It feels like just yesterday FromSoftware fans were worried they were going to die before Elden Ring arrived, and now we’re an entire month removed from its launch. In that time, dedicated players have eagerly explored every inch of this massive game, resulting in a lot of great coverage here on Kotaku dot com.
If you somehow missed out, here’s a quick roundup of everything Elden Ring-related we’ve reported on over the last few weeks.
- Elden Ring received rave reviews, with many critics praising developer FromSoftware’s shift to a true open-world format (even if this also made the tutorial easy to miss). Steam users felt similarly, though with some complaints about how the game ran on even the most powerful PCs. My review — objectively the best around, if only because my editors didn’t force me to somehow fit 100 hours of game time into a few days — dropped last week. Simply put, Elden Ring is one of the best games of 2022.
- We quickly learned that Elden Ring was pure FromSoftware bullshit when the intro leaked a few days before the official release. It’s fun looking back and remembering trying to make sense of all the proper nouns the cinematic introduced to a then-ignorant fanbase. I specifically recall wondering what it would take to kill a guy named Dung Eater, who sadly doesn’t live up to the absurdity of his name in the full game.
- I was pretty excited to learn that Patches exists in Elden Ring, and as such made his past in Armoured Core, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne one of the first things I wrote about the game. We got code much later than most sites, so the footage we used was made possible by one of the several players uploading early footage. Upon finding him in Elden Ring myself, I was happy to see Patches utilised in much different ways than his previous appearances while still being the same ol’ jerk.
- It’s possible to get poisoned in Elden Ring within the first couple of minutes. Souls series director Hidetaka Miyazaki previously extolled his love for toxic swamps, but I was still surprised at how quickly I was able to find some gross terrain that made my character sick. No one has beaten my speedrun world record yet, by the way.
- Scouting out poison aside, my first big challenge in Elden Ring came in the form of a rickety bridge. FromSoftware is known for messing with players’ heads, leading them into traps that can kill them in one shot, and I was sure this bridge in the opening area was going to be a big “fuck you” from the developers. I ended up being wrong, but you can’t blame me for being a little hesitant.
- The guy who referred to Elden Ring players as “maidenless” and told them to “die in a ditch somewhere” in the closed network test was noticeably chilled out for the official release. His name is Varré and I didn’t see him for the rest of my time with the game until I looked up info on his questline and sought him out on purpose. Even with a more pleasant disposition, however, Varré is still pretty lame. Don’t be like Varré.
- Elden Ring’s early-game bridge may not have messed me up, but this random chest sure did. I documented my experience being warped to a high-level area of the Lands Between, woefully unprepared and unable to teleport to safety. It was terrifying but definitely got me ready for the challenges that lurked further into the game.
- Elden Ring arrived on February 25 with release day numbers that eclipsed its Souls predecessors. At one point, it had over 760,000 concurrent players on Steam and a peak viewership totaling over 910,000 watched other people play on Twitch. To say folks were looking forward to Elden Ring would be a massive understatement.
- Releasing a massive, new video game is hard, especially in the era of covid-19, and Elden Ring had its fair share of issues on and around launch day. Bandai Namco, who published the FromSoftware game in North America, warned players on PlayStation 5 that using the console’s rest mode while playing Elden Ring might interfere with the built-in auto-save system and result in lost progress. Over on Xbox, players were unable to go online due to network issues, which limited the draw of Elden Ring’s asynchronous multiplayer. Both issues were eventually fixed, but they certainly caused some friction for fans eager to hop in and play.
- Fortunately, the only issue I had with Elden Ring early on was figuring out the best way to cheese troublesome enemies. Elden Ring, like its Souls predecessors, rewards players for developing tactics that involve as little combat as possible, encouraging forward-thinking Tarnished to turn frustration with difficult foes into cheap strategies. I did so here and several more times during my time with the game and continue to feel zero shame.
- Still wondering what that little red box under your health means? Well, you shouldn’t have hugged Fia, otherwise known as the Deathbed Companion, in the Roundtable Hold. It may have been nice to experience some small amount of warmth in the often-unforgiving Elden Ring grind, but she also infects you with a status effect that reduces your maximum health points. Tough break! (Pssst, just use the Baldechin’s Blessing in your inventory to remove the taint of Fia’s influence. You’re welcome.)
- Elden Ring’s player messages are a welcome sight as you travel the Lands Between, especially the dirty ones. What can I say? I’m a child who thinks “finger but hole” is the height of comedy, and I keep finding new things that make me laugh as I play more of the game. Souls players know how to make the best out of a bad situation, or in this case, a Mad Libs-style messaging system. They’ve even pointed me towards some really cool glitches.
