Whether you're struggling with a certain boss or just want to go through a level with a friend, our complete co-op and summoning guide will put you on the road to success.
Dark Souls 3 - the complete guide summoning and playing co-op
Playing Dark Souls 3 with a friend in co-op is one of the game's lesser-used features. However, unlike many modern games, this process is a lot less seamless and straightforward here.
The idea is that you only start a co-op session (called summoning) when you really need the help. The same goes for joining another player's session (being summoned).
With that said, these easy steps will allow you to play co-op with anyone, as well as lock your game specifically for a friend.
First up, what you need in order to be able to host your own game or join others. See below for the requirements of co-op play.
If you're going to be joining someone else's game
You'll need to buy a White Sign Soapstone from the Shrine Handmaid (old lady at Firelink Shrine) for 500 Souls. You need this item to be able to leave a summon sign on the ground for others to see, allowing them to invite you into their games.
If you already have the item, select it from your inventory and use it. Your character will write a white sign on the ground. They'll be able to then summon you into their games by viewing and clicking your sign.
If you're doing this to join the game of a specific friend and no one else's, you can set a password before leaving the sign. By agreeing on a password with your friend, only you will be able to join their game and vice versa.
To set a password, click Options on PS4 or Menu on Xbox One to open the game's menu. Click the System icon on the far right. Under Network, you'll see an option to put a password in the specified field.
Make sure that you're also both standing in the same area before starting this process, so your friend can quickly locate your sign. Up to four players can play in co-op.
Joining other players' games does not require Ember. In fact, you'll earn it after a successful session helping others.
If you're going to be the host and summon other players
You must not have defeated the area boss
If you beat this level's boss, you won't be able to invite others into your game (the same goes for other players trying to invite you to their games).
You need to have the power of a Lord of Cinder (be in Ember form)
The moment you die, your character loses its Ember form and your health bar goes back to normal. In this form, you can't host a game for other players to join, meaning you won't be seeing any summon signs on the ground.
For that, you'll need to consume an Ember, which you'll come across in the world or receive after defeating bosses. You can also buy Ember from the Shrine Handmaid at Firelink Shrine, but it's relatively expensive early on.
Assuming you meet the above conditions, you should be able to see all kinds of summon signs on the ground. If your friend left a sign for you and set a password, you'll be able to click it and enter the password to summon them into your game.
How to end the co-op session
Your co-op session ends upon defeating the area boss, or whenever you or your friend dies. This automatically sends each player back to their world and doesn't require you to do anything more.
However, if you want to end the session manually for any reason, either player needs to use a Black Separation Crystal. This item will send the player you summoned back to their world if you invited them, or send you back to your game if you joined their game.
What if you you're looking to play co-op with randoms, not just friends
If you meet the above conditions in either case, but struggle to see summon signs in your game, and never get invited to other players' games when you leave your sign, you may be running into one of a few limitations.
These limitations are:
- You Soul level is more than ten levels higher/lower than theirs
- You have a weapon upgraded two or more levels higher than theirs, or vice versa
- For special weapons (ones that upgrade to +5 only) the above rule counts as double for every upgrade
- Covenant affiliation, your covenants must not be against one another. To be sure, take off any covenant rings before summoning
To calculate the level variance for characters and weapons, use this handy tool.
But as previously stated, you won't need to worry about this if you're password matching with a friend.
There it is, now you're ready to partake in jolly cooperation.
Looking for more help? Check out our full 3 guide and walkthrough.