I can't seem to find a reference for all the mechanics of Dark Souls as played on PC (specifically Prepare to Die Edition on Steam in case that makes a difference). These are the controls I'm aware of:

  1. Moving Left stick moves the player with two different speeds: walking and running
  2. Moving Right stick moves the camera
  3. Clicking Right stick centers the camera behind the player
  4. Start opens the in-game menu for items etc.
  5. Left bumper raises the shield
  6. Left trigger performs a shield attack (for want of a better description)
  7. Right bumper:
    • performs a regular attack when moving normally
    • performs a down stab when falling(?)
  8. Right trigger performs a power attack
  9. D-pad cycles between alternative items for that slot as defined in the equipment menu
  10. A activates looting, bonfires, player comments etc.
  11. Holding B starts the character sprinting
  12. Tapping B:
    • jumps backward if standing still
    • rolls in the direction of movement if already walking or running
    • jumps in the direction of movement if running
  13. X uses the item in the bottom slot
  14. Y toggles two-handed weapon use
  15. Back opens the gestures menu

Inside the in-game menu:

  1. A enters menus or selects an item
  2. B exits menus
  3. X changes the display of items
  4. Y unequips an item

Some of the actions which are unclear/unknown:

  1. Is it possible to do a stand-still forward jump as far as the sprint jump?
  2. Are there variants on the down stab? For example one which does more damage but takes more stamina?
  3. Is it possible to do some sort of round swing with a sword to hit multiple enemies?
  4. Is there an upward stab for better hitting bosses?
  5. Is it possible to aim the crossbow?
  6. Does clicking Left stick do anything?
  7. Is it possible to lock on an enemy with this controller?
  8. How do you kick?
  9. How do you reliably use the Left trigger to bash the enemy shield out of the way? It only seems to work very rarely.
  10. How do you aim thrown projectiles?

Xbox controller legend

  • 2
    some of the timing moves (parry, jump attack) are a framerate issue. It has been a while, but IIRC, if your game is running faster than 30fps you may find these moves nearly impossible. Minor mention for DS2, but I had a similar issue with PC version of DS1: ( steamcommunity.com/app/236430/discussions/0/558754259730039483 ) (I had no problems with those moves on the 360 version)
    – Yorik
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition seem to be missing the controller compatibility, and here's another post of how to fix this:

The trick is to disable any of your devices listed as an "HID-compliant game controller". No need to uninstall. I created a system restore point JIC.

Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Human Interface Devices >> [Disable all of your devices listed as an "HID-compliant game controller"]

  1. No. The only way to jump is to run and tap the running button as you've stated. You can also do a jump attack, by pushing the left stick in a direction, and shortly after pressing the heavy attack button.
  2. If you by "down stab" refer to the plunge attack (you fall and press light attack), this can be done with every weapon while in the air. The stamina cost varies depending on your weapon and your stats.
    If you by "down stab" mean the direct slam/stab attack, this action can only be done by certain weapons. For example a halberd will be slammed to the ground in front of you with a light attack.
  3. Yes: Some swords (like greatswords) will do a swing if wielded with one hand and you do a heavy attack. Halberds also do this with a heavy attack.
  4. Again, it varies from weapon to weapon how you strike. If you want a weapon with long range (preferably upwards), a greatsword or a halberd will be quite effective.
  5. No.
  6. No.
  7. Yes, by clicking right stick.
  8. Kicking is a part of shield breaking, this is done by moving forward and doing a light attack shortly after. This can only be successfully done if the enemy has it's shield raised or is blocking. The way you shield block varies with the weapon wielded.
  9. The left trigger is used to parry with, and only works when the enemy attacks you. This is an action that requires precise timing.
  10. The only way to "aim" projectiles (like a firebomb) is to lock onto an enemy by clicking the right stick. Other than that is just lining up your character as good as possible.
  • 1
    Please correct me if I've said anything wrong, I just took this from the top of my head.
    – Havatra
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 21:28
  • You're right, I checked more thoroughly now and found out that clicking the left stick does indeed nothing (AFAIK). But the right stick is used for both resetting the camera and to lock onto an enemy. Answer updated.
    – Havatra
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:39
  • 1
    It's worth mentioning that throwing items like firebombs can be aimed with a bit of finesse without locking on to an enemy, but it's kind of weird -- it uses your character's facing. If you're trying to snipe something, make sure you use right stick to center camera behind you to make sure you know exactly where your character is facing. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 14:28

Some minor corrections to what you've recorded:

First, a long bit about attacking. Obviously attacking and weapon use is important so I want to make sure it's understood.

  • The bumpers and triggers control weapon use, regardless of what you have in your hands. You can dual-wield, or even use two shields if you want.
  • Bumper is always block with a shield and trigger will always attempt a parry, unless you are using a greatshield, in which case a bash is performed instead.
  • With weapons, bumper is always light attack and trigger is always heavy attack.
  • With bows, the controls are different; triggers fire alternate arrow types (they're marked on the HUD with what button they correspond to), left bumper aims and right bumper shoots. Note that you must two-hand a bow to use it and if you hit bumper without two-handing the bow, your character will begin two-handing it.
  • Finally with magical instruments, bumper casts selected spell and trigger does a (usually very underwhelming) melee attack with the instrument.
  • P.S.: As you might imagine, some weapons have crazy special functions. Finding those unique weapons is part of the fun of the game.

Now, some details about the rest of the controls.

  • Parries are used to deflect enemy attacks (not shields) as they happen and sets the enemy up for a critical attack (backstabs are critical attacks if you don't know what I mean) if done correctly. If you mis-time it, I believe it can still partially reduce the damage you take.

  • Plunging attacks (that's the official name for the "down stab" you mentioned) can be performed with any melee weapon as well, all you have to do is hit bumper while falling. They do a lot of damage and some bosses have special animations for it, as you may have noticed.

  • Clicking the right stick centers camera and it also targets the enemy you're facing. The controls here work almost exactly like Z-targeting in the 3D Zelda games, if you are familiar with that, except you can also move the stick to move the camera around and switch targets if you are already locked on.

  • Kicking isn't always possible depending on the weapon you use. Some weapons have an alternate move that is performed when you push left stick forward and the bumper corresponding to your weapon at the same time.

  • You can jump attack by pushing left stick forward and trigger at the same time, just like kicking but with the trigger instead. I bolded this since this seems to have been forgotten.

  • 1
    Nice answer; would you be OK to maybe split it up into a list with some formatting to distinguish all the various tips?
    – l0b0
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 16:25
  • I formatted it slightly nicer, I also made a correction to the bit about blocking with shields; greatshields can't parry so I mentioned that. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:47
  • Also, made a correction about bows; I forgot that trigger doesn't swap arrow types, it shoots alternate types assigned to the slot... I think. It's been a while since I played Dark Souls 1. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:55

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