Tips to Combat
As far as I understand this combat in this game is about:
- Utilizing shell abilities.
First of all, learn to use hardening effectively — I suppose this is meant to be instead of blocking.
Reach Fallgrim Tower (the first delapitated building you will see, just straight ahead), release the prisoner, and talk to him — you will get an item for parrying. Upgrade it to heal via parrying blows. Mind that parrying is slightly different, more predictive (parry before attack begins, but when the animation starts) than in Dark Souls (parry before attack reach you, but mind the parrying item speed). Not all enemies all parryable, but most of them are, including bosses.
Remember about the healing mushrooms than you can collect.
You can unlock kicks via sester Genessa which might be usuful to you at the beginning.
Seek rare acids that are used to upgrade weapon damage.