Darksiders 3: 10 beginner tips for combat, boss fights, and more

Darksiders is a game franchise that takes significant inspiration from other games. The first Darksiders scratches a very specifically Zelda-themed itch with lots of puzzles and multiple large dungeons, Darksiders 2 is like a 3D third person version of Diablo with tons of loot and small dungeons, and Darksiders 3 is an entirely linear hack ‘n’ slash action game like God of War with a few puzzles sprinkled about.

Each of them are fun in their own way, but one thing that Darksiders 3 does is really double down on the difficulty. This is great news for fans of action games, but if you were looking for something with a bit more adventure or more RPG mechanics to sink into, you might be surprised by how frequently you’re forced to respawn back at a checkpoint.

We’ve put together these tips to help you manage combat, boss fights, puzzles, and more in this cold, dark world of Darksiders 3.

Learn to love the dodge

There is no block button in Darksiders 3 and you can’t find an item or unlock an ability that lets you block. Instead, you need to get comfortable really quickly using R1, or the right bumper, to dodge out of the way. Fury’s dodges are different based on the direction, but usually a side dodge cartwheel is the best option for evading most attacks.

The timing can be tricky though. No two enemies really fight the same in Darksiders 3 and you’ll need to spend time learning attack patterns and wind up times, as well as how many swings an attack string may contain.

Things get a little frustrating at times because many of your enemies, unlike you, can block just fine. Not only that, but some of them can even carry out attack animations while you’re hitting them meaning you need to be ready to change course and dodge at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t help that even basic trash-tier enemies can hit like trucks and easily trap you in a corner and chop down your health bar in a matter of seconds.

Death and respawning is quite frustrating

Since dying is just a part of life in Darksiders 3, don’t fret too much. While we’d have loved to have seen a manual saving function or at least more forgiving auto-saving, there are some good things here.

Importantly, it’s worth noting that when you die you don’t actually reload a save file in Darksiders 3 to come back. Instead, you just “continue” forward and respawn. This means any items you used are still gone and enemies respawn in the area -- plus all of your soul currency is dropped where you died, similar to Dark Souls.

Study boss fights first

Now knowing what you do about death and losing items, the first couple of times you fight a boss you should intentionally choose not to use any items at all. Just sit back, dodge a lot, and study movements and animations as much as possible. Then once you eventually die and come back, you’ll be more prepared, with a fresh health bar, and most importantly -- recharged healing flasks.

As you progress through Darksiders 3 you’ll expand your reserve of the “Nephilim’s Respite” healing item. You’ve got a random chance of finding one of these to refill your stock while out fighting baddies, but the only sure fire way of recharging them is to die and come back.

After you’ve gone through this process a couple of times you’re ready to fight the boss! But not so fast...

Don’t forget your shards

Remember to activate your cores of choice before what you intend to be the final fight against a particular boss. This means using an Undying Shard to revive yourself in the case of death, a Frenzy shard to recharge that meter, and a Wrath charge to recharge as well. Finally, Strength shards are incredibly useful because they last far longer than you’d expect and dramatically increase your damage output.

You can stock up on healing shards too or even defensive shards. You can find lots scattered around the world, but you’ll probably buy most of the ones you want with in-game money.

Focus on upgrading the Flame Hollow early

In Darksiders 3 Fury gets four different Hollows that imbue her with specific powers and grant access to brand new weapons. At the start of the game she is just her default purple-haired self with a whip and that’s it, but quickly her arsenal expands. Early in the game you receive the Flame Hallow which lights her hair on fire and gives you some blade chains similar to Kratos in the original God of War trilogy to use.

Since this is the first Hollow you get this means you’ve got the most time to spend upgrading it and you should focus on it immediately. When visiting the Forge you can invest souls and artifact items on upgrading your weapons, enchantments, and more. While upgrading her whip is tempting, the reality is that the Flame Hollow chains are just a better default melee attack. They’re much faster and apply burning damage-over-time effects. They’re the fastest weapon in the game and let you dish out huge amounts of damage very quickly.

The downside of course is their lack of range, especially in boss fights, meaning it’s tough to use them and avoid attacks at the same time. But as a default weapon, it can’t be beat. Andi if you upgrade them first, before other Hollows, by the end-game you’ll be dropping most enemies in or two slashes.

Use Wrath and Frenzy powers often

I got all the way through the second boss fight in Darksiders 3 before I realized I hadn’t been using my Wrath abilities at all. Each of the four hollows has a special wrath power that you can activate once the bar below your health meter is fully. All you do is press L1 and R1 at the same time. The Flame Hollow’s Wrath ability is great for boss fights as it channels Fury’s power and makes her even strong and fast for a short time.

But the Storm Hollow has the best Wrath power for fighting groups of enemies with its multiple tornados circling around the fights and damaging enemies over time.

Be careful about buying items

One thing I wish I’d known about the in-game economy in Darksiders 3 back when I started is that Vulgrim does not have a stable pricing structure at all. Each time you buy a healing item or ability shard to use, it goes up in price for the next time you buy it. Not realizing this I ballooned the prices early because I bought healing items instead of utilizing the Nephilim’s Respite, which recharges naturally and on deaths.

A better strategy would be just to use the items you find in the world and then stock up on extras at the end of the game when things are getting tougher. Specifically, I found Avarice and Pride to be the hardest boss fights.

Take a break from difficult puzzles

Darksiders 3 is mostly a hack ‘n’ slash action game, but it’s got plenty of puzzles peppered throughout as well. There aren’t proper “dungeons” like in the previous two Darksiders games, but instead the world all just sort of flows together. You’ll move from one zone to the next fighting enemies, finding soul caches, and solving puzzles. But some of them can be really tough and frustrating.

Not only are they just generally hard to crack at times, but some of them aren’t designed super well and can have some bugginess or just poorly timed requirements. What worked best for me was to just take a step back, take a break, and return to it later with a fresh mind.

Revisit the Forge to upgrade often

Since Darksiders 3 doesn’t have an overworld map at all and doesn’t funnel you back towards areas like Haven to visit the Forge organically, you need to make your own manual trips. Each time you see Vulgrim pop out of his serpent hole (thus triggering an autosave) you should take the opportunity to visit the Forge and do some upgrading. You can spend souls and artifacts on your weapon quality as well as installing and upgrading enhancements.

Explore off the beaten track for extra souls and upgrades

At the top of your screen in Darksiders 3 there’s a compass. This compass shows you the direction to go in order to confront the next nearest Deadly Sin, or boss fight. It’s a mostly linear game without an overworld map of any kind. However, there is still a lot of opportunity for exploration.

While advancing through a zone you might notice barrels or boxes that can be destroyed, enemies off to the side in a non-essential area, or even just extra corridors that you don’t need to go down to continue moving forward. But usually, if you do, that’s where you’ll find a variety of special items, trapped humans to rescue, or extra souls to use in leveling up and upgrades.

For more details on Darksiders 3 make sure and read our full review.