Dark Souls: Multiplayer Fakery

I haven’t been partaking of the multiplayer aspects of Dark Souls. This is a deliberate choice: letting more-experienced players invade my game and kill me while I’m trying to make progress does not sound like it would enhance the experience. I keep finding items with effects related to “summoning” and “invading” and I keep ignoring them. NPCs keep inviting me to join “Covenants”, which I understand to be basically a multiplayer thing — I joined the first Covenant I was invited to, not knowing what it would do, and it’s had no discernable effect.

But the game does try to give the solo player a limited, watered-down version of the multiplayer experience. In the Darkroot Garden, you fight enemies that are clearly just the player character under different builds. In some zones, you can be fake-invaded by NPCs. There’s even a bit where you can fake-invade an NPC’s world. There’s this one NPC I’ve encountered multiple times, Solaire of Astora, who suggests that I should call on him when I need help — and I’ve only just figured out how to do this. I managed to clear the boss fight against Executioner Smough and Dragon Slayer Ornstein on the first try, and it’s entirely because Solaire kept one or the other of them distracted most of the time.

Apparently the key to all multiplayer activity, both real and fake, is that you can’t do it in zombie face. Since zombie face re-asserts itself every time you die, and getting rid of it costs valuable Humanity (a stat worth describing fully in a separate post), I spend most of my time in no-multiplayer-mechanics-allowed mode. But there’s one situation where I ditch the zombie face temporarily: kindling bonfires. See, resting at a bonfire refills your Estus Flasks (healing potions), but the number of flasks you get depends on how many times the fire has been kindled. Each kindling costs Humanity, but it can be well worth the expense, because your ability to explore is limited mainly by how many combat encounters you can survive. More importantly, though, you can’t kindle in zombie face — giving the process an additional Humanity overhead that encourages doing all the kindling you plan on doing in a single burst. And so I’ve been sporadically human-faced throughout the game, in the moments between deciding that I’m not getting enough healing from my current bonfire and my next death. The Smough and Ornstein fight was just the first time this period coincided with a possibility of summoning Solaire.

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