Dark Souls III is an action role-playing game played in a third-person perspective, similar to previous games in the series. According to lead director and series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, the game's gameplay design followed "closely from Dark Souls II". Players are equipped with a variety of weapons to fight against enemies, such as bows, throwable projectiles, and swords. Shields can act as secondary weapons but they are mainly used to deflect enemies' attacks and protect the player from suffering damage.
Throughout the game, players encounter different types of enemies, each with different behaviors. Some of them change their combat pattern during battles. New combat features are introduced in Dark Souls III, including weapon and shield "Skills", which are special abilities that vary from weapon to weapon that enable unique attacks and features, at the cost of focus points. The game places more focus on role-playing, in which the character builder is expanded and weapons are improved to provide more tactical options to players. The game features fewer overall maps than its predecessor Dark Souls II, but they are larger and more detailed, which encourages exploration. The adaptability stat from Dark Souls II was removed in Dark Souls III, with other stats being adjusted. The game features multiplayer elements, like the previous games in the series.