Dark Souls continues to endure. From Software, the developers behind the Dark Souls series, essentially invented a genre and added a new lexicon to the gaming landscape. Souls-like games are everywhere, and even major publishers are adding Souls-like elements to their massive games. When there's a Star Wars Like Souls, you know that this particular type of action-RPG has struck a chord with the wider gaming world.
And we still play it. Dark Souls is still early in the series - more polished than Demon Souls, but much looser and less polished than Sekiro. The game adds more balance, but still has extremely unbalanced elements. You can spend an entire game playing with a single set of weapons and armor. And there are a lot of weird weapons in this game. Here we are going to talk about 20 of our favorite builds. Some of these builds are completely OP. Others make the game easier for PVE. And some are just plain weird. Whatever your style of play, there's got to be something you'll want to try below.
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#1: The Giant Daddy Building
The legend is back. If you haven't tried the infamous "Giant Dad" version, it might be time to play Dark Souls again. This hilarious PVP build is designed to be as OP as possible. With the right stats (and lots of grind), you can gain mobility with the Giant's Armor Set while wielding the Zweihander 2H Sword. Get the Father's Mask, Havel's Ring, and Grass Crest Shield to improve your mobility. You are now an invincible tank that can hit four times with the Zweihander, dealing insane damage.
And the Zweihander can be upgraded to Chaos Zweihander +5 to increase damage. With Chaos, the damage increases the higher your Humanity is. Eat a lot of humanity and reach +10, and you deal so much damage that nothing can get in your way. The only downside is that this build is ridiculously difficult to put together, and you'll need to farm tons (and tons) of souls to turn the Zweihander into a +5 Chaos Zweihander. If you're feeling devoted, this build is a community favorite.
#2: Daddy's Quick Build
Because Giant Daddy isn't fast enough. here is a Lightning Bruiser build without any lightning which is also much easier to reach. Obtain Havel's Armor Set, put on the Child's Mask, wear Havel's Ring (and Ring of Favor and Protection), then place the Grass Crest Shield on your back while you operate the Zweihander with two hands. Combining this guy and leveling up to Stamina 40 will make you incredibly tough and incredibly fast. You can roll fast, attack, and roll halfway during a combo, and more balance so you don't get interrupted so easily.
This is the fastest version of the Giant Dad, and you can spend those souls to turn the Zweihander into a Chaos or Lightning element when you're ready. It's all about protection and easy damage.
#3: Glass Cannon Building
A simple build for PVE that can absolutely destroy bosses - and it's not bad for taking on other players too. This build is all about upgrading the fastest weapon in the game. The Falchion is very fast and you can easily create a 4 hit combo with enough stamina. Add a little faith by learning to grasp the miracle of the sun blade and apply the power in pyromancy as well. Your weapon becomes so absurdly powerful that some bosses will fall in seconds. Use the Falchion 2H to deal even more damage! This build is all about speed, so you also need to make sure you can roll fast and move with full mobility. Not that it should be too hard. You don't need much protection when you're this strong.
#4: Anti-Aggro Sniper Build
Don't want to fight enemies in PVE at all? Just use that anti-aggro ring! The Ring of Fog can be acquired from Snuggly the Crow or Forest Hunter Covenant, and it makes the player transparent, greatly reducing your aggro. Most enemies in an area will not attack you. Now combine this with the Black Bow of Pharis, which has a longer range than other bows. Now combine that with the Hawk Ring, which gives your bows +50% range. Now you shoot enemies well outside of their aggro zone while invisible. You can switch to melee for close-range combat and take on every enemy 1-on-1 without having to worry about your friends getting involved. Incredibly useful for some of the areas that are full of enemies.
#5: Fake Bleed Building
The Lifehunt Scythe slayer can be forged from Halfbreed Priscilla's Soul Boss, and with the right gear, you can become a bleeding machine. The Life Hunt Scythe applies 50 bleeds to any enemy it hits – fill the bleed bar and the enemy will take 50% HP cause damage. The scythe, due to its shape, can also hit shielded enemies thanks to its angled shape. This makes it a perfect choice for annoying turtles in PVP. The only downside is that you will need to increase your Bleed Resistance, as the Life Hunt Scythe also applies 40 Bleeds to the user.
