If there’s ever been a better metagame in the Souls series, it’s the totally unique multiplayer the franchise presents - and Dark Souls II doesn’t fail to deliver. Whether it’s classic invasions, friendly duels or covenant-based intrusions, there are plenty of PvP options to prove who’s the better Dark Souls II player and show off that boss weapon online.
After 2 weeks of discovering all of the unexplained, mysterious corners of the world of Drangleic, here are the best arenas to test your mettle against other battle-hardened Dark Souls II warriors, and the essential items and tips you need to engage in PvP.
Descend down the ladder next to the ‘Servant’s Quarter’ bonfire in Lost Bastile and have a Pharros Lockstone ready to access the new area of Belfy Luna, where you can join the Bell Tower Covenant by speaking to the dwarf hollow sitting on the right of the entrance.
Joining the covenant and equipping the Bell Keeper Ring will randomly summon you to other player’s worlds as a Gray Spirit invader, whose job is to ‘defend’ the tower against players who move through it but aren’t part of the covenant. This is perhaps the busiest PvP area and covenant of the early-to-mid game and is a hotbed for invasions, so if you’re looking for fun ways to grief other players and reap some cool rewards (unlimited Titanite Chunks FTW), join the Bell Keepers.
Alternatively, you could be a major badass and just linger in Belfry Luna without joining the Bell Keepers or defeating the Gargoyle bosses, and take on every Gray Spirit who invades your world. A popular option is for the host to summon a friendly white phantom and wait for two Gray Spirits to invade for some tense 2 vs 2 battles.
Similar to Belfry Luna and of the same convenant, Belfry Sol is accessible after the second bonfire in Iron Keep. Have another Pharros Lockstone ready once you pass the first two Iron Keep ‘Turtle’ guards and enter a side door. Use the Lockstone and ascend the ladder to find another hidden bonfire and another ladder to Belfry Sol.
The rooftop area is a little wider than the cramped and crumbling Bell Tower of Belfry Luna, so PvP battles against Gray Spirits or intruding players are a little less panicked -- perfect for those wanting a fairer fight. Take note if you’re hoping to summon a friendly phantom like in Belfy Luna; co-op summons don’t appear to work in Sol.
Cathedral of Blue
After beating the Old Dragonslayer boss, make your way to the end of the Church and speak with Blue Sentinel Targray to join the Blue Sentinels covenant. Targray will only offer you the option to join if you have a Token of Fidelity in your inventory. You can acquire one with every successful co-op session with another player as a summoned White Phantom - but make sure you have a handful before proceeding to the next step.
Once you’ve joined the Blue Sentinels, head down to the bonfire below. While the room itself seems purely for the bonfire, you can now interact with the two statues on the left side of the room and choose to duel other players within the covenant in a private 1vs1 session. You must give up one Token of Fidelity per fight, so have a good amount ready.
Each duel spawns you and your opponent on opposite sides of a battlefield set in The Tower of Heide, and each successful win gets you closer to acquiring rare items from the Blue Sentinels covenant. It also helps get the blood flowing when you smack one of your fellow blue brothers down with superior poise and timing.
The first bonfire area and bridge of Iron Keep seems to be a hotbed of invasion activity, making it a great place to fight other players. By this point in the game, most players are high-level and have access to the Red Sign Soapstone (purchased from Titchy Gren in Undead Purgatory) or the Dragon Remnants Covenant found later in Iron Keep, so you can opt to engage in approved invasions rather than being a pesky player and using those limited Cracked Red Eye Orbs for griefing.
Heide’s Tower of Flame
Perhaps the hot zone for early-game invasions, this is prime real-estate for you devious bastards who want to invade unsuspecting newbies on their quest to the Old Dragonslayer. It’s also a wide-open space, and preferable for those who hate hide-and-seek fights. Just don’t be surprised if you have a Blue Sentinel backing your victim up unexpectedly.
After beating Executioner Chariot, you’ll find a bonfire and the creepy Titchy Gren in a backroom full of blood and mysterious statues. If you have a Token of Spite, Gren will offer you the chance to join the Brotherhood of Blood Convenant. They act as the opposite to the Blue Sentinels - you’re rewarded for invading other worlds with Tokens of Spite and Cracked Red Eye Orbs.
Dueling within the Brotherhood is a little harder than Blue Sentinels - each loss sets you back from progressing in rank within the convenant and acquiring even more evil weapons to grief players with. So make sure you're as cold-hearted a bastard against other cold-hearted bastards in the Brotherhood as you are with innocent players and secure that win by any means necessary - backstab, anyone?
PvP Items and Terminology
Cracked Blue Eye Orb: A one-use item for Blue Sentinels to find the worlds of 'Guilty' players who invade others regularly and invade them. As of Update 1.2, doesn't seem to work consistently. Dropped by Old Knights in Heide's Tower of Flame or given as a reward in the Blue Sentinels for winning a duel.
Cracked Red Eye Orb: A one-use item to invade other unsuspecting players without their approval. Can be found as drops from multiple enemies, or given as a reward in the Brotherhood of Blood for winning a duel.
Dragon Eye: The summon sign for members of the Dragon Remnants covenant. Acts essentially like the Red Sign Soapstone, inviting players to a duel, but has different rewards pertaining to the covenant - Dragon Scales.
Red Sign Soapstone: The exact opposite of the White Sign Soapstone, putting this sign down means you are inviting other players from other worlds to combat in your world. Purchased from Titchy Gren in Undead Purgatory.
Blue Phantom: A friendly member of the Blue Sentinels who has been summoned to your world to assist you - if you're a member of the Way of Blue.
Gray Spirit: A hostile challenger who was randomly summoned to your world by either the Bell Keeper Covenant or Rat King Covenant to protect the Bell Tower (in Belfry Sol or Belfy Luna) or the Grave of Saints. Equip the respective covenant ring to become a Gray Spirit yourself.
Red Phantom: A classic invader who intrudes your world without permission with the sole purpose of killing you. Some hostile NPCs also are classed as Red Phantoms.
Sun Spirit: A friendly member of the Heirs of the Sun you can summon to help in battle should you find a Sun sign.
White Phantom: A friendly player you can summon to help in battle should you find a White sign... just make sure you summoned them, because there's an item mentioned below which can trick you...
Tips and Tricks to PvP
Be On Your Guard, Hollow or Human: Just in case you haven’t already noticed, you can be invaded by other players whether you’re undead or human, unlike in previous games. Always be on your toes for a surprise intruder.
Don’t Taunt: Karma has a way of humbling players in Dark Souls II. Plenty of online PvP players play fair for a good fight, but there are a few who like to ruffle feathers with a few taunts or cheap tricks (i.e. waiting for world enemies to attack host). Don’t be surprised if cheap tactics turn out bad for you.
Region-Lock: If you’re one of those guys who hates laggy backstabs, make sure your region settings are restricted so you only play with locals. Turning them off to play with others from across the world for some co-op action is fun, but it’s not as great when the lag sets in for those always tense PvP standoffs.
The White Ring: If you’re as lucky as I am and have acquired the White Ring via a 1% drop from Dyna and Tillo, this is an extremely useful item in standard PvP invasions. While the ring grants only a cosmetic effect - your characters takes on the white glow usually only given to summoned White Phantoms and White Shades - the colour can throw off host players in worlds you’ve opted to invade. Even if they hesitate for a split second, that’s all you need to strike the first - and often decisive - killing blow.
What have been your best and most tense PvP experiences in Dark Souls II? Share below.