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Dark Souls 3 invasions explained

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Helping, hurting, dueling, profiting

Prepare to die less

Your journey through Lothric doesn't end here. Be sure to check out the rest of Polygon's Dark Souls 3 guide , which offers everything from tips for beginners and returning masochists to detailed walkthroughs of every area — including all of the secret, bonus content.

Since the first game's release in 2011, Dark Souls' online worlds have been an essential ingredient. They make the series distinct — and a strange, scary, savage place, too. Dark Souls 3 is no exception.

Ghosts materialize out of nowhere and disappear as quickly as they came. Orange marks on the ground tell you to toss yourself off cliffs and smack stone walls with your sword. You summon a player for help, but they turn out to be a part of a two-faced covenant and stab you in the back. Maybe worst of all, you're making your way through an especially difficult section when a few deadly dark spirits invade your game and obliterate you.

These are Dark Souls 3's invasions. They can be deadly or helpful. You can be invaded or the invader. In this guide, we'll explain how the system works — and how you can use it to help or hurt other players and yourself.

Table of contents

Basics and requirements

Dark Souls 3 rids itself of the Humanity and Human Effigies from previous entries in favor of Ember, but the concept remains largely the same. In Dark Souls 3, Ember is a finite consumable item that boosts your health and allows you to become the host of a multiplayer session. Defeating a boss will also automatically grant you embered form without having to use the item.

You can identify your upgraded status by looking at the flaming covenant insignia near your status bars. Also, your clothes look like they're burning. On the plus side, you can invite others into your game for help, but you're also vulnerable to hostile invasions.

Getting invaded online by other players

Those who invade your game will generally be cast in a red glow, and you'll know they've arrived because Dark Souls 3 will display a notification saying "Invaded by" and then giving a bit of information about the invader, including their name and their form. If you receive a notification saying "Invaded by dark spirit," then prepare for a fight that ends when one of you dies.

Most invaders — including red dark spirit like the one pictured above — can ignore the standard enemies in your world and concentrate on their goal: murdering you. There is a notable exception, though. Members of the wildcard Mound-makers covenant appear as purple phantoms and can interact with the enemies in your world. Weirder yet, they receive their covenant reward for either killing you or other invaders in your world. Because of that, Mound-makers can be helpful or harmful, though you won't know which ahead of time.

Player-versus-player fights can take some getting used to, as it's always a bit laggier than Player-versus-enemy fights. Invasions can catch you off guard, but try to find a large, quiet spot away from enemies to fight your would-be killer. That has another advantage, too. Because regular enemies don't generally interact with Dark Souls 3 invaders, dark spirits in particular love to run next to big enemies. There, they can create a two-on-one confrontation you'd rather not be a part of. You refrain from attacking while they catch their breath and refill their health.

If your human invader dies, they'll return to their world, and you'll earn whatever souls they were carrying. If they manage to cut you down, you'll return to the last bonfire you rested at, just as if you'd been killed by … well, any other enemy.

Getting invaded offline by the game you're playing

You have to be kindled, but don't have to be online to get invaded. Sometimes, Dark Souls 3 sends non-playable characters into your game as invaders, even if you're not connected to the internet. (Because Dark Souls.)

Consider Yellowfinger Heysel. If you're walking around and your clothes are burning, she'll invade your game among the crabs in Road of Sacrifices. Her red hue gives her purpose away: She's a dark spirit, and she's here to murder you. (She's the worst. Yellowfinger Heysel can invade again in Farron Keep, too.)

Annoying and powerful as they are, NPC invaders offer unique rewards. Kill Yellowfinger Heysel and others of her evil kind, and you'll immediately get a bunch of souls and items related to the character. Later in the game, you'll be able to summon Yellowfinger Heysel to help you in battle. That works with other NPCs, too, even very late in the game.

Summoning

While kindled, you will undoubtedly happen upon a slew of different summon signs scrawled across the ground. These represent links to other players that you can invite into your game. You'll know what they represent by their color.

