The left stick controls your character’s movement. Normally, you turn and move in whatever direction you push. However, it’s possible to lock onto enemy targets by pressing button. When you’re locked onto an enemy, your character faces them at all times, so moving left or right causes you to sidestep, and tilting down backs your character away from the target. It’s useful to switch between lock on and regular movement frequently. It’s easier to run away and get distance from your enemies when you aren’t locked on.
Do this to get to safety, to earn time for Stamina to regenerate, or to look for a place to hide and use your Estus Flask. When you’re on the attack, it’s easier to line up attack combos when you’re locked on.
Move normally when you’re exploring, lock on to tackle most foes, but press button again if you need to drop your lock on and get away from an enemy that is gaining the upper hand.
When facing packs of smaller enemies, you may want to avoid locking on and instead use the manual camera control along with quick dodges to avoid being surrounded.
The right stick controls your camera. Reposition this to see around corners, to keep your line of sight on a particular target, or to look all over a room when searching for treasure (or threats).
Use of / and / buttons
Use of / and / buttons control your equipment. The item in your right hand is used with and buttons. The item in your left hand gets and buttons.
For example, a shield in your left hand is used to block with button. Press button to parry an attacking enemy. If done in a perfect timing, you will be able to riposte with and deal a critical hit.
Many weapons are also sensitive to movement and stance, producing new attacks when wielding it two-handed, sprinting, or coming out of a combat roll.
Although you can’t pause the game, there is a menu that you can bring up with the Options button. Try this to see what’s available!
This is how you get to several important screens: Inventory, Equipment, Status and System.
The System Menu has a number of options to explore. Take your time working with these options until you find the control scheme that is ideal for your playstyle. Be especially focused on Camera Speed, Brightness, and Camera Axis.
The Status Screen lets you look at your character and their stats. Inventory allows you to use some of your Tools and to read descriptions for all of the items that you find.
Check out the Equipment Screen to set up your hotbars, change Armor, choose Weapons, etc.
Use button to dodge in one of the 4 directions you might be aiming with the left-stick while walking. If you’re standing still, this move causes your character to suddenly backstep. Both of these maneuvers are critical for staying alive. Practice dodging constantly. Roll behind your enemies, jump back to avoid a heavy attack, or dodge to quickly evade lethal assaults.
Over time, you will learn when it’s best to dodge, shield block, or parry, but this is something that takes days or even weeks of play to master. If you’re new to Dark Souls, try to dodge the heavier attacks and block the lighter ones. This is a safe start on your journey to mastery.
Alternate One-Hand and Two-hand stance
Press button to alternate between one-handed and two-handed stances for your current weapon. This makes it easy to switch to heavier attacks briefly, and then to go back to using a shield or another weapon while your enemy recovers.
Many heavy and ultra-heavy weapons function best when used two-handed, experiment to get a feel for their move sets when used with one or two hands.