Increasing the difficulty of Dark Souls 2 may be accomplished through several methods. Players seeking even greater challenges may employ Bonfire Ascetics. the Covenant of the Company of Champions. and many other methods to their advantage.
The Bonfire Ascetic is a rare item which may be burnt in any Bonfire once you've cleared the area. The Ascetic increase the difficulty of the surrounding zone. This process may not be reversed.
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Zones where Ascetics are burnt are fully repopulated. Monsters are stronger and more durable, and also offer increased numbers of Souls. Drops are also upgraded in some situations.
New enemies also appear in upgraded zones, often with drastically altered appearances reminiscent of invasion. These enemies may wait in ambush near previously safe locations.
The Bonfire Ascetic item can also restart boss fights, and at the same time,
increase their difficulty as well as reward. Make sure to reserve this item
for boss fights located especially near primal bonfires.
Multiple Ascetics may be burnt in each zone. The difficulty of an area around a Bonfire is indicated by the Bonfire Intensity stat in the Bonfire menu.
The Company of Champions
The Company of Champions is a Covenant available behind the village in Majula. It may be entered by kneeling in front of the large shrine. The Company increases the overall difficulty of Dark Souls 2, reducing the damage a players attacks do to foes. It acts as a sort of
"Hard Mode" for Dark Souls 2 and unlocks an Achievement.
The covenant also turns off all summoning.
By choosing the Deprived character class, a player may choose to begin the game at Level 1 and without Weapons or Armor. A player may also opt to accept no Gift during character generation. Characters may choose to ignore Fast Travel options, walking from place to place, or challenge foes with less-than-optimal equipment or builds.
Spawning Changes and Difficulty
With Dark Souls II, From changed the spawning mechanic of enemies in an effort to reduce specific soul-farming locations (remember the woods or the dragon bridge?). Instead, now once you have killed an enemy 10 times, it will stop spawning. This is true for all normal fights (boss/special fights are still 1-time-only).
This change has made the game easier for the patient. You could essentially farm off every enemy one at a time and have a clear run to the boss fight. In previous versions (DS, DeS) you did not have this luxury - you needed to fight your way through a section and kill the boss.
In order to make the game harder or more like previous versions, you can impose a self-rule that says no spawn farming (if you need souls, help others kill bosses). Repeat kills are okay if you have trouble with a boss and have to go back. Hopefully you don't have to go back more than 10 times.
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