What is PvP?
PvP stands for Player Versus Player, as distinct from PvE or Player Versus Environment; that is, normal, storyline play against the AI.
PvP is accomplished by using one of several online-only items to "invade" another player's world, or to lay down a challenge which another player can either accept or ignore. The specifics of the various methods of initiating PvP are detailed below.
What happens in PvP?
Two or more players fight to the death. The winner receives different rewards depending on their method of invasion. These rewards are gifted to the winner by the game, and are not removed from the defeated player's inventory.
The defeated player is usually sent to the last Bonfire they used. The host will have to reclaim lost souls from their bloodstain as usual, as a host dying in PvP is the treated the same as any other death. Depending on the type of invasion or summon made for PvP, the invader will either lose nothing, or have to reclaim a bloodstain as well.
During an invasion, the area is locked; the host cannot exit the area, though they may still initiate a boss fight by passing through a boss' fog gate, which will immediately send the invader home. If two opposing hostile phantoms invade the same world and one kills the other, the winner will obtain souls but their ultimate goal remains unfinished; killing the host.
How Do I Invade or Get Summoned?
In the early-game, the player can find access to some Cracked Red Eye Orbs, which are used to invade but consumed upon use. They do not require being a member of any specific covenant. Another item that works without belonging to a covenant is the Red Sign Soapstone, though it is only made available mid-game. As the player progresses, more options for PvP open up as more covenants are encountered.
There are multiple ways to PvP, depending on which covenant you join.
- The Blue Sentinels covenant allows you to be summoned to assist members of the Way of Blue covenant, when a hostile invader enters their world. Equipping the Guardian's Seal ring will automatically summon you when the right circumstance occurs. Additionally, Blue Sentinels can also invade players who have Sin by using Cracked Blue Eye Orbs, or use a dedicated arena to battle other covenant members in duels.
- The Brotherhood of Blood allows you to duel other members of the covenant in a dedicated arena. Victors are rewarded with a Cracked Red Eye Orb, which can then be used to conduct standard invasions. The covenant leader also sells the Red Sign Soapstone, and an infinite supply of of Cracked Red Eye Orbs in NG+.
- Bell Keepers conduct area-specific invasions in the Belfry Luna and Belfry Sol. Equipping the Bell Keeper's Seal ring summons you automatically as other players trespass upon the area.
- Rat King Covenant members conduct area-specific PvP in the Grave of Saints and Doors of Pharros. Instead of invading like the Bell Keepers though, you act as a host and other players trespassing the same area are unwittingly pulled into your world as a hostile phantom. Even as a host, the area enemies are on you side and act as enemies to the summoned player.
- Members of the Dragon Remnants covenant use a Dragon Eye to lay down a summon sign, just like the Red Sign Soapstone. Hosts who see your sign can interact with it to summon you, making it a consensual type of PvP.
Where Can I Invade? Is it Working?
- Items like the Cracked Red and Cracked Blue Eye Orbs can invade players in any area where the item is usable and not "greyed out" in the HUD. The red orbs will attempt to invade a player in that area only, while the blue orbs will give priority to that area but allow invasions in other areas as well. The player will spawn at one of several randomized locations in a level. Make sure the conditions to use the items in the first place are also being met.
- PvP rings like the Bell Keeper's Seal, Guardian's Seal and the Crest of the Rat will cause the player's Covenant Icon (to the left of the health bar) to glow if it is actively searching for connections. If it isn't glowing, make sure the specific conditions for use are being met.
- Items like the Red Sign Soapstone and Dragon Eye can also be used in any area where co-op or PvP is possible. The Red Sign Soapstone's sign will spawn you it at a nearby spawn location when summoned, while the Dragon Eye sign will cause the player to spawn exactly where the sign was dropped.
- The Brotherhood of Blood covenant allows for infinite dueling of fellow covenant members by resting at one of three statues that are nearby Titchy Gren. There is no cost to participate in these duels.
- The Blue Sentinels covenant also allows for dueling of fellow covenant members through statues (near "The Blue Cathedral" bonfire). However, each duel costs one Token of Fidelity, which is obtained through helping another player in co-op.
- Consult the "Covenant PvP" list above for links to the various covenants and invasion items for more information on rewards.
- Souls awarded to the victor in PvP are a fixed amount based on the opponent's level and the connection type. Consult the PvP Soul Value page for more information, as well as a way to tell players' levels based on the amount of souls dropped.
- A victory that results in a player being sent back to their world causes HP, Estus, and Spell Casts to be refilled upon respawning.
Avoiding Unwanted PvP
Asides from the option of playing offline, there are a couple things that can be done to drastically reduce the chance of invasions.
- Selecting the option to burn a Human Effigy while resting at a bonfire will drop you towards the bottom of an invasion-priority list. Bear in mind that it also prevents co-op for the given area as well, though.
- While it is possible to be invaded while Hollow in Dark Souls 2, your chances are lower than that of a human player and invasions should not be frequent asides from in a few specific zones (the Bell Keepers areas).
Also consider joining the Way of Blue covenant. It's possible that you get a Blue Phanton to help you ward off an invader..
Setting up a Duel
Setting up PvP with a specific person can be difficult, due to the way the series was designed to primarily facilitate connections between strangers. You need to make sure you and your partner are within the appropriate Soul Memory range of each other.
- Methods where you connect by consensual summoning, as opposed to invading, are generally recommended. Using an item like the Red Sign Soapstone or Dragon Eye offers the chance for a host to summon a player based on their sign, which will display the player's name and confirm who they are beforehand. Otherwise, a random invasion or arena duel carries no guarantee that the invader will target their PvP partner.
- The player who wishes to be summoned should place their sign somewhere that is less likely to be found by other random players. Hiding your sign around a random corner or underneath breakable objects increases the chances that your PvP partner will be the only person to find your sign. Also the usage of the Name-engraved Ring hinders random people that isn't set to the god you choose, while it makes it easier and quicker to find the person you are looking for, as long as they are set to the same god.
Attempting to invade in almost any area with a Cracked Red Eye Orb is likely to yield positive results frequently, though there are various zones that become known as PvP hotspots. Currently the opening bridge in the Iron Keep, Heide's Tower of Flame, Forest of Fallen Giants and the second bonfire in Huntsman's Copse are popular PvP locations.
Many people finalize their builds in the 120 to 150 level range for routine PvP.
- Soul Level does not matter for PvP, only Soul Memory does. See PvP Soul Memory ranges here: Online Matchmaking
- Depleting an enemy's stamina while they are blocking will send them into a stun that allows you to riposte. Get close and use a light attack.
- If you are looking to apply Poison or Bleed debuffs on, its better to use fast attacking weapons rather than heavier weapons which are going to consume more stamina per strike. In addition, wearing the Crest of the Rat increases poison buildup bonus by 50 and wearing the Crest of Blood increases bleed bonus by 50.
- When fighting someone who is hiding behind a shied, instead of trying to drain their stamina with successive attacks to get them to drop their shield, you can shield bash by performing a guard break up close. This will throw them into a helpless state in which you can quickly riposte for massive damage. Be careful though, an experienced PvPer may likely suspect this and get a free hit on you.
- If you're feeling a bit reckless , try parrying. You may find it more effective and easier to parry those wielding large weapons as they can be easier to predict. It's also generally a good idea to start off by practicing parrying on weaker enemies (like Hollow Soldiers) if you're still new to it.
- Red Sign Soapstone generally offers fast PvP when placed near bonfires.
- A guide explaining some mechanics useful for both PvP and PvE. http://forums.demonssouls.info/viewtopic.php?f=91&t=19558