Dark Souls 2 is a very unforgiving game. If you played the original Dark Souls or Demon Souls, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Dark Souls 2, but if you're new to the series, you will die... and you will die often. This is not a game that can be played like your typical action-adventure title. In order to do well in Dark Souls 2, you must first respect Dark Souls 2. This is the first mistake new players make, but there are many more before they learn. That said, make sure you avoid the following.

You Don't Want to Explore

More and more games are dropping the limitations of linear progression and em-bracing an open world archetype. Dark Souls 2 follows this idea by offering an ex-pansive world that can be traversed in almost any order you choose. A few areas are only accessible through another area, but for the most part, you can go any-where you want as soon as you hit Majula.

The problem that many new players face is that they want more direction. Instead of exploring every path, they fight a boss and then quickly head to the next area. The problem with this strategy is that many of the enemies in Dark Souls 2 can kill you in one or two attacks. The more areas you skip, the more bosses you avoid, and you get a ton of souls from defeating bosses, which you can then use to level up your character. This in turn makes the game easier as a whole (although still more difficult than most games).

You Rush Through the Game

Dark Souls 2 is not a game that rewards you for leveling up. It doesn't matter how many points you put into damage output, it will still take you a considerable amount of time to defeat the next boss. The only time this is not the case is when you reach a very high level, then go back to one of the lower level areas. Through the natural area progression of the game, each area gets harder and harder, even as you continue to level up. What this means is that you need to have patience if you wish to be successful.

Souls are everything in this game. You use them to level up, purchase items and upgrade your equipment. Every time you die in Dark Souls 2 you lose all of your souls. You can go back to the location of your death and reclaim these lost souls, but if you die again before you claim those souls, they're gone for good. Because of this, it is extremely important that you take your time as you move through each area.

Don't be a hero and engage 20 enemies at once. Don't drop down into that dark area without knowing what you're getting into. In many cases you shouldn't even go through a door without shifting the camera around to get a better look at what lies beyond. There's little benefit to rushing through this game, so take your time and save those souls, as well as limiting your frustration.

You Don't Run from Groups of Enemies

There are many instances in Dark Souls 2 in which you will face off against multi-ple enemies at once. The first mistake new players make is thinking they can take down all of these enemies. You are not a hero. You will not survive. Once you learn how to effectively manage your stamina, pick up a shield that absorbs 100 percent damage, or find a weapon that allows you to attack while keeping your shield up, then you can survive these encounters (although it's still not easy). However, when you first begin playing, do yourself a favor and back away from groups of enemies to separate them as best you can. Even if it means a lot of run-ning or employing a hit and run strategy, survival is what's important.

You Think Health Matters

In most games, the more health you have the longer you survive. While that's true, most enemies in Dark Souls 2 ignore that logic. It's rare to find an enemy that can't kill you in two or three hits. Bosses almost always kill you in one or two hits. The amount of souls you pour into increasing your health won’t have much of an impact on your survivability. It's still important to increase your health, but it definitely shouldn't be a priority.

It's not just about increasing your health either. Every time you die, your maxi-mum health drops. There are certain items you can equip that will limit how much your health drops, and once it reaches a certain point, it will stop dropping, but no matter what you equipped, the first few times you die your total health will drop. The best way to regain your humanity and get your health back up to the original maximum is to use a human effigy item, which aren't found in large quan-tities (although they can be farmed in certain areas).

For more Dark Souls 2 tips and strategies, be sure to check out our complete walkthrough and boss battle guides.