How to Fix Black Screen on Startup on Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls is an action role-playing game that is published by Namco Bandai Games, the publisher who also publishes Dragon Ball series. The game revolves around exploration and players are taught to proceed with caution and learn from mistakes they made in the past. The game received a lot of traction and was a successful hit after Dark Souls 2.

Black Screen on Startup on Dark Souls 3
Black Screen on Startup on Dark Souls 3

Despite the popularity of the game, there is a very common issue that plagues a lot of distributions of the game. Users experience the game going into a ‘black screen’ in a number of different scenarios i.e. on the game’s startup, when cinematic plays, or when the graphic gets intense. In this article, we will go through all the causes as to why this issue occurs and what the possible workarounds are to fix the problem.

What causes the Black Screen on Dark Souls 3?

After our initial research and reports by users, we came to the conclusion that the issue occurred due to several different reasons. Usually, the black screen means the computer’s inability to render the graphics or the gameplay. This can occur due to several different reasons; some of them are listed down below:

  • Corrupt installation files: There are chances that the installation files themselves are corrupt on your computer. If this is the case, the game’s mechanics will not work and cause bizarre problems.
  • Game in an error state: This is a very common occurrence with Dark Souls. There are no solid conclusions as to why this occurs but there are several workarounds that may fix the issue.
  • Missing Game Config: Almost every game has a game configuration file stored on your computer as a physical copy. This config file is used to store the game’s configurations and is fetched by the game when it loads up. If this config file is missing, there will be issues when it starts up.
  • High-Quality Graphics: If the graphics settings of Dark Souls is high and your PC specs are low, you will experience stuttering and black screens. Lowering the graphics settings helps here.
  • Third-party optimizers: There are numerous users out there who use third-party optimizers to optimize their gameplay and reduce the strain on the computer. However, this might as well backfire and cause issues since these applications interfere with the mechanics of the game.
  • Incomplete media/codecs: Since media players and codecs are required to play the cinematics of the game, if there are missing on your computer, they will have issues with the launching process. This can easily be fixed by installing these missing components.
  • Computer in error state: There are also instances where your computer is in an error state. This can occur due to a number of different reasons and is very common so nothing to worry about. Power cycling helps here.
  • Incorrect graphics settings: Users who have dedicated graphics cards might face the black screen if their graphics settings are set incorrectly. Dark souls need specific settings to run and changing them fixes the issue instantly.

Before we start with the solutions, make sure that you are logged in as an administrator and have saved all your work as we will be restarting your computer numerous times.

Pre-requisite: System Requirements

Before we move on to the troubleshooting methods, we need to make sure that your system even qualifies to run the game. If you need your game to run smoothly, it is recommended that you have recommended specifications.

Minimum specs:

OS: Windows 7 SP1 64bit, Windows 8.1 64bit Windows 10 64bit

Processor: AMD A8 3870 3.6 GHz or Intel Core i3 2100 3.1Ghz

Memory: 8 GB RAM

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 465 / ATI Radeon HD 6870

DirectX: Version 11

Network: Broadband Internet connection

Storage: 50 GB available space

Sound Card: DirectX 11 sound device
Recommended specs:

OS: Windows 7 SP1 64bit, Windows 8.1 64bit Windows 10 64bit

Processor: AMD FX 8150 3.6 GHz or Intel Core™ i7 2600 3.4 GHz

Memory: 8 GB RAM

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750, ATI Radeon HD 7850

DirectX: Version 11

Network: Broadband Internet connection

Storage: 50 GB available space

Sound Card: DirectX 11 sound device

Solution 1: Waiting it Out

The reason you see the black screen is because the game is still processing in the background and is stuck with all the computations. Either this or it is in an error state (if this is the case, you need to proceed with the other solutions).

Usually, if you wait for a little while (around 1 minute), the game automatically starts responding and starts displaying the contents of the screen. Hence we recommend that you wait and if prompted, make sure you keep waiting even if the program becomes unresponsive.

