Dark Souls' online play is similar to that of its spiritual predecessor, Demon's Souls, in many ways. The game may be played and completed offline, although these unique features can be used to help or create more challenge for a player. While maintaining the overall format of a single-player game, multiplayer activity is seamlessly integrated into the world. Players can choose to help others by assisting them through an area to defeat a boss, or they can choose to invade and attempt to kill other players in their world. Interactive bloodstains will reveal the last moments of another player before they died, and players can also leave messages on the ground for others to see.
When a player interacts with bloodstains, they may see the death of the player who left the stain. They can be helpful by warning the player of dangerous areas that may be ahead.
Players are able to write messages on the ground, so that other players may read them in their own worlds. Many of these messages will inform you of nearby dangers and items, while others may be deceiving or irrelevant. An Orange Guidance Soapstone is required to write and rate messages. The miracle Seek Guidance lets you see more of these online messages and show the rating of those messages.
Ghostlike images of other players currently playing the game occasionally appear in your world. If seen close to a bonfire, the apparitions will be slightly transparent versions of the other player, meaning that you can see what they have equipped in full detail.
Cooperative Play (Summoning)
Players may summon other players into their world as phantoms to help them in their journey. To summon other players for help, the host must be in human form and in an area where the boss has not yet been defeated. With those conditions met, a player will be able to see summon signs left by other players on the same network.
To help another player, the White Sign Soapstone is used to leave a sign for a host to use. Because the network being used is information that's hidden from the player, summoning a friend can be made tricky by not knowing if you're connected to different networks. Reusing the White Sign Soapstone periodically will cause it to cycle through networks, usually making your sign appear for a friend after several tries if it doesn't appear right away.
Upon defeating a boss, a summoned player will return to their own world with more humanity and souls.
Player versus Player
Players may invade the worlds of other players using the following methods:
- Red Eye Orb
- Cracked Red Eye Orb
- Blue Eye Orb
- Darkmoon Blade Covenant Ring
- Cat Covenant Ring
- Red Sign Soapstone
- Battle of Stoicism1
Players can also be summoned for battle using the aforementioned Dragon Eye Sign, Gravelord Sign, and Red Summon Sign. All methods of invasion, asides from the use of Cracked Red Eye Orbs, the Red Sign Soapstone, and Battle of Stoicism, are restricted to various covenants.
Players who triumph at PvP will obtain souls upon killing other players. The player will also receive humanity or items, depending on the type of invasion. The only exception to this is when the player is attempting the Battle Of Stoicism method, in which nothing is gained or lost aside from weapon and armor durability.
Various conditions exist for PvP to occur. For a host to be invaded, they must be in human form (reverse-hollowed by using a humanity at a bonfire), and the area boss must still be alive. For a player to successfully invade, the conditions are specific to the type of invasion.
There's several signs when the host's world is getting invaded, before the invasion message shows up: Bonfires will temporarily lose their flame and become unusable; fog gates will appear, blocking the exits; and several items becomes greyed-out (mostly Multiplayer Items and Homeward Bone).
For more information on computing matching levels, see the Online Matchmaking page.
Players in the Gravelord covenant may use an Eye of Death to infect three other players at random, with Gravelord Black Phantoms. This infection will last until the Gravelord Servant is defeated or quits the game. The infected and others with a level range similar to the Gravelord Servant have an opportunity to invade the Gravelord if they find their Gravelord Soul Sign, to remove the infection by killing them.
Vagrants, are rare enemies spawned from dropped equipment. Dropped equipment has a chance to become a vagrant and appear other peoples' worlds. The longer items are on the ground, the more powerful the Vagrant. The more powerful the Vagrant, the higher chance it will drop better items than what spawned it.
When playing online, kindling a bonfire will also give a free single Estus charge to other players who previously rested at the same bonfire. If this happens, the recieving player will see a "soul-sucking" animation but colored orange.
When the player explores the world and plays the game, there will be opportunities which allow the player to make an oath to a person or on a specific subject, known as a Covenant. When an oath is made, it determines the players position on that topic, and will impact the interaction with other players online. This could mean that taking an oath for something could make you allies with another player, or deadly enemies. The Oath system is not an all encompassing fixed alliance like a MMO guild; instead it should be thought of as a system which serves as a guide for active roleplaying.
See the Covenants page for more information.
Certain Miracles, one of the three classes of spells in Dark Souls, have a "resonance" property. When used, miracle resonance signs can appear in other players' worlds. Miracle resonance signs appear as white rings of light that float on the ground. Standing near a miracle resonance sign will then boost the strength of these miracles, a buff known as Miracle Synergy.
The covenants Way of White, Warrior of Sunlight, and Princess's Guard is for helping out other players online. Players who are in these covenants will automatically be drawn closer to each other on the network. This makes the above mentioned Miracle Resonance easier to perform, as well as helps block people from antagonistic covenants from coming closer on the network.
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