Critical damage is, like its name suggests, a damage much stronger than normal attack damage, often doing more than 75% of the target's HP if not outright killing the target.
Using Critical damage to achieve overkill can benefit players early in the game, because of the extra souls gained.
There are several ways to do critical damage: Backstab, Riposte, and a situational Plunging attack.
Walk behind a backstab-able enemy and press the normal attack button (R1 on PS3 / RB on Xbox / H on PC default). The enemy doesn't need to be locked-on.
See Parry. Riposte can only be done after a parry. When the enemy is staggered by the parry, stand close to the enemy's front side, then press the normal attack button to trigger riposte.
- Plunging attack critical
Do a plunging attack as close as possible to the target's center. The "drop zone" is quite large, you can still drop about two steps from the target's center and still trigger the critical.
When you do these moves, you and your target will enter a unique critical animation. The animation depends on the weapon used and whether you equip the Hornet Ring or not. For example, dagger users critical by stabbing the target really hard, accompanied by a gush of blood, while hammer users critical by bashing the target's head. You and your target are temporarily invincible for the duration of the animation.
There are only a few known instances where you can complete critical plunging attacks:
- The fight with Asylum Demon if you didn't already kill it when encountering him the first time.
- The fight with Taurus Demon in the Undead Burg.
- From the ledge in Undead Parish where you can drop to the Armored Tusk below.
- From the garbage dump of the Butcher in the Depths where you can drop to a Giant Rat.
- In the lower area of the Demon Ruins you can try a plunging attack from behind the Minor Taurus Demon guarding the doorway to the Demon Firesage if you're wearing the Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring.1
- From the ledge left of the Demon Firesage room in lower Demon Ruins where you can drop on the second Minor Taurus Demon below.
If you do a plunging attack to these enemies and you are directly above them, you will enter a unique animation where you plant your weapon to the enemy and you hear SFX similar to critical attack.
Its hard to calculate the exact formula of a critical attack because of Dark Souls' (currently unknown) damage calculation formula, but the general guideline is:
- Backstab does at least 4 times normal attack's damage.
- Riposte does at least 25% more damage than backstab.
- Daggers and Thrusting swords have different critical base modifiers. For example, 100 critical stat in an Estoc does not hold the same weight as a 100 in a Shortsword.
- The plunging attack critical seems to have a different damage calculation. The damage it inflicts is around 3 * weapon's Attack Rating * Critical%. This damage can't be boosted with the Hornet Ring.
List of Weapons and Critical Rating
|Dagger||Dark Silver Tracer2||160|
|Thrusting Sword||Mail Breaker||120|
|Thrusting Sword||Ricard's Rapier||100|
|Thrusting Sword||Velka's Rapier||100|
- The only means to raise critical damage is equipping the Hornet Ring. Equipping it boosts both critical damage by 30%.
- You can do a critical attack while holding the weapon with both hands, increasing its damage. The additional damage is not much (in most cases, less than 50 points of damage), but may help finish off some enemies.
- Keep in mind that a high critical rating on a weapon doesn't always mean that it's the best weapon for your critical attack. Weapon base damage, weapon stat scaling, and your build affects critical damage greatly. For example, a Mail Breaker will never outdamage a Ricard's Rapier even though the Mail Breaker has higher critical stat. And if you have STR build, you may want to use ultra greatswords or other weapons.
- You can still trigger criticals even if you do not meet the stat requirements for the currently equipped weapon. Although the damage will be greatly reduced, depending on your backstab/riposte animation, it can still be used for pushing enemies off ledge.
- There are several places in the game map where you cannot do backstab or riposte (even if you can Parry the attack). These places are usually moving platforms. You can use this to your advantage in PvP. (Video)
- Anor Londo's rotating bridge
- Anor Londo's elevators in boss room
- The Duke's Archives' stairs to the garden
- The Duke's Archives' rotating stairs
- The Duke's Archives' elevators
- New Londo Ruins elevators
- Sen's Fortress' elevators, both the cage's and Mimic room's
- Blighttown's waterwheel elevator
- The exception is The Catacombs's turning bridges, you can still do backstab and ripostes there
- Some enemies are positioned in the map with their backs facing you. These enemies are designed so that you can easily dispatch them by backstab. Walking slowly, using Hush, or equipping Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring helps you sneak up on these enemies.
- In PvP environment, you rarely have the chance to sneak up on the opponent. In this situation, you can do the technique that's commonly known as roll backstab:
- Lock on to enemy so that you are facing them.
- When you see an opening (spell cast or strong attack windup), release the lock and immediately roll past the enemy so that you are behind them. High poise helps.
- Without rotating the camera, face the opponent's back by using the movement control only.
- Quickly press the attack button to trigger the backstab.
- After you backstab an enemy, the enemy will get floored. Until the enemy is standing right up, the enemy will be in an invincible state. But, you can walk up to the enemy as they get up, wait behind them, and chain backstab them as soon as their invincibility state wears off. You can also use this in PvP, but it will be harder because a skilled player can roll as soon as the invincibility wears off and connection lag may throw off your timing.
- For characters with at least 40 points of DEX, a +15 Bandit's Knife has the highest backstab damage for enchantable weapons. The +15 Rapier comes close with the difference being less than 50 points of damage.
- After you parried an enemy, you still have time to two-hand your weapon or even change your weapon for stronger critical.
- You can use special parrying gear to help you train your parrying skill. These items have 33% longer parrying window. These parrying items are: Buckler, Target Shield, and Parrying Dagger.