In Dark Souls, counter attacks occur when attacking an enemy that is in the middle of an attack with a weapon capable of inflicting Thrust Damage. Successfully countering an enemy will increase damage inflicted by approximately 20%.
A counterattack must be performed during a relatively small window for the bonus damage to be applied. This is usually when the enemy is at the peak of their attack animation, when the attack would have otherwise connected, or immediately afterwards, but can vary widely depending on the enemy.
This mechanic makes a return in Dark Souls II. However, this can be done with any weapon, instead of just thrusting weapons. Players can inflict counter damage against enemies from behind (without being a backstab), during swinging animation, after breaking poise and shield-breaking.
Counter-damage now scales with the critical/counter strength instead of the base weapon damage, as seen in Dark Souls. i.e., weapons with higher critical/counter strength modifier deal more counter-damage. Note that this modifier does not affect backstabs and ripostes.
Performing a counterattack can be useful against enemies with a very strong weapon, but very poor Poise. An example of such are torch-wielding Hollows, which deal high damage (at the start of the game), but have no poise. As a result, using a fast weapon, such as a Katana, would be an effective way of performing a counterattack. The only drawback is that when encountering stronger enemies with high poise, and in NG+ and beyond, the usefulness of counterattacks begins to dwindle.
In Dark Souls II, counter attacks are much easier to perform, specially if enemies are slow. (e.g. Ironclad Soldier) Most enemies will leave themselves open after a swing, allowing the player to inflict counter damage with ease.
Raising counter damageEdit
- In Dark Souls, the Leo Ring can be worn to boost the damage output for Thrusting attacks during a counterattack by approximately 40%, raising the inflicted damage bonus to a total of approximately 68%.
- In Dark Souls II, the Old Leo Ring boosts counter damage by 12.5%. This bonus applies to most thrusting weapons and thrusting attacks in general.
- The bonus damage of counterattacks only apply to physical damage, as opposed to elemental damage. This means that weapons that only inflict Magic Damage, like the Moonlight Butterfly Horn, will not receive the counterattack bonus even though its damage type is listed as thrust.
- The counterattack bonus is applied to almost all weapons that can inflict Thrust Damage, including bows and crossbows.
- The vast majority of enemies in the game—including bosses—are vulnerable to counter damage.
- A counter attack can be distinguished from a normal attack by a small flash of white light upon contact, not to be confused with a flash of green light which indicates stagger damage.