What is PvP?
PvP stands for Player Versus Player as distinct from PvE or Player Versus Environment; that is, normal, storyline play against the AI. Some players find PvP thrilling and rewarding, and even go so far as to sacrifice PvE utility in their Character Builds to facilitate effectiveness in PvP.
In Dark Souls, PvP is accomplished by any given player using one of several online-only items to "invade" another player's world, or to lay down a challenge which another player can either accept or reject as seen fit. The specifics of the various methods of initiating PvP are detailed below.
What happens in PvP?
Two or more players fight to the death! The winner receives different rewards depending on their method of invasion, which includes Souls and Humanity, or other items. The loser is sent to the last Bonfire they used, and depending on the method of invasion they will either lose nothing at all, or find a bloodstain containing their lost souls and humanity either where they died, or where they used their multiplayer item.
During an invasion, the area is locked; the host cannot exit the area, though they may still initiate a boss fight by passing through a boss' fog gate, which will immediately send the invader home. If a Black Phantom and a Spirit of Vengeance invade the same world and one kills the other, the winner will obtain souls but their ultimate goal remains unfinished; killing the host. If the player being invaded loses, he or she can use the Indictment item to add their invader's name to the Book of the Guilty, depending on the invader's type.
You cannot be invaded if you are Hollowed.
What happens if I'm in the Book of the Guilty?
If your name is in the Book of the Guilty for any reason, members of the Blade of the Darkmoon covenant can randomly invade your world as a Spirit of Vengeance by using their Blue Eye Orb. You cannot be targeted, it is a random, level appropriate draw and based on the area you are in. See the Book of the Guilty for more information.
How do I invade?
At the beginning of the game, you can only invade by using a Cracked Red Eye Orb, which is consumed upon use. You can later gain other items from Covenants to invade. Any player can use the Red Sign Soapstone once found, which will lay down a Red Soul Sign for other players to invite you to invade. You can only use this if you are in human form.
There are multiple ways to PvP, depending on which covenant you join.
- The Gravelord Servant covenant encourages you to use the Eye of Death item. This places a Gravelord Soul Sign that causes stronger enemies to occur in 3 players' worlds. They must find the sign and invade your world to stop the effects of this item. Beware, this means that by invoking this power you could be subject to 3 other invading players! The sign is not visible to the player who casts it, the only indication to the Gravelord that he is under the Eye of Death effect is a black aura emanating from the player.
Where can I invade?
- Consult the list of invasion spawn locations.
- You are able to invade in every level asides from the Undead Asylum, The Valley of Drakes, The Great Hollow, and Ash Lake, which do not allow multiplayer activity.
Where can I find the Cracked Red Eye Orb?
- There are 4 near the Firelink Shrine area.
- There are also 6 more in the New Londo Ruins before The Four Kings boss
- They can also be bought from Darkstalker Kaathe in the Abyss.
Where can I get the Red Eye Orb?
- Join the Darkwraith Covenant. After advancing to level +1, you will receive one as a reward.
What's the Blue Eye Orb?
- It's an orb that specifically allows you to invade those that are in the Book of the Guilty. Only members of the Blade of the Darkmoon are awarded this item, and the invading Phantoms will be Spirits of Vengeance.
What determines the amount of souls obtained?
- The amount of souls you get is determined by the level of your opponent. It is a percentage of the amount of souls it cost the opponent to level up from their previous level to their current one. An invader gets 10% of that amount, a host gets 50% of that amount.
- For example, it costs 90401 souls to level up from level 119 to level 120. When an invader kills a level 120 host, they will receive 9040 souls (10%). When a host kills a level 120 invader, they will receive 45,200 souls (50%).
- The "Red Vs. Red" Scenario, results in (needs clarification)
- Non-combatant rewards (needs clarification)
Setting up a Duel
Setting up PvP with a specific person can be difficult, due to the way Dark Souls was designed to primarily facilitate connections between strangers. You need to make sure you and your partner are within the appropriate level range of each other, and that various conditions are met. The level ranges and conditions needed are detailed on the online matchmaking page.
- Methods where you connect by consensual summoning, as opposed to invading, are generally recommended. Using an item like the Red Sign Soapstone offers the chance for a host to summon a player based on their sign, which will display the player's gamertag and confirm who they are beforehand. Otherwise, a random invasion attempt carries no guarantee that the invader will target their PvP partner.
- Using a form of external communication to coordinate with your partner is almost essential, as there is no in-game chat.
- The player who wishes to be summoned should place their sign somewhere that is less likely to be found by other random players. Hiding your sign around a random corner or underneath breakable objects increases the chances that your PvP partner will be the only person to find your sign.
Duel and Invasion Etiquette
There are no official rules. As an invader, it is your job to kill a host as you see fit. If you're invaded, you may likewise attempt to kill or evade the invader as you see fit. However, players generally distinguish "no rules" PvP as a separate way of playing from "dueling". In a duel, there are usually several unwritten but consistent rules:
- Do not heal using Estus or Humanity
- Do not retreat from the area you're fighting in
- Do not gank the other player (ganging up on them in a 2v1 or 3v1 situation)
- Allow the other player to cast a buff, consume an item, or complete a gesture at the beginning of the encounter (don't attack too soon)
The general idea behind a duel is to have a fair fight. Different communities will often impose stricter rules, where certain combinations of spells, gear, and attack methods are disallowed. However, it is highly recommended to NOT expect strangers to impose a lot of limitations on themselves. The more rules a player would like to see enacted in a duel, the more they should seek out pre-arranged matches where the rules are agreed upon in advance. You can never assume that a stranger will know or care to abide by the same ruleset you may be wishing for.
