Welcome to the Co-Optimus Dark Souls Co-Op FAQ! The goal of this guide to answer all of your co-op questions. We will cover the co-op aspects of the game while briefly touching on some of the other online interactions. The guide is relatively spoiler free, but it will mention a handful of basic gameplay items. Dark Souls is a very deep, very complicated, and non-traditional game with multiple methods of player interaction.
This guide has been derived from over 100 hours of gameplay, and is meant to focus on the cooperative features in the game. If we don't answer one of your co-op questions, please feel free to ask in the Comments Section. And if you see any mistakes (gasp!) or what we've relayed does not match your gameplay experience, once again, feel free to politely sound off in the Comments Section. If you're intimidated by large chunks of text, no worries. Our Dark Souls Co-Op FAQ video has got you covered!
Beginning a Co-Op Session
Direct Co-Op Interaction
Ending a Co-Op Session
Indirect Co-Op Interaction
What kind of co-op does the game support?
You must be online to play cooperatively with other players. There is no local co-op or system link. If you do not have an Internet connection, you can occasionally summon NPC characters to aid you in battle.
Is cross-platform play supported?
No, there is no interaction between Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.
Is there voice chat in the game?
The Xbox 360 version supports private voice chat. There is no Party Chat on the Xbox 360. There is no voice chat on the PS3 version.
How many players are supported in co-op?
Three players can play cooperatively in one world.
Is the co-op similar to that of Demon's Souls?
Yes and no. Many of the basic gameplay elements have carried over to Dark Souls, but there have been significant changes.
How hard is it to meet up with friends?
Due to some server changes, it is incredibly difficult to meet up with your friends the way you would in Demon's Souls. You can get the details from this article here.
Updated on 12.8.2011
The 1.05 patch has greatly increased player connectivity. This means players can see many more summon signs. Therefore it will be easier to see your friends' signs, and vice versa. As long as you've met all the requirements explained in the "Beginning a Co-Op Session" section of this FAQ, you should be able to co-op with ease. Simply coordinate a meeting place with another player, and search for their sign. If you don't see it right away, have them drop their sign again.
Members of the Co-Optimus staff tested the new version of Dark Souls. We found we could see each other's signs and summon one another within about 30 seconds of the other player dropping their sign. Occasionally we would get a "Summon Failed" message, but we found we could get an organized three player game going in just a few minutes. We coordinated through Skype.
What are the character "forms"?
As far as beginning a co-op session is concerned, players have two different bodily states, or forms. You can play in either “Human” or “Hollow” form. It's easy to see your current state. There are visual clues on your HUD, or you can just zoom the camera in for a close up of your character's face. If you look human, you're Human. If you look like a corpse, you're Hollow. Every one begins the game as a Hollow.
What are the major differences between Human and Hollow forms?
Human form players can summon other players to help them in battle. They can also be summoned into other player's games. Human players will see player and NPC summon signs. They can also be invaded by hostile players.
Hollow form players cannot summon other players or NPCs. They cannot be invaded by other hostile players. They cannot see other player's summon signs. They can be summoned to join other player's games.
What is Humanity? What does it have to do with being Human?
Humanity is a very rare consumable item which can be found in the game world. When you use Humanity you will recover a large amount of HP, but it is much more than a heal item. Each time you use it your Humanity Counter increases, and this adds to your rare item drop rate. There are many more uses for Humanity in Dark Souls, but those are best discovered yourself.
As far as co-op is concerned, you are awarded Humanity for defeating area bosses, no matter what your current state. Human, hollow, host, and summoned players all receive Humanity for defeating area bosses. You can offer Humanity at a bonfire to “reverse hollow” and become Human. (We'll have more on bonfires later.) Once you are human you can summon players to help defeat the area boss in your own world.
How do I join a co-op game?
There are two ways to directly play a cooperative session in Dark Souls. Human players can host a session by summoning other players. Hollow and Human players can be summoned into other player's games as clients. Clients will appear in host's games as iridescent phantoms.
Where can I summon other players?
You can summon other players anywhere you see a summon sign. You must be in an area where the boss is still alive. You cannot summon in transitional or hub areas.
