the client is killed or the host is killed.
Also, please note that there are several different servers/lobbies that are being used for Dark Souls, so you may not be able to summon a specific friend into your game even if you adhere to the steps above. We can only recommend that you follow the steps above for the best chance at being able to join a specific friends' game. To increase the chances of locating a particular person's summoning sign, that person can drop their sign again at timed intervals to force it to move between servers. A rule of thumb is that placing your sign every 2 minutes will cycle through the servers fairly quickly, while also giving your friend enough time to see it and summon you before you drop it again. The method is not perfect since your sign will slowly migrate across servers even if you do not reset it (meaning it may do so into your friend's world just before you reset it, causing him to see your sign disappear before you are summoned) but with a little practice it works fairly well. Remember to coordinate with your friend as to placing your sign in a specific, obscure location to minimize the likelihood that someone else will summon you first.
As the player explores the world, there will be certain opportunities which allow the player to make an oath to a person or on a specific subject, which causes them to effectively join a guild called a Covenant. Cleric and Knight characters also start the game already in the Way of White Covenant. When a Covenant is joined during the game, it will impact interactions with other players online. This could mean that taking an oath for something could make you allies with another player, or deadly enemies. The Covenant system is not an all encompasing fixed alliance like a MMO guild; instead it should be thought of as a system which serves as a guide for active roleplaying. Visit the Covenants page for more information. Generally, membership in a Covenant will afford you certain specific benefits such as a few unique spells or equipment, an increased likelihood of other members of the same Covenant encountering your summoning signs (or you theirs), and more narrative structure to your RPG experience. You are generally able to "rank up" in your chosen Covenant by various means, which typically gives you access to a few additional items, abilities, or spells. Many Covenants also have special online play characteristics that affect whether and how they can invade or be summoned by other players. Covenant choices are not permanent and usually may be abandoned and rejoined at will, although the player may accrue Sin for their betrayal (which may also be received for killing NPCs or other acts), and need to be absolved before they can rejoin. They may also lose the ability to use certain spells or items upon leaving the Covenant
Covenants with a Focus on Player Versus Player (PvP)
Players who are connected to the network and meet certain conditions have a chance to get invaded by other players. Invading another players game requires using one of several special items, most of which are tied to specific covenants, specifically Darkmoon Blade, Forest Hunter, Gravelord Servant, Path of The Dragon or Darkwraith. Please review those Covenant pages for more details on how each type functions. In addition, regardless of covenant membership, any player may invade others using Cracked Red Eye Orbs or the Red Sign Soapstone. However, you can never get invaded while you're hollow, and the invading player may be 10% higher level (rounded UP), or any number of levels lower than the host.
For example, you are level 20. You could be invaded by someone levels 1 to 23. You could invade anyone 18 to 713 (maximum level). The server searches for people closer to your level, then goes up if it can't find any, so you're not going to get a lot of high level people at low level unless you're in a high level area, but it does happen.
In the event that a Red and Blue Phantom invade the same world, if any of the phantoms kill one another, it will not count towards completing the objective of destroying the host. However, most types of invading phantoms are able to damage one another, including a red phantom summoned from a Red Sign Soapstone who encounters another red phantom invading via the Red Eye Orb or a Cracked Red Eye Orb. This is not the case with "friendly" White or Gold phantoms, who cannot directly harm one another, and can be a factor in large PvP battles.
As a general rule you will only get invaded in areas where you haven't killed the area boss, and the victor of the invasion will acquire some souls and one soft humanity. Souls and humanity earned by defeating players are not taken from that player's own stock of souls or humanity.
- Invasions are fairly common in all areas, but certain areas have become hotspots for PvP due to either Covenant characteristics (such as Covenants that summon members to defend certain areas) or the suitability of the area. For those who are having trouble finding players to battle against in Dark Souls PvP, there are a few unofficial places that have been agreed upon by many players. The Guide to Co-operative Play contains a general guide to what levels most players are at in various areas, although level 125 is typically popular for PvP at any location in the game. These areas are ranked below roughly by whether they are considered popular (i.e., high rates of invasions and/or typically lax attention to "fair" PvP rules) or formal (typically hosting set 1v1 duels rather than random invasions, and observing more rigid dueling rules as further discussed below).
