There's a weird bit of difficulty at the start. Initially, you are pants, especially when fighting bandits.
yeah I keep feeling like I need to roll around as a Strider, Dark Souls dex build style.
I;m a bit puzzled by my damage though. It's pretty much non existant, unless I get this fiery buff that randomly appears. Is one of my pawns doing it?
If so I could do with it permanently as said, I do virtually no damage without it. Enemies are insanely tough even on easy mode.
Just take your time and start to look at non-passive skills you can upgrade. You'll want a couple for your bow, and one for your daggers. Toss and Trigger is excellent for melee. Go for three-fold arrow as your main bow (get it by default I think) and then whatever you fancy for the other skill(s).
Pick on some weaker mobs to start with to get the hang of things and don't be afraid to wander off the main roads (unless it's night time) and you'll soon start to get into it.
If you've seriously hired Uncle Vyrt, he'll just piss on anything at your level, so I wouldn't recommend him just yet
You'll get the 'click' soon and you'll start to get more familiar with the skills
one good thing is that the game won't penalise you for pissing about with skills and vocations. If you like strider, I'd highly recommend going Ranger as your next vocation - it really kicks arse. And there's loads more branching out character/vocations options after that too.
the fiery buff that happens is your mage or sorceror casting their 'boon' spell. They'll either cast it when first initiating combat, and/or whether you select the 'help' option on the d-pad, which makes them recast it again if it's worn off. Keep this up all the time to boost attacks. Just tap left or right on the d-pad regularly, or when you notice it wears off.
After a while, you won't give a toss about this, as you'll have a massive bow and some shiny daggers, and you'll be double jumping all over the shop ala ghouls and ghosts slicing people apart, whilst pulling off deadly headshots with your bow in no time