4. Make Some Friends...
Just beat a boss? Go ahead and put down your Soapstone mark at the arena's entry so you can be summoned by the next unlucky cuss trying to make their way through. Not only is it a great way to pick up some extra souls, but it's also a way to help out some other hapless stranger who's probably one more bad encounter away from exiting the punishing Dark Souls II experience permanently.
(That was me the first time I encountered the three spear-wielding Sentinels)
Along the same lines, don't be shy about leaving messages and be doubly sure to rate useful messages that are already there. Not only is it a great way of paying it forward, but you'll give someone an unexpected health boost (when they'll more than likely need it).
Of course, maybe you figure you're too good to make friends in one of the most challenging games out there...
3. ... Then Make Some Enemies
I'm not really prone to griefing in games and I think you're probably a dirty, sub-human monster if you you're the type who loves to do this. But... BUT!
Maybe it'd be nice to be on the end of Dark Souls II that involves making someone else miserable for once?
I'm just going to kind of leave that thought there for you. I mean, you've been having a rough time of it. You're not getting past that next boss anytime soon, and you're way over-powered for the enemies in the area you're currently stalking. So why not take it to another flesh and guts human with everything to lose?
I can't promise it'll make you a better person but it will probably make you feel better (that is, if you survive).
2. ABG: Always Be Grindin'
This is a no-brainer and yet I didn't really take it into account in my first few hours with Dark Souls II. Actually blazing through the first tutorial area in order to see the next vista and visit another part of this fallen, decrepit kingdom, it was only at hour three that I realized I was vastly overmatched and should really, you know, go back and end some unarmed undead and blaze through the earliest stages of my lady knight's progression.
One of the big innovations with Dark Souls II is that, unlike in previous entries, enemies have a limited number of respawns when you return to your bonfire, making them an even more precious commodity than ever. So taking the time out to do some petty zombie killing (rinse, repeat) is essential.
Oh, and leave the weird yeti things alone! They will end you and you're obviously not tough enough to fight them yet.
In fact, if, at any time you're starting to feel cocky or like you can take on anything...
1. Rest Your Stupid Brain
To trek on for another 6 hours collecting souls or to call it a night? That is the eternal Dark Souls II question (and the hallmark of any addictive RPG). The bonfire to bonfire crawl - searching for the next open area or save point - has a tremendous allure and is responsible for the vast majority of the souls I've lost in the 25 hours I've spent with Dark Souls II.
And that's when the controller-breaking frustration sets in: I'll die at near a particularly obnoxious enemy, hike back to where I was slain to retrieve my souls and either A., nab them before being killed again (repeat), or B., die and lose everything and swear on the darkest of dark gods that I will have my vengeance on developer From Software.
But before I assemble my cursed altar of dark offerings, I'll always take a break from Dark Souls II. Because despite what your idiot brain (and mine) thinks, it's not an endurance challenge. Sometimes, you simply can't get past that last, dark magic-wielding goon because you're tired, your coordination is off, and you simply can't think around the challenge.
So be smart! Be up to the challenge! And be prepared to quit dying!
Previously by Charles Webb