First playthrough, I soloed it. I've sort of soloed it on NG+; I had to summon for the Sinner, those pyro enemies coming in mid battle were a bitch (pre-patch). For bosses I'd already done in NG+ or higher through ascetics my first playthrough, I summoned just to Sun Bro it out.
Has anyone brought up the primeval bonfires? Is there anything in the game that directly indicates what there role is in the world, something I missed?
They do take you right back to the Far Fire once you light them. It could just be an easy mechanic for going back to the hub with that area of the game complete, or does that indicate a connection between them all?
I'm just going to throw this out there to either be torn down or be supported, but could the primeval bonfires, the Far Fire, the Throne of Want, whatever the other flames on the map represent... Could ALL of that, in combination as some kind of network, make up the Kiln of the First Flame? And the Throne is the final catalyst to determine whether it becomes fully lit or either stops at that point or all gets snuffed out? For that to work, the primeval ones would have to be fragments or offshoots of the First Flame or something, although they're whole yet broken bonfires so it might fall apart there.
If that's viable at all, then you could argue that all of Drangleic itself is the Kiln. The entire basis of the kingdom is to act as the Kiln.
High strength, dexterity and endurance to use the tankiest weapons and armor; by the time I left the first playthrough I was rocking a fully upgraded mastodon halberd, grym shield and nearly fully upgraded smelter demon set at <70% equip load.
Buuuuuuut half the time I just plunked at enemies with a bow, by the end of the game the dragonrider bow. Fully upgraded and rocking magic, lightning and dark arrows to cheaply take out enemies at range with authority!
I pumped all my ascetics into dragon aerie to farm shards and the Rotten and Iron King bosses to farm souls.
Not knowing that it all carries through and adds a tick in NG+, but I got them all pretty high already. I got the Aerie up to 8 or 9, Iron King to maybe 4 and the Rotten to 10 so I don't think I'm screwing myself much there.
But does any difficulty/soul drop increase cap out when you reach 10 intensity, because it seemed like I didn't get any extra souls from The Rotten when I went from 9 to 10.
I managed to beat the whole game without summoning anyone, but I did lay some summon signs down for a couple bosses: the ruin sentinels, because they were such a bitch and were right there with the rat bosses as the most troublesome for me so I felt like I was getting revenge on them by helping others, and the iron keep boss because I wanted to grind some souls.
With the changes they made to summoning from DS1 to DS2, it's not nearly as much of an easy mode as the first game and shouldn't be looked down upon as much; a little less than half the time I got summoned, we ended up failing. Now I actually feel bad when I pass on Sun Bro signs since I'm denying them a chance at earning sunlight medals.