To undo this bleed on yourself, grab the Anor Londo Black Iron Set (or any other high bleed resistance set) and the Bloodbite Ring. When your bleed buildup gets too high, pour blood red foam clumps to heal yourself.
#6: Tornado Launcher Build
A very simple and specialized build specifically to deal with a boring area of the game – the Tomb of the Giants. This area is downright terrifying. It's dark and packed with tough enemies. If you want to make your life easier here, just get the golem ax after defeating the iron golem in Sen's Fortress. Take the boss's soul to the giant blacksmith in Anor Londo to craft this giant axe. The ax itself isn't that special, it's the tornado blast special move! This tornado sends enemies flying in the opposite direction and can be used to easily knock enemies into bottomless pits. There happens to be a massive bottomless pit just to the left at all times in the Tomb of the Giants, making the Golem Ax one of the most useful weapons for this very specific case.
#7: Building the Dragonoid Shape
Want to become a fire-breathing dragon? Not all Dark Souls players have investigated this hilarious Covenant Dragon combo, which gives you a literal dragon head on your undead hero. Using all Dragon Stones grants you a Super Punch Attack, Flamethrower Blast, and Recoil Roar which temporarily buffs you. Stack the Pursuers Sorcery spell and you've essentially got an unblockable combo for most enemies that works in PVE and low level PVP. You can reach the Covenant Dragon right from Blighttown - at the bottom of the area there's a large tree with a secret illusionary wall you can reveal.
Descend the Great Hollow to the bottom, where there is a second illusory wall leading to the spooky Ash Lake. Down here you can find a dragon. Pray to the dragon and you can join his alliance…and get those cool dragon stones that will transform you. Every Dark Souls player must try this build at least one.
#8: Pyrotechnic Side Build
Pyromancy isn't just for spellcasters. If you don't want to do pure magic, you can do a bit of Pyro side building and still get great results as you progress through the game's PVE. Pyromancy is great for characters focused on melee, as fire damage doesn't scale with any of your stats. You can have low intelligence and still deal serious damage with pyro spells. Take Great Combustion and you get a spell that deals high damage to tough enemies, even in the late game. Put on the Crown of Dusk headgear and the Howling Dragon's Crest ring to increase the damage even more. Having a little magic to go with your melee can make the game much, much more manageable.
#9: Building Dark Souls 3 Playstyle
A high-risk, high-reward build that focuses on strength and endurance while ignoring most magic. You'll want to be light for this build and avoid Elemental Infusion on the Uchigatana - infusing Elemental Power removes any stat scaling. This build gives you speed and plenty of chances to quickly hit enemies, but very little guard ability. You will have to rely on fast invincibility frames to survive. For veterans of Dark Souls 3, Bloodborne, or Sekiro, it's just a natural extension of the skills you've cultivated. Focus on speed and strength, ignore all those turtles and take the risk with the red teardrop ring, which gives you +50% damage when you are below 20% HP.
All enemies in Dark Souls 1 are absurdly slow compared to future From Games, so if you're used to faster-paced combat, this is the type of build you're itching for.
#10: Shadow Assassin Build
This build won't make you invisible, but it will turn you into an incredibly nasty assassin with the highest backstab damage in the game. The Dark Silver Tracer + Hornet Ring dramatically increases the damage of your backstabs. Combine that with a set of light armor like the Shadow Set and the Dark Wood Grain Ring, which turns your fast roll into a ninja flip, and you're a circle-strapping machine.
The combo of Gold Tracer and Dark Silver Tracer gives you a double hit of bleeding and toxic damage. You'll just need to defeat Artorias and steal all that cool stuff from Ciaran when she spawns in her arena. Swap out the shadow set for whatever armor you prefer – the shadow set just gives you that ninja edge.
