Elden Ring

Look, I am no Souls veteran or masterful combat tactician. I, like many of you, cowered in fear for most of the opening hours of my time with Elden Ring. I moved slowly and methodically, afraid of the boogie man I was told was lurking around every corner. The mere thought of facing a regular grunt, let alone a towering boss, was enough to send me shaking in my boots all the way back to the nursery. ‘Cause I’m a baby, apparently. 

But I started to get my bearings in Elden Ring — especially once I unlocked my steed and access to the Roundtable Hold, both of which I feel I gained access to sooner than most other people I’ve talked to — and I was off to the races. Sure, I was still getting sliced and diced and one- or two-shotted most of the places I went, but instead of simply making a beeline to Stormveil Castle, I decided: “You know what? If I can’t succeed in mastering the combat of this game, I should at least explore and take in as much of the world as I can to justify having paid full price.” For the most part, I was fine with that. 

So I avoided the beaten path, and through a combination of stealth, running like hell, fast-traveling, and being teleported to other areas of the map via traps and portals, I unlocked Site of Grace after Site of Grace, and eventually map fragment after map fragment. Along the way, I collected a metric ton of runes through astute and disciplined farming rounds, careful not to lose those precious runes. (I admit that at one point, I was running around with several tens of thousands, much to the nervous chagrin of Half-Glass Gaming’s owner Josh, because I hadn’t even figured out the leveling system yet.)

Elden Ring

I also picked up a fair amount of items: a handful of weapons, a decent chestpiece, some Ashes of War, and a few spells, all the while slowly leveling (once I got my bearings in the Souls-style leveling system) and building up my character. At some point in this process, I discovered magic, and thus forewent my shield to become a one-hand-sword-swinger and other-hand-magic-caster. 

After about 20 or so hours of gaining levels, improving all of the pertinent stats to my class build, and upgrading my sword, shield, and Ashes, I realized I was able to quickly dispatch most of the grunts in Limgrave. And once my confidence was swelling, I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could take on Elden Ring and all it had to throw at me. I was still getting chopped to pieces, mind you, but even in those deaths I could see my mistakes, and when I returned to rectify, I wrecked shop instead.

Now, in full transparency, I was reading countless guides and tips, messaging with both Josh and my buddy Daniel at all hours of the night. I farmed runes and made a point of seeking out and acquiring more powerful gear. But every rune I farmed and piece of gear I obtained just existed in this game world, ripe for the picking if you knew where to pick.

So maybe I didn’t git gud in the traditional sense. But FromSoftware included these options for those who want to use them, and I took full advantage of their generosity. (Okay, so one farming method might be classified as an exploit, depending on who you ask.)

Elden Ring

And even though I was only at level 50 — which, I should point out, is definitely higher than necessary to take on the likes of Margit the Fell Omen or Godrick the Grafted — I was able to dispatch those fools in my first attempt at both. I think it took me all of maybe an hour to make my way through Stormveil, even though it seems like I missed some pretty huge chunks of the dungeon and at least one optional boss fight.

If you would’ve asked me in the past if games like this should offer an easy mode, even without having played them, I probably would’ve said “Yes.” I mean, why not? It doesn’t take away from the enjoyment or accomplishment of those that balk at the idea of an easy mode, while also extending an olive branch to newcomers or folks who might have disabilities that prohibit them from performing to the level these games often demand. And maybe in those cases, adding an easy mode is still valid.

And if you would’ve asked me if Elden Ring specifically should have an easy mode, at the beginning of my playthrough I would’ve said, “Absolutely yes.” I mean, I was having a blast exploring this world and not so much fun getting kicked around in a matter of a seconds. But once I started to engage with the world of Elden Ring on the terms it set forth, the game naturally just got easier. It’s a novel concept, I know.

Elden Ring - Novel Concept

And yes, it did take roughly 20 hours to get to the point where I felt the game was loosening its stranglehold on me — at least enough for me to breathe a bit more comfortably. It took a while to build up my arsenal and also my understanding of how the systems worked (like which stats affected my damage output and what does what to make such and such thing a viable option).

Basically, once I found my stride and learned the language of Elden Ring, I was better able to bend the game to my whims. And all this happened while I was spending hours simply exploring and enjoying the Land Between, without spending hours at a time banging my head against the wall in an attempt to git gud.

The gud I got was actually good gear. And now I am the one telling the game to git gud, because I’m coming for it. To quote Raphael in The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, “I mean c’mon, how do you guys expect to beat me?”

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