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Dark Souls FAQ: How to Summon or be Summoned for Coop Multiplayer Play as a Phantom – Tips, Secrets & Troubleshooting

Master compilation of all information you need in order to summon help, or to be summoned as a White Phantom to help others defeat area bosses and to get through tough parts of the game.

This guide will cover secret tips that aren’t explained in-game, as well as all the basics, other important things that can affect if you get matched up at all, and any rumors that are unconfirmed as of yet.

Troubleshooting Multiplayer Summoning in Dark Souls – Secret & Lesser Known Tips on Getting Matched Up

Try these things if you are having trouble being summoned

  • Open the ports on your router for the PS3. Sometimes this is not necessary, but after doing this I immediately saw an increase in summoning activity. This was the main piece of information that helped me. Go to the “Port Forwarding” section of your router and open/forward the following ports:
    TCP Ports: 80, 443, 5223
    UDP Ports: 3478, 3479, 3658
  • Also if your router has the option, set your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360′s IP address as the DMZ. This makes sure there are not firewall / router issues blocking any connections.
  • Play during peak hours, such as evenings and weekends.
  • Look for and place summoning signs near bonfires and right in front of the fog gates to area bosses.
  • If everything above fails, try resetting your PS3 as you may have been randomly placed on a low population server. If this is the case you will probably see very few orange info signs / tips and bloodstains.
  • Make sure you are the proper level for the current area. Currently, Dark Souls is set up to only match people +/- 10% levels. At level 20, this is only +/- 2 levels, so can be very restrictive. See the article HERE for the recommended summoner level for each area.
  • Matchups are prioritized by the covenant of each player. If you have joined one of the harder to find or less popular covenants, you may be less likely to find summons. The most popular early game covenant is likely The Way of White, from the cleric in Firelink Shrine. Also popular for co-op play is the Warrior of Sunlight – talk to Solair of Astoria / pray at the Altar of Sunlight (take a right at the bonfire under the bridge fire dragon in the Undead Parish). The Warrior of Sunlight covenant allows you to be summoned as a gold phantom instead of white. It requires 50 faith, but there are ways around that – read the Wiki about the Warrior of Sunlight covenant here


To Get Help in Your Game (Summon Others)

You need help beating a boss and want to have others join your game to help.

  1. Do NOT use your white soapstone item. If your sign is down in your game, you will not be able to get help from others (when you use this item, this causes it to appear in other players’ games so they can bring you into THEIR game.)
  2. You must be human. If you are hollow, which happens whenever you die, just go to a bonfire and select the option to spend 1 humanity to return to human. If you currently have 0 humanity you will need to find one or use a humanity item from your inventory.
  3. You cannot have already killed the area boss in your current area in your game.
  4. To summon other players into your world, once you are human, look around for a white sign on the ground and select OK to summon help. Look for these white signs on the ground near bonfires close to bosses and right in front of the gray fog boss gate (where it says “traverse the white light”). This is where people will most likely place them.

Extra Notes on Getting Help in Your Game (Summon Others):

  • You probably won’t find any help until after the bridge with the Hellkite / Drake that spews fire. This is because other players need the white soapstone item in order to help you — so you probably wont find help until after the Taurus Demon, depending on your path.
  • Some bosses may have more activity. Popular bosses would be any boss that can be reached quickly from a bonfire and bosses that can be killed quickly and give a lot of souls. Other players will want to farm these bosses for souls. The Gaping Dragon and Iron Golem are two bosses that are fairly popular in the early & mid parts of the game.
  • Note that you can summon multiple people at a time. This is great to ensure you don’t waste humanity getting killed with a white phantom that doesn’t help.
  • Be sure to use your Estus Flask to heal white phantoms that join your game to help you! Using yours will heal everyone in the game. They can’t use their own Estus Flask so will need help healing.

To Join Another Game To Help Someone Else (Being Summoned)

Joining another players game can be a fun cooperative play experience and can also be very beneficial in order to farm large amounts of souls in a small amount of time. The are also other various in game benefits from assisting other players.

  1. Place your white soapstone summoning sign in front of the gray fog boss doors (where you get the message “traverse the white light”). You could also try placing the white sign near a bonfire if you want to help someone through more of the level. This may be a good idea of the path to the boss happens to be tough.
  2. Being hollow is completely fine. You do not need to be human to help others.
  3. Your area boss can already be dead, that is fine also.
  4. Stay in the area. If you get the message that your summoning sign has disappeared, you’ve gone to far and will have to go back and replace it. You do not need to stay right on top of your sign however. If I am trying to farm a boss repeatedly, I will generally place the sign and then kill the rest of the enemies in the area. Eventually you will be summoned and once the connection goes through you will be transported back to your sign.
  5. Place your sign in front of bosses that people are likely to need help on.
  6. Play during peak hours, such as on weekends and during the evenings. This will increase the activity of other players looking for help.

Extra Notes on Joining Other People’s Games to Help Them (Being Summoned)

  • Re-Place your White Summon Sign. If you have tried all of the above and are still having trouble, it may help to replace your white summoning sign every minute or so. There are unconfirmed reports that this may help “refresh” you in the multiplayer queue. You may also want to try sitting at a bonfire every now and then.
  • Try restarting your PS3. If you are not seeing many orange “info” signs or bloodstains from other players, you may be on a low population server. Dark Souls multiplayer is split up into multiple different servers and there will be times where you are randomly placed on a server with very few people. Try restarting the game and possibly resetting your PS3 if this is the case.

