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Dark Souls III's Poise Is Working As Intended

Prepare To Flinch

"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.

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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.

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