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Dark Souls II
Strategy Guide

Author(s): Andrew Mills
Editor(s): Andrew Mills
First Published: 05-05-2014 / 00:00 GMT
Last Updated: 21-03-2018 / 18:02 GMT
Version: 1.0 (????) 20-09-2018 / 13:29 GMT

Dark Souls II Strategy Guide Download PDF

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Combat 101

Combat 101

Primary Stats The Basics

As you earn souls from defeating enemies (or from finding them on long-dead corpses), you can use them to level up your character up. There are a total of nine different stats you can level up independently of each other; each one offering a unique improvement to how your character grows.

Each character-type will benefit from certain higher stats than others (so a sorcerer will benefit from high Intelligence and Attunement, whereas a melee-character benefits more from higher strength or dexterity). We’ll cover each stat in much greater depth a bit further on in the guide; so treat this as more of a general overview of how each stat works.

An example of a Melee-focused build's stats versus those of a Magic-focused character.

Vigor (VGR)

This stat controls how much health (HP) you have and is represented by the red bar in the top left-hand corner of your screen. Whilst upgrading this stat directly offers the greatest increase (by far); it’s also worth noting that most other stats upgrade your HP by a little bit too.

Endurance (END)

This stat controls your stamina level and is represented in-game by the thin green bar located directly below your red HP bar. The higher your stamina, the more actions you can perform (whether that’s running, rolling, blocking with your shield or attacking), so clearly it’s a very important stat to upgrade!

It’s also worth remembering that the Endurance stat also increases your Physical Defense level. If you favor heavy armor (which scales better with a higher physical defense level than light armor), then a higher END stat will serve you well.

Note: END also works in tandem with Adaptability (ADP) in that your Poise level increases in line with each other (meaning that if you’re ever 'Guard Broken/Stunlocked' you’ll not take as long to recover from it).

Vitality (VIT)

Vitality increases your Equip Load which you’ll know, if you’ve been reading our previous pages, allows you to carry heavier armour and weapons whilst still being able to run and roll fast(er). Increasing your VIT stat also has the added bonus of increasing your Poison Resistance level as well. Sweet!

Attuenment (ATN)

Attunement dictates how many spell slots you can have, which is essential if you want to cast Hexes, Miracles, Pyromancies or Sorceries. So if you want to deal some quality magic damage, then clearly this is your primary stat to focus on.

ATN also increases your spell casting speed, your curse resistance, your Agility level and it even slightly increases the number of each spell you can cast (the exact number changes from spell to spell).

Strength (STR)

This is the stat for those of you who like to swing around sharp weapons with great abandon. Every weapon and shield requires a minimum level of STR to use properly, so even magic-users need some STR to hold a half-decent shield!

If you don't have enough STR to wield it one-handed then try holding it with two!

It’s worth noting that if you’ve got a weapon that you don’t have enough strength for (but you still want to use it), you can two-hand the weapon as long as you half at least half the required STR level. So for example, if something like an Ultra Greatsword needed 50 STR to use in one-hand; having 25 STR and two-handing it will allow you to use the sword properly.

Strength also increases the damage your melee weapons do in battle, with the biggest damage boosts happening between levels 30 - 40. The stat’s soft-cap is at level 40 anyways; so it’s a great level to have your melee-build character at.

Finally, it also increases your Physical Defense level (clearly an important stat for melee players who like to get up-close-and-personal with their targets).

Dexterity (DEX)

Another melee-fighter focused stat, Dexterity is also needed by weapons and shields to use them effectively. However, unlike STR, using two hands to hold a weapon you don’t have the minimum DEX level for won’t allow you to use it properly!

If you like using weapons such as a Katana, then you’ll get a better damage boost from increasing this stat as it has a high scaling grade for DEX (so the more DEX levels you have when using such a weapon; the higher your weapon’s damage output will be).

DEX also improves your Physical Defense along with bumping up the damage you can do with Poison or Bleed status ailments.

Adaptability (ADP)

This new stat in the Soul series is creating quite a bit of contention for many in the Souls’ community. Some swear blind it "doesn’t really do anything", but others -including us - think otherwise.

It works by increasing your agility and your agility dictates things like how fast you drink your Estus flask, or how quickly you recover from rolling or blocking. But its biggest boost (even if it doesn’t seem like it) is that it increases your Invincibility Frames (also known as I-Frames) when rolling.

6 ADP versus 38 ADP (we can now dodge through attacks unscathed far more often than before)!

You normally only get six **** I-Frames with starting ADP and so you’ll get hit by attacks more often if your rolling isn’t exactly precise. If, for example, you increase your ADP level to something like 28 (in turn increasing your overall agility amount), then you’ll find you can roll through more enemy attacks that would otherwise definitely hit you.

So if you like to roll to evade attacks then, you’ll likely find that a good level of ADP will make your job much easier than it was before.

ADP also increases your Poison, Bleed, Petrify and Curse Resistance levels along with working in tandem with END to increase your Poise level (the higher your Poise, the harder it is to stunlock you).

You need to bear in mind that for poise to increase; END and ADP need to be equal (or you need to level up the lowest of the two so they start to become level).

Intelligence (INT)

Another stat dedicated to those who like to wave their magic-wand-of-doom around. More-so for those of you who prefer sorcery spells (to Hexes or Miracles for example). It bumps up the power of your magic spells and does so very quickly between levels 10 and 20. Levels 20 - 30 offers comparatively worse increases, but 30 - 40 once again offers a great boost (so keep upgrading to Lvl 40.

You also deal more Fire Damage as this stat increases; but to increase your Dark Damage you need to level up FAITH (FTH) alongside Intelligence (similar to how raising Endurance and Adaptability increases your Poise in synch). It also boosts your casting speed slightly (but not as much as Attunement does).

Faith (FTH)

Faith is another magic-led stat and works alongside Intelligence for those who like Dark-based magic (aka: Hexes). Raising your Faith stat also gives you a nice Lightening Damage bonus (its biggest bonus) along with Bleed (great for DEX weapon users), Fire and Dark damage boosts.

On top of that, it raises your casting speed slightly (but again, not as quickly as Attunement does) and you also get a Fire, Lightening and Dark Resistance boost whilst you’re at it.

Hard and Soft Stat Caps

After a certain level, most stats (such as VGR, END, VIT etc) start to offer fewer benefits for a greater number of souls. This is known as a 'soft cap'. So whilst you can certainly pump any stat up to a max of 99; there’s very little point in doing so for most skills. Let’s take a look at an example of a soft cap a bit closer:

Vigor (VGR):

  • Up to level 20 = +30 Health Points per level
  • Up to level 50 = +20 Health Points per level
  • From Level 51 to 99 = +5 Health Points per level

As you can see, between levels 21 and 50 you earn 10 HP less for an increasing amount of souls. Once you hit level 51 then you still earn some extra health, but it’s only a quarter of what you earned previously (and bear in mind the cost of levelling up increases with each new level).

A 'Hard Cap' kicks in when a skill all of a sudden stops offering any benefit at all in a given area. So let’s take a look at one as an example.

Attunment (ATT): You earn additional spell slots as you level this skill up. However, once you reach Level 75 the game no longer offers any additional spell slots (leaving you at a maximum of 10).

This means it’s pointless adding any further levels into this skill if all you’re wanting is more spell slots. You’ve hit the skill’s 'Hard Cap'.