Dark Souls 3 – Short PVP Insights

A list of short, sometimes laconic, insights, techniques, and little things to help you get the leg up on your opponent.

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I’m fairly good at PVP. I’d wager I’m in at least the top 49%. I have a respectable record of dominating and ending fight clubs, and I would like to tell you a few of the things I’ve noticed in learned in clear, short terms, so that you too may do the same. Defeat may be bitter, but victory after many defeats is one of the most satisfying experiences Dark Souls can offer.


The biggest difference between good players and bad players isn’t just experience. It’s the knowledge that experience has accrued, and the ability to test and apply it in real time. Knowing things is important, but what’s equally important is to understand how much your opponent knows. Here are a few simple ways to try and grasp at the experience level of your opponent.

  • An experienced opponent has fought against mostly every weapon, and is familiar with mostly every moveset. You shouldn’t be surprised at this point if an opponent can reliably dodge your Lothric laser, or knows to walk away if you use Preserverence with your Pickaxe. There are other weapons you can use to effectively test your opponent’s knowledge. I use the whip as a secondary weapon, and the whip’s skill has a very unusual timing and range. An opponent who can dodge this is more experienced and may require more care in facing, but if they can’t, then you now have an exploitable trick to poke them with. 
  • Maintaining distance is an important skill. You should know the range of your weapon, as well as the range of all other types of weapons. Remember: weapons often have hitboxes that exceed the length of the weapon itself. How your opponent distances, and for how long, can tell you much about your opponent’s playstyle. 
  • Understand the damage your weapon does, and the damage your opponent’s type of weapon does. Opponents who use big weapons often attempt to end the fight in a single exchange. They require you to play more defensively, because a single mistake can you lose you the fight. Likewise, against an opponent with a weapon which has a low base damage, aggression can put pressure on your opponent if you yourself are using a big weapon. When you, or your opponent, does not know how damaging a weapon can be, it can make for a very short fight. 
  • Know your playstyle. Learn your opponent’s playstyle. 
  • Be aware of all the insane stuff DLC weapons can do. Many players will use a DLC weapon primarily because L2 spam will just instagib you. Be aware, and be cautious. 

Countering Common Techniques

Some techniques are common because they just work and are easy to use. Some techniques are common because people just honestly don’t know what else to do. Here’s a few commonly used techniques, and how to beat them. Please note, parrying does indeed reliably counter most of these, but parrying is a difficult skill to learn, and it can’t be taught by text. Therefore, I will be assuming you have no means of parrying.

  • Running katana R1s. Most enemies will be ready to spam R1 as soon as the running R1 is delivered, so avoid rolling forward to dodge this. Instead, roll backwards and poke in return. You can do this with a fast ranged attack, like a crossbow or throwing knife, or by exploiting your weapon’s range if you use a halberd, spear, or greatsword. Also remember, shields are your friends. Taking two hits won’t break your guard. 
  • Enemy is rolling around you. Spam R1 nonstop until they roll away from you. Rolling around someone is possibly the stupidest thing you can do. If your opponent does this punish them as viscerally as possible.
  • Enemy is using a curved sword and just is roll catching you. Remember, you don’t have to mash the roll button to get away. You can tactically space out your rolls. Don’t let your enemy set the pace of the fight. Roll when they swing, but don’t roll impulsively. If your opponent is very aggressive, use double rolls to get far away, and then assert yourself again while distancing.
  • Enemy is a parry king and will not stop waving his caestus. Backstab this punk. See how often your enemy parries. If it’s a lot, walk directly into him. Many parry kings are stupid people who think advancing must mean an impending attack. Against a parry king, just walk directly into him and then when he parries, walk around him and backstab him. Considering how hard it is to backstab now, this is actually one of the only remaining effective uses for backstab fishing.
  • Enemy is using the Farron Greatsword and won’t stop rolling around like Sonic. Liberally use the applause and point down gestures while maintaining distance. This will actually goad some people into playing more aggressively, and thus, more open to counterattacks. Poke to death. Do NOT attempt to engage in a melee with Shadow the Hedgehog. While you can afford to trade sometimes against a running R1 washing pole, against Farron Greatsword sliding, you will almost never win if you try to trade. Assuming of course, that you can hit them in that crazy hitbox.
  • Enemy uses Friede’s scythe or some other broken DLC weapon and his combos destroy me. Stay away and poke. Take your time. Push onto them when they use their ashen flask. But never overcommit to anything, as you will almost always lose trades with these weapons, especially because their combos are so destructive.
  • Enemy keeps getting you with a parry on your third hit. Remember, weapons can only stun for two hits. 
  • Opponent points down after beating me. Git gud. Git so gud that this will never, ever happen again.

Written by Irisu Kyouko.

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