- Undead Burg (popular): The open platform near the bonfire, adjacent to the two spearmen. A popular area for invasions in general, this has seen an increase in both low level and level 125 formal PvP matches. For high level PvP matches, players either go into NG+ and then stay in the Burg with the Taurus Demon alive, or leave the Taurus Demon alive on their initial playthrough by selecting the Master Key gift, then killing Havel the Rock and exiting the Burg through his tower doorway rather than by facing the Demon.
- Kiln of the First Flame (popular): By the lordvessel or below the phantom staircase. A very popular area for high level (at or around level 125) PvP due to the need to beat most of the game to reach it.
- Darkroot Garden (popular): Just out of the sealed gate next to the hidden bonfire. Darkroot Garden is known as an "anything goes" PvP area, and lopsided mass battles are far more common than one on one duels. Nearly any character level is acceptable for PvP in Darkroot given the invasion mechanics of the Forest Hunter covenant, so many player create a dedicated character for Darkroot Garden play and attempt to level it up to max.
- Anor Londo (popular): Either on the long bridge or just before the entrance to Smough & Ornstein. The "dark" version of Anor Londo is also known for mass battles.
- Demon Ruins (popular): Just before the Centipede Demon fogwall. Considered to be the unofficial "No-Poise" arena for PvP.
- Painted World of Ariamis (popular): A great place to PvP, but very underrated compared to the Kiln or Undead Burg. Most duels will take place at the bottom of the large tower where the Red Sign Soapstone is located.
- Blighttown (formal): In the pit containing a chest with a Dragon Scale, up the ramp past the bonfire at the bottom of Blighttown. Popular at level 125 and 225 for formal duels, and the pit seems to minimize framerate issues that can be problematic for PvP in other areas of Blighttown. Use of the Red Sign Soapstone is recommended.
- Sen's Fortress (formal): Up the ladder from the pit containing Titanite Demon's, and through the illusory door at the top of the ladder which leads out to the Gate Giant. Once the Gate Giant is slain, he will not respawn and the open platform can host level 125 duels. Use of the Red Sign Soapstone is recommended.
PvP Etiquette and Respectful Playing
The players have collectively developed a set of unwritten rules intended to distinguish between PvPers that enjoy fighting honorable duels, and those that simply enjoy invading and overpowering/killing everyone as quickly as possible (often called griefers). Unless you are in a specific area known for formal PvP dueling, it can often be difficult to know whether a particular invader or combatant intends to engage in "honorable" PvP rather than simply try to kill you immediately. As a general rule of thumb, those seeking duels will often back off as soon as they see opposing parties for the first time, so that both sides can decide what to do next. This is a list of other things you can do before, during, and after PvP if you wish to stay respectful and make the Dark Souls community better in general.
- When invading, make yourself visible and if applicable allow the host to clear an area of enemies and items so a fair and fun duel can take place without undue distractions. If you end up running into the host or other combatants unexpectedly or in tight quarters, do your best to get clear of them at first so they know you intend to face them honorably rather than by ambush.
- Before a duel you should always bow to the other player to signal the start of the duel.
- Don't get a player to follow you into a group of enemies, as this is cheap and frowned upon.
- Allow players to buff their weapons after or before bowing if they choose to.
- Do not use an Estus Flask or Humanity to heal once a duel has started, as this is also generally frowned upon.
- If you win, be respectful to your defeated opponent and do not use rude gestures unless they for some reason engaged in very underhanded tactics. Even if you think you were much better than your foe, understand that they may be new to PvP, have weaker equipment, or were even having problems with lag, so you only tarnish your victory if you try to gloat and rub their face in it. Act like you've been here before. At the same time, even a veteran PvPer can have a bad match, bad luck, or just run into someone with better skill or a character build that happens to be perfectly designed to defeat theirs. None of these are reasons to show off.
- If you have a great duel with someone, feel free to send them a complimentary message. Most people only send messages when they are angry, so a note of thanks or congratulation can be well received and often lead to additional arranged PvP matches or jolly co-op. It's also a good way to get tips on how someone's character was designed if you are curious about their build.
