I Try to Play Like Emarrel

Wed 23 December 2020 by psu

I don't know who Emarrel is. But, early on in my Dark Souls addiction I came across two collections of videos that they made playing through Dark Souls and then Demon's Souls in NG+7 at level 1. That is, you can't level your character, but you can upgrade everything else and then play through the game 8 times. Each time through the enemies get a little tougher to kill and hit you for more damage.

At the time I thought this was insane. Then I thought "well, if a good player can do Dark Souls at NG+7, maybe I can do NG." Then I thought "well, NG wasn't that bad, I wonder how far through NG+1 I can go." In the end I managed to get to the end and quit while I was ahead.

In Dark Souls the hardest SL1 fight is probably The Four Kings just because it's tough to do enough damage fast enough. Here is what I did when I redid the run in the remaster:

Manus is also a tough fight to learn well enough to do it without getting hit too much:

But, my favorite Emarrel video is not the Dark Souls stuff. It's the run through Demon's Souls NG+7 at SL1 with the world in Pure Black (more on this later). One of the many refinements to Demon's Souls that FromSoft implemented when they made Dark Souls was a subtle change to the balance in NG+. In particular, I've long observed that the start of NG+ in Dark Souls is probably the easiest time you will have in the game. The enemies don't hit too hard and your end game weapons just melt them. This is especially true of the early game bosses.

This is not true in Demon's Souls, where NG+ is simply brutal. There are several reasons for this:

  1. You tend to play Demon's Souls in "soul form", not "human" ... which means you are running around at 50% to 75% health.

  2. Enemies in NG+ hit much harder than in NG. More than twice as hard, I think. If you were low health to begin with (which you are at SL1) this means you will be getting one shot left and right even in NG+.

  3. Enemies have a lot more health in NG+. The opening area zombies go from 70HP to 200HP, for example. This scaling holds for the bosses too. So if you are damage limited (which you are at SL1) you will find yourself having a hard time getting enemy health to zero before you die.

So ... one hit kills you anyway ... and you want to figure out how to do more damage? The answer is hyper mode.

In Dark Souls there is one hyper mode item: the Red Tearstone Ring. If you have low HP and you put this ring on, you do about twice as much damage. This is a cool way to kill bosses faster if you know the fight well enough to not get hit (see Manus above).

In Demon's Souls there are two hyper mode items. The Clever Rat Ring and the Morion Blade. The twist is that you can use both of these at once and their effects stack. This multiplies the base attack rating of your weapons by 2.4 times, and in practice the final damage you do can multiply by around three times or even more.

There is also another twist that makes Demon's Souls hyper mode even more stupidly fun. You can do huge damage even with weapons that you do not have the stats to wield. First, you don't have to have the stats to wield the Morion blade in order to get the damage boost. Second, you can still take advantage of elemental and other damage from weapons that don't scale with stats. Finally, Demon's Souls uses the same attack animations even if you don't have the right stats for the weapon, so you can fight as normal and without worry. The best example of this is the Lava Bow, which requires 21 Strength and 18 Dex or something, but which is the go to weapon for SL1 runs. This is because the fire damage does not scale with any stat so even though you "can't" wield the weapon you still get all that fire. Turn on hyper mode and you can do around 400 damage per arrow. A similar thing happens with that ludicrous end game sword, the Northern Regalia. At Pure White character tendency (see below) you can do 800 damage in hyper mode with this sword, even though you "can't" use it.

I started playing with hyper mode in a normal NG+ run that I did with my "going to finally get the Northern Regalia" character. It's, well, stupidly fun:

It was around this time that I decided to play with this more in an Emarrel-style SL1 Hyper Mode run. Of course, in plain NG this is too easy:

So clearly we should do it in NG+ with Pure Black. But first, how do World and Character tendency work anyway?

Digression on World and Character Tendency

The World and Character tendency mechanic in Demon's Souls is either the most fascinating idea ever or the most pointless, I'm not sure. Here is the summary:

  • Each of the five worlds has a tendency number that varies from -4 to +3, with -4 being Pure Black and +3 being Pure White. Various aspects of the game change as you change world tendency but generally White is easier, but you get less stuff and Black is harder but you get more stuff. In addition there are various bits of each level, some special items, and various NPCs that you can only reach at Pure White and Pure Black. In general you can move your local world towards white by killing bosses and other special enemies. You can move the world towards black by dying there in Human form. This is why people advise beginners to always die in the Nexus and not play the game Human ... it keeps the world tendency white and thus easier.

    Of course to get co-op you need to be human, and then you get invaded and murdered, which makes your world blacker ... and to fix that you have to beat bosses ... but that's why you tried to get co-op. Again the From co-op system is an elaborate circle jerk.

    Finally, to 100% the game you have to move the world from neutral to white to black and maybe back again. Good luck getting all that done in one playthrough.

  • Strangely it appears that the actual World Tendency number is a floating point value, not an integer. So if you are stupidly trying to keep your worlds Pure Black you will sometimes find yourself needing to suicide an extra time or two in human form to shift things back far enough for the right things to happen. Computers.

  • You character also has a a tendency number. Doing "bad" things (invading, killing friendly NPCs, you name it) makes you black and doing "good" things makes you white. At Pure White you get a damage bonus in soul form (good) and some weapons, notably Northern Regalia, do their maximum damage (good). The most obvious way to get to Pure White is to kill the various special black phantom NPCs (ok) ... which only show up if your world is Pure Black (bad). Again a From game system is an elaborate circle jerk.

Finally, if you play online your worlds will shift in tendency towards some global average. So if you want your world state to stick its best to play offline. You didn't need those co-op helpers for the boss fights anyway.

