Elden Ring is gigantic. The Lands Between is full of stuff to see, like cut content that reveals entire quest lines or some of the best drip around. Yet still, a vocal set of players can’t stop clamoring for a little bit of that delicious DLC. The subject of downloadable content regularly pops up in Elden Ring’s official subreddit, despite FromSoftware saying next to nothing about add-on content for its latest Souls-like. And now, one player who goes by JPNBusinessman has opted for a curious self-imposed challenge: beating Malenia, Blade of Miquella, every other day with a different build until Elden Ring DLC gets announced.
You might remember Malenia. She’s the redheaded goddess that’s both a major part of Elden Ring lore and the fancy of Let Me Solo Her, a legendary player who recently beat Malenia for the 1000th time. Fans love the Blade of Miquella. They’ve made fan art and fan fiction about her. (Of course, there’s porn.) They’ve debated whether she would win in fights against other FromSoft characters like Sekiro’s protagonist, the Wolf. There’s even some amazing Malenia cosplay out there that really captures her imposing elegance. With all the Malenia love going around, Redditor JPNBusinessman wanted to get in on it as well. So he devised a plan to fight her every other day, swapping out his build with something completely brand-new each time. It’s pretty wild stuff.
JPNBusinessman, a fifth-grade California teacher, has been fighting Malenia since April 25. But unlike LMSH, JPNB uses a totally new strat whenever he goes into the Elphael arena to battle against the Blade of Miquella. He posts about it on the game’s subreddit after each victory, sharing any relevant details (such as the build and inspiration) alongside a video receipt of the evidence.
There are a variety of builds JPNB has already tried. He’s made one centered around the dreaded Moonveil katana and another based on the most-forgotten-yet-still-loved Soldier of Godrick. He’s even requested suggestions for strategies to try when he runs outta ideas. JPNB told Kotaku that because Rennala Queen of the Full Moon is easy to get to after beating her, he’s quickly able to change out his gear, reassign his rune points, and reengage Malenia with a fresh new look. This allowed JPNB to discover some of his favourite weapons, as well as builds that just sucked.
“My favourite build would be my Sellen one because it challenged me to think outside the ‘nuke everything’ box spellcasters focus on,” JPNB said. “Instead, I focused on making use of the game’s tremendous spell diversity to pick out a spell for multiple situations. Least favourite build would probably be my first, which was a basic Rivers of Blood one. Back then, I couldn’t no-hit (kill Malenia without getting hit) without relying on Corpse Piler, the weapon skill that basically melts every enemy besides a few bleed-resistant ones.”
But it’s the source of the ideas that’s the most endearing part of his every-other-day bout with Malenia. Being a fifth-grade teacher, JPNB interacts with an assortment of kids on a daily basis, getting to know their habits and personalities in the classroom. It’s these students of his that serve as one of the inspirational wellsprings for his Elden Ring builds.
“In picking builds, I think about their personality and what kind of in-game character or archetype would match them,” JPNB said. “For example, I have a student who likes to deflect praise with sarcasm and keep friends at arm’s length. So I made a build where you parry Malenia with a large golden shield and use a heavy thrusting sword to poke her away from you. I have another idea based off of a student who, during group projects, does nothing and just orders kids around (they end up doing well though). It would be a build where you call up a bunch of summons and then hide in the corner while they fight Malenia for you. They don’t know I’m imagining them defeating a demigod.”
Ouch. Talk about being read for filth, but it’s all in good fun. JPNB said his students “probably would think it’s awesome and want to find out more about the game and what builds are based off of them.” But being a teacher can be demanding work and while he doesn’t give a lot of homework, he does give out tests very often. JPNB said he’s “caught myself grading in between deaths.”
It’s not just his students that have inspired him, either. JPNB credited both LMSH and Redditor Atijohn, who was fighting Sekiro’s final boss every day until Elden Ring dropped, as other inspiring figures for this challenge. He even emulated LMSH’s build with a single-sword twist, saying the goated player “helps balance out the toxicity that comes from the competitive part of Souls games.” He wouldn’t want to be LMSH, though, because what he does “takes double the amount of time” when compared to what JPNB’s attempting here.
So for now, he’ll just keep solo-ing Malenia until additional Elden Ring content is revealed. He’s already on his fourteenth day, with more build ideas in a spreadsheet he accesses on his commute to work. As far as DLC ideas go, he’d like the usual stuff: bosses, lore, weapons, those kinds of things. But on top of all that, there’s something more specific JPNB hopes FromSoft is working on.
“I think it’d be nice to have a lore-friendly co-op scenario that works seamlessly into the game,” JPNB said. “Something like a level that requires you to bring in a helper from online or an NPC if you’re playing offline. In general, the multiplayer experience could be a bit more seamless. I know modders are working on it, but FromSoft could do more work there, too.”
You and me both, JPNB.