If there's one thing we've learned from the fearsome Dark Souls series, it's that sometimes things are just better together. With the first Dark Souls 3 DLC Ashes of Ariandel coming up fast, and what may be the final time we Link the First Flame (or, y'know, walk away and leave the world in perpetual Darkness) on the horizon, we've decided to take a moment to look back at not only the series itself, but the very best part about it -- the community.
Sure, it's hard to top the first time you ever stood victorious over Ornstein and Smough, finally snuffed the last embers of the Fume Knight, or stood toe-to-toe with the very Soul of Cinder. But some wins don't come with an 'Heir of Fire Destroyed' message. Some wins come from jolly cooperation -- from the community itself. Some wins are just existing and creating in these Dark times...
...and we're here with 5 of the best things to ever come out of the Dark Souls community.
Warning: Amazing things ahead.
Content creator ThePruld may not be Dark Souls specific, but his Italian YouTube channel has certainly put in more than its fair share of work when it comes to world of Lordran. Whether it's the heartwrenching yet motivating "We are the Souls" video backed by Christina Perri's "I Believe", or the comically absurd "When you go Dark Souls with your best mates", ThePruld has managed to make himself a place in the Souls community that slips just enough feels in between the insane misadventures of Lautrec, Solaire, Oscar, and friends to make it all worthwhile.
If you check out ThePruld's channel, be advised -- there is a little language and content which may be unsuitable for younger souls.
It's hard to touch on just how awe-inspiring the community can be without what may be the real cornerstone behind the Dark Souls' success as a series -- the runs. Most notably, there's blind runs from people that are going to get brutally ReDeaded over. And over. And over.
While there's at least a handful of really thoughtful, appreciable approaches to the "Dark Souls blind run" library, few are as engaging as the (now pseudolegendary) (mis)adventures of a Let's Player known only as Kay.
Set against the grim murderfest that used to be considered accessible only to some form of grizzled gaming elite, what started as a joke from her boyfriend turned into a full-on fanbase that watched Kay out-think and outsmart her way through the Souls series so well that she wound up in You Died -- a book exploring both the world of Dark Souls and the community surrounding it.
Though she's currently on assumed hiatus mid-way through Dark Souls 3, you check out Kay's channel to find all of her intelligent commentary and in-depth exploration, with more than enough content to keep you watching until Ashes of Ariandel drops near the end of October.
Of course, if fancifully exploring the deep world of the Dark Souls series isn't quite what you came to watch, the Runners have you covered.
If it's the blistering fast pace set by the Speedrunning community members like Nemz38, Distortion2 (both of whom have completed Dark Souls 3 in a little over a half an hour as of writing) and LobosJr, some of the timesaves and game-breaking exploits these players manage to find and utilize in an effort to shave every millisecond are almost as impressive as that time you managed to parry your first Black Knight swing.
Of course, if you're looking for a methodical approach, you can always check out Challenge Runners like The EdgeLords -- a collection of some of the most invincible runners around that pride themselves on having completed many Souls games without taking even a single hit.
While not as blazingly fast as the speedrun community, the Challenge runners are just as tense . Every move, every step that the likes of The_Happy_Hobb and Squillakilla take...each one spells the instant end of hours of work if so much as a stray rat attack lands.
Whether you want to see exactly how fast you can crush a Souls game, or how Dark a run can get with no armor, no shield, no bow, no magic, no death, no rolling, and no leveling...the Runners have done it. Twice. Blindfolded. With a Guitar Hero controller.
Despite some recent controversy regarding his content source, it's hard to argue that VaatiVidya isn't a colossal contributor to the content of the Souls community.
Bits of runs, constant speculation, trailer analysis, and deep dives into the lore of the Dark Souls series -- from blatant guessing to the well researched Prepare to Cry installments -- Vaati has it all when it comes to the lore.
All this has landed Vaati as one of the top names in figuring out what, exactly, has been going on in Lordran, Drangleic, and Lothric while we're busy running about being a murderball of Weapon Arts and magic.
The silky, smooth-jazz tones and warm velvet of Vaati's voice don't hurt, either -- though even those fall a little short of how good the SOULSONGs (a collaborative series between independent musicians and Vaati himself) are.
Lastly, one of the best things to ever emerge from the Dark Souls community is...well, the community. The dataminers, the lore finders, the blind/speed/challenge runners. The players themselves banding together against FROMSoftware's constant attempts to render us all Hollow -- and banding together to fix the problems FROM hasn't.
As we went over in our breakdown on Dark Souls 3's DLC Ashes of Ariandel Arena sneak peek (courtesy of Souls streamers), one of the problems that many Invaders, and Aldrich Faithful, and Watchdogs of Farron and even some Blue Sentinels and Darkmoon Blades found in DS3 was the staggering rate of "ganking".
You zone into Anor Londo, see every monster conspicuously deceased, and manage to catch a glimpse of the Host of Embers waving as two of his friends beat you into the ground with Dragon's Teeth.
Enter the Bloodshades. They're a player-made, player-run "Covenant" built for one solitary purpose -- to make gankers pay the price. With their own uniform, naming conventions, build-guides, and even a covenant Discord channel, the Bloodshades were made by the Parry King himself, Peeve, but staffed by us.
Whether you embrace the edge or suffer some cringe at the thought, a unit that massive sprung up nearly overnight -- and it's all thanks to us. The players. The community itself. Where FROMSoft failed us (at least until the release of the Arena, hopefully), we prevailed.
All it took was a little Quiet Resolve.
We're down to the last few logs to throw on the bonfire, Souls and Soulsettes. With Ashes of Ariandel releasing on October 25th, and only one announced DLC for Dark Souls 3 slated after that...it could be dark times ahead for the Souls community. (But in the meantime, why not try some awesome DS3 builds?)
I believe we can make it through, though. Perseverance is what we do. It's who we are. Going on in the face of adversity is what this series has trained us for, what it has been about, since Day 1. We can survive -- with a little Jolly Cooperation.
With a community this massive and creative, we're sure we missed something though. So throw down a sign, and be sure to let us know some of your favorite things to have come from the Souls community.