I found it, the Elden Ring with the “good UX” pic.twitter.com/MBEbLPIonx
— Alex (@alexdnz) March 6, 2022
- A few days after Elden Ring’s release, developers from other studios began to criticise its minimal HUD and lack of a (non-mod) pause option, two long-standing traditions of the Souls pseudo-genre. This led fans to mock up Elden Ring screenshots imagining how the game would look had a studio like Ubisoft developed it instead, essentially filling the screen with a bunch of tutorials and button prompts. Needless to say, it wasn’t good.
- Someone eventually discovered that you can pause Elden Ring with some finessing. All you need to do is go into your inventory and ask the game for a brief tutorial on how to use the menus. It’s not the easiest thing to do in the heat of battle, but I’ve used it fairly often when I’m deep into dungeons and worried about being ambushed while my attention is drawn to real-world concerns.
- It didn’t take long for Elden Ring players to start digging into its code. Like, remember those mysterious colosseums scattered throughout the Lands Between with no visible way to get into them? Hacking into those areas shows them to be potential arenas for player-versus-player competition, similar to the Undead Match option added to Dark Souls III with the Ashes of Ariandel expansion. Could this be upcoming DLC for Elden Ring? We’ll just have to wait and see.
- Elden Ring wasn’t difficult enough for some people, leading to the creation of a “hard mode” mod, a dedicated speedrunning community, and a very stylish video of first major boss Godrick the Grafted getting his arse handed to him. One player even beat Elden Ring without dying just a couple weeks after its release, while another made a controller out of bananas and used it to kill dragons. Why? Who cares! Banana controller, baby.
- Speaking of Elden Ring speedrunning, a skilled Souls player known as Distortion2 repeatedly lowered his own world records over the last month. He is currently able to reach the game’s credits in less than 20 minutes using some really wild teleporting glitches and, of course, a very overpowered weapon skill.
- Elden Ring glitches weren’t just confined to some wacky geometry. It was soon found out that the same “death cam” glitch prevalent in previous Souls games was also possible in Elden Ring, not to mention a way to fly with your horse, an exploit that locked players in an endless death loop, a bug that makes a certain skill invisible to opponents online, and dogs that can kill you in less than a second. Some of these have been fixed but many remain, for better or worse.
- I took some time to gush about Starscourge Radahn after finally reaching his iconic boss fight. The big boy is probably my favourite character in Elden Ring thanks to this fantastic lore. He learned gravity magic so he could keep riding his relatively tiny horse (whose name is Leonard, by the way) but now uses it to hold the entire galaxy in a state of stasis. Radahn rules.
- Elden Ring’s item variety and unique multiplayer ecosystem lend themselves well to fostering odd online encounters. We’ve seen one player pretend to be an NPC to trick a would-be invader, while others created builds based on blowing themselves up to score kills. Some competitors became rolling balls of death. One player even stumbled upon a creepy scenario that saw them accosted by similarly dressed weirdos wielding giant fingers. You never know what you’re going to see when you head online.
- Despite being Elden Ring’s starting area, Limgrave is home to some total jerks. As noted in the above video, you can expect to be killed by giant crabs, mounted warriors, and stone-skinned imps in the early hours of the game, and things only get worse from there. But don’t give up, skeleton, lots to see in Elden Ring, much of it beautiful and fascinating.
- Elden Ring received its first major patch on March 17. The update fixed several bugs, balanced the immense item and skill pools, and added new content that apparently just missed the release date. Many of the arguably overpowered tactics that carried players through the game previously were also addressed, weakening the power of the Mimic Tear summon as well as skills like Hoarfrost Stomp along with weapons like the Sword of Night and Flame.
- Mane Quest, a blog dedicated to horses in video games, reviewed Elden Ring’s mount. Torrent apparently moves more like a goat than a horse, but that didn’t keep Mane Quest’s Alice Ruppert from enjoying her time with the game. Read the full text of her delightful review here.
- Prolific modder Garden of Eyes created a tool to watch Elden Ring’s bosses fight each other. The resulting battles aren’t always the most beautiful thing in the world, but it’s neat to see how differently the AI reacts to another AI rather than the decisions of a player.
- FromSoftware and Bandai Namco aren’t the only studios that worked on Elden Ring. At some point, Valve got involved as well, at least where its new Steam Deck handheld is concerned. According to coder Pierre-Loup Griffais, the graphics team at Valve worked hard to ensure the massive FromSoftware game (which, as we mentioned previously, is pretty rough on PC) was optimised for Steam Deck. The idea of a portable Elden Ring is enough to make my heart skip.