Pure White and Pure Black

I always wondered why the Emarrel NG+7 playthrough was done at the particular combination of Pure White character tendency and Pure Black world tendency. But working my way through setting up for SL1 NG+1 the idiotic logic of it started to make sense. If you need Pure Black World Tendency to get the black phantoms to fight to get to Pure White character tendency, why not just leave the world there for the rest? All you have to do is die a few times on purpose to make this happen. This is truly next level Souls game thinking.

Anyway, that's what I did. I also spent a lot of time collecting things in NG for the NG+ run. I will make a detailed list in the section below.

Setup

Here is how I set up my NG+ SL1 run:

  1. Royalty starting class, since it's the only one that's SL1. None of the starting gifts are useful.

  2. Play the game normally but don't level. Getting the Crescent Falchion and the Dragon Long Sword early will make your life easier. Save Ostrava in World 1 to get the Mausoleum key ... or somehow arrange for that idiot to die to enemies or the environment and pick up the drop. Do not murder him on purpose because that will mess up your Pure White setup and you'll have to work harder to get it back later.

  3. Whenever you kill a boss suicide in human form in the same world. All the worlds start at neutral tendency and this will keep them there.

  4. Run around 2-2 to get all the Dragon stones you can. There are four, or six chunks, in the lava in particular that you should pick up while you die in the fire. These combined with the chunks at Flamelurker and the Pure stone you get from Dragon god should be enough to get the Dragon Long Sword to +5. This will be your main weapon.

  5. Run to 3-1 early (I know) and pick up the Clever Rat ring. Don't do anything else yet.

  6. I did all of World 2 early to set up blacksmith Ed and a Sticky bow to use before I got the Lava Bow. Flamelurker will be terrible if you do this. But Flamelurker will be terrible anyway.

  7. Now do World 4 to get the Storm soul for the Morion Blade. The key to getting through 4-2 is some sniping and Soul Remains.

  8. With the Rat ring and the Morion blade you can finally start to use the Lava bow at max damage and it will be better than the regular bow you crafted earlier.

  9. After you get all that farm all the lizards for the Moonlight Shade stones (darkmoon stones in the original game, I think). The important ones here are the ones through the secret door on the way to the White Bow and the two in the Storm King area.

  10. I think if you get the best possible drops from the lizards you will have enough stones to get Crescent Falchion and one other weapon to +5. Remember you get better drops in Pure Black 😜.

  11. You can make whatever weapon you want as long as you make a +5 Crescent Estoc. The Estoc's long pokes are ideal for stun locking enemies in some special situations (e.g. black phantom NPCs). You can also occasionally poke enemies through walls and shit.

  12. When you do 3-1 again for the boss, save Sage Freke and use the boss soul to get Soul Ray. This spell will come in handy later. It's the fastest way I've seen to kill the Phalanx in NG+ 1-1. I did not use many other spells ... though I did get Evacuate for farming.

  13. While playing through the levels try and pick up all the Ephemeral Eye stones you can. You will need 7 stones per world to get each to Pure Black in NG+. You need to suicide 4 times to make Pure Black from neutral and then 3 more times to restore Pure Black after you kill each of the black phantoms that you are killing to get to your character to Pure White.

  14. If you need to farm eye stones the best place to do it is in Pure Black 5-2 (I know) after killing Dirty Collosus. In Pure Black 5-2 there is a black phantom Giant enemy that drops one Ephemeral Eye each time you kill it. You can get to it from the arch stone in the boss room so you do't have to do any more swamp running. Sniping it with the bow is pretty easy.

  15. You an also get eye stones from the twin black phantoms in 2-2, the one island in the swamp in 5-2 with the four (!) Giants around it, the terrible NPC black phantom also in 5-2 in the swamp and various other random places. Getting the new ring in Pure Black Latria that lets you move in the swamp is recommended.

  16. By the time you are done you should be Pure White, all the worlds should be pure Black and you should have the following weapons saved up: +5 Dragon Long Sword, Lava Bow, +5 Crescent Falchion, +5 Crescent Estoc, +5 Sticky Short Bow, +10 Buckler. I've seen people also upgrade some dagger type weapon for maximum DPS with a magic buff. I'm not good enough at this game to try that shit.

  17. Now go get Demonbrandt from Old King Doran. You can also kill him if you want without messing up the Character Tendency.

  18. Finally go and fight the False King Allant and then the Real King Allant. grab Soulbrandt after the second fight and warp out to craft the Northern Regalia. This sword is cool and might be best boss soul weapon in any of the games. Actually it might be the only good boss soul weapon I've ever crafted. Don't forget to suicide one more time in World 1 to make it black again!

Hardest Boss is the Mobs

Congratulations you have made it to NG+ with all the worlds in Pure Black and your character in Pure White. Now run out into 1-1 and notice how all the mobs one or two shot you if you are in soul form and not being careful.

As the Emarrel videos note, playing in hyper mode with the bow turns each map in the game into more of a sniping puzzle than your standard kind of Souls game run. The puzzle is how to get into hyper mode and then snipe all the enemies before needing to actually engage with them directly. I have loved sniping things ever since I got that crossbow in the first Half Life game.

The hardest thing is dealing with the world before you have activated your super powers.

The very worst boss so far in my NG+ playthrough is this skeleton in 4-1. God.

Meanwhile, the "real" bosses are cheesecake by comparison:

Anyway, if you do this and you know me let me know. And have fun with hyper mode. It's a blast.

Some Other Random Notes

  • The Emarell videos are a treasure trove of techniques for getting through the levels with minimum fuss. Recommended.

  • Since you can't duplicate items in the remake it's a good thing they changed how crystal lizards work (they no longer disappear if they run away from you and just escape) because otherwise the farming would have been impossible. As it is, an OP bow and the new rules make it a lot easier.

  • Just in case you did not believe me about the Estoc:

Category: Video Games