Where can I be summoned?
You can be summoned in any area where you can use your White Sign Soapstone. You cannot be summoned in transitional or hub areas.
How do I summon players?
You must be Human to summon other players. You must be in a location where the boss is still alive. While playing in Human form, you will see other characters' summon signs throughout the world. When you touch their sign, you'll be able to see the player's name and what they look like. You can then choose to summon them if you wish. It takes about 30 seconds for a summoned player to appear. They will arrive in your world as a phantom. You will not see summon signs if you have already defeated the area's boss. If you are playing in Human form, you will not see other player's summon signs if you have placed your summon sign in the area.
How many players can I summon?
You can summon two other players into your world.
How do I get summoned by other players?
To be summoned by other players you can be in either Human of Hollow form. You must obtain the White Sign Soapstone from an NPC. This is a permanent item. You can use it as many times as you wish, but you can only have one sign down at a time. (You can't spam your summon sign all over an area.) Once you have this item you can leave your mark in most locations in the game world. After you have laid your mark it is up to another player to summon you. Place your mark in high traffic areas for the best chance to be summoned quickly. When you are summoned into another player's world you will appear as a phantom. You can be summoned in an area even if you have already defeated the boss in your own game.
Are there level restrictions as to who I can summon?
Yes. You can only summon and be summoned by players who have a soul level similar to your own. There has been conflicting information given as to the exact range of level compatibility.
A statement from Namco Bandai’s Support Center gives this formula:
The client’s level must fall within 10% (above or below) of the host’s level. Generally, this example formula should give you a good idea on whether you will be able to join: (LC x 1.1) ≥ LH ≥ (LC x 0.9), where is LC the level of the client and LH is the level of the host. For example, if the level of the host is 20, then they will only be able to summon players who are levels 18 to 22.
Namco Bandai Games Community manager, Rich Bantegui, has stated a similar formula via twitter:
remember 10% Rank total NOT 10 Rank LEVELS.
Conversely, the Future Press Official Dark Souls guide states:
The Level difference between all the players must be within 10 Soul levels.
Many players have claimed different experiences on Dark Souls forums and in our own comments sections. The fact of the matter is that the servers appear to be random, and there is no 100% sure way to quickly summon a friend.
After the 1.05 patch we can confirm that players within 10 levels of each other can summon one another with ease.
I've followed all the requirements. Why can't I see my friends' summon signs, or why can't they see mine?
Dark Souls is using multiple servers for online play. If you can't see your friend's summon sign, and you've met all the requirements, you are most likely on different servers. There is no way to select a server. You can restart your game and try again, but the servers are entirely random.
Updated on 12.8.2011
After the 1.05 patch is installed it is much easier to connect to a friend. Co-Optimus staff members could see each other's summon signs within seconds of dropping them. If you don't see a friend's sign, be sure you've met the level, area, boss, and form requirements and have them drop their sign again, or vice versa.
Direct Co-Op Interaction
How do players actively communicate in the game?
Players can communicate through a series of gestures, such as pointing, bowing, and shrugging.
Is there friendly fire?
No, the client cannot hurt the host, and the host cannot hurt the client.
How does a summoned player heal themselves?
In solo play, players heal themselves using an Estus flask, which is Dark Souls' main heal item. In co-op play, the summoned player does not have access to their Estus flasks. The client must rely on the host player for healing. Whenever a host player uses an Estus flask, both summoned players are automatically healed. If a summoned player has access other heal items, such as Miracles and magic rings, they can use them at will.
How does a summoned player interact with the host's world?
The summoned player can activate traps and switches, as well as fight enemies. The summoned player can be killed by environmental hazards and enemies. The client cannot interact with the host's NPCs, treasure chests, bonfires, or loot drops. A summoned player can pick up items if the item is first dropped by the host. The summoned player returns to their own game world with all of the souls, humanity, and items they have earned at the end of the session.
How are players tethered to each other in this type of open world game?
When a co-op session is in progress players are restricted to a certain area or region by gates of white light. These gates disappear when the session is over.
Ending a Co-Op Session
How does a co-op session end?