Unfortunately, there will always be unscrupulous players that ignore these PvP conventions in pursuit of simply killing you as soon as possible, or worse try to exploit them by acting honorable at first and then backstabbing you when you bow back or the like. If an invader or combatant ignores overtures at honorable PvP or acts suspicious, you are obviously not bound to keep playing by the rules yourself. Thankfully, the instances of legitimate fair PvP tend to be both more common and more enjoyable such that it is worth dealing with those utilizing less honorable tactics from time to time.
You can read red messages left by other players as well as create your own messages by combining pre-defined text via the Orange Soapstone (purchased from the Undead Merchant in the Undead Burg). While most messages will be helpful to the player, there is also an element of humor or deception that can be employed by leaving messages. By leaving misleading information you can cause other players some amount of misfortune or confusion. When reading messages, always use your independent judgment as to whether there really is, for example, a safe place to jump or a safe pathway to take - it is worth noting that the "score" of a message is the sum total of the points it has received, not the positive score, i.e. a score of twenty means that message could have fifteen negative ratings and only five positive ones. You can see a message's positive and negative ratings separately by casting the Seek Guidance miracle. Contrary to popular belief, getting your message rated positive does not actually give you humanity, and in fact gives you nothing at all. The icon of a message will change according to how many total ratings it has received. The message icons progress as follows:
- Oscar, Knight of Astora
- Lady of Darkmoon
- Domhnall of Zena
- Frampt the Primordial Serpent
"Some miracles have a "Resonance" property. If multiple players nearby in the network use these miracles, the effect for everyone is amplified." [ 1]
This can be seen in game as a white glowing ring hovering above the ground at the location where someone used a miracle with Resonance. Miracles you have equipped that are boosted by the resonance will have a similar white ring appear on their icon in your active menu when you approach the ring. Resonance rings are rare but can be very helpful. Testing and player experiences suggest Resonance rings are far more common on the Xbox 360 than on the Playstation 3 for reasons unknown.
There are two known 'Bells' in the world of Dark Souls that must be rung at some point in a players quest to learn how to break the curse of the undead." [ 1] When someone rings a bell, the sound reverberates to players nearby in the network who are in the same area. Hearing someone else's victory is intended to stimulate other player's own drive to succeed. For example, players that help a host defeat the Bell Gargoyles in the Undead Parish will usually be returned to their own worlds in time to hear when the host then rings the bell in their world.
Also if a player gets cursed by Basilisk enemies their body gets turned into a statue that can be seen by other players. These statues, which are made of spikey, dark grey stone, show human figures in a variety of agonized poses and are a good warning that one is in or approaching a Basilisk area. They often appear in large groups and can be broken with a weapon if they are blocking your path (which has no effect on the person who was cursed in their world, as they are already dead).
Vagrants (Also Known As Drift Items)
If you drop certain items or lose a bloodstain with large amounts of Humanity, those items and Humanity can move into another player’s world and form Vagrants. There are two different types of Vagrant, one for lost items and one for lost Humanity. For either type, the Vagrant will be a much more powerful black phantom Vagrant if the dropped item is of high value or the lost bloodstain had 10 or more Humanity.
If you want to intentionally create Vagrants, you'll have to reload the area after dropping an item or losing a bloodstain, and then basically hope for the best. They'll then be sent out to another player's world, but rather than becoming Vagrants right then and there they'll have to be sent out a few more times before eventually transforming. This accounts for the extreme rarity of Vagrants, particularly ones formed from items since another player picking up the item when it appears can interrupt the process.
Exact Level Ranges
Players in Dark Souls can be connected to other players that are within a specific level range. The level range varies depending on the type of multiplayer items being used.
- All ranges are calculated by the player using the corresponding items, never are they calculated by the found player or those who see and interact with summon signs. The matchmaking for levels is a one-way process that ONLY does the math based on the level of the person using multiplayer-items.
- As counterintuitive as it may seem, this means a host looking for white signs can't use the formula below, it won't work exactly. Instead, do the math from the phantoms' perspective, and if the host is found within their range, then the host will be able to see their sign or get invaded by them.
user level ± (10 + 10%)
- Level 50 can be matched with: 35-65
- Level 100 can be matched with: 80-120
A level 100 host will be able to see signs from phantoms between the levels of 82-122, a different range than the player using the soapstone.
