Combat is the most important part of Dark Souls 3, with intricate features that can be the difference of an area being easy or difficult. Mastering combat is going to be the deal breaker of whether or not you like this game, with many people finding the harsh punishments for failure as a reason to give up.
Stamina is used for everything from attacking and rolling to dashing and backstepping, so you need to make sure that you use it appropriately in order to prevent death due to the inability to avoid an attack. Luckily, Stamina regenerated naturally if you’re not using your Stamina, so make sure that you give yourself time to recover in between attacks or battles.
When near a target you can lock-on, allowing you to backstep and side-step easily around them. If there are multiple targets you can switch targets or unlock and then lock a new target.
While this can be great for aiming your attacks, there are a few cases in which you may wish to not lock on. When?! Well, the lock-on for most enemies is their head, meaning that when fighting large enemies with weaknesses in their arms or legs you may want to avoid lock-on to focus on their weaknesses.
There are two types of attacks, not including weapon skills, basic and strong attacks. Basic attacks are weaker, use less stamina, and can be chained together easily. Strong attacks are much slower and can be charged to do significant damage, but don’t chain well with basic attacks.
In addition to the above, all weapons can be two-handed to do additional damage and access Weapon Skill.
Sneaking up behind enemies, or getting behind them mid-combat, will give you the chance to backstab them with a normal attack. This lethal form of attack will deal massive damage and kick the enemy to the ground, or off a ledge if they are silly enough to stand by one. Use this to your advantage, sneaking up behind tough enemies, but don’t fish for these mid-combat and prolong a battle.
Ranged weapons and some tools offer you the chance to attack enemies at range, which many enemies are unable to perform. While crossbows can be used off-hand, bows must be two-handed to perform an attack and you can either aim to fire or lock-on and then fire the same way you’d perform a normal attack.
No matter your build, having a bow equipped to you character is great for pulling enemies or dealing free damage before a target reaches you.
Magic is a strong form of attack that uses FP to cast spells and deal massive damage to enemies, unless they have high Magic resistance. Casting requires Attunement slots to equip spells, Catalysts to use the spells you have equipped, and Intelligence and/or Faith to increase potency of the spells.
While builds that focus on magic require a lot of your levels to be devoted to Intelligence or Faith, any melee unit can benefit from at least some INT/FTH and one attunement slot. Why?!
Take a place like Farron Keep, which has a poisonous swamp that constantly deals damage over time, a Miracle like Caressing Tears, which heals status ailment, will only cost you 12 Faith and 1 Attunement slot while saving you a ton of Estus Flasks.
Note: If you are a spellcaster you’ll want to allot your Estus’ to a mixture of Estus Flask and Ashen Estus Flasks, to allow for HP and FP healing.