And before I forget, hello again! Been a while. Travelled the world, met a girl, married and so on. On to the good stuff. I will most likely write up a review later, but feel I need to get some tips and pointers out of the way first. Not only did I start this up on the 360, but a day later I picked it up for PC too, for that extra sense of self-torture. Why? It's one helluva good experience and I'm loving it most of the time. Now I'm playing both versions at the same time, but the tips & pointers works for both versions.
I think I spent about one week reading up on everything I could find before even levelling up once. I had to know everything and find out everything, and creating a maximized character that would rule the world with zero deaths. I was wrong. Very wrong. You cannot start there. You have to learn the game, the world, and the mechanics by playing. Look up the technical stuff later. I learnt that after 9 characters level 1-40 still not getting more than maybe 20% into the game, and a multitude of different strategies. There are some key concepts I learned and would love to have known before I started though. So, from a traditional RPGer's point of view:
Weapons!You are going to use something effective to bash some skulls in whether you prefer to or not. I learnt this by trying to make a Sorcerer (Magic caster) or a Cleric (Faith build) time and time again - mostly because the spells are tied to many harder to get achievements. It simply doesn't work so forget about it. Save tens of hours by making a test character and put some points in Strength and Dexterity and try out different weapons. When you find something you like, note the STR and/or DEX requirements to wield. This is important for your next play. For the advanced users, see if you can find other type weapons that fit the same requirements.
As an example, I settled for 14 STR and 14 DEX. This let's me use the Balder Side Sword (Straight), the Uchigatana (Katana), the Great Scythe, and the Longbow. This self-imposed upper limit also lets me use several of the available weapons in the beginning, like the Longsword, Hand Axe, Spear, Short Bow and so on. Meaning I use the weapons as they drop and appear, until I find the weapons I plan to use the rest of the game.
Once you have your upper limit decided, stick to it and never waste more souls on STR or DEX points again. The reasons are many and we will get to them shortly. Now, a seasoned DS player might chime in with "What about strength or dexterity builds?" and to them I say "No soup for you!" and "Yes, for PvP later on as these are 'advanced' tactics".
When you have your upper limit STR and DEX decided, and a good idea what weapons you like, it's time to decide what magic you want; for Achievement purposes. Yes, we will be using spells, but as a compliment to our skull-bashing character, and not as a primary means of survival. I cannot stress this enough - you have to learn to fight and can not survive using spells alone. This attitude will save you tons of frustration.
In the next part we will weigh up the different spell venues available, how they affect your play style in PvE, how we modify the strict STR/DEX limit to play in our favour, and what you have to do for the spell related achievements.