Dark Souls III’s Poise Is Working As Intended

“Dark Souls isn’t about difficulty, y’know?” they say, backing you into a corner. “It’s about mysteries and secrets, about observation and deduction.” You consider smashing your bottle over the bar and driving it into their guts but ach, you’ve still a few sips left. “Do you know about… poise?” Ah what the hell, you need another anyway.

The poise statistic in Dark Souls III [official site] has been a mystery. Is it meant to, like in the first two, stop enemy hits making your soul man flinch? Why doesn’t it? And how come folks can re-enable the old way by hacking settings? Is it bugged? Bandai Namco now say nah, it’s meant to be this way.

“The poise stat is working as intended and is not ‘turned off’ as some fans have theorized,” a spokesperson for the game’s publisher Bandai Namco told Kotaku yesterday. “The stat works differently than in past games and is more situational, which seems to be the reason for the confusion.”

In the first two Dark Souls games, a character’s poise statistic affects how hard they can be hit without being interrupted. The stat’s boosted mostly by armour, with bigger, heavier sets tending to grant more. Character with low poise will often be staggered by hits, knocking them out of attack animations, maybe knocking them down, or even leaving them helplessly stunned by chains of blows. With high enough poise, characters can shrug off blows from bosses that’d otherwise send them flying.

Soulsers assumed poise would work the same way in Dark Souls III, but it doesn’t. Even in the heaviest armour with the highest poise values, characters are easily jolted. It seems to do almost nothing for players. Folks started a-speculating, and then this video from ‘ANDELE3025’ showed poise working the old way… after hacking around inside the game’s guts and seemingly re-enabling a disabled poise option.

But no, this is disabled by design, not a bug. Perhaps developers From Software once considered the old way and left in old code (that’s 100% definitely how computers work to do the code things, okay), but Bandai Namco say this is the way poise is meant to be in Dark Souls III: mostly useless.

Which… it still sounds wrong, considering how useful poise once was. Heavier armour still reduces damage, of course, but not helping tank hits makes it a lot worse. Dark Souls III’s combat is nippier than earlier games in ways, but still! I suppose Dark Souls does traditionally have a useless stat or two.

“That’s what Dark Souls is all about,” you say, “feeling mired in uncertainty yet trusting the game’s vision.” You watch their hand tighten around the neck of their bottle.

From this site

42 Comments

  1. laotze says:

    Poise only works properly if combined with sufficient investment in the Luck stat. You should start to see dramatically improved results around 50 in each!

  2. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    Alice, does your clever and hilarious writing bring all the poise to the yard?

  3. Premium User Badge

    Ross Turner says:

    This has to be my favourite pun so far this year. Bravo.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ross Turner says:

      Damn you hellish commenting system! Meant as a reply to J. Cosmo Cohen, at least it’s sequential (for now).

  4. Gwilym says:

    I’ll take frothing evangelism over “git gud / praise the sun / git gud / praise the sun / git gud” any day of the week. Kill the passionately hyperbolic and only the truly insufferable will remain

  5. 0positivo says:

    Dark souls 3 is an absolutely stunning game (the best of the 3 for me), but between poise being useless, broken weapon balance (why is a straight sword doing equal or more damage than a greatsword?) and miracles that got absolutely shafted (melee miracle, 50 mana to cast, 2 slots. Damage? lower than a 1h sword…), it has some incredibly dumb design flaws

    • Rumpelstiltskin says:

      “Dark souls 3 is an absolutely stunning game”

      that’s pretty much what the article is about, yeah

  6. apm says:

    they already pulled the victim blaming card, when the bans cuz of hacked items thing happened a few weeks ago. how can i take anything serious now?

  7. meepmeep says:

    Staggering.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I expect people to get up in armor over that.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      And I thought they were just (fa)trolling us players

  8. Anthile says:

    Gives me conniptions.

  9. Zanchito says:

    Some people suspect the reply actually refers to hyper armour while swinging certain weapons, and not poise, all with fans and developers talking different languages and such. I wouldn’t know, I just care about fashion souls.

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      AutonomyLost says:

      I just outfitted my character with the full Wolf armor set and am quite smitten with the result. I was much more strict early on in the game with only wearing the pieces of armor, no matter how mismatched, that benefited me most at the time. I’m now near max level and am more concerned with looking stylish while laying waste with my beefy weapon and honed skills. Fashion Souls indeed.

      • vahnn says:

        Try adding the Outrider Leggings. Gets rid of the skinny legs, adds more protection, and still looks good. I also switch to the Outrider Gauntlets for the same reason.

  10. gorice says:

    It would be more accurate to say that we just don’t know exactly what poise does. It certainly has a effect on hyperarmour, and also on I-frames in rolls, so it’s certainly not useless, but exactly how useful it is remains to be determined.

    Also, I like the change. In the previous games, poise led to all sorts of horrible fidgy-widgyness in PvP. No more havel poisestabs, just good honest spacing, timing and mixups, as far as the eye can see. It’s almost like a fighting game, now.

    • vahnn says:

      When did we figure out it “certainly had an effect” on i-frames of any kind? Citation? If this is true, it’s news to me, and I’ve literally been reading the ds3 subreddit ALL. DAMN. DAY!

      I rather like the current system, trading high-poise armor for the hyper armor on certain weapons instead. But poise boosting i-frames is something I can get behind, and it might appease some of these angry Poise Warriors.