≥ user level - (10 + 10%)
- Level 50 can be matched with: 35-713
- Level 100 can be matched with: 80-713
≥ 90% user level
- Level 50 can be matched with: 45-713
- Level 100 can be matched with: 90-713
Lower Level Limit: user level - (50 + 20%)
Upper Level Limit: user level + (10 + 10%)
- Level 100 can be matched with: 30-120
- Level 200 can be matched with: 110-230
notes: Contrary to popular belief, it has been very carefully tested and found that Sin has no impact on the level range. Instead, two different calculations find the upper and lower level limits. It is a fixed amount based on the invader's level.
≥ user level - (10 + 10%)
- Level 50 can be matched with: 35-713
- Level 100 can be matched with: 80-713
notes: Contrary to popular belief, this ring and the forest are not without level restrictions. This ring has the same level range as the Red Sign Soapstone.
± (10 + 10% of the item-user's level)
- Level 50 can be matched with: 35-65
- Level 100 can be matched with: 80-120
notes: Same as the white sign soapstone.
How does the rounding work?
- When you calculate the percentage part of the formula, the resulting decimal place is always truncated into non-existance (or you could also say it always rounds down to the nearest whole number, even if it's .9).
- For example, a level 59 player trying to find out their co-op range simply calculates +/- 15. This is because for the "10 + 10%" part of the formula, it's actually just "10 + 5", not "10 + 5.9".
Important Differences compared to Demon's Souls
- World and Soul tendency have been replaced to incorporate a Covenant system that determines player's allegiance and affects other player's worlds.
- Objective of generating a variety of interactions by creating "reciprocal role play"
- There are no regions: Play is global.
- Upon death, a player does not lose a portion of their health, but rather turns "Hollow" (and physically appears undead). However, other status effects, notably curse, will reduce player health until cured.
- Dark Souls game areas are interconnected rather than loaded from a central Nexus area, so it is possible to walk through the entire game without having to return to a central load spot.
- Summon signs do not show how many online matches a player has had, or how effective they may be. Instead, they simply provide the player's name and an image of their character. Unlike Demon's Souls, there is no way to rate other players on their skills, making it a bit more difficult to know whether a prospective summon will be effective. However, some information can be inferred from what equipment they appear to be wearing. Utilizing the Black Separation Crystal can also tell you some information about a summon's victories against other players, although the accuracy of that information is unclear, and using the crystal sends the summon back to their world anyway. If you wish to check a summon's prowess but also keep them in your world, you may activate the crystal and then cancel back out of it once you have looked at their profile.
- The bonfires in Dark Souls serve as waypoints, and aside from scripted events the player will respawn at whichever bonfire they rested at last. While all non-boss foes still revive on death as per Demon Soul's, areas in Dark Souls may have multiple bonfires meaning that a player will not always have to restart an entire area upon death. Resting at a bonfire also resets most enemies, so a player does not need to die or warp out of an area to reset it.
- Crystal lizards do not have a spawn counter, and can be made to respawn (via quitting and loading) indefinitely until successfully slain even if they keep "escaping." They do not always appear automatically each time you reload, but continuing to reload will cause them to spawn at that location sooner or later. This combined with the ability to eventually purchase most upgrade materials aside from Slabs from various NPCs means that farming for upgrade materials is generally much less frustrating than in Demon's Souls.
- Many pieces of equipment, weapons, and spells as well as enemies have superficial similarities to Demon's Souls, but are distinct enough to make the game feel familar but still fresh and challenging for Demon's Souls veterans.
- While characters in Dark Souls still have an equipment burden rating and become less mobile the heavier their worn equipment, there is no parallel item capacity limit as in Demon Soul's. In other words, there is no limit to the amount of items a character in Dark Souls can carry in their inventory in terms of overall weight. This in turn eliminates the risk that a character in Dark Souls would lose items by trying to pick them up while overburdened and then be slain while the item is still lying on the ground. While items voluntarily dropped can still be lost, players generally do not need to worry that they will be unable to pick up an item (unless they already have 99 or 999 of it). As a result, "suicide runs" on heavily protected items are even less risky than in Demon's Souls, as it is almost impossible to lose the item if you can reach it before dying.
- You will not be healed if one of your messages is rated.
- Praise the Sun!