Elden Ring

It should go without saying that Elden Ring is not an easy game. It’s not even a moderately challenging game. No, Elden Ring, as one might expect given that this is a From Software title, is very much a highly challenging experience. The cool thing is that if you want to play the game with friends, you absolutely can. But, oddly, even accessing co-op play in Elden Ring drops a tough roadblock in front of you — a roadblock that takes some getting used to.

I’ve played a few Soulslikes, but this is only my second time diving into co-op with this type of game — the first being Nioh 2. Based on what a couple friends have told me, accessing co-op play in Elden Ring is a godsend compared to the Dark Souls series. Yeah, well, whatever, I didn’t play those games, so I wouldn’t know. All I know is that the co-op in Elden Ring isn’t as simple as dropping in and out at a moment’s notice.

You see, if you want to play Elden Ring online with a buddy, you each have to use, or consume, a unique item. One player will use the awkwardly named Tarnished’s Furled Finger, while the other has to use the Furlcalling Finger Remedy. The latter, by the way, needs to be crafted using items found around the game world. You can receive the item when you beat certain enemies, such as invading players or predetermined A.I.-controlled invaders, as well.

Truthfully, it’s a little odd (and kind of annoying) that you need to craft or find an item to be able to play with a friend. That’s essentially — and pardon the obvious hyperbole here — a few steps removed from actually programming the functionality into the game itself. Except, at least if you did that, you’d only have to do it once and said functionality would stay in the game forever. Instead, you need to consume these items… Every. Single. Time.

Elden Ring Giant Hand
This game loves fingers.

For the uninitiated, this is how it basically works… I think*: If, for example, you want to join my game (where I’m the host), you have to use Tarnished’s Furled Finger, which has unlimited uses. On my end, I need to use the Furlcalling Finger Remedy, which is limited, but technically easy to stockpile. After we do that, a glowing symbol will appear in my world, in the same spot you dropped it in yours. I can then interact with the glowing sign and summon you into my world, where you’ll appear as a copper-colored ethereal being.

*I still get confused sometimes as to who’s supposed to drop the Finger and who’s supposed to drop the Remedy.

If you want to go back to your world, you can either have an enemy kill you or jump off a cliff, which is fine as you’ll carry over any earned runes to your game. (That’s actually kind of nice!) Alternatively, we can use another item, the Finger Severer, to send you packing.

It would be great — or at least slightly adequate — if those were the only items you needed to worry about when attempting to play co-op in Elden Ring. But alas, no, there’s more, because otherwise it would be too easy, right?

Some areas, like caves or pre-boss rooms, require a different item, but only if you want random players to join your game. This is made evident by a small statue that resembles a wishbone. These are called Summoning Pools. Randoms can use an item called the Small Golden Effigy to join other people’s games and help them defeat bosses or clear especially tough indoor areas. Like the Finger, it’s reusable, which again, is nice, but also begs the question: Why?

Oh, and that’s not all. Because, as we’ve already established, that would be too easy. If we want to play together, we’ll both need to use the same multiplayer password. Otherwise, any number of fools could join my game (I don’t want that), or you could be summoned to anyone’s game* (maybe you don’t want that, or maybe you do?)

*Again, I think this is how it works. I’m about 78 percent certain.

If we clear out a cave, defeat a boss, or kill a dragon, he’ll only be dead in the world of the player who used the Furlcalling Finger Remedy. That means, if all you did was a drop a Finger, you’ll return to your world with these bosses intact. That may seem annoying at first, but you should definitely make the most of it, summon your friend into your world, beat the boss or dragon all over again, and get more runes for your troubles.

Elden Ring Boss Battle
The boss of one thousand fingers.

Being able to earn runes in other players’ games is definitely nice, especially later on when leveling up requires some serious rune hoarding. So yeah, while boss progress may not carry over, it’s not that big of a deal when you consider that it allows you to earn some serious runes and makes it easier to make your character stronger.

Again, once you get the hang of it, jumping through some very specific hoops just to access co-op play in Elden Ring becomes much more doable. And sure, the Soulsbourne fans may have spoken and praised the heck out of this method of accessing co-op compared to past From Software titles, but it still doesn’t beat a simple menu option.

With all of that said, I guess I should be grateful for Elden Ring’s convoluted co-op requirements, because they made me finally get over one of my bad gaming habits. That’s right, baby, we’re finally getting to the point of this article after nearly 1,000 words.

We all have some gaming pet peeves and bad habits. For me, it had to do with co-op-ing a story-based game. Oh, if there’s a co-op component, sure, I’ll play the game with a friend… in a separate save file. That way, I get to experience the nuances of the story in full. With games like this, I usually like to be able to stop and smell the roses and take in everything the world has to offer.

Elden Ring? Yeah, not so much. Partially because the story is just whatevs. But also because I invested so much mental power in just learning how to jump into a friend’s game, and then learning how to get a friend to join my game… and then learning the differences between fingers and wishbones and remedies.

Stone Cold Furled Finger
Stone Cold has a Furled Finger for ya.

In a weird way, Elden Ring released me from this prison where I couldn’t enjoy the same save file of a game for both my solo playthrough and my cooperative playthrough. I hated having to do that initially, but I couldn’t not do it after finally getting it.

Now, realistically because I kind of had to work for it, I can accept that splitting the same Elden Ring save for a solo and co-op playthrough is just fine. I still get to experience a lot of the same wonders. And if I feel rushed, I can always revisit a certain area and just grab some extra runes.

So thank you, Elden Ring, for making a co-op component that’s so complicated that it made me say, “Screw it, one save it is!”

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x