- Not content with just beating the crap out of Elden Ring bosses, one player made it their mission to kill bosses with as little effort as possible. This mostly involved levelling up the game’s Spirit Ash summons and letting them go to town. And while it may not sound very impressive on paper, the sight of someone dozing off while a group of ghosts take down a difficult enemy ends up being pretty hilarious.
- If getting a sexually transmitted disease from Fia wasn’t enough, you can also hack Elden Ring to wear her underwear. This content was cut from the game before its release for unknown reasons but still exists in the code. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.
- The biggest story to come out of Elden Ring is the saga of the wall that can only be broken after hitting it multiple times. Like previous Souls games, Elden Ring has several illusory walls that disappear after hitting or rolling through them, but here was a hidden passageway that didn’t conform to the norm. Suddenly, it felt like every misleading message about a secret door was actually true. Players freaked out. Would they have to go back through the game, hitting every wall repeatedly in the off chance it opened to reveal some secret? Well, no, probably not. The best explanation is that this barrier was meant to be destroyed by the game’s script at some point and players being able to destroy it themselves is only possible thanks to an odd glitch or bug in the code.
- Among its various characters, no Elden Ring figure has attracted quite so much love as the Turtle Pope, but that hasn’t stopped folks from killing him. Miriel is a mid-game NPC that sells incantations and, more importantly, offers the Tarnished forgiveness for their misdeeds (i.e. attacking other NPCs). Some players, however, can’t help but snuff out his glorious light. I will never get Miriel’s death gurgle out of my head.
- George R. R. Martin found time while writing his next, much-anticipated A Song of Ice and Fire book to comment on his contributions to Elden Ring’s lore, specifically the theory that he hid his initials throughout the game. “Why would I have to hide my name inside the game?” Martin wrote. “My name is right there ON the game, as one of the creators. Hey, Elden Ring is exciting enough, no need to make up stuff.”
- Elden Ring’s summoning mechanic is cool as it is, but what if you could summon one of the giant Walking Mausoleums to do your bidding? A third-party dev by the name of King Bore is creating a mod that will let players make allies out of some of the more massive creatures in the game, including those anger-inducing, one-shotting chariots.
- I can kill Elden Ring’s eldritch horrors with so much as breaking a sweat, but the wildlife is a whole other story. There’s just something about the game’s bears, wolves, birds, and dogs that turns me into a button-mashing idiot.
- Other mods released since Elden Ring launched include a variety of character model replacements. If you ever wanted to see Shrek fight Homer Simpson, this nightmarish video is just for you.
- Do you have one Elden Ring spirit you stick with for just about every battle? Kotaku writer Jeremy Winslow feels that way about the wolf pack summon, which gives you a trio of deadly canines to help during particularly difficult encounters. “It’s just a bummer you can’t pet them or teach them tricks,” Winslow wrote. “Then again, they are ghosts. I guess interacting with them would be impossible, but maybe there’s an in-game item for that.”
- Jeremy also put together a thorough breakdown of Elden Ring’s Moonveil Katana. While the sword works well in single player, it apparently shines in multiplayer, giving competitive Tarnished the edge they need to banish online foes. This has led the Elden Ring community to divide into two camps: those who love the Moonveil Katana and those who despise it. Which side are you on?
- Ever wish Elden Ring’s messaging system was used in other games? Well, look no further than this ambitious Fallout: New Vegas mod, which gives PC players the ability to leave behind brief notes for fellow Couriers as they explore the post-apocalyptic Mojave Desert. Sure, it’ll mostly be used to get players to jump into bottomless pits, but I’m sure someone out there is dedicated to placing warnings about “liars ahead” as well.
- And finally, we have this examination of an unassuming NPC named Gostoc the Gatekeeper. At first, Gostoc seems like a friend — or at least, as close to a friend as someone in Elden Ring can be — warning you away from entering the heavily guarded main gate of Stormveil Castle. But Gostoc is a treacherous one. He apparently follows you throughout your time in the stronghold, stealing 30% of your runes every time you die. Gostoc’s even responsible for locking you in the dark room with the armoured soldier and running away laughing. What a jerk!
As you can see, Kotaku’s been hard at work covering not only the ins and outs of Elden Ring itself but also the cool things players are doing as a community. Much of the charm of Souls games comes from collaborative discovery, and Elden Ring is hiding its fair share of secrets. I’m sure we haven’t even scratched the surface of all the information there is to glean about the Lands Between, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else folks are able to shake out of this massive game in the coming weeks, months, and years.
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