Here are some tips and tricks to help get started in the world of Dark Souls II. Warning, there will be a significant number of spoilers here. You’ve been warned! 

•Right when you start the game before even choosing a class, you can hang a left before the hut to find a tough opponent – You can get a class and fight the creature for a great ring, or simply run & roll by it and grab some Gold Pine Resin.

•Always talk to NPCs multiple times until they have gone through all possible gifts/discussion.

•The hub of Majula has three major routes that lead out into other zones that you’ll have access to immediately, so if you get stuck in one direction head back and try another route. The first route is near the Emerald Herald down into the Forest of Giants, the second is located in the “church” trail – make sure you pull the lever at the bottom of the path to open the door and continue. If you purchase the fall damage ring from the cat in Majula, you’ll be able to maneuver down the giant well in the center of town to a few different areas.

•Looking to try a new character look but don’t want to reroll? Head to Things Betwixt and kill the two hippo-clops on the beach in the tutorial area. There’s a coffin there. Step inside and change the sex of your character!

•You can turn in smooth and silky stones in the nest in Things Betwixt, one at a time, for random goodies. If you chose the petrified wood as your starting gift, you can also turn it in here. In order to do so, select “leave” from the menu.

•There’s an Estus flask shard available right away in Majula. Find the smaller well with a stone hanging on it and give it a thwack to reveal it.

•Chests can be trapped with Mimics that will surprise and kill you. It’s possible to trap check by swinging your weapon at a chest once, but be careful – Any more than one swing will destroy the contents inside and leave you with rubbish.

•The Pursuer boss is available in several locations outside of his fog gate. One location is in the Iron Keep, after you’ve vanquished the Smelter Demon come back a bit later with enough power to destroy him quickly, as he’ll vanish if you take too long. You may find a nice ring! If you’re having trouble with the fog gate version and you’re feeling saucy, try using one of the ballistas located in the room – they will reduce him to about 5% life.

•Want to stay human but not waste your valuable effigies? You’ll find a number of rings that “prevent death.” You can wear the one that costs 3000 to repair in situations you’re likely to die and retain your humanity.

•You may not want to waste a Fragrant Branch of Yore in the Lost Bastille in order to unlock what appears to just be a bonfire, but make sure you do. The petrified individual is Straid, and he’ll be able to forge your boss souls into special weapons and spells.

•Also located in the Lost Bastille is the elemental blacksmith.  Light the torch in his chamber to get him to move off of the chest so you can open it, and return here after you’ve located an ember from the Iron Keep for a chance to add elemental powers to your weapons.

•You’re going to want to make sure you find the cartographer in the Forest of Giants for the Majula mansion key. He can be easy to miss, take a detour off the beaten path and check out the cave in the area that has you climbing up a giant tree branch with broken housing to the right.

•The Dark Covenant with Grandhal features an excellent optional boss, the Darklurker. The old man you’ll meet and the portals are crucial to its discovery; make sure you have a stockpile of Human Effigies for passage.

•There are a number of bonfire shortcuts that may not be obvious but are incredibly useful. Try blowing up the wall near the “Pursuer crow platform” in The Forest of Giants for a quick route to the bonfire.

•There’s a boss you may have to fight in a lake of pure poison. You can make this a lot easier on yourself by burning a windmill in the area before the fog gate to clean out the toxic element of the battle.

•Black Gulch is a painful nightmare to navigate through step-by-step, so the easiest way may be to just run through after memorizing where the spawn traps are and gobbling down a poison cure and healing before entering The Rotten’s chamber.

•Saving your Pharros Lockstones may be a good idea. There’s an entire zone dedicated to Pharros that may have some secrets if you have the stones – I wasted mine on things like lighting No Man’s Wharf and creating rat pools in The Grave of Saints, and I’m hoping there are some big secrets involving these. 

•The priest boss in Bright Cove Tseldora reminds me of Pinwheel. Don’t even try to come up with a strategy, just go in swinging and it will probably be alright.

•If you’re absolutely stuck on a boss fight and you’ve exhausted your exploration options, go human and look around. There are probably some summoning letters somewhere. Some of these are hidden – If you’re looking for some help on Mytha, the Baneful Queen, there’s a Jester summon symbol under the poison (Not clearly visible) outside of her chamber.

•Stat allocation has diminishing returns, and my assessment is that spreading points around here is more viable than it was in the original Dark Souls. Adaptability and the agility it provides are probably going to be useful for your build, so keep that in mind before dumping into stats that are no longer providing full bonuses.

Have a tip that needs to make this list? Throw it in the comments and we’ll add things regularly!