Yeah, I'm going to hold off on the ascetics for now - at least until NG+ probably.
So, I was looking at the covenant rewards on the wiki, and some have ridiculous requirements - and the "prizes" from leveling up are needed for some trophies (the spells and miracles ones, mostly). So it looks like they made this game much, much harder than Dark Souls to platinum (which I did). And that game wasn't a walk in the park either. In Dark Souls a few covenant rewards were required, but, for example, if you didn't want to do PvP, you could farm the rewards from the covenant off of certain mobs and turn them in for the covenant.
On the Wiki I'm only seeing mob drops for the Sun medals. Those I can actually get the normal way. Maybe people just haven't discovered them yet (there are lots of blank pages on the Wiki), but I'm hoping there are farmable items for all the PvP covenants, at least. Of course the limited respawns makes that much harder to do. I remember one item in particular you had to farm in that dream world place in Dark Souls and it took me a long time to get what I needed. Bonfire ascetics may become a necessity at that point.
Judging by how everything is structured I would imagine the Bonfire Ascetics would indeed be a necessity especially if looking to 100% the game.
I would be extremely surprised if you could somehow do it without every burning one.
Once you level up more though I am sure it wont be as bad.
So, now that we all have had about a week with the game we should post our gear and stuff that we are using. I am curious to see the builds everyone has.
I have basically all my points in Vitality, Strength and Dexterity and am sitting at SL 120
My armor is Vengarl's entire set except for the gloves which are the Drangleic ones. The chest and helmet are leveled to +2 I believe and that is about it.
I primarily use my Compound Bow +8 and the Heilde Sword +8. If I decide to equip a shield it is usually the one from the black armor pack with all of the chains and stuff haha completely forgot the name. I can't recall the rings I use at the moment but basically anything to increase stamina, life and equipment burden.
I try and get a few quick shots in with my bow and then rush in to finish most enemies off with my sword.
I originally wanted to play as an Ultra Greatsword user but decided to play through at least one time to figure out what I would even want my equipment to be and what not and see the different weapons and armors available.
Also, I saw in the loading screen a shield that seemed similar to the Grass Crest Shield, one that increases stamina recovery. Has anyone found such a shield yet? I would really like to have that!