Dark Souls Multiplayer Snuffed Out, Now Rekindled

The day that Dark Souls III [official site] arrived on Steam, the multiplayer functionality for Dark Souls I mysteriously died. No messages, no invasions, no human helpers, no ghosts, no bloodstains. Your world was no longer a vibrant place, riddled through with the lives (and deaths) of others. People spoke of deliberate closure, to cause a migration to the new game, while others thought servers had been moved from one to the other for less sinister reasons but with the same end-result.

Last night, the servers came back online, leading to much praising of the sun. But what actually caused the lights to go out in Lordran?

Thanks to a behind the scenes peek at the Steam database entry for Dark Souls, we can see the days when the multiplayer toggle was switched on and off. When “usemms” is set to ‘1’, multiplayer appears to work and when it’s set to ‘0’ (the points where the entry appears in red to show deletion), multiplayer is down. The mms variable appears to have been added on or around the 8th April, before the release of Dark Souls III, and was activated immediately. It was switched off a couple of days before launch, then reactivated briefly before being disabled again shortly after launch.

That downtime lasted for a full week, which explains how the issue became so well known. A few isolated incidents might be dismissed but a week of empty worlds across the entire PC Dark Souls community was impossible to miss. Publishers Bandai Namco did acknowledge the downtime but haven’t yet provided any information as to how or why the multiplayer went missing for so long. We’ve contacted the company for comment.

Dark Souls multiplayer can be slightly obscure even when it’s working. If you load up the game and don’t see any messages or bloodstains, chances are you’ve failed to connect. It’s worth quitting out of Steam entirely and restarting in case those database changes haven’t come through. I’ve managed to get online but haven’t had a chance to test invasions or cooperative play.

One possibility, if you want to test (or simply play) connectivity with specific people is the Dark Souls Connectivity Mod. I’ve never used it myself but it sounds like a very useful tool, particularly for second or third playthroughs when the mystery of the multiplayer isn’t the main draw, and you might simply want to play with a friend.

Dark Souls has two problems that make it difficult to pair with specific players. The first is that many players often experience not finding any nodes (connections) after logging on. The second is that even if they do start gathering nodes, there’s no guarantee that one of them will be their friend and they may have to wait a long time to find them.

DSCM offers remedies for both of these issues. By entering a player’s Steam64 ID (the readme includes instructions on how to find it), you can find and pair with a specific player, even if both start with 0 nodes. To help gather random connections, connecting to another player who has successfully built up some nodes should then help kickstart your own node growth.

Check the readme file before running and get the latest version here.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I started playing last week and I was wondering why I wasn’t seeing any messages or anything but wasn’t bothered enough to look up stuff. Guess I can look forward to being invaded now.

    • Wowbagger says:

      It’s really not the full experience unless you’re getting killed by a twink and reading pointless messages.

    • Dare_Wreck says:

      Here’s something I don’t get – I’ve put in something like 32 hours into Dark Souls so far and have never, ever been invaded (other than the NPC invasions, which happen regardless of you being online or not). You have to reverse your hollowing to be invaded, right? Since I die a lot, I don’t bother wasting my humanity to unhollow all the time. Do people really try to stay in human form for most of the game? Unless you’re purposely trying to do co-op or invade others, it seems like you’d run out of your humanity items pretty darn fast.

      • MikoSquiz says:

        Back when I was playing it the first time, it was literally impossible to make it from any of the Anor Londo bonfires to the boss fog door in human form without being invaded. Invasions were lined up three deep waiting for some fool to go human, like a fool.

        Largely the same with the Undead Parish – and the invaders there all had low-level characters with endgame equipment, explicitly for the purpose of squishing low-level first-time players with a single swing of a Lightning Zweihander, instead of risking a fair fight.

        In other locations, invasions were a little rarer, but they still happened on a regular basis. A little later, the frequency of invasion was a fraction of what it used to be, although I did still get invaded in Anor Londo once this year.

      • Oozo says:

        I played through Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and am in the middle of Dark Souls 2 right now, and I guess the sum total of time I spent in human form is… maybe 10, 15 minutes? I quickly found out that I am really shit at PvP, and not all that interested in actually min-maxing the mystery out of the games. So whenever I got invaded, I pretty much died immediately to somebody who though that what those games present before everything else is a way to gank newbies. The sole exception being Ornstein&Smough, which is the only bossfight I ever finished with the help of another player — who helped me achieving my sole victory over an invading player, too.