Because there is no in-game mechanic for distinguishing the type of encounter you will have, it is best to keep an open mind and expect differing behavior in different situations. Generally, players looking for consensual PvP will likely lean towards a dueling-style of play, while random invaders may lean towards a "no rules" style of play. But neither are a given. Perhaps most importantly, if you're a host trying to clear an area, NEVER expect an invader to be respectful of your mission. Many will attempt to defeat you ruthlessly, which is perfectly in the spirit of the game. Similarly, a host that is trying to beat a level has almost no tactics at their disposal that can be considered unfair, including ganging up on an invader with a group of friends.
Avoiding Unwanted PvP
A player can safely avoid invasions using one of the two following methods:
- Remaining in hollow-form
- Playing offline
To be invaded, a player must be in human form, having selected the option to reverse-hollow at a bonfire, in an area where the area boss remains undefeated. There are incentives for the player to go human, like being able to kindle a fire in order to receive more Estus charges. These things do not have to be avoided, as the player can do this offline or commit suicide after they've gotten what they wanted to block invasions again.
Impending invasions can also be detected in advance. Area boundaries will have fog gates go up that block the area off, and certain multiplayer items like the White Sign Soapstone will become grayed out in the HUD, indicating that its disabled due to an impending invasion (that may take another ~10 to ~45 seconds to actually occur). If the player realizes they forgot to do one of the above and does not want to engage in PvP, they should do everything they can to look out for impending invasions and quit BEFORE an invader ever shows up. At all costs, avoid disconnecting on another player once they've entered your world. It is considered rude, because of the legitimate in-game means to detect and prevent invasions.
- DON'T let your foe get away from you to recover as it could make you lose. Take your opponent down as quickly as possible, especially if your opponent is a human PLAYER.
- If you have other friendly spirits with you let them try to handle the invader to find out what your opponent is using.
- Backstabs are your worst enemies, especially since lag occurs on servers: players have the tendency to appear in your back and you usually die by then. Keeping your back to a wall limits that but it restricts your mobility and you are then vulnerable towards powerhouses. If a player uses God's Wrath against you when you are near a wall, you often rebound on it and are thrown towards him, in which case you are usually backstabbed as soon as you get up.
- Contrary to what might be thought homing sorceries aren't that powerful. If the enemy is too close to you, he can evade without rolling. It is hard to hit another player with Soul Spear, although it can one-shot him if you are powerful. The only exception is if you managed to lure the opponent in a narrow corridor where evading is made harder. If you are in a wide area, casting a Soulmass can still be useful: it probably won't touch the opponent but it will make it slightly harder for him to approach you and you can use other weapons once you have cast it. Don't rely on it to kill your opponents though.
- You cannot use a Bonfire when invaded, regardless of where your enemy is: The bonfire will be deactivated, much like when there's an enemy too close to it. Outside of safe areas (mainly bonfires you can warp to) you aren't safe if you're resting at a bonfire: As you're being invaded, the bonfire may shut down while the game is connecting to the enemy player. Despite the inconvenience of a bonfire not being a properly safe place to take a break, this can be used to your advantage: It can take a little while from the bonfire shuts down until the invader appears, giving you time to run over and quickly take down nearby enemies (just be sure they're someone you CAN kill quickly), or to equip more PVP-friendly gear.
- An effective way to attempt PVP is to go to Darkroot Basin just beyond the Crest of Artorias door in human form. Experience using cracked red orbs may vary.
- If you are invading someones world with another phantom try to take advantage of this by two ways, Firstly teamwork, and secondly study your enemy's tactic with the help of your ally.
- When invading and entering another player's world, always check around you as you spawn. The enemy may be waiting for a backstab or an easy kill. Also, roll past corners where the host may be waiting to backstab you. Using an area-of-effect attack near these areas is useful, but it can alert your enemy to your presence if they are elsewhere.
- Remember that the only the host, who is in human form, makes noise. Listen for them (if invading). Exceptions are when they are using Hush or a ring with an effect that decreases their presence or stops their noise.
- Only attempt a parry if you are absolutely sure you can get it right. Otherwise, it can be deadly. Since lag occurs on the servers, you may have to parry earlier than normal, say in PvE.
- Being able to move quickly is vital. Rolling quickly can save your life, and the Dark Wood Grain Ring acquired from Shiva of the East's ninja bodyguard is extremely valuable in not only PvP but PvE as well.
- You can also equip a good armor with a fine poise resistance (Havel's Set is a excellent choice but is also extremely heavy) and act like a Tank, run up to your rival with the most powerful weapon you have (use it with both hands) and keep attacking him(her) frequently (but watch out for your stamina as it will DEPLETE FAST and will REGENERATE SLOWER).
- Poise may not seem VERY useful, but it can determine a win or loss easily. Players who wear armor/clothes with low poise can be staggered easily, even with a katana. However, players wearing a full Havel's Set won't stagger easily and are best dealt with by using either spears, washing poles, or very large, heavy weapons.