Solution 2: Power Cycling your Computer

Before starting any technical workarounds, we will first make sure that your computer is not in any type of error state. Computers are known to get into not responsive states and can easily be fixed by power cycling. Power cycling is the act of completely shutting down the computer so all the temporary configurations are lost. When we turn the computer back on, the temporary configurations will be reinitialized and the issue will be resolved. Save your work before proceeding.

  1. Turn off your computer. Now, take out the main power supply and press and hold the power button for around 2-3 minutes.
    Power Cycling your Computer
  2. Now wait for around 5-8 minutes before you plug the power supply back in and power on your computer. After the computer is on again, launch the game and see if it starts properly without the black screen.

Solution 3: Verifying Integrity of Steam Game Files

The first step which we will do is making sure that the game files are not incomplete and corrupt. Game files tend to become problematic usually after an update is stopped abruptly. This is where the computer is updating and replacing the game files and if it is halted, the files are left in between and become problematic. Here, we will be verifying the game files through Steam. We will also be deleting the current game files from your computer so these are created with default values when the game launches.

When we verify the integrity, Steam checks the online manifest against your installed files and replaces/create new files accordingly. Since the directory will be deleted, all the files will be created anew.

  1. Press Windows + E to launch the Windows Explorer. Once in the application, navigate to the following directories:
C:\Steam\steamapps\common\Dark Souls

C:\Users\"User name"\Documents\MyGames\Dark Souls

Note: The directories shown here are in their default location. If you have the games installed to some other location, you should navigate there.

Deleting Temp Configurations - Dark Souls 3
Deleting Temp Configurations – Dark Souls 3
  1. Now delete all the contents of the folder. Restart your computer before proceeding.
  2. Open your Steam application and click on Games from the top bar. Now select Dark souls from the left navigation bar, right-click it and select Properties.
  3. Once in Properties, click on Local Files category and select Verify Integrity of Game Files.
    Verifying Integrity of Dark Souls
    Verifying Integrity of Dark Souls
  4. Now, wait until the process is complete. Restart your computer after the verification is complete and launch Dark Souls again. Check if you can launch the game properly without the black screen.

Solution 4: Changing Priority of the Game

The priority of a process is meant to allocate resources and importance to the computer. It also allows the computer to figure out the precedence it has to give to the application over other ones that are running simultaneously. Be default, all applications which aren’t system processes are granted default priority. If Dark Souls isn’t given enough resources to function, there will obviously be a conflict with the game and it will cause issues like the black screen under discussion. In this solution, we will grant it High Priority and see how this works out for us.

  1. Launch Dark Souls on your computer. Now when the game is launched, press Windows + D to jump to the Desktop. Now press Windows + R, type “taskmgr” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Now click on the tab of Details, locate all the entries of Dark Souls and If you are launching Dark Souls 3 through Steam, it is advised that you change its priority as well.
  3. Right-click on each entry, hover over set priority and set it either to Above Normal or High.
    Changing Priority of Dark Souls 3
    Changing Priority of Dark Souls 3
  4. Do this for all your entries. Now Alt-tab back to your game and start playing. Observe if this made any difference and our issue is resolved.

Solution 5: Replacing GraphicsConfig.xml’ file

Another common problem which we came across was where the graphics configuration file of the game was missing. This can occur if you have manually changed the location of the game or during a disk cleaning process. This configuration file is an essential part of the startup mechanism as all the preferences are fetched from this file. If the file is either corrupt or missing, you will experience a black screen upon startup and the game will probably crash.

Here, we will first navigate to the directory of the game. Then, if the file is missing, you can create a new one and paste the code given below. We recommend that you create a new file as shown below even if the configuration file is present as it will eliminate the possibility of having a corrupt one.