  • White summon sign. Designates an ally white phantom who will assist you either in defeating everything around you, including the area boss and dark spirits.
  • Golden summon sign. The telltale mark of the Warrior of Sunlight covenant, "brilliantly beaming co-operators who place their golden signatures to help those in need, for it is their duty to deliver a great conquest to their summoner," according to the covenant's in-game description. If you see one of these, you can safely assume that the player behind the phantom wants to help.
  • Orange summon sign. A dark spirit of the Warrior of Sunlight covenant. They still want to kill you, despite their joyful attitude. Using a Red Sign Soap Stone or a Red eye orb turns their golden summon sign orange.
  • Red summon sign. Dark spirits hoping to kill you for a reward. They, of course, often invade games, but summoning them indicates that you'd like to duel to the death. (More on dueling below.)
  • Purple summon sign. The telltale mark of the Mound-Makers covenant. They can attack enemies, phantoms, hosts — anything, really. They only get their reward by killing the host, so be wary if they happen upon your world.

Everywhere a sign

Check out Polygon's guide to playing Dark Souls 3 online to learn the best ways and places to use summon signs.

Defending the weak

If you fancy yourself a protector of the weak, consider joining the Blue Sentinels or the Blade of the Darkmoon covenants. Both covenants automatically summon you when a member of the Way of Blue is in danger from an invading dark spirit. You can find the Blue Sentinels on the Road of Sacrifices. You can join the Blade of the Darkmoon far later in the game, in Irithyll of the Boreal Valley.

If you're better suited for tough boss fights, then pick up a White Sign Soapstone from the Shrine Handmaid at Firelink Shrine for only 500 souls. Use this item, and you'll volunteer to assist other players in their worlds. For the best results, place a symbol right outside boss gates or at bonfires.

If you want a little extra from your hard work, join the Warrior of Sunlight covenant. For every boss you defeat, you also receive a Sunlight Medal, which you can turn in for rewards.

Confused by covenants?

Learn everything you need to know about allegiances — where they are, what they do, what you can earn and more — in our Dark Souls 3 covenants guide.

Invading

So you want to stalk and hunt prey. You can start by obtaining a few Cracked Red Eye Orbs from Leonhard, the Ringfinger in Firelink Shrine.

You will first find him near the center throne. Use the Cracked Red Eye Orbs he gives you to invade other worlds, but keep in mind that they they're one-time use items.

For an unlimited option, obtain a Pale Tongue from a successful invasion. You can also find one after defeating the optional Fire Demon in the Undead Settlement. You can find a Pale Tongue in the stone temple that separates the Undead Settlement from the Road of Sacrifices. Take the elevator up and jump off halfway onto a platform.

Defeat the Fire Demon, then look at the hanging corpses underneath balcony near the burning pile of rubble. A body on the left will be shining with an item. Shoot it down with a ranged weapon or climb behind it to cut it down. Either way, pillage it for a Pale Tongue.

Take the Pale Tongue back to Leonhard at Firelink, and he will give you a key. The key opens a locked gate directly below the Tower on the Wall bonfire in High Wall of Lothric. The path will lead to a Darkwraith. Defeat him, and you'll receive the Red Eye Orb, which allows infinite invasions.

If the invader role fits you, consider joining a covenant that specializes in PvP. Watchdogs of Farron and Aldrich Faithful invade in the swamps of Farron Keep and Irithyll of the Boreal Valley, respectively. Rosaria's Fingers rewards murder, but it pays double in the form of a Forked Pale Tongue if you kill Blue Sentinels and Blade of the Darkmoon do-gooders.

Beyond the item rewards, Rosaria's Fingers allows you to exchange Pale Tongues to re-spec your entire character. (That means you can reallocate the points you poured into attributes like Vigor, Endurance and Strength.) However, if you're interested in joining the Fingers, be careful to join it last. Their tainted reputation can lock you out of an important quest and other covenants.

Covenants got you down?

Learn everything you need to know about allegiances — where they are, what they do, what you can earn and more — in our Dark Souls 3 covenants guide.

Dueling


Invaders may be unwelcome visitors, but you can also graciously invite dark spirits into your world for a classy one-on-one duel. If you're interested in going toe-to-toe with another player, simply head to the Pontiff Sulyvahn bonfire at Irithyll of the Boreal Valley. Just outside the chamber, you'll find the perfect setting for a duel. A plethora of symbols should appear as you walk out onto the balcony. Load someone in, and battle them.

You can also use a Red Sign Soapstone for a chance to be invited into someone's home turf as a dark spirit. (A white worm just outside Rosaria's Bed Chamber bonfire in the Cathedral of the Deep can drop that item.) You don't even need to use an Ember to partake.