There were a few areas that were easily farmable with Bonfire Ascetics for materials. Dragon Shrine and one or two of the Sanctum areas.
In BoB every win is +1 towards your rank, every loss is -1 to your rank. Thus you must have a positive W/L ratio to rank up. The setback is brutal, and is basically why there is a lot of venom towards try hard arena noob setups that try to get easy wins through cheesy tactics.
To prevent enemies from despawning, you join the Covenant of Champions in Majula. Enemies can then be farmed indefinitely without bonfire ascetics.
The series comparison is made, as the spirit of the series is really at its 5th iteration with DeS, DS1, DS2, BB, DS3. They shouldn't be making backwards design decisions by the time of the 4th (BB), so I will complain
Soul Memory was bad for everyone, except people who understand how to abuse it (like me). It was intended to protect low level players from being invaded by twink players. However, the two terrible side effects were actually making it worse for unskilled players who lost or wasted a lot of souls on deaths or bad decisions, and ruining matching for end game players who didn't necessarily want to level up without end. It has been well established and well known that there's an end game meta level that people revolve around for co-op and pvp matchmaking. Agape ring kind of fixed this, but it was still a late and bitter solution.