5 ways to spice up your Dark Souls PvP life

We all remember our first invasion like it was yesterday. After enough practice, every fight starts to take on a familiar cadence: thrust, parry, flank, thrust again. There are only so many ways you and your invader can dance about and most of them just involve rolling around on the floor until you run out of stamina. It’s enough to make you give up on PvP entirely, resigned to a solitary offline life in Lothric. If you’ve lost the spark in your PvP life, try these tips to rekindle your bonfire and bring a bit of humanity back to your invasions.

Bring a friend 

If you’ve taken on invaders everywhere from the crustacean-crowded Road of Sacrifices to the narrow halls of Irythyll Dungeon and still can’t shake the feeling that they’re all the same, it’s time to add a new element to your encounters. Before your next invasion, summon a friend to join in. Throwing in a third body instantly changes the dynamics of any fight. Tactics that never work one-on-one are common in a three-way melee.

Try luring your invader into pursuing you while your ally goes for a backstab or attempt a plunging attack while your partner keeps the enemy engaged. The dynamics of a three-person fight can be overwhelming the first time, but is guaranteed to offer variety. For an extra thrill, invite a purple Mound Maker as your friend before summoning an invading red phantom. Although you risk a Mound Maker turning on you, the extra tension adds adrenaline!

Playing Matchmaker: If you don’t already have a friend waiting to play wingman, you can summon a stranger instead.  The rounded terrace outside Pontiff Sulyvahn’s bonfire is the best place to find the full rainbow of summon signs. The Crucifixion Woods are a popular place for invasions, meaning you can summon a willing friend and wait only a few minutes for an invader to drop in. For lower level PvP options, the High Wall of Lothric still often boasts plenty of summon signs and invaders. 

Record yourself 

Next time you queue up for a few invasions, turn on your screen capture software of choice and let it roll. Afterwards, pick out the best moments and edit your footage down to a highlight reel. If you’re feeling extra industrious, make a few gifs of yourself. It may feel a bit vain, but you have to learn to love yourself before murdering others.

Even if you never show it to anyone, that one clip of your nail-biting victory will make each one after it fresh again. Watch a few of your own finest moments before summoning your next invader. Seeing your opponent backstep in shock after you swap weapons at exactly the right moment may be just the incentive you need to pull off other new tricks.

Tools of the trade: Start making your own clips with the best freeware. OBS is a community favorite for being both free and open-source. Setting up a capture takes only a few minutes and you can let it record for even an hours-long play session. For turning your clips into gifs, Instagiffer and EZGif are as quick and easy as they come. Import the video files you’ve captured with OBS, choose a starting point, duration, size, and quality, and gif away into the night. Both also includes some rudimentary editing tools like adding text and creating looped gifs.

Roleplay

We’ve all fantasized about giving Siegward of Catarina a good beating but most would never dare try it. More audacious players have even imagined stabbing Greirat in the back. Dueling one of Dark Souls’ beloved NPCs comes with unfortunate consequences, but a wardrobe change and some imagination may be able to satisfy even the most curious.

Roleplay in PvP isn’t the most highly competitive option but fighting as or against a favorite character is a unique thrill. Dark Souls 3 has plenty of costume options for any taste: Onion Knight Armor, Solaire of Astora’s iconic set, and even Lucatiel of Mirrah’s ensemble. Surprise your partner by donning the Catarina knights’ unmistakable, onion-y exterior, sit down near the fire, and give a hearty toast when they arrive. One way or another, you’ll get a teary-eyed reaction.

Fresh faced: Wearing armor sets themed for other popular Souls characters is a fun option, as is the prospect of collecting all the needed pieces. For an extra challenge, mix and match armor sets to recreate characters outside the Souls universe. One popular option is the Drang Armor set for playing as Game of Thrones character Jon Snow. The furred collar and long black cloak are an obvious match for the Night’s Watch uniform. 

When diving into a fashion build, I typically pick a character to emulate and then scroll through Fextralife’s armor page for pieces that jump out at me. The wiki also provides notes on where and how to acquire each piece of armor. It’s easy to accidentally waste a weekend window shopping, but I was going to do that anyway.

Perform for an audience

Dueling is a performance art and performing for your audience of one can lack tension. Try downloading a free streaming app like OBS and do your thing in front of a live chat. Learning to focus on your parrying and peanut gallery simultaneously can be a challenge, but well worth it. Even if your PvP confidence is low, fighting for an audience can give you a much-needed boost. The Souls community loves to troll and murder incessantly in-game, but outside of the deadroom, they're helpful, lighthearted people. 

Pose for the camera. 

It might take a minute to get comfortable, but the community is large enough that you’ll likely find at least one viewer willing to cheer you on and give pointers. Pulling off a good combo gives a good adrenaline rush that’s doubly satisfying when you know a third party is watching. 

Personals ad: If you’ve already downloaded OBS for recording your screen, you’re halfway to streaming your PvP for an audience. Our beginner’s guide to streaming, though a couple years old, is still a good place to start. OBS has added plenty of new features, but the core setup process remains the same. Make sure to give your stream a descriptive title so other PvP fans can find you. After you manage to pull in a few viewers, you might try accepting duels from viewers or even summoning them as your friendly party in a threesome.

Try some toys 

If whips and staves aren’t cutting it for you anymore, it may be time to bring some more exotic implements to your invasions. A personal favorite of mine is the Young White Branch, which transforms the user into a convincing scenic prop. Sorcerers can achieve the same effect with a Chameleon spell if they decide to add illusion to their standard bag of tricks. 

With the right timing, you can sprint around a corner, use a branch, and get a good laugh out of your confused invader. Be careful not to frustrate your partner by hiding too long or you may find yourself without a fight entirely! 

Experts only: An even wilder option, recommended for only the truly irreverent, is the Pile of Dung. Throw it on yourself, on the ground, or at your invader if you’re feeling cheeky. It’s a risky move. With a face full of poo, your invader may just decide they don’t need such silliness. Next thing you know, they’re taking a Black Crystal home and you’re alone again... or maybe they'll be into it and start throwing poo with you. Worth a shot.