Visceral Attack is a twist on the old parry/riposte and backstab mechanics of the previous games in the Souls series. To perform this mechanic, press R1 while an enemy is staggered. Must be done while facing the enemies front or back. To stagger an enemy, press L2 while an enemy is attacking, or perform a charge attack while facing an enemies' back. Once staggered, an enemy will fall to one knee and be open to a Visceral Attack, which causes high damage and throws the enemy backwards. The time window in which you can perform a Visceral Attack only lasts about 1.5-2 seconds. During the Visceral Attack animation, the player is invincible.
With a firearm equipped, a shot fired by pressing L2 with proper timing just before an enemy attacks causes the enemy to stagger. An enemy can also be caused to stagger by facing its back and holding R2 to unleash a charge attack. Once an enemy staggers, press R1 to execute a visceral attack..
- After staggering an enemy in some fashion, a Visceral Attack may not always be the best action to take. Many weapons' charged attacks can already deal more damage than a Visceral Attack, and if you time the weapon attack within the Visceral Attack window, your weapon attack will deal double damage. However, the Caryll Runes you equip, such as Clawmark (increased Visceral Attack damage) or Blood Rapture (Visceral Attacks restore health), can influence what action would be best in different situations.
- Several firearms have different firing and reload speeds, which can make certain weapons better for staggering enemies. By far the slowest weapon that can stagger enemies is Ludwig's Rifle, which has a slow reload time that can make performing a Visceral Attack difficult. Slightly faster are the Hunter Blunderbuss and Rifle Spear, which share a firing speed. While faster than Ludwig's Rifle, these can still get in the way of following up the parry. The Hunter Pistol, Repeating Pistol, Evelyn, and Reiterpallasch are the fastest firing weapons, though the lack of a bullet spread can lead to accuracy issues.
- Visceral Attack damage is unaffected by weapon damage. However, it is affected by blood gems.
- Visceral Attack damage also scales with Skill and Level, to an unknown degree. The Skill scaling is believed to softcap at 50.
- Visceral Attacks can be performed even if the attack which staggers the enemy also kills them. This is useful for restoring health with the Blood Rapture rune, even on weaker enemies that can be killed in 1 hit.