I have not played the Souls series before this game, but I've witnessed my brother playing Dark Souls 1 & 2. I woulda played them, but my brother doesn't let anyone access his computer if he's not around. From what I've seen, they are indeed challenging games, but the frustration factor still doesn't compare to getting killed in an online match (I'm looking at you, Call of Duty). You're never gonna be yelling "FUCKING LAG" or "I would avoid that one special move he's totally spamming IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE FUCKING LAG" or "THIS IS BULLSHIT. I KNOW I SHOT HIM. LAAAAG"
That being said, and not having experience with Souls game prior, this game was quite frustrating in the beginning. Checkpoints are far and few between and you gotta wade through several enemies, that can totally gang rape you, to get where you need to be. I also wasn't able to level up for a while until I met certain conditions. I played the beginning of the game for hours thinking "Is any of this even accomplishing anything? Am I getting any stronger? Is there a point to retrieving my blood echoes? I know I'm gonna die a lot, but jesus christ. FUCKING LOADING SCREEN" (This was prior to that loading screen patch)
So I resorted to online strategy and learned a couple useful tips:
1) There's no shame in running. Whether it be running from enemies or through them. The enemies are programmed in a way that you can run past them unharmed. And luckily, stamina recharges fast in this game. Otherwise, it'd be a pain to fight a crowd of angry villagers that respawn AFTER EVERY SINGLE TIME I DIE. (At least it's fun to listen to em yell things in a cockney accent)
2) Meeting a boss gives you "insight," which is necessary to level up. I was told it was not necessary to beat him, but I didn't know that translates to "Just let him murder you." Sometimes you gotta die, so that certain important shit happens.
3) Shooting enemies, when they wind up their attack, staggers them so that you can unleash a very satisfying Visceral Attack. RIP AND TEAR.
4) Among other little things, such as upgrading weapons, stats, and getting new clothing (which is like armor in this game)
The game became way less frustrating once I was able to level up. I slowly started to become more capable of fighting harder enemies. Because the game forces you to pace yourself, you're able to enjoy the scenery and have fun exploring. I don't remember the last time I had fun discovering secret areas while exploring.
The atmosphere and monsters are pretty damn creepy in this game, and I'm not someone who is easily creeped out. Not only are the monster designs creepy, but the fact that every single one of them could easily gang rape you makes them even scarier. Every new big scary enemy I come across frightens me. Going too far into unknown territory is frightening. All of this, despite being armed to the teeth with effective skills and weapons (that have awesome swinging animations that have weight and power to them, by the way) Eventually, I do get the feeling of "I used to be scared of this guy, but now, I can totally take him."
I love that this game doesn't hold your hand. Other than the occasional button prompts for opening shit, and the notes on the ground explaining basic mechanics, this game doesn't tell you a goddamn thing about how to play it. Even the story is like "You're thrown in this world through unknown circumstances and weird, vague shit is gonna happen." But I am okay with that, because I like the mystery. Pretty much every major event (like bosses) is something that you merely stumble upon accidentally and not all of them have introductory cutscenes. So unless you're savvy about conspicuously open arenas, you're gonna mistakenly get yourself into a possibly losing match with a boss.
I'm not a fan of online gaming interactions with strangers, so I avoided that for the most part. But then I learned that bosses become mere chumps once you get a random stranger friend or two to help you gang rape him. When you call upon someone to help you, they pretty much know exactly why they're there and they're very respectful about it (complete with friendly body gestures). A bit of a different story with PvP matches though. Only some of them follow the "proper dueling etiquette" which is to bow before the match begins, and avoid using health potions. And then some of them go straight for you from the get-go, use health potions like crazy and resort to underhanded tactics that disadvantage you. At that point, it's fair game to throw anything possible at those fucks (which could include a cannonball to the face)
Anyway...long story short, play this fucking game.