First and foremost, check out our Tips Guide for Dark Souls II.
Acquire the Ring of Life Protection
Human effigies are in limited supply during a walkthrough, or at the very least are uncommon drops, so unless you're an experienced and combat-savvy player, you'll likely end up every once in a while with only a spare few effigies to restore your humanity from the hollowing status. Exploring the kingdom of Drangleic is hard enough, so having your max HP drop by 5% because you've died and turned hollow is terrible. If that weren't enough, you can't summon any help from NPCs or other players with their white summon signs if you're hollow.
Luckily, the Ring of Life Protection will prevent you from the hollow state once before it breaks, but it can be repaired at the blacksmith for a mere 3,000 souls, which is next to nothing near the middle of the game. You might even have some soul items you can spare if you want a quick fix for the ring.
The earliest you can obtain the ring is at the No Man's Wharf, the area right after Heidi's Flame Tower after descending the tower not far from the bonfire. In the center of the area is a large staircase (with a barbarian at the top). Go up this staircase about halfway, make a left, and enter the building. At the top of this building's small staircase should be a several bookcases/dining room cabinets that can be broken with a weapon. Behind one is a corpse with the ring in hand. Grab it and celebrate. Just remember to equip the ring and guard your humanity with your life.
DON'T consume boss souls
I made this mistake early on, so boo-hoo for me. But save the soul item you obtain after defeating a boss. Later in the game, you can trade these boss souls to 2 NPCs for unique weapons and spells. So I would store these in the item box at a bonfire as soon as possible, just so that you don't accidentally use them.
How to safely drop into Majula's pit
Perhaps you've tried dropping into the pit in the center of Majula below, and found yourself dead in a heartbeat. The key here, if you want to descend into the pit before you're really supposed to (apparently, an NPC can build a ladder going down but I haven't encountered this NPC yet...), is to purchase the Silvercat Ring from the talking cat, and then to unequip all items that contribute to the equip load since weight does factor into fall damage.
Having healing items, a Vit of around 14 or more, and health at least around 20, and you'll be fine. As you descend, you'll be able to find the entrance to the Grave of Saints (be careful here, since players in the Rat Covenant can summon you into their world just to toy with you... you may want to play in offline mode for this) as well as the entrance to The Gutter if you're extremely careful. Going through the Grave of Saints will also lead you to the same entrance to The Gutter.
Easy Trick to defeat the Executioner's Chariot boss
In the Arena, kill the first Necromancer enemy, along with any nearby skeletons. Stay in the door area and cast Affinity. As the chariot drives past, the spell will hit it. In this manner, you can kill Executioner's Chariot boss without moving further into the area or lowering the gate.
Easy Trick to defeat The Pursuer
The Pursuer can be weakened 99% by a single shot from one of the Ballista set-pieces in his boss arena. Lining him up requires some pretty precise timing, but a clean hit all but destroys him.
Some players have been asking about how the torch system works. So just in case, you have one torch and it has a timer indicated in the inventory screen. You can light the torch at a bonfire (just toggle it) or a standing torch that's lit. From there, the time starts to tick down as you try to bring the fire to another unlit torch stand. It's sort of convoluted, but that's how it works.
Every torch you find adds 5 minutes to your overall time and torches are usually random enemy drops (sometimes you'll find some laying around as minor treasures). Lighting fires isn't that important, though it does hinder some enemies from getting close. Still, from my experience it's not that necessary to light everything, unless you're in The Gutter.
Related: Dark Souls II Review
Unlimited Souls (Exploit)
Find a corpse with an item or souls, and grab the loot. Now make a fatal leap off the nearest ledge. As soon as you die, quickly press the appropriate button to bring up the option to quit your game. When you restart, you will be at the last bonfire with whatever you picked up from the body now located within your inventory. If you go find the body, the item should also be waiting on the body, allowing you to pick it up again and repeat the process as often as desired.
Change Character Gender
Right after Things Betwixt, in the game's first area, you should notice a small beach with two ogres. Behind those ogres, you'll see a partially opened coffin. If you hop into the coffin, you can switch your character's gender. The coffin apparently does not serve any other purpose.
Secret Use for the Petrified Something
The Petrified Something is an optional starting item Gift in Dark Souls 2. Available during Character Creation, the item has no apparent purpose. However, when placed in the bird's nest in the game's very first area, Things Betwixt, the Petrified Something may be exchanged a random item, from a near-useless Old Whip to the extremely precious Twinkling Titanite, an item which allows players to upgrade equipment otherwise resistant to improvement.
False Wall in No-Man's Wharf
Near the far edge of No-Man's Wharf is a small room full of jars containing poison. Two guards sleep at the table. The wall behind them is false and can be blown out with a spell. Hidden behind are a number of Souls and the useful Royal Soldiers Ring.
More Difficult Gameplay with the Company of Champions
Just behind the village in Majula is the Victors Stone, a shrine to the Company of Champions. Joining this Covenant significantly increases the difficulty of Dark Souls 2, a fact not made crystal clear in the process of joining the cult. If you want to increase the challenge, (and potential rewards) of Dark Souls 2, join this company.
|The Dark Soul||Earn all achievements|
|Self Recollection||Reclaim flesh and set out as an Undead|
|Supreme Weapon||Reinforce a weapon to its limit|
|Gesture Maestro||Learn all gestures|
|Master of Sorcery||Learn all sorceries|
|Master of Miracles||Learn all miracles|
|Master of Pyromancy||Learn all pyromancies|
|Master of Hexes||Learn all hexes|
|Selfless Giver||Max-out devotion to covenant|
|This is Dark Souls||Die for the first time|
|King's Ring||Acquire the King's Ring|
|Ancient Dragon||Acquire Ashen Mist Heart|
|The Heir||See the ending|
|Last Giant||Defeat the Last Giant|
|Sinner's Bonfire||Light the primal bonfire in Sinner's Rise|
|Iron Keep Bonfire||Light the primal bonfire in the Iron Keep|
|Gulch Bonfire||Light the primal bonfire in the Black Gulch|
|Brightstone Bonfire||Light the primal bonfire in Brightstone Cove Tseldora|
|Giant Lord||Defeat Looking Glass Knight|
|Brilliant Covenant||Discover a most brilliant covenant|
|Protector Covenant||Discover the covenant of the protectors|
|Sanguinary Covenant||Discover the covenant of the bloodthirsty|
|Covenant of the Meek||Discover the covenant of the meek|
|Gnawing Covenant||Discover the covenant of rodents|
|Clangorous Covenant||Discover the clangorous covenant|
|Covenant of Ancients||Discover an ancient covenant|
|Covenant of the Fittest||Discover the covenant of the fittest|
|Abysmal Covenant||Discovery the abysmal covenant|
|Curious Map||Light all flames on the map in Majula|
|Change of Clothes||Give Rosabeth of Melfia something to wear|
|Gathering of Exiles||Increase the population of Majula|
|Moonlight Greatsword||Inherit Benhart of Jugo's equipment|
|Holder of the Fort||Inherit Captain Drummond's equipment|
|Lucatiel||Inherit equipment from Lucatiel of Mirrah|
|Smith for Life||Inherit Steady Hand McDuff's equipment|
|Garrulous Miser||Inherit Laddersmith Gilligan's equipment|
|Reflections of Disembodiment||Inherit equipment from the head of Vengarl|