This guide is current at this time. There are rumors of a possible patch coming to the game that may change the way network play works, but this has not arrived yet. The article will be updated if anything changes.

Hopefully this will help some people out as I found the summoning process to be pretty confusing at first, with very little in-game explanations. Before researching and looking into this, I was waiting for 30 minutes at a time without any coop action. I am now able to repeatedly fight some bosses every 5 minutes or so as a white phantom, and was able to get help quickly (just a couple minutes waiting) on a boss I was having trouble with.


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11 Comments

  1. Nice :), Like the collection of articles , “could become one of the best how to guides in gaming “

  2. Can you explain the affects of either party dying as a phantom helps – i.e. does the phantom lose all their souls, do they return to their summoning sign in the OTHER person’s world, or do they return to their home world? If they lose their souls can they recover them?

    Also, can they see invading PvPers and help kill them?

    If the host player dies when a phantom is helping, does the phantom stay in the world or return to their home world?

    That was a REALLY good tip about using estus to fill up the phantoms HP – I’m sure a lot of people don’t know that. You may want to put that one in Bold!

    Great tips, thanks!!

  3. If a helping phantom dies, they just return to their world where they were and lose nothing (they dont even become hollow if they were human before).

    Yes, they see invaders and can help kill them. Sometimes if I am invaded, I will find summon signs just to help fight the invader.

    If the host dies, everyone else returns home. For this reason I usually let the phantoms tank damage and take all the risk. As you mentioned, you can also easily and quickly heal them with estus while they’re doing this.

  4. “try resetting your PS3 as you may have been randomly placed on a low population server”

    I dunno where you got your info, but unlike Demon’s Souls there are no servers for Dark Souls, so this doesn’t do jack. Dark Souls utilizes the default P2P system (Namco are cheapskates), which uses other players’ PS3s to create lobbies that time out. So the only way to get into a new lobby is to wait until the one you’re in times out and you get rotated into another one.

  5. “There are no servers for Dark Souls”
    I think you may have misread your information because without a master server of some sort it would be impossible to connect to others and see all the other random things in game.

    Dark Souls has a master server(s) that controls who can connect to who. This also controls which messages you see on the ground and this is why you may not see a summon sign of your friend if you are trying to coordinate for coop. I believe during one of the later patches this might have been updated so there is less segmentation compared to how it was at release. (At release, network segmentation, and resulting low population, really was a much bigger issue).

    I think what you’re referring to is during individual summons or invasions, one player (the “home” world) will be the host, providing the bandwidth and data of the fights etc, rather than a Dark Souls master server. That also means that the host will most likely have a latency (ping) advantage.

  6. Nope. A master server is not needed for the PS3′s basic P2P function, that’s why it’s called P2P, not host-client. You can only see the messages left on the ground by other players in the same lobby. The code is written to ping other PS3s online running Dark Souls using the PSN network servers and create lobbies using PS3s accordingly. This is the most basic form of PS3 online and Namco opted for it since it is the cheapest (absolutely no servers are required on their part). They did not want to do it a second time around after already doing it for Demon’s Souls. The latest patch of the game provided an updated rotator and widened the SL requirements for online play.

  7. Hey how do you tell the difference between computer controlled phantoms or real people phantoms. Also i was in the depths where i met kirk armor of thorns and my phantom killed him. does that still count towards getting his armor.

  8. Other than just knowing the names of the NPC/computer controlled phantoms, I’m not sure there is a way to tell them apart just by seeing their names. The white phantom (ally) computer summons i can think of off the top of my head are Knight Solaire, Iron Tarkus, Witch Beatrice, Lautrec. Knight Solaire is the most common one that you’ll see at multiple bosses without needing to do anything really specific.

    I guess for ally summons you can just watch their movements–they will always follow you closely if they are computer controlled.

    As far as enemy / red phantoms, same thing — I dont think there is necessarily a way to instantly tell, but the same ones always appear at the same spot in every game (as long as you are revived to human when you go through that area). The enemy phantoms I can think of are Kirk Knight of Thorns, Maneater Mildred, Paladin Leeroy, and the Xanthous King Jeremiah.

    Maneater Mildred always runs around in a zig-zag path, but otherwise if the phantoms are doing weird things, like rolling for no reason, or if they use a gesture, they’re probably human. But if you dont know, or dont remember the above names, the best way is to look at the flashing text during the invasion warning…if the invader has a weird name like SniperXX34, , or just doesnt have proper capitalization, its definitely a human player :)

  9. Nope. A master server is not needed for the PS3?s basic P2P function, that’s why it’s called P2P, not host-client. You can only see the messages left on the ground by other players in the same lobby. The code is written to ping other PS3s online running Dark Souls using the PSN network servers and create lobbies using PS3s accordingly. This is the most basic form of PS3 online and Namco opted for it since it is the cheapest (absolutely no servers are required on their part). They did not want to do it a second time around after already doing it for Demon’s Souls. The latest patch of the game provided an updated rotator and widened the SL requirements for online play.

    This is bullshit because in dark souls there are millions of people trying to connect others but the servers are
    crashed.

  10. “Also, please note that there are several different servers/lobbies that are being used for Dark Souls…”

    Direct quote from a NAMCO press release. Also, they specifically say to NOT refresh your summon sign. That bogs down the queue with “dead links” that take time to clear and make getting summoned that much harder.

  11. sucks you have to be online geez

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