Upon starting Dark Souls 2, players will notice one of the biggest changes from Dark Souls, maybe not right away, but eventually. In Dark Souls 2, the enemies vanish after being killed a set number of times (about 15 times thereabouts) which can make soul farming a bit problematic. However, don't despair, with the help of a particular item and some equipment not only will the enemies respawn but players will get more souls from them. It makes soul farming a breeze. Kind of. This is Dark Souls 2 after all, so nothing is ever easy. There are options for every kind of farmer, from those willing to embrace the challenge and for those that want to get some relatively easy souls without stressing about dying.
What You Need to Begin Soul Farming in Dark Souls 2
There are various ways to go about soul farming in Dark Souls 2, but to get the biggest bang for your buck you will need the following:
Bonfire Ascetic - This item is obtained from various merchants in the game and can be burned at any bonfire. This item increases the level of the bonfire which will respawn enemies, make them only slightly harder and cause them to drop more souls.
Covetous Silver Serpent Ring - Players will get this ring fairly early in the game from the Tomb of the Giants close to the second bonfire. After killing the second skeleton dog and the skeleton archer, drop down by the corpse behind the archer and drop a prism stone to see a hidden path. When equipped, the ring gives a hearty boost to souls dropped by enemies.
Tseldora Set - This cloth set can be obtained from farming the spiders and spider men around Brightstone. Alternatively, one can pluck them of the armor merchant in Majula if they kill him. Each piece gives a minor increase to soul gain.
Jester Gloves - This item is purchased from the merchant in the Iron Keep and also boosts the amount of souls from enemies.
Everything aside from the Bonfire Ascetic is completely optional, but it just makes soul farming much easier and more profitable.
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Where to Go to Farm Souls in Dark Souls 2
Though the soul farming process can be done at any bonfire to any enemy, why bother soul farming if you don't get the absolute best results? The best place to do this grind is the Dragon Shrine. Equip the items, burn the Bonfire Ascetic and go through the zone on your merry way killing everything that moves. With the items, each enemy will net you around 4500 souls, though the Dragon Shrine is a small zone. However, with the 14 enemies that spawn there, players will get about 60,000 souls for clearing the entire zone. While the zone is small, the enemies are still pretty powerful, so players should be confident enough that they can kill them before and after using a Bonfire Ascetic which will make them more powerful.
Players should also keep in mind that these Bonfire Ascetic do carry over into New Game+ so if players have a bonfire at level 4 and begin a New Game+ it will level 5 and the enemies will be stronger as well.
Soul Farming for Level 15 - 30 Players
Not everyone who needs souls is tough enough for the Dragon Shrine, but fear not, there are some good places for those newer characters. For players roughly level 15 to 30 can find some easy and consistent souls within the Forest of the Fallen Giants. Killing the hollow warriors here provides less than the Dragon Shrine, but is infinitely less stressful. Players start from the bonfire by Majula, going straight ahead and killing everything in their path until the next bonfire. This gives about 8,000 to 10,000 souls per hour and is a decent way for those that want to level up.
Many players find it more efficient to farm bosses instead of enemies in areas. For those that have the White Sign Soapstone, they can farm bosses indefinitely. The rewards aren't the only perk of this particular method. It is actually a pretty decent way to learn the boss ahead of time before your attempt in your own game. Its kind unfair to the player that summons you, but when have Dark Souls players ever been fair to each other? Whatever boss you are going to conquer next or what to farm, place the White Sign Soapstone outside the door and wait for someone to summon you. The harder bosses like Nashandra get more traffic than others, so it is easier for farmers to get summons.
Currently the bosses that are most farmed (i.e. the places I've gotten the most summons) are:
The Scorpioness Najka ( 23,000)
The Rotten (47,000)
The Old Iron King (48,000)
Giant Lord (75,000)
Alternatively, for those that are not having much luck with summons, you can farm the Old Iron King (or any boss, but I recommend this one) without one. There is a bonfire right around the corner from the boss fight with only two enemies between that bonfire and the boss. By burning a Bonfire Ascetic you can farm him and wearing the farming gear, players can get around 100,000 souls per kill as well as two boss souls. Aside from its close proximity to the bonfire, the Old Iron King stays pretty easy even on higher difficulties and the fight should only take around 10 minutes. However, be careful not to overdo it with the Bonfire Ascetic burning, though. It can make things difficult later. Also, never burn the ascetic at the first bonfire as fighting the Smelter Demon boss on the higher difficulty is extra special not fun at all.
By executing any of these lovely strategies above, players will be practically rolling in souls, enough to do whatever they desire. However, I cannot stress enough to be careful not to overdo the Bonfire Ascetic burning, especially for those interested in New Game+ it is just one of those things you should not do in Dark Souls 2. It is best to just pick a strategy that you feel is the most profitable and stick with it.