  1. Press Windows + E to launch Windows Explorer. Now navigate to the following address:
C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\DarkSoulsIII
  1. Now, if the file is present, right-click on it and select Open with > Notepad (you can also use third-party applications such as Notepad++).
  2. Navigate to (this) file and paste the contents accordingly. Save changes and exit.
  3. If you don’t have the file, you can download the file and place it in the correct location. Make sure that you restart your computer.
  4. After restarting, launch the game and check if the black screen is gone and the issue is resolved.

Note: We also received reports that changing the first line that says “FULLSCREEN” to “WINDOW” solves the problem.

If even this doesn’t work, you can try changing the following fields:

Shadow quality: low

Lighting quality: low

Shader quality: low

Solution 6: Checking Codecs

Whenever you start a game, the computer needs the support of codecs or media players in order to launch the video associated with the game and get it streaming. If there is no media support, the video will not play and the game will get stuck on a black screen and stay there. This is a very common issue. There are two cases where your computer might fail running the video; either you have a Windows N or KN version or you have third-party codecs which might be causing trouble. Here, we will target both situations.

Windows N and KN editions do not have media players built into them. These versions were created solely for legal purposes. If you have this version, you will be required to install the media player manually.

  1. First, we will check your version of Windows. Press Windows + S, type “about” in the dialogue box and open the result of About this PC.
  2. When the specifications come forth, look near the heading of Windows specifications at the near bottom. Here, the version of Windows will be written.
    Checking Windows Version
    Checking Windows Version
  3. If you have an N or KN version, navigate to Microsoft official website and download Media Feature Pack for N and KN.
    Installing Codecs for Windows N, KN Versions
    Installing Codecs for Windows N, KN Versions
  4. After installing it, restart your computer and launch the game again. Check if the issue is resolved.

If you don’t have N/KN versions and are still experiencing issues, you should make sure there are not any problematic codecs lying around.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
  2. Once in the application manager, look out for codecs. See if you spot any third-party or problematic one which may be forcing the system to use it.
    Uninstalling Problematic Codec
    Uninstalling Problematic Codec
  3. Right-click on the entry and select Uninstall. Restart your computer and launch the game. Check if the issue is resolved.

Solution 7: Disabling third-party optimizing applications

The internet has seen an emergence of numerous third-party applications who aim to optimize your games and provide a better experience to you when gaming by freezing the unnecessary applications in the background. Even though these applications might be useful and may carry value, they are known to cause issues with several games because they conflict with the in-game mechanics.

Here, you should make sure that these types of applications are either disabled or uninstalled. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter to launch the application manager. Uninstall all these types of applications and see if this fixes the problem.

Solution 8: Disabling Scaling on Display

If you are using Nvidia the drivers might be configured in such a way that they are performing scaling on the Display instead of the GPU which can sometimes trigger this error. Therefore, in this step, we will be changing this configuration. In order to do so:

  1. Right-click anywhere on your desktop and select “Nvidia Control Panel”.
    Opening the NVIDIA Control Panel
  2. Select the “Adjust Desktop Size and Position” option.
  3. Click on the “Perform Scaling On” dropdown and select “GPU” from the list.
    Selecting “GPU” in the “Perform Scaling On” option
  4. Click on “Apply” to save your changes.

Solution 9: Using Alt+Tab (Workaround)

Some users noticed that if they pressed “Alt+Tab” when the game was loading and then again pressed “Alt+Tab” to get back into the game, it loaded properly. Therefore, you can use this as a workaround just in case you weren’t able to fix it otherwise.

Note: If all the above methods don’t work, Make sure that you unplug any and all controllers before starting the game and plug them in after the game loads. Also, if that doesn’t fix it either then you can move on and reinstall the entire game. First, uninstall it using Steam (or locally if you are launching it from somewhere else) and delete all the data files from your computer. Next, install a fresh copy and then check if the issue gets fixed.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

How to Fix Black Screen on Startup on Dark Souls 3

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