Let's face it, Dark Souls 3 may be lacking in the weapon variety department -- especially when compared to Dark Souls 2 -- but it's not lacking the builds department. Since we're all not restricted to straight swords and estocs, there are quite a few awesome (and interesting) Dark Souls3 builds out there.
If you're tired of smacking people into the dirt with Yhorm's Great Machete or ripping apart the foolish trash mobs that fall on your Carthus Rouged Anri's Straight Sword, the builds in this guide are for you.
The simple and familiar is nice, but it can make Dark Souls 3 feel repetitive and boring. Nothing is worse when you have a fresh, morale-crushing DLC full of new baddies and bosses on the horizon. Why not get ready for Ashes of Ariandel with some crafty new build ideas? Let's prepare to try.
Dark Souls 3 Turtle Build
The Turtle Build in Dark Souls 3 has one rule and one rule only: a Turtle can only use Shields to attack. Sound scary? Actually, it's really not that bad.
The key here is to tart out as a class with a good shield: The Knight is a pretty decent choice. Unequip your Longsword and two-hand that bad boy.
The stats you'll want to focus on include Strength and Vitality (it goes without saying you should be leveling Vigor and Endurance too). Only take as much Dexterity as you need to wield your shields properly.
On my Turtle build, I started as Deprived (not recommended), and switched to the East-West Shield as soon as I beat Iudex Gundyr. I later beat Vordt with the Silver Eagle Kite Shield, which you find at the High Wall of Lothric.
From here, you can run off and kill Siegward for his Pierce Shield -- this is going to be your best damage dealer for a good portion of your run. The best part is it deals thrust damage, making it easy to take advantage of counter hits.
Alternatively, you can follow Siegward's questline for two Pierce Shields. You can buy the first one from Patches after he's trapped Siegward in the well, and you'll receive the second one after Siegward's death.
Another shield you'll want to nab is Longfinger Kirk's Spiked Shield. This shield can bleed your opponents, and it deals around the same damage as the Pierce Shield.
But the best shield for this run is one you'll find lurking in the Catacombs of Carthus. Farm the Bonewheel Skeletons until they drop you a Bonewheel Shield. It requires a whopping 30 Strength the wield properly, but it will shred through trash mobs like slicing butter. Hell, take the time to grab a few of them for infusions if you need a source of elemental damage.
Shields offensive movesets are not half as developed as those for weapons, but they work wonders in DS3. Once you get your second shield, it's best to dual wield them -- one for attacking, one for blocks and parries. The startup animations are far quicker one-handed at the cost of only a pinch of damage.
Dark Souls 3 Glass Cannon Build
This Dark Souls 3 build focuses on doing as much damage as possible at the cost of being easy to kill. It's a fun build to play if you're good at avoiding damage, as you'll pretty much tear through everything in your path.
The Glass Cannon Build is best suited for NG+ players. The Red Tearstone Ring and Morion Blade required for this build aren't traditionally available until DS3's late game. However, you can pick the equipment up much earlier than intended if you have the drive -- and know where to look.
But through traditional means, you'll want to build your character for Strength and Dexterity. You could alternatively choose any damage stat you like -- damage boosting effects of the Glass Cannon's equipment works on all damage types -- but if you plan on dual wielding the Morion Blade for the highest damage boost, then Quality is your best bet.
The Red Tearstone Ring can be obtained as soon as you kill Dancer of the Boreal Valley. You can kill High Priestess Emma at any time to start the Dancer fight early. Once inside Lothric Castle, head up to the Dragonslayer Armor's boss fog gate and hang a right into the elevator room. Out on the balcony to the left lies the Red Tearstone Ring.
The Morion Blade is a bit trickier, and it may only be obtained once per NG cycle. Make sure you save Yoel of Londor from the Undead Settlement and take all 5 "free" levels from him. Once you do, Yuria of Londor will appear in his stead.
Save Orbeck from the Road of Sacrifices and talk with Yuria until she asks you to assassinate the sorcerer. Kill him -- or wait for him to die of natural causes -- loot his ashes, and bring them to Yuria of Londor. She will reward you with the Morion Blade.
Repeat the questline for another Morion Blade in NG+ for a triple damage boost when your health is below 20%. If you're not planning on using the Morion Blade in battle, then equip it in your offhand with your weapon or catalyst of choice in your main hand. Utilize the Symbol of Avarice to drain your health before striking out. You can farm for one using Undead Hunter Charms on Mimics.
Dark Souls 3 Sniper Build
Sniper's don't like close confrontations. They'd rather take out their enemies with well-aimed headshots and a wall of arrows. Snipers won't use close range weapons, instead preferring a bow and a quiver full of arrows. A sleek longbow, a rapid-fire composite bow, a semi-automatic avelyn, or a monsterous greatbow; it matters not to the Dark Souls 3 Sniper.
Granted, a true Sniper build probably wouldn't touch a crossbow, considering they don't scale with their superior Dexterity and Strength. That's right, any proper Sniper build is both nimble and strong -- how else are they supposed to pull back those greatbow strings?