#11: Poisonous Punk Updo
Want to spread the joy of poison to everyone you meet? Go with this simple build and grab one of these weapons. The Gravelord sword is the longest to earn, so you can still use the guardian tail as a beginner's poison punk blade. Switch to the Dark Silver Tracer to deal even more damage, then combine the Gravelord Sword with the Dark Lord Tracer to become a true toxic maniac. Add Rotten Pine Resin to your weapon and you apply so much poison your enemies won't know what to do. Great for beginning PVP or even dealing with a lot of PVE. Sit back and wait for your enemies to succumb.
#12: Max Damage Build
Want to do so much damage you can kill bosses in a single shot? Yes, it is possible in Dark Souls. Grab the Dragon King's Great Ax by severing the gaping dragon's tail, then you're free to progress into insane damage territory. Obtain the Dragon Chest Stone from the Dragon Covenant in Ash Lake and unleash a roar to buff, then reduce your health to 20% total with the Red Tear Ring equipped for +50% damage. Add a buff from a white invader like the Channeler's Trident, and now every enemy in the game will die in one or two hits. Even some bosses! And it lasts far into NG+, so you can keep chopping enemies like wood even after multiple plays.
#13: Bonking Caveman Build
Everyone loves to gamble, and the Great Club is the best bonk weapon of them all. This hilariously massive club can be acquired in a Suicide Run very early in Dark Souls, so you can start building up your strength to use it effectively. Sprint to the bottom of Blighttown and you'll find the Great Club on a swamp island closer to Quelaag's estate.
The Great Club only needs 28 strength, which isn't too bad for such a huge weapon. To really use it in the late game, you'll probably need to hit 50 strength. If you don't want to go down the Force route, you can infuse the Great Club with Lightning or Chaos elements, removing the Force scaling. Hilariously, the Great Club can even score back shots! You can use it with Great Shield if you want! It's a bit slow, but the damage is fantastic. If you're looking for a relatively easy build for PVE domination, the Great Club is a good place to start.
#14: Construction de Faith Poker
Faith can be a powerful force in Dark Souls. This light magic has healing buffs, defense buffs, and plenty of lethal attacks that work on almost anything. The Lightning Spear is an early game ranged magic missile that can take care of just about anything, and everything you need to upgrade and unlock more attunement slots is relatively easy to acquire, even for new players in the first part of the game. Astora's Right Sword can be found near the undead dragon in the Valley of the Drakes. Astora's Straight Sword is basically a better Drake sword with better scaling and cheaper upgrades. It can also be acquired very early in the game…if you can survive the sprint to reach it.
Starting with the Lightning Spear, you will slowly progress to the Great Lightning Spear or even the almighty Sunlight Spear. Wrath of the Gods, which can be purchased from the Firelink Shrine after defeating the Demon Capra, is a powerful AOE magic attack with a very fast start that knocks enemies back. A perfect combo with your lightning spears. Just keep this sword straight if you absolutely have to push things to death.
#15: Homing Missile Sorcery Build
Once you reach the Duke's Archives, you can greatly expand your wizarding skills. After being imprisoned, you can free an NPC called Big Hat Logan. Save him, then buy all of his spells (including Homing Crystal Soulmass) and you'll drive him mad once you defeat Seath. Return to his area and defeat Big Hat Logan to also get the most powerful Sorcery Catalyst in the game! Casting a Howling Dragon Crest Ring, and all those spells like Homing Crystal Soulmass that summon multiple projectiles? You now deal +20% damage per projectile, per throw!
This spell and catalyst are only available in the late game, so this build is more for NG+ racing. You can also grab other great sorcery spells and try to build from there – Dark Bead, Black Flame, and Pursuers. They are all in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC area, and they are all extremely powerful. If you've never thought of witchcraft, why not try a second time?
