Tag Archives: theonlywayoutisforward

With the upcoming North American release of Dark Souls III, I wondered if you all knew of the series and how you felt about the accuracy of their weapon wielding. I realize there are a lot of fantastic elements about some of the weapons themselves, and a necessary assumption of unnatural levels of strength for others, but do you think they did a good job in portraying the handling of the medieval weapons in the games?

I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at Dark Souls III specifically, so I can’t speak to it in particular detail. In general, the previous Souls games have had a focus on large movements that make it easier to interpret and interact with what’s happening on screen.

This makes the games play better, but it’s not realistic. There’s two reasons for this. First, actual armed combat is shockingly lethal with little to no warning. As lethal as Dark Souls is, it does not capture just how dangerous these weapons are, when handled correctly. Second, you’re viewing the game from across the room, on a screen. This means the small movements that are critical tells in an actual melee would be impossible to see on screen.

For example, the Broadsword’s move-set in 1 and 2, use wide strike arcs. In real combat, you would never want to do this, because it would tell your opponent exactly where the strike is coming from, and give them time to block it. It would also leave you incredibly open to incoming attacks, which can, and does, happen in Dark Souls.

Generally speaking, in Dark Souls, a weapon’s move set is far more important than the item’s actual stats. There are ways to work around poor base damage, but a bad moveset can’t be fixed. The game groups most weapons into various classes. Straight swords, Thrusting Swords, Halberds, Bows, Whips, Ultra Greatswords… no, that is one of the weapon classes. Weapons in a class will usually share most of their moveset, with a few variations. In Dark Souls the Longsword and Broadsword have a basically identical move set except for one heavy attack. Thing is, this is an entirely artificial system, and has nothing to do with how actual combat works. It makes for interesting game play options, but unless there’s an actual mechanical limitation with a weapon (like the Estoc), it’s not something you’ll see in the real world.

The move sets are also not incredibly representative of how individual weapons are actually wielded. The Lucerne and Estoc come to mind. The Lucerne was a 15th century warhammer with a beak on the reverse edge (for pulling away shields, hooking into riders and dragging them down, and other similar utility functions). In Dark Souls, all of its strikes use the beak. The Estoc was a longsword with a sharpened tip, designed for thrusting. It’s notable because they did not have a sharpened blade. In Dark Souls, they’re distinguished from the Rapier by having a slash attack on their one handed heavy attack. This is notable because it’s one of the few things the real weapon could not do.

The new wrinkle with Dark Souls III is the weapon arts. From what I’ve seen, they’re more in line with the Old Hunter’s version of the Moonlight Greatsword; a charged attack that consumes mana, making it more important for non-magic builds in DS3. The actual moves the system unlocks aren’t any more realistic than what was already in the game.

Dark Souls is still a very interesting setting (as are Demons Souls and Bloodborne‘s), but the combat in those is more, “visually engaging” than realistic.

Incidentally, this is also the case with almost all of Bloodborne’s transformation weapons. They’re there to make the weapons more interesting on a gameplay and visual level. Not because a cane that transforms into a chain whip or a comically massive hammer with a sword in it’s grip, would be a good idea. (That said, the Threaded Cane is stylish as hell.) Bloodborne also gets a decent excuse; the entire game is actually a nightmare/dreamworld; so it’s possible all the weapons you’re finding don’t actually exist in the setting’s real world.

No, Dark Souls isn’t a particularly authentic model of medieval combat. But, it is an entertaining one.


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Is there a realistic analog to fighting with weapons attached to the forearm? (i.e. Wolverine’s claws in x-men, or the Hidden Blades of Assassin’s Creed?) I realize these examples are entirely fiction, but is such a weapon remotely feasible in reality?

The hidden blades aren’t. We’ve actually talked about the Assassin’s Creed franchise a few times before. The basic idea of shiving a guy, and then palming the knife and walking off? Yeah. That works. The idea of strapping said blade to your arm? Not so much.

Especially not in Renaissance Italy, when people would conceal daggers on their forearms, and handshakes were specifically used to make sure the person you were meeting wasn’t about to perforate your kidney.

The phrase, “a knife up your sleeve” used to be a lot more literal.

The biggest problem with Wolverine’s claws is… where the hell does he keep them? They’re substantially longer than his hands, so they need to start in his forearms, and then extend through his wrists, which means his wrist needs to be perfectly aligned when he tries to extend them. It also opens the question to, “how do these stay in place while extended?” Structurally, that’s more weight than the bones in your hand are designed to support, so either his hands would need to be substantially different, physiologically, or it’s running on Chris Claremont logic.

That said, both of these designs get at weapons that are, more or less, real. Punch daggers are weapons where the grip is set, perpendicularly, behind the blade. They’re designed to be held in a closed fist, with the blade protruding between the middle and ring finger (though other configurations exist). They can deliver more force on impact than a common knife design. The most famous example of this design is probably the katar from India.

These are not normally attached, directly to the wrist, but allow similar strike patterns while offering slightly more flexibility in their use.

In the case of Wolverine, his claws somewhat resemble the Bagh Naka (or “tiger claws”) which also originates from India. This consists of several hooked claws mounted on a bar which is held in the hand, while the blades protrude between the fingers (or, with some designs, from the palm). In some circumstances this would appear like a much shorter, curved, version of wolverine’s claws. These are used to support several hand to hand techniques that involve raking the opponent with the blades.


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