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Dark Souls 3 - how to play co-op

How to play with others - both co-op and PvP - how to use the summon signs, and how to play with friends.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

In this section of our guide, we'll cover how to play with people who actually want you there - either to team up in co-op play, face off in PvP, or just hang out and take in the game's spectacular scenery.

On this page:
Where to place your summon signs for co-op and PvP, and how to play the game with friends.

Other pages in this section:

Dark Souls 3: summoning and multiplayer
How to send messages and use Summon Stones, and what the different colours mean.

Dark Souls 3: how to invade other players
How to join other games when the player hasn't invited you, and the penalties you might face for doing so.

[SPOILERS!] Dark Souls 3 vs Dark Souls 1 Graphics ComparisonWatch on YouTube

If you want to to be invited into another player's world, the process is just as straightforward as summoning a player to you. Simply stand where you wish to place your Summon Sign then use either the White Sign Soapstone to lay a co-op marker or the Red Sign Soapstone to lay a PvP marker. Note that you can't leave a Summon Sign in a boss room, even if you've cleared it.

Incidentally, if you still don't have them, the White Sign Soapstone can be purchased from the Firelink Shrine Handmaiden for 500 Souls, and the Red Sign Soapstone can be acquired by killing the spell-casting worm situated outside Rosaria's Bed Chamber in the Cathedral of the Deep.

Once another player finds and activates your Summon Sign, you'll automatically be transported to their world. Note that your health bar and Estus Flask tally will (temporarily) be reduced on arrival if you're joining a co-op game. Don't panic though! These changes are made to better balance co-operative play and your stats will revert to their original levels once you return to your own world. PvP players, however, do not receive a reduction in health when being summoned.

If your Estus stockpile starts to dwindle while you're in another player's game, all is not lost. Whenever a phantom dies in that world (whether they be hostile or friendly), all remaining players will gain one Estus Flask refill.

Where to place your summon sign

This might sound obvious to Dark Souls pros, but it's important to consider WHERE you place your Summon Sign if you hope to be invited into someone else's game. After all, a Summon Sign left in a rarely-visited corner of the world is unlikely to attract much attention.

Placing for co-op

Co-op players in particular should be mindful of this, and always place their Summon Sign in one of two failsafe locations: either directly outside a boss fog gate, or at the bonfire closest to the boss gate, if the approach to the final confrontation is particularly hazardous.

Placing for PvP

If you're looking for PvP action, however, it's generally wisest to leave your sign in a known PvP area. There are no official PvP areas, but popular community locations tend to evolve over time. At present, for instance, most PvP signs can be found near the Road of Sacrifice's flooded forest, and in the area directly after the Pontiff Sulyvahn boss battle room in Irithyll of the Boreal Valley.

Summoning with friends

So far we've focussed on initiating online play with strangers. However, it's just as easy to set-up a multiplayer session with friends in Dark Souls III - and the game's various matchmaking restrictions (which pair you with other players based on your soul- and weapon-level) are waived when you use the following method to team up with buddies.

First, open the 'Settings' menu and switch to the 'Online' tab. Next, locate the box marked 'Password Matching' and enter a password of your choice. Your friends, meanwhile, should enter the same password in the same box in their game.

Next, you'll all want to agree on an in-game meeting point then make your way there. On arrival, non-host players should lay down their Summon Signs (using either the White or Red Sign Soapstones) and these should appear for use in the host's world after a few moments.

Don't forget, however, that certain online restrictions still apply, even if you're playing with friends. For instance, hosts can still only summon two other co-op players at a time, unless they've consumed Dried Fingers first. Additionally, remember that co-op Summon Signs only appear to hosts if that area's boss is still alive.

There's one last thing to consider when attempting to co-op the whole game with friends: as co-op partners are automatically returned home once a boss is dead, you'll need to follow some very specific steps to continue onward as a group. When a boss has been defeated for the first time, and the team is disbanded, everyone should return to the start of the area. Assign the role of host to a new player, then the remaining group members should once again place Summon Signs to join the game. Clear the level and eliminate the boss once more, then repeat the steps with a new host until everyone has completed the area. Finally, you're free to tackle the next location.

For more advice, head back to the first page for the rest of our Dark Souls 3 guide.

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