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Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Kill a Dragon [Demon's Souls]

After last night's Demon's Souls session, I am totally hooked on this game. I managed to kill the Red-Eye Knight in level 1-1 three times without dying. I was able to use the souls I gathered to increase my hero's strength to 18 - just enough to wield a compound short bow. Just like that, I was ready to take the fight to level 1-2.

I was going to kill a dragon.

If you haven't played Demon's Souls, there may be some minor spoilers below. Honestly, Demon's Souls early levels aren't about story and spoilers: the only thing that matters is survival. Thankfully, it doesn't take too long to get good at clearing out any one level in the game. A little practice, some diligence, a few good item drops, and a few prayers from the Maiden in Black are enough to get you past most hurdles in the game...I hope.

In any case, level 1-2 of Demon's Souls requires the hero to cross along a rather long bridge. The tricky part comes in the form of a large red dragon that swoops down to lay waste to everything with its fire breath. I was sick of always having to scramble across the bridge at top speed in the hopes of avoiding a fiery death only to run headlong into a barrage of arrows from sniping archers. When I first experienced level 1-2, I was playing as a Knight. I was forced to strip off my armour to make it across the sections of bridge fast enough to avoid getting killed by the Red Dragon. It was a little frustrating getting shot at by archers while wearing nothing but a shield and underpants while fleeing a fast-approaching ball of fire.

After getting pretty good at dodging the Red Dragon's fire breath, I discovered that the dragon in level 1-2 can be killed. And it's not very hard to do - even for players new to Demon's Souls! Here's what you'll need to pull of this awesome feat:

  • You'll need to buy 100 arrows from Bolwin the Blacksmith. If you're a spell caster with access to the Soul Arrow spell, you'll only need 50 arrows. Still, better to err on the side of caution.

  • You'll need to acquire the Composite Short Bow. In level 1-2, the bridge is separated into three pieces by two guard towers. The composite short bow can be found atop the second tower.

  • Your character will need a strength of 18 to wield the composite short bow. I'd recommend doing Red-Eye Knight runs in 1-1 to level up quickly. But this method of level-grinding is not really an option for players new to Demon's Souls playing a class other than a Royal. FYI: spamming Soul Arrow attacks at the Red-Eye Knight is a safe and fast way to take down this formidable opponent. He's worth 2000-3000 souls which equates to 1 or more levels gained for each run through 1-1.
Once you've got your composite short bow and arrows, return to level 1-2. Run across the bridge to the first guard tower. Your first order of business will be to take out the four Boletarian Soldiers guarding this tower. With the tower cleared, assume a position atop the tower as illustrated in my sad-looking drawing below.

The point of the drawing is to show the hero shooting the dragon as it flies up and past the hero's position on the tower. You should fire when you can see the Red Dragon's face through the crenels (opening in the notched battlement) atop the tower. Do not bother locking onto the Dragon: it comes in too fast and you won't have time to lock-on, fire, and hit your target in the space of the Dragon's fire-breathing swoop attack. Instead, simply fire arrows (in L1 Zoom mode) through the crenelation and look for a trail of blood from the Red Dragon as it flies up and over your hero. You can see a similar strategy in action in the video below:

Using this simple strategy, I killed the Red Dragon in about 15 minutes time using my level 16 Royal. I hit the Dragon with a number of Soul Arrows - it's hard to determine exactly how many times the Dragon was hit since I could not lock-on to the target. I also used a total of 49 arrows fired from my composite short bow. My reward for killing the Red Dragon was a Small Flame Scale Demon's Soul and 7000 souls added to my soul-stash.

Once the Red Dragon was dead, I returned to a the Dragons' cliffside nest (there are two dragons: one red and one blue) in level 1-1. For whatever reason, the Blue Dragon was not there. With the nest free and clear of any flying nasties, I was able to collect a whole bunch of great loot including a Ring of Great Strength and the Purple Flame Shield. Not too shabby for 20 minutes work!

With the Red Dragon dead and gone, my plans for tonight are to make continued runs at the Tower Knight at the end of level 1-2. This shouldn't be too bad now that I don't have that flying menace incinerating me as I attempt to run across long stretches of the bridge. I may even invite some other souls into my game to give me a hand. I could always use the help!

If you've been on the fence regarding Demon's Souls due to its "extreme difficulty", I recommend buying the game. No matter how difficult the game gets, you are able to gain certain edges in the game that make it much easier to succeed. Old RPG strategies such as over-leveling your character, loot grinding, and the Royal starting class all make this game much more bearable. And despite what you've come to expect from From Software, Demon's Souls is a highly-polished and incredibly deep game that is accessible to any PS3 gamer out there willing to tough it out for the first 5-10 hours. And if you get stuck, there's always help available in the form of the Internet and online players willing to help you defeat your demons!

I won't be posting tomorrow so have a great weekend! I'm off to play a ton of Demon's Souls!


Anonymous said...

The Dragon is not dead, he is laying on a outside location, wounded, moving his tail and breathing, getting near to his tail is dangerous, he can hit you hard with it.

Don´t know why he is still alive, maybe because i didn´t consumed his soul yet, buying arrows later, trying to shoot at it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the location is the one where you find the purple flame shield.

Klopzi said...

There are two dragons found in the area with the flame shield. Killing the red dragon isn't enough to make the area entirely safe. But it should be enough to get you that shield.

Rii said...

Can I kill the dragon in 1-1?

I read that the dragon can't be killed when it's roosting but how about when it's doing the fire swoop at 1-1?

I'm playing thief now and got about 200 arrows stocked up, ready to dragon hunt.

Klopzi said...

@Rii -

As far as I know, the Red Dragon can only be killed during its swoop on 1-2. But if you'r able to get the Dragon on 1-1, I'd love to hear about it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Rii said...

Hey Klopzi,

I finally got to test it. Can't kill the swooping dragon on 1-1. It'll just fly away after you've wounded it to about 1/4 health.

Also, one thing I noticed is that after you open the gates to 1-1 boss, the dragon will no longer swoop down. (I had to restart to test this lol)

Klopzi said...

@Rii -

Thanks for getting back to me about that.

I'll have to play this game again someday. Servers will be offline but I'm sure there will still be a playable game in there somewhere for me.

I'm still unsure of how deep my masochist streak runs however.

Gobold said...

As far as I know, the dragons flee in PWWT (Pure White World Tendency). Killing the first boss and the dragon in 2-1 should suffice to achieve PWWT, at least in offline-mode.

So maybe the other dragon is gone because of PWWT.

Klopzi said...


Interesting. I never thought things through in regards to world tendencies and the dragons. I have to admit that I never finished Demon's Souls despite professing a true fondness for the game.

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

you can wound the blue dragon thats just lying there and wagging it's tail like a pup if you have the right spells, but you cant kill him because he'll just fly away once his health gets so low.

what i want to know is if you wound the blue dragon in 1-1, will it keep its health (or lack thereof)in 1-4