Criticals

Description

Criticals, also referred to as throws, are powerful attacks that can only be used under certain conditions.
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.

  • Backstab
    Walk behind a backstab-able enemy, mostly humanoids, 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.
  • Riposte
    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:

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.

Damage

Critical Damage is generally calculated the same way most attacks are: The AR of the weapon is multiplied by what is called the "Motion Value" (sheet) of the attack (in percent, a motion value of 100 means the damage corresponds, such as with most one-handed attacks), for criticals that is then multiplied by the critical modifier of the weapon (also in percent). This AR is then calculated together with the opponent's defense (Calculator).

  • Damage gained from weapon Buffs are not affected by Motion Values, as such they are a poor match with critical attacks.
  • Some buffs, such as Power Within, Red Tearstone Ring or the Hornet Ring, multiply damage after the Damage calculation, which significantly increases damage, but doesn't influence the ratio of damages between attacks buffed by them. Due to the way the Damage formula works, such a flat Damage multiplier is always weaker than an equal modifier of AR.
  • Backstabs may deal between two and 20 times as much damage as a light attack. It favors weapons with low AR such as infused weapons with split AR.
    • Due to the way Damage calculation works, attacks with fewer stages are fundamentally stronger than ones with more stages. As stronger criticals tend to have more phases though, this is rarely noticable.
  • Ripostes generally deal 10 to 30 percent more damage than backstabs.
  • All weapons have unique Motion Values (MV) on their criticals. As a result, 100 critical stat in an Estoc does not equate a 100 in a Falchion with identical AR.
Following is a table of Motion Values for all the critical attacks for all the weapon classes. The (1), (2) and (3) notation clarifies he stage of the specific attack in the animation. This table does not factor in the critical modifier of the individual weapons. All these values are pulled directly from ingame parameters (sheet).
Weapon Class Backstab (1) Backstab (2) Hornet Backstab (1) Hornet Backstab (2) Riposte (1) Riposte (2) Hornet Riposte (1) Hornet Riposte (2) Hornet Riposte (3)
Greatswords 200 - 200 - 230 - 60 220 -
Straight Swords 200 - 200 - 250 - 60 240 -
Katanas 200 - 200 - 250 - 60 240 -
Spears 200 - 200 - 250 - 60 240 -
Halberds 200 - 200 - 250 - 60 240 -
Curved Swords 180 - 180 - 220 - 60 211 -
Hammers 60 191 60 191 60 240 60 60 233
Axes 60 191 60 191 60 240 60 60 233
Fist Weapons 60 191 200 - 60 240 60 60 233
Ultra Greatswords 60 172 60 172 60 191 60 60 185
Great Hammers 60 172 60 172 60 191 60 60 185
Greataxes 60 172 60 172 60 191 60 60 185
Daggers 250 - 250 - 300 - 60 290 -
Thrusting Swords 270 - 270 - 340 - 60 330 -

List of Weapons and Critical Rates

Only Daggers and Thrusting swords have different Critical Ratings and, as explained in the above section, identical Critical Rates do not imply comparable Damage even at identical AR. The modifiers are the motion values of the weapon class multiplied with the weapon specific Critical Rate.
Type Name Critical Rate Backstab Modifier Riposte Modifier Hornet Riposte (1) Modifier Hornet Riposte (2) Modifier
Dagger Bandit's Knife 147 367.5 441 88.2 426.3
Dagger Dagger 131 327.5 393 78.6 379.9
Dagger Dark Silver Tracer2 160 400 480 96 464
Dagger Ghost Blade 127 317.5 381 76.2 368.3
Dagger Parrying Dagger 131 327.5 393 78.6 379.9
Dagger Priscilla's Dagger 100 250 300 60 290
Thrusting Sword Estoc 100 270 340 60 330
Thrusting Sword Mail Breaker 120 324 408 72 396
Thrusting Sword Rapier 110 270 374 60 363
Thrusting Sword Ricard's Rapier 100 270 340 60 330
Thrusting Sword Velka's Rapier 100 270 340 60 330

Tips

General

  • 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.

Backstab

  • 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.

Backstabs are one of the primary forms of attack in PvP. To understand backstabs in PvP, an understanding of latency is crucial (video).

  • Among both uninformed and uncompetitive players, the idea that Backstabs are a problem is widespread, largely due to a lack of clarity from the game's side and the major punishment that not being proficient at it leads to.
  • Within competitive play, the game can very much be interpreted as an even mix of backstabs and all other attacks, though they both build on each other and every other option players have. The almost unanimously agreed upon strongest weapon for PvP, the Chaos Blade only very rarely uses Backstabs, however other, very backstab focused weapons such as the Murakumo and Estoc are also generally agreed upon as top-tier. Easier pivots and stronger pivots due to the lack of Ghost Strikes (video) skewer PvP in the Remaster further to a greater backstab focus.
  • In general, a lot of very casual fights between more experienced players are intentionally almost entirely based on Backstabs, as this is often seen as the most rewarding and in itself deep aspect of the game's PvP.

Engaging a backstab against a real person attempting to avoid that is extremely difficult, the most basic tactics for this include:

  • Using Poise or toggle escapes to walk through an opponent's attack to their back. This can be seen as a type of trade.
  • Rolling through an opponent's attack behind their back on fast roll, then turning the character to their back and engaging a backstab.
  • Especially on builds using good shields, just blocking and engaging a backstab during their recovery.
  • Stunning an opponent, either with an attack or a kick, then moving to their back and catching their timing (while factoring in standstill (video)).
  • A more general form of punishing attacks with poise backstabs is: Reading any committing move, such as a roll or even just movement on higher latencies, and moving to their expected position.
  • Generally good, efficient locked on and unlocked movement to reach an opponent's back within the shortest amount of time. This is less of a technique or tactic, more of a fundamental, but becomes the only aggressive option against more passive players.
  • 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.
  • Chain Backstab represent one half of the wakeup game in PvP. There exist strategies and techniques both to perform (video) and counter (video) them.
    • At lower latencies, chain-backstabs often require very precise reads and execution to counter one specific wakeup technique. Due to the difficulty in this, many players, when facing others of similar skill, will instead often prefer to attack them, specifically attempting to catch wakeup rolls.
    • At higher latencies, a number of wakeup techniques do not work anymore, mixing up standstill (video) is the primary option here - this helps in making chain backstabs, and backstabs in general, more prevalent on higher latencies.

Riposte

  • 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.
  • Scythe has the highest Riposte Damage, when used on a Quality build, and is also the highest Damaging weapon for dexterity builds. For strength builds, Demon Greataxe has the highest Damage, however it is only barely ahead of the lighter and less stat intensive Great Club. For builds without investment in Dex or Strength, the Chaos Gargoyle Halberd with 10 Humanity is the strongest option.
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