      • gorice says:

        There’s a thread on the fextralife forums. Don’t bother with reddit; any useful info posted there is instantly buried.

        • Arkayjiya says:

          Buried? You mean like the useful info that the iframe on rolling this is completely wrong with video-proof and frame by frame comparison?

          In any case, poise doesn’t affect rolling iframes or rolling non-staggered frames. Poise may affect hyper armor but it hasn’t been shown by anyone yet. I’ve tried to test it myself and found nothing conclusive because it’s really hard to test in depth. What is about sure is that any effect it has is so ridiculously irrelevant that poise might as well not exist.

          • Shjade says:

            “I’ve tried to test it myself and found nothing conclusive because it’s really hard to test in depth.”

            How I tested it: using Anri’s Straight Sword’s weapon art R2 with vs a fast-attacking enemy (I use the snakeman behind Oceiros’ room, since he’s alone and dual-wields daggers, and has enough health to survive some hits).

            With no armor on, 0 poise, getting hit during that attack staggered me out of it every time. No surprise there.

            With no armor and the wolf ring +2 (20 poise), consistently continued the attack through dagger hits, no stagger. Weapon art R1 still gets staggered this way, but the R2 does not.

            What does this prove? Not a whole lot – just that poise has SOME effect, basically. It doesn’t really indicate for sure whether it acts as a multiplier for certain attacks’ inherent poise/”hyper armor” or just adds a flat value to them or what, but considering poise is the only thing that changes between staggering from every hit and consistently continuing attack through being hit (unless you’re going to argue the ring’s inconsequential weight made that significant an impact, which…no), it definitely isn’t “turned off.”

    • CmdrUseless says:

      I think you may be wrong there, because as far as I know the non-staggering effect at the end of your roll is affected by equip weight rather than poise, and the “effect on hyper armor” that you are mentioning is seemingly only the change when you either have 0 poise or anything above it (even 0.1). Some weapons, like the Claymore or Halberd, give you hyper armor with their two-handed heavy attacks (R2), right? Well, not if you have 0 poise. With 0.1? Yep. And no seemingly no value above 0.1 affects anything related to it either!

      It’s so strange. It just seems broken more than anything, doesn’t it? If you do have some kind source for the i-frames and all that though, I’d love to see a link.

  11. thomas16632 says:

    Between the old poise code still being here, and the lack of result with poise, we can also assume FromSoftware is lying, and that poise does nothing :D (which is what i assume anyway)

    I don’t agree with people saying DS3 is the best DS.
    My heart is still for the 1st and 2d.

    DS3 is
    -too linear, more than previous DS
    -weapon imbalanced as said
    -sorcery way is hard mode and most spells are useless.
    (to do dmg, i’ve got to use 3 boost magic damage ring, one of which turn my physical defenses negative, spell casting time is overly long, one shot by everything, because i’m at basic stats, 40 attunement, 85 int.
    so the way to play is, try to one shot most of the mobs, otherwise hidden body, mask sounds and kite.
    -i don’t know about miracles, but i saw their damage as max stat, they do at most half damage of crystal soul spear / great heavy arrow
    And on boss battle, you just have to do a perfect battle, because one hit = death.

    • gorice says:

      “Between the old poise code still being here, and the lack of result with poise, we can also assume FromSoftware is lying, and that poise does nothing :D (which is what i assume anyway)”

      Careful there, you are starting to sound like the hyperbolic tinfoil hat owners on Reddit. We know for a fact that poise affects hyperarmour, and it seems to have something to do with rolls, so the official claim that it works differently from previous games and is situational is absolutely correct. The poise code means nothing except that there is a variable for DS1-style poise which is normally switched off for player characters.

    • bakaohki says:

      Exactly. One comment though. Int 50+, three rings (two dragons + magic cluctch), oolacile crown thingy and cleric’s candlestick = one shotting most enemies in the endgame with GHSA (yes, all the other spells are just for show). Add transient body and it just becomes a cakewalk. Albeit the most boring cakewalk ever.

  12. Halk says:

    Just like weapon durability with 60 FPS was no bug either.

  13. sakhisma says:

    My supposition about poise in Dark Souls 3 is that it has been changed to only affect certain attacks. Specifically, heavy attacks that can be held for increased affect.

    I’m in the process of investigating this theory, but I believe most heavy weapons grant circumstantial poise during these attacks. However, characters with very little poise cannot make effect use of this ability, because the poise increase is additive.

    I think the intent was to make heavy weapons play require as much prediction as light weapons play. Where light weapons focus on predicting and parrying attacks to get critical hit opportunities, Heavy weapons focus on predicting and tanking through attacks with their own heavy ones, utilizing the variable timing of their holdable heavy attacks to bait out parries and punish their opponents.

    This is just a theory, as I have yet to fully raise a heavy weapons user, but observation of others in my play group suggests that this may be the case.

    • SlimShanks says:

      Sorry to say that you have no poise during heavy attack charge up, and can be stunned at this time by throwing darts, rapier pokes, rat bites, and stiff breezes.

  14. NegativeNancy says:

    Boy, y’all are milking DS3 for all it’s worth. Bravo. And here’s another hit.

  15. SlimShanks says:

    Oh right, poise is clearly working as intended. That’s why PvP balance is a total mess which seems to be biased towards weapons which would have previously been kept in check by poise…

  16. yarkhs says:

    Interview with From devs about poise:
    link to youtube.com

    Seems legit ;)