Sometime last week I put up a small piece that looked into the world of Team Fortress 2 outfits. It explained why players chose to dress up their characters and the kind of crazy combinations one can see in the game. It also looked into the community of players who worked together to create some of those loadouts.
One of the key factors of why everyone enjoyed dressing up their characters in Team Fortress 2 is the fact that there are no stat changes with the clothing. It’s all perfectly visual. Wearing an owl mask as opposed to a George Washington wig doesn’t affect how much damage you do or how much health your character has. That’s reserved for the weapons only.
Of course in Dark Souls, the exact opposite is the case. While weapons obviously are a large part of Dark Souls, armor plays a part in stats as well. So why then, would part of the community work on making themselves look good at the cost of protection. After all, Dark Souls isn’t exactly a series known for being easy. You need every little bit of help you can get.
But not these guys. The people who run with the fashion souls community have decided that looking as good as possible is actually better than having the best armor possible. Naturally, I was curious about why this was. Why would you make the game harder on yourself in the interest of looks? Chances are you’ll go through the entire game with only a few people seeing what you look like, and even then you’ll be covered in red paint the entire time.
But to give you an example, here’s an outfit put together by reddit user Nemocyte called “Black Knight Haust”:
Pretty cool right? There are a few more that I’ve picked that I’ll try to sprinkle throughout the post. But most of them try to strike a theme. The goal is to achieve a cohesive look that fits the world and isn’t necessarily the most “out there” kind of costume.
Of course, in order to find the answers to the questions I asked above, I went to reddit. Many of the users were happy to tell me why they were investing in various clothing items despite their apparent uselessness in terms of stats. So here are a few select quotes I pulled from various users.
“Style and Fashion > stats. Take the detrimental stats if you have to, because at the end of the day, you look swag.”
Okay, fair enough. But let’s get a bit deeper into it, shall we?
LastShadowz told me this:
“My basic thing is that I love RP (roleplay) When I make a new dark souls character, I write out (in my head) a background story for them, I spend a lot of time making their face, and I pick out an outfit for them that I feel is appropriate for their life. It also adds another thing to the gameplay, and that is to collect the pieces of the armor. I may have to go out of my way, or even beat the game before I can finish my full set. Lastly, it can take away some of the ease of the game. What the fun if every one of your caster characters is wearing a hexer hood and full lion mage set? Thats not fun at all! I like my characters to have, well… Character!”
Excellent! This is perfect. Roleplay seemed to be the main reason most players did this sort of thing. They had a character in their heads and they believed that dressing them a certain way added to the immersion of the story.
Reddit user Corrupted Plague described his character as such:
“My character wears the armor of Raime and The Ivory King as a testament to his hunt of the corrupted heroes of Drangleic. My Dark Souls character wears the armor of Artorias and uses his weapons out of respect for the fallen Abyss-Walker.”
Zewbacca had the most interesting reason:
“I engage in Fashion Souls across both Souls games for a couple reason. Like /u/LastShadowz, I like the RP aspect of the game, and trying to come up with a character who might have his own motivations or methods to securing the throne at end game. And then, when it comes down to it, armor stats are mostly irrelevant once you’ve gotten a basic grasp of the games play styles, since most attacks won’t contact you anyways. Given that, there’s no real reason for anyone to wear any specific armor set for its stats, unless they’re a newer player just starting out. Best to look good while slaughtering hordes of hollows.”
So in a sense, dressing up your character is the mark of someone who understands the game. In the end, your ability to prove you don’t need armor is the way to prove you are a proper Souls player. Once that’s the case, why not dress however you want?
So unlike TF 2 where dressing your character up is just something you can “do” for the fun of it, there’s an air of competition in Dark Souls fashion. It’s pretty much the mark of someone who has surpassed the game itself and can just do whatever you want. It’s something else to strive for in the game, and it’s a player driven accomplishment as well. Which fits right in with the other kinds of content you see in the Souls community.