#16: Lightning Halberd Build
Tired of Ornstein and Smough? Want to make them and everything else in Anor Londo a whole lot easier? The Lightning Halberd is a purpose-built build to deal with one of the most annoying parts of the game. Once you reach Anor Londo, you're stuck in Anor Londo. This is a good time to start boosting the halberd and infusing it with lightning. Lightning is a special damage type that does not require high stats and passes through most armor. This includes Smough's Heavy Armor.
The goal is to kill Ornstein first, then you can cheese Smough by luring him into the pillars around his arena. Use the halberd's long reach and sprint attack to get some good hits before backing up. If you defeat Smough last, he'll drop the Leo ring which buffs your pushing power even further. By using the right spears or halberds, you can really hurt the bad guys without increasing your strength too much.
#17: Defensive Attack Build
Want to have the highest defense in Dark Souls while still having enough gear load to wear (relatively) heavy armor and wield a huge sword? Next, you need to get the Great Shield of Artorias. This is one of the easiest and safest PVE builds for pretty much anyone – the Greatshield of Artorias is just plain good. Even Ornstein and Smough can't stun you. The toughest enemies in the game will barely pop out of your shield. And with the Great Shield of Artorias, you are immune to almost all status effects. Poison, bleed and the like just don't work on you.
Everything else for this build is your choice. The weapon can be literally anything. Armor can be upgraded as you progress through the game. Havel's Ring and Cloranthy's Ring just to help give you the gear load you need for relatively quick movement . This build doesn't require fast rolling, so you can weigh yourself down, move at a medium pace, and have enough stamina to deal a lot of damage. This build is all about the wars of attrition. And with this shield you will always survive the enemy.
# 18: Construction de Balder Knight
The Balder Sidesword is one of the best thrusting swords in Dark Souls thanks to its extended reach and the fact that it switches between thrusting attacks. This makes the Balder side sword ideally used with the Leo ring. To get the full Balder Knight experience, you'll also need a full set of Balder armor. Unfortunately, all of that Balder stuff drops from enemies at an absurdly low rate. Enemies are found very early in the game, in Undead Parish, so technically you can get all of that early and then farm Souls for Dexterity to do even more damage.
If you want to speed up all that farming, you can get the Covetous Gold Serpent Ring. Because this is a heavy farming/RNG build, you only need this ring until you've acquired everything you want.
#19: Soul Farming Build
I don't want to wait for souls. I want a lot of souls right now! To get all of these souls, you'll need the Greedy Silver Serpent Ring, found in the Giants' Tomb near the second bonfire, and a rare and strange hat called the Symbol of Greed. Like the previous version, if you want to get the Symbol of Greed, I highly recommend wearing the Greedy Gold Serpent Ring while farming mimics. There is only a 0,1% chance that it will drop. Ouch.
But if you combine the two, you can start raking souls. The best and easiest farming location is in the painted world of Ariamis. From the bonfire, go to the Phalanx and kill it. Firestorm / Wrath of the Gods are very effective but not required. After killing him, reset and repeat. This is currently the best way to win souls without cheating.
#20: Humanity Steal Manic Build
Tired of playing Dark Soul It's like a sane person? Why even use weapons when you can hit anything! This absurd build is reserved for the craziest Dark Souls players who want to challenge themselves. Sure, you can just run around naked without any gear, but we're going to give you a fighting chance with the best punching build possible. Star with the Claws or Caestus, with the ultimate goal of obtaining the Dark Hand.
This build is all about becoming a soulstealing monster. Join the Pact of the Darkwraiths and farm wraiths in the ruins of New Londo. With the Dark Hand, you can steal Humanity from other players (and some NPCs!) with a grab attack. It's not easy, and it doesn't always work, but stealing from humanity is the dirtiest thing in Dark Souls. This is what we covet the must. Taking it, even if you die, is the ultimate sign of disrespect. If you fancy harvesting the souls of unsuspecting players just for fun, the Dark Hand is a fun alternative to fair play.
Dark Souls is the little game that could. It's just a game, but it's so jam-packed with weapons and weird features that we could be building all day. And some players do. Now might be a good time to revisit Dark Souls and let us know which versions are your favorites.