When you start playing the Lords of the Fallen (LotF 2023) the first thing you'll want to master is combat.
LotF's combat is a classic Soul style with a lot of new twists. It focuses on defending yourself against attacks by blocking and dodging while also spotting opposing attack patterns and adjusting to them.
Your R1 is a Basic Light Attack, R2 is a Strong or Heavy Attack that can be charged, both of which deliver new attacks as soon as you dodge and Sprint attacks that can inflict a bit more damage.
Your primary means of avoiding damage is your dodge, which is a short Dash while locked onto a Target and a leaping roll when free aiming. By pressing L1, you can deflect attacks. Doing so will result in some minor damage, but attacking back will restore your health. You can perform a perfect block by timing it right when you get hit by an attack to take minimal residual damage but to build up a large portion of stagger against your enemy. When you are locked onto a target, you can see the Stagger meter along your Reticle. Perfect blocking and attacking both help with this. You will have the opportunity to perform a Visceral attack and deal significant damage to your enemy if you execute a perfect block when the Stagger meter is empty.
Ranged Combat is another layer that can be selected on the D-pad and that enables you to deal damage from a distance with any equipped ranged weapon. This is its own slot it does not override your weapons but it is where you'll equip your magic if you choose to go that route. Instead of having ammo range to attacks pull from a bar beneath your stamina which refills at Vestiges and if you switch to Magic will be replaced by a Mana bar.
When it comes to your moment-to-moment combat one of the most important things you need to manage is positioning. Make sure that you're out of the way of enemies and only within the range of the enemy you're trying to fight.
The majority of your battles will involve more than one enemy, so it's important to pay attention to your surroundings to avoid being caught off guard and drawn into a multiple-hit combo but this is something you'll pick up as you play.
Now, Plunge attacks in this game deal a ton of damage. Pressing R2 while falling will do a strong attack in midair, and if you land on an opponent who is unaware of you, you can generally kill them with one strike.
When planning your build and selecting the type of weapon you wish to utilize you might want to take dual-wielding weapons into consideration. They unlock a completely new move set while still being able to block and guard. The main disadvantage is that you do more damage with this than with only one weapon in use. These attacks tend to have lengthier combos, so once you push the attack button, you'll be locked in that animation until it's finished. As a result, you are more exposed than if you were only using one, but you can use this to your advantage by starting the combo while dual-wielding then switch to two-handing one weapon. It will continue the combo with a two-handed move set and then you can switch back to finish the combo with the dual wield move set. So when you switch stances it does not reset your combo. Now, this could be helpful if, during a boss fight, you have downtime to punish the boss's attacks but not enough to complete a dual-wielded combo. In that case, you could start the combo while dual-wielding, get one or two steps in, and then finish it using the two-handed move set. I can see this being very useful in PvP whenever we get the chance to do that, but it will take a lot more testing to truly figure this out.
Another thing you want to keep an eye on is damage types. Now, when dealing damage that the enemy is weak to you'll see your numbers pop up in red but you may also see them pop up Red even when you're not doing any Elemental damage. Red indicates that you are dealing more damage than the enemy would typically get.
If your numbers start to appear White then that means that you're doing the average amount of damage that that enemy should be taking.
If you encounter an opponent who is taking Gray damage, this indicates that either they are resisting your damage type or that your DPS is below what they should be receiving.
Even with the proper elemental type, it's still possible to deal Gray damage; nevertheless, your best chance of getting into the Red will be if you're dealing the proper damage that your opponent is vulnerable to.