For this DS3 build, you'll want to start as the Thief class. Many would argue against it due to its high Luck stat, but it's the only class that starts with a Bow. Plus, a little extra oomph to your poison arrows never hurts.
There are a number of great bows you'll want to look out for on your run. The first is the Composite Bow, which scales well with both Strength and Dexterity. You can buy it from the Shrine Handmaid after giving her the Dreamchaser's Ashes from near the Old Wolf of Farron bonfire. This bow has the shortest range in the game, but packs a punch and shoots arrows at a rapid pace.
The Black Bow of Pharis has the best range of any bow in the game and scales exceptionally well with Dexterity. You can find this in Farron Keep near where you find the Sage Scroll. There are three Elder Ghrus standing in a circle; one of them drops the Black Bow of Pharis and another drops Pharis's Hat. Aim for the head -- this bow is best when used from a distance.
The Dragonrider Bow packs a punch and scales best with Strength. It can be found on the long ladder in Smouldering Lake on the way to shut off the giant mechanical avelyn. The Dragonrider Bow is a decent substitute for the Black Bow of Pharis if you're focusing on Strength.
The Darkmoon Longbow can be transposed from the Soul of Aldrich. It's a great weapon for Dexterity and Intelligence focused Snipers. Pair it with Moonlight Arrows bought from Greirat for 500 souls each after his pillaging trip to Irithyll of the Boreal Valley for great effect.
The Onislayer Greatbow matches the range of the Black Bow of Pharis and scales exceptionally well with Dexterity, making it the preferred greatbow for most Dark Souls 3 Sniper builds. You can grab one of your own in the Profaned Capital, on the ledge under the bridge that leads to Yhorm the Giant.
On the other hand, if you're a Strength focused Sniper, you'll prefer the Dragonslayer Greatbow. It's looted from a corpse in Anor Londo, not far from the Darkmoon Tomb. You'll have to drop down to a ledge underneath all the Silver Archers. Alternatively, the archers themselves may drop one for you.
Bows can't be infused or buffed, but with the right stats, they're downright powerful. Bows have a lot of new tricks up their sleeves in Dark Souls 3. There's never been a better time to do a bow-only run.
Dark Souls 3 Vampire Build
The focus of the Vampire build is swift strikes and long combos. These builds take advantage of the effects from the Pontiff Left Eye and Right Eye Ring. The longer the combos, the better damage they'll do, and the more health they'll recover.
To maximize this build, choose any physical damage spread (Strength, Dexterity, Luck, Quality) and put a particular focus on Endurance early on. The more stamina you have to sustain a combo, the better. Pick up a Fist or Claw weapon and upgrade it -- they have the fastest combos for the least stamina used. Learn to love the L1 button.
After killing Vordt and retrieving the Transposing Kiln, create the Pontiff's Left Eye ring. This will let you start recovering health from a successive chain of attacks.
Pick up the Chloranthy Ring from the tower near the boss room in the Undead Settlement. The extra stamina recover will help you keep up the pressure on your enemies.
Once you reach Farron Keep, you'll want to join the Watchdogs of Farron covenant. Farm the Ghrus around Farron Keep until you have 10 Wolf's Blood Swordgrass. Turn them into the Old Wolf of Farron to receive the Old Wolf Curved Sword. Equip it in your offhand. It gives off the same effect as wearing both Pontiff rings, even stacking with them.
Lloyd's Sword Ring may serve you well in this build, as your regenerative abilities will often keep you topped off. Don't forget to pick it up in the short circuit where you face your first giant in the Cathedral of the Deep.
On your way to Irithyll, don't forget to pick up the Ring of the Evil Eye from Anri of Astora. You may wish to swap it in when dealing with trash mobs.
Once in Irithyll, kill the giant dog enemy guarding the bridge to win Pontiff's Right Eye ring. This ring will make successive attacks deal extra damage.
While 40 Endurance is plenty of stamina, you may wish to also pick up the Ring of Favor. This will raise your max stamina alongside your HP and equipment load. You can win it from the two giant dog enemies guarding the Aldrich Faithful covenant.
The Dark Souls 3 Vampire build is an aggressive one. Stay in your enemy's face and get off long attack strings, that's the key to dealing devastating damage -- and staying alive in the process.
Build-a-Build in Dark Souls 3
There are all sorts of neat weapons in Dark Souls 3 that you can plan a build around. Take the Immolation Tinder, for example. It's a halberd that's on fire, packed with a unique weapon art. Oh, and it also functions as a sorcery catalyst.
Have you ever used the Dark Hand? I know I haven't because it can't be upgraded. Though it's actually not half bad! It scales with every offensive stat and does pretty decent Dark damage.
What about whips? Scythes? There are all kinds of weapons out there for us to try. Feel free to mix and match them to create a totally unique playstyle.
With any luck, Dark Souls 3's upcoming DLC, Ashes of Ariandel, will offer us with an array of unique new weapons and equipment that we can craft new builds around.
What's the most unique build you've tried in Dark Souls 3? Sound off below!