The main goal of any co-op session is to defeat the area boss. If the boss is defeated the summoned players are returned to their own world with a hefty soul reward as well as a valuable piece of Humanity. The boss will have been defeated only in the host player's world. Summoned players will still have to vanquish the creature in their own respective worlds, if they have not yet done so. If you are hosting the game the summoned players simply vanish from your world when the boss dies.
The co-op session ends if the host dismisses the client with a Black Separation Crystal. The client can return to their own world using the same item.
A co-op session ends for all players involved if the host player is killed. The host player will suffer the same death penalties as when playing a solo game. Summoned players will be returned to their own worlds with all of the souls they have earned. If a summoned player dies, they are returned to the last bonfire they rested at in their own world. They get to keep any souls they have earned, as well as any items they may received from the host.
After a co-op session is over, what items, souls, and quest progress carry over to the summoned player's game?
Summoned players are returned to their own worlds with all of the souls, items, and Humanity they earned in the session. If they were dismissed or the boss was defeated, they will appear at the exact location in their own world they were in when they were summoned. If they die in a host world, they still keep all of their souls, items, and humanity, but they are returned to the last bonfire they rested at in their own world.
Why would I want to summon other players?
There are numerous reasons to have other people aid you. The game is difficult. Having extra players greatly increases your odds of surviving. When you are playing as a Human your game world will support three other players. You can summon a total of two allies. This leaves an open slot for an invading player. If you are playing as a human without any other summoned players it is possible to be invaded by three other hostile players SIMULTANEOUSLY. editor's note - I have never seen this happen.
Why would I want to be summoned into another player's game if I still have to beat the boss in my own world?
Playing in another character's game offers a sort of safety net. You can earn souls which allow you to level up and purchase new items. You can also learn level layouts and boss strategies. You can do all of this without the fear of losing all of your souls or humanity if you die. If you are killed in another players world, you will be transported back to the bonfire you last rested at, Humanity and souls intact. Most importantly, you'll earn precious Humanity from defeating the host's boss, allowing you to become human yourself, which in turn will enable you to summon your own clients to aid you in battle.
Indirect Co-Op interaction
What is the bonfire, and how does my bonfire affect other players?
The bonfire is the checkpoint system of Dark Souls. They are located through out the land. You will use it to level up, select magic, become human, and more. You can offer Humanity to "kindle" your own bonfire, which enables you to carry extra Estus flasks. When you kindle the flame other players using that bonfire will receive an extra Estus flask, as well. Other players will experience this as a glowing mist that suddenly appears over their heads and then is absorbed by their body. This happens to other nearby players sharing the network, no summoning required.
Are there bloodstains, apparitions, and messages, as there were in Demon's Souls?
Yes, all three elements make a return. You can touch a bloodstain to see how another player died.
You'll see ghostly apparitions of other players in different worlds. These spirits appear as Hollows out in the world, but they look Human when next to bonfires.
You will be able to buy an item that allows you to leave messages for other players using specific phrases. The same item will allow you to rate other player's messages.
What are Covenants, and how do they affect co-op?
This is an incredibly robust system that greatly impacts online play. Covenants are agreements you make with numerous NPC characters. They affect multiplayer matchmaking, both in co-op and PvP. Covenants can be broken and reforged. They can also be leveled up. Certain covenants have priority matchmaking with each other. Many of the covenants grant access to special PvP matchmaking items. Way of White, Princess's Guard, and Warrior of Sunlight are rumored to have higher priority matchmaking with each other for co-op play.
A brief mention of PvP
Can you “turn off” invasions from hostile players for a more pure co-op experience?
The only way to completely avoid invasions is to play offline. No, there is no way to “turn off” invasions. If you play in Hollow form you cannot be invaded, but there are other ways players can negatively impact your game.
Editor's note: Everything in this FAQ has been experienced in game, with the exception of the multiple invasions. (That particular piece of information came from the ridiculously informative and oh-so-worth it Future Press Official Dark Souls guide.) Thanks to Lock Vincent for testing out some of these features in the one organized co-op session we actually got to play. He also the put the awesome video together for us. Dark Souls has been patched before and I'm sure it will be patched again, so anything can change. Feel free to add comments and share your experiences below.