Great moments in PC gaming: Beating an invader for the first time in Dark Souls

The Chosen Undead lighting the bonfire at Firelink Shrine
(Image credit: Bandai Namco / FromSoftware)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Dark Souls

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Developer: FromSoftware
Year: 2012

When I think back to my first playthrough of Dark Souls I feel a mixture of delight and abject terror. It's one of my favourite games, and it seems to me, one of the best games ever made. That is partly due to the way I can navigate the entire map of Lordran in my head. But it's also because of the generous handful of moments I remember vividly over 10 years later (by contrast, I don't remember anything about Far Cry 6, except that it had guns and trees).

Chief among these cherished Dark Souls memories is being invaded for the first time. I was trying to summon a co-operative buddy to help me with the Capra Demon. I was running to the boss from Firelink Shrine, rather than the Upper Undead Burg bonfire, because I was an idiot. I think I had around three or four 'humanities' up my sleeve—an item required to summon co-op friends—and no longer had any interest in hoarding them, because it was time to murder that bastard demon and his dog.

I'd been invaded a few times already, of course. In the weeks following Dark Souls' release the servers were running hot. Let me explain to you the kind of Souls player I am. I spent most of my first Dark Souls playthrough in my jocks because I didn't understand equip load. I died to the Taurus Demon for at least a week straight. The very first thing I did after beating the tutorial was pick a fight with the Crestfallen Warrior (RIP: he fell off a cliff). I sucked, and frankly, still kinda suck at these games.

That being the case, when someone invaded me I would basically give up. Everyone in the entire world, I assumed, is better at Dark Souls than me. Sure, I'd raise my shield and circle strafe them for a while, but I would do so resignedly, knowing it was only delaying the inevitable. Usually it was me—an utter prole with a sword and board—against players with weaponry and magic I had no idea existed. I'd raise my greatsword (for which I probably didn't have the required stats), and before it started coming down the invader would have set me on fire, or electrified me to death, or backstabbed me, or something.

Ah, that cruel Souls twist of tying co-operative play to the possibility of invasion. I remember it being the one thing I genuinely disliked. But of course, that all changed the very moment I managed to, kinda by accident, beat an invader. The telltale signs of an invasion were present: fog walls blocking my passage to other areas of the map, and then, of course, the notification confirming my worst fear.

I don't really remember what build my invading opponent had, but as the glowing red figure marched towards me, I don't remember feeling particularly positive about my chances. Thanks to an online guide, I'd managed to acquire the drake sword. Slightly emboldened by that weapon's early-game strength, and magically no longer fat rolling, I did my usual circle-strafing, shield-raising ritual. I got the opponent down to past halfway, and then, extremely accidentally, probably as a result of desperate button mashing, I performed a parry that demolished the stupid red fool.

So many emotions followed. Happiness, hope, self-absorption. Somewhere among these feelings was the suspicion I'd never be able to beat an invader again. And, of course, soon after, complete demoralisation returned, as the Capra Demon's viscous pup took me down for the umpteenth time. Back to Firelink Shrine we go. Aren't we having great fun?

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.