I'm currently psyching myself up to start Dark Souls which I just bought in the Steam Weekend deal, does anyone have any advice for someone completely new to the franchise? I've heard that it's pretty difficult and if you level up certain skills you can make the game much harder.
Don't start as pyromancer, it makes the game too easy from the beginning. Get ready for an oldschool style of difficulty akin to the Mario games where if you don't know the patterns you will die. Just hold block as you walk around and don't barge into new areas expecting to destroy everything in your path.
Equipment upgrades are just as, if not more, important than getting new gear. Don't attack NPCs. Also use this mod: http://darksouls.nexusmods.com/mods/19 - it greatly improves the graphics on PC. Oh, and looking at the nexus now, you might want to add http://darksouls.nexusmods.com/mods/21 and possibly http://darksouls.nexusmods.com/mods/56 as well. When I played through the game before, DSFix was just being developed (so read: at launch) and those mods I had not heard of. I may go though the game again now that I think about it. Dark Souls is a great universe.
Lastly, EpicNameBro is a great source of info, lore, strategy, you name it - for Dark Souls and can be found on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/EpicNameBro