Combat in Dark Souls 3 will be covered on this page. Everything from the basics like blocking, rolling, spells, etc; to the more advanced techniques like parrying, iframes and poise.
Push the left stick all the way in a direction and hold the ☓/B button while in motion to dash.
Dashing consumes your stamina. Push down on the left stick (L3 button/LS) while dashing to jump in the direction you're going.
You can set this for either the L3/LS button or ☓/B button in the main menu.
Push the left stick in any direction and press the ☓/B button to execute a roll in the direction you pushed. Rolls have i-frames, which temporarily make the player invulnerable at the beginning of the animation. Most players would advise rolling against attacks to help newcomers get the timing right.
A roll can also be performed while the player is getting up after being knocked down, providing the same i-frames as a regular roll but moving a much shorter distance and using a different animation. This roll can only be perfomed during the start of the getting up animation, which is when the player can be stuck again. This is a better alternative to letting the animation finish.
Press the ☓/B button while you aren't pushing the left stick in any direction to quickly step backward. Backsteps do not have i-frames.
- Using Ladders
Go up to a ladder and press the ○/A button to climb or descend it.
To descend more quickly, hold down the ☓/B button and push the left stick downward.
While on a ladder, press the R1/RB button to attack upward and the R2/RT button to attack downward.
Attack and Defense
- Target Lock-on
Push down on the right stick (R3/RS button) to target (lock on to) a nearby foe.
If multiple enemies are nearby, move the right stick around while locked on to change your target.
Once you lock on to a foe, you'll continually face the foe as you move around.
If there are no enemies nearby, pressing the R3/RS button will reset the camera.
Locking on requires a minimum distance from the target.
- Right-hand Weapon Actions
Press the R1/RB or R2/RT buttons to use the weapon in your right hand to attack.
Press the R1/RB button for a regular attack, which has a smaller stamina cost and does less damage, and the R2/RT button for a strong attack, that takes more stamina but deals more damage. They also can possibly deal different types of damage, the Estoc being an example.
Hold down the R2/RT button to launch a charged attack, which does extra damage. Holding does not need to be done all the way, and can be dropped earlier to change the strong attack's timing.
If the weapon's strong attack has a 2-hit combo, you can also choose to charge only the first, the second or both attacks.
- Left-hand Weapon Actions
Press the L1 button to use the weapon in your left hand to attack.
If you have a shield equipped, hold down the L1 button to take a guard stance. A guard stance allows the player to tank through hits and reduce their damage by a percentage depending on the shield, at the cost of stamina. How much stamina a shield takes to block an attack is dependent on its stability, and heavier weapons tend to take more stamina to block.
- Dual-hand Weapon Actions
Press the △/Y button, and you'll use the weapon in your right hand to take a dual-wield stance.
Press the △/Y button again in dual-hand mode to return to single-hand mode.
Holding the △/Y button lets the player dual-hand the weapon in his left hand.
Dual-handing allows for the use of new movesets, weapon skills, an L1/LB special attack/block, and multiplies the player's strength by 1.5, allowing him to wield more weapons and get better scaling from them.
- Roll/Backstep Attacks
Immediately after rolling or backstepping, press the regular attack button for a quicker attack.
Pressing L2/LT will execute the Skill of a weapon/shield/catalyst two-handed or equipped in the player's left hand. Skills are individual to weapons, though many weapons share Skills, and require focus to be performed. Attempting to perform a Skill without Focus will result in a failure, or in a weakened/partial version of the skill.
Most of the smaller shields, some of the medium sized shields and some weapons share the skill Parry. When seeing an attack coming, the player can choose to parry the attack and, if he gets the timing right, the enemy becomes vulnerable for a Riposte. Many attacks cannot be parried, however.
The parrying animation has startup frames, parry frames, and ending frames. To properly parry, the attack must hit the player during the animation's parry frames.
- Dead Angling
Dead angling is the act of hitting another player with the side of an attack's arc rather than the middle, making the attack un-parriable. Doing this typically requires not locking on, and moving to the side while attacking. Weapons with small attack arcs, such as Thrusting Weapons, cannot dead angle. The other player can still get a partial parry. Like the poise, it's here but work partially.
- Pushback Attack (Kick)
Press the R1/RB button as you push the left stick forward to execute a kick that deals stamina damage on opponents using shields. The stamina damage is affected by the shield's stability and may or may not guard break, allowing a Critical strike.
According to quite a few Forum users, the amount of stamina damage a kick deals is dependent on the weapon equipped.
- Jump Attack
Press the R2/RT button as you push the left stick forward to execute a jump attack.
- Falling Attack
Press the R1/R2/RB/RT buttons while falling to attack your enemy from above.
Ripostes are special attacks performed on enemies that have been guard broken or parried with the R1/RB button. They deal special damage and are influenced by a weapon's critical multiplier. Many enemies cannot be Riposte'd.
Backstabs are special attacks performed from behind enemies with the R1/RB button. They deal special damage and are influenced by a weapon's critical multiplier. Many enemies cannot be backstabbed. Backstabs take a moment to begin after the R1/RB button is pressed.
- Using Sorceries/Miracles/Pyromancies
In order to use magic (sorceries/miracles/pyromancies), you must have the corresponding catalyst (Sorcerer's Staff/Talisman or Chime/Pyromancy Flame) equipped.
Use the directional buttons (up) to select a magic, and use the regular attack of the hand in which the catalyst is equipped to cast it.
Using magic consumes your focus. Magic cannot be done without focus.
Hold down the button while casting various spells, such as "Heal" or "Sacred Oath" miracles to remain in casting mode, delaying the magic until you're ready.
- Sweet Spots
Sweet spots are the concept that some weapons deal more damage when attacks hit with a certain part of the hitbox. Emphasis on Halberds. Sweet Spots may have influence over stagger.
Hyper Armor, Poise and Stagger
Stagger is when a weapon's hit allows for a follow up. Whether or not a weapon can stagger or for how many hits it can stagger is dependent on the weapon. As of now, poise hasn't been confirmed to have an effect on stagger. As a special note, equip load seems to affect whether or not the player can be staggered at the ending of a roll animation.
Bigger weapons in Dark Souls 3 have Hyper Armour towards the ending of their attack animations. Hyper Armor makes the player immune to stagger temporarily, making their attacks uninterruptible. The amount of Hyper Armor an attack has is influenced by the player's poise, so equipping heavier armor when using bigger weapons is recommended, while it won't make much of a difference for players using lighter and faster weapons.
Special thanks to Juutas1988 for providing a great deal of the info compiled here.