        I’ve heard that I’m missing out on an essential part of the series — and the covenants got more important in each game –, but I seriously think that I would have my enjoyment diminished by having to get into the multiplayer mindset. I surely wouldn’t mind doing coop sometimes, but after my experience with my very first Souls game, it’s just not worth it. (YMMV, of course.)

        • klo3 says:

          This is how I play. I used to play WoW back in the day from the beta to 2006. After that I decided to never play a game (in a way) where other people influence my progress.

          It’s just how I prefer gaming, and I love the sense of isolation that the Souldborne games and S.T.A.L.K.E.R series provide.

          • silverbot01 says:

            I get the same feeling, especially from Dark Souls where it’s a single player game that has multiplayer elements. Just don’t get that anywhere else. Closest I saw was Watch_Dogs but that’s not really the kind of game that benefits from feeling alone.

  2. DrollRemark says:

    Sounds like they probably just did it to save a bit of server load in anticipation of the new launch.

    On that note, I beat my first run through of the first game last night. God it’s good isn’t it? Might get this new one everyone’s raving about.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Congratulations, praise the sun! I beat the game a year or so ago but been playing again to do the DLC I foolishly skipped first time round. Beat Artorias of the Abyss last night! So proud. Such a great game, even after the sequels and spin offs.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Well, you’re in for a treat. For my money, the third one is slightly better than the first one, overall. It loses most of the open-worldiness and all that weird, clunky capital-C Character reminiscent of late-90s PC titles, but everything’s so polished and tight it’s a joy to lose oneself in.

  3. Unsheep says:

    “vibrant” ? try annoying, cluttering and distracting. I’m glad it was gone.

  4. Marblecake says:

    “But what actually caused the lights to go out in Lordran?”

    Some idiot killed Gwyndolin again…

    • Benkyo says:

      She can’t be killed because she was never there in the first place…

      • Grey Ganado says:

        Spoiler Alert!
        You’re thinking of Gwynnevere. Gwyndolin is the guy making the illusion.
        I don’t remember if killing Gwyndolin instantly kills the illusion, too.

        • Benkyo says:

          Oops. Names beginning with Gwyn from a game I haven’t played in years.

          On a side note, I’m not sure if revealing the illusion and uncovering a deeper layer to the lore by doing something that would probably only occur to a “lets see what happens if…” player is awesome or not. Genuinely confused about that.

          • Eonymia says:

            I just remember accidentally throwing a fireball at her and being like “Fuck, fuck, fuck what is happening, jesus christ it’s dark… Oh most of the enemies are gone and a new boss. I’ll take it.”

  5. Spacewalk says:

    Praise the moons too I guess.

  6. daryldixon says:

    This explains why I couldn’t summon any help to do Manus luckily I just rage quit instead

  7. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Ooh, that makes a lot of sense now, thought it was quiet!

  8. Thulsa Hex says:

    Great to hear that it’s back. I’ve had the urge to go back to Lordran after reading Rich Stanton’s excellent lore article on Eurogamer (link to eurogamer.net). Since I’d previously finished it on an Xbox 360 that wasn’t subscribed to Live, I was looking forward to playing it with the online features active.

    Side note #1: I checked the Steam forums to see what was going on and boy that place is teaming with awful people.

    Side note #2: I started tackling the DS2 DLC recently and boy it’s really as good as people say. Well, I can only vouch for Sunken King so far, but it definitely captures something the main game lacked.

    • Thulsa Hex says:

      “…teeming…”, of course.

    • GewaltSam says:

      @Thulsa Hex Thanks for the link to Eurogamer, seems like a good read I nearly missed there!

      • GewaltSam says:

        To give a good recommendation on my own: EpicNameBro’s Blind Let’s Play on Youtube of Dark Souls 3 is really worth a watch, if some folks prefer to see DS3 instead of playing it.

  9. Chillicothe says:

    It’s dumb, too obvious, and ineffectual; of course Scamco did it intentionally.

  10. bokchoy says:

    Oh awesome, I stopped co-oping when they switched to Steam (since DSCfix didn’t work) and didn’t realize someone got around to making a new one. Time to dive back in!