A guide to Player versus Player (PvP)

Prologue : Welcome to Dark Souls PvP. This short guide is designed to help new players, or those struggling with success to become better acquainted with a popular facet of Dark Souls, Player versus Player combat. This is not a guide to optimizing builds, but a general overview of things that are necessary for PvP and things that differ in PvP versus regular game play.

Universal Pointers :

1. Your opponent is human. Regardless of how much time and effort you spend preparing for the duels and invasions during PvP, many people forget that the person that they are facing is another player. This means that there is a possibility that they have devised a counter to your battle strategy, or are just more skilled at this facet of the game.
2. Keep your shield up! Regardless of whether you weapon can attack from behind shields or not, it is crucial when not attacking to keep your shield up. With a bad connection you may not see your opponents swing until it is too late, so it is batter to stay protected, than risk a series of stunning attacks. Most medium weight shields will do just fine on any build. Smaller shields are better used for those skilled at parrying. Great shields are perfect for those with the strength to wield them.
3. Equipment is rarely the deciding factor. While many may argue that a few points of damage taken or blocked is the deciding factor in battle, in truth all weapons and armor in the hands of one skilled enough will spell any player's doom. While certain sets of armor or weapons are more preferable than others for PvP, what you are most familiar with is usually the best route to go when selecting equipment.
4. This is Dark Souls, and it hates you. When either being invaded, or invading bad things can always happen. If you are being invaded, that could be the one time you misstep and fall into a trap. Conversely if invading, you could round the corner to find this 1 on 1 game of cat and mouse is now a 3 on 1 beat down. Everyone, the game included, will do what it takes to win

How it happens.
PvP can occur in a variety of ways. Most ways involve the various covenants it the game, and the perks therein. Lets start with….
A player may invade another player's world provided that that He or She is in human form, and connected online. You will never be able to choose who you invade, but it can happen in the following ways:
1.) The use of a cracked red eye orb, found throughout the game, or bought as a member of the Dark Wraiths.
2.) The use of the Red Eye Orb, limited to members of the Dark Wraiths.
3.) The Blue Eye Orb, limited to those of the Blades of Darkmoon covenant.
4.) Laying a Red Soapstone sign, found in the painted world of Aramis . This allows the host to choose to summon you for an invasion.
5.) Laying an Everlasting Dragon Eye sign. It appears in the worlds of player holding dragon scales. They choose to summons you or not.

When invading you will not be able to heal with Estus Flasks, but may still heal with humanity, miracles, or Divine Blessings.

On being invaded
A player will only be invaded when human. An invaded host has access to Estus Flasks, as well as all other forms of healing. The host being invaded also has access to summoning white phantoms to aide them in battle if they deem it necessary.
There is one special type of invasion, one caused by a member of the Gravelord covenant. When in human form they may lay a curse in three other worlds. Upon finding this curse sign a player infected with this curse may invade the world of the Gravelord to challenge them.

Now that we understand how it happens, let's move on to…

Generalized builds and PvP setups
No, this is not a guide to building your character, or telling you how to play. This is simply giving you a generalized overview of the combinations of weapons, armor, spells and skills you may encounter in the world of PvP.

As with any RPG you can expect some pre-defined roles that are rather basic

  • Strength/Endurance builds
  • Casters
  • Rouges and Ninjas

Now to break down each role by the skills and equipment they are likely to use.

Strength/Endurance builds
Tanks are pretty simple and straight forward. They tend to use armor with excellent physical defense and poise to make it easier to withstand attacks and deal damage. They tend to have high vitality and endurance. It is likely to see them wielding katanas, Great axes and Two-handed swords. Several sets of armor are popular among these builds, including Havel's set, Smough's set and the Giants Set.

Casters are any build centering on Miracles, Sorceries, or Pyromancies. They tend to wear a large variety of armors based around what magic is being used. It normal to see a sorcery caster wearing the Bellowing Dragoncrest Ring, or the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring. Most faith casters will be packing the Ring of the Sun's First Born to boost their miracle power. Casters have high attunement, and either Intelligence or Faith stats.

Rouges and Ninjas
Everyone who has participated in PvP has probably been backstabbed. This is the domain of Rogue and Ninja builds. Focused on high mobility and normally critical damage, these builds will occasionally sacrifice armor for the mobility necessary to achieve a critical hit. When not attempting a backstab, they will usually attempt to parry and riposte. Normally using daggers, or rapiers, these builds can certainly cause trouble if their goals are met.

All builds discussed here are rather generalized; you will likely encounter numerous hybrids, or completely new concepts in battle. Be prepared for anything in the realm of PvP.

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    • Anonymous

      At least in ds remastered, you can estus while invading. It's just half of how much the bonfire is kindled.

      • Ok. I'll give you all a helping hand. If you want to really learn how to PVP, you should make a build with a high level character, MIN: level 80 / MAX: no more than 150 (maybe 200, depends if you are playing PTED or Remaster). Anything more than that will make you too powerful , too OP (and so you will kill as a result of your power and not of your skill).
        - Learn how to BS (Backstabs): for better or for worse this is a game of paper, scissors and Bs's. Learn to read your rival and attempt Predictive Parries (even if you fail, get the timing of the parries - different from PVE)
        - Don't use Magic or Miracles (with these you usually win with One Shot, is too OP, and then you don't learn)
        - Don't use OP bad weapons (all you learn from them is how to spam) I mean: Goldtracer, Orthanc Spear, Demon Spear, etc
        - Fast roll. Don't use too many pieces of armor. Your poise should be MIN: 20 / MAX: around 30 (no more than that... because if you have a lot of poise then you won't learn Toggle Escape).
        - Learn the Good Weapons: 1) Claymore, if you master the claymore, you can master any weapon of the game. So that makes the claymore the best weapon in the game... then you can try the rest.
        - Don't do anything cheap and don't cheat... learn to lose. Being vulnerable is your best teacher. You'll die a lot, but you will learn eventually.

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