If you're finding the challenge of Dark Souls 2 just a little too challenging, then you can always make use of the game's summoning system. Do so, and you'll be able to call on the help of a fellow adventurer to do battle against the worst of the world's creatures together. Likewise, if you're feeling charitable, you can make yourself available to help other players. Not only will you get a warm, fuzzy feeling for helping someone out of a hole, you'll also get some very tasty rewards for doing so.
How to summon players in Dark Souls 2
If you've really come a cropper, and you want to invite a random player into your world, then you just need to keep your eyes peeled for the markers that are left lying around the world. Note that you'll need to be in Human form to be able to see these signs.
As a general rule, you can expect to find these co-op markers just outside the misty gates that bosses lurk behind, or at bonfires. These latter markers tend to suggest the person who left the sign is interested in clearing out the entire area with you, rather than tackling a particular boss.
You're not just restricted to having a single assistant help you through a sticky patch either. You can summon a maximum of two additional players into your world, and while the bosses get a bit tougher for each additional player you summon, you should find that the additional damage or grouping capabilities afforded through co-op play more than compensate for a deeper health pool.
How to join a co-op game in Dark Souls 2
"If you're feeling philanthropic and want to help someone struggling with a section of the game, you're going to have to get your hands on something called a White Soapstone."
If you're feeling philanthropic and want to help someone struggling with a section of the game, you're going to have to get your hands on something called a White Soapstone. There are a couple of places where you can get hold of these items, but once you have one equipped you'll be able to lay down signs indicating your availability to help others.
The first of these stones can be found in Forest of Fallen Giants, and is given to you by a character called Pate. You can find him just beyond the ballista room, and once you've exhausted his dialogue options he'll open up a gate for you. Walk through it, follow the path, and then drop back down as soon as you're able to start chatting to him again. Just be aware that you'll have to deal with nearly a dozen enemies as you follow this path around.
Use the item in your inventory to lay your marker down wherever you want it to be and then wait to be summoned. When that happens, you'll be summoned into another world after a few minutes of waiting. Should you kill a boss while in your new-found Phantom form, you'll be rewarded with a large dollop of bonus souls, a Token of Fidelity which allows you to join the Blue Sentinels, and you'll also be returned to Human form when you return home.
The other method of making yourself available is to gain the alternative stone known as the Small White Soapstone. To get this item, you're first going to need to kill the Last Giant, and then make your way over to the Cardinal Tower bonfire in Forest of Fallen Giants. Go directly upstairs from the bonfire, and then use the key to open the door. Inside you'll find a chest which contains the item.
The sign this Soapstone produces is - as you'd expect - a little smaller than that produced by the Large variety, and you'll also be summoned only temporarily into a new player's world as something called a Shade. Defeat a boss in this form and you'll be rewarded with a Smooth and Silky Stone, have your souls replenished, and also be restored to Human form.
Those are the non-Covenant methods for assisting other players, then, but if you're really feeling generous of spirit, you could consider joining the Heirs to the Sun. Complete co-operative sessions while a member of this faction, and you'll be rewarded with Sunlight Medals. Bag enough of them and you'll be able to get some powerful armour from the Covenant quartermaster as your collection increases.
Dark Souls 2 co-op guide
Before talking about the basics of working together, it's important to make sure that you're ready to start fighting the moment you make yourself available for co-op. The person doing the summoning might have been invaded, for example, or they may have accidentally attracted the attention of a nearby monster or boss. Never assume that you'll have time to tinker around with equipment and inventories when you arrive in another game - always assume the worst.
Once you've found yourself teamed up with another player, you're going to need to find a way of communicating with each other. If you don't have the option to use voice-chat, it's pretty much essential that you master Dark Souls 2's gestures, and we've got a quick guide to unlocking every last one of them.
If you're relying on the rather limited gesture system for communication, it's also essential you keep an eye on each other's health while you're in the thick of battle. If your co-combatant is close to death, and you have any means whatsoever to dart in and grab the enemy's attention temporarily, it may just give them the precious opportunity they need to take a hit from their Estus Flask.