I talked about spoilers yesterday and today I want to talk about something similar–looking things up in a wiki. I tried to play the first Dark Souls by myself, but gave in roughly halfway into playing it, probably to find out where I needed to go next. The turning point was, as it often is, Ornstein and Smough. I could not beat them no matter how hard I tried.
So I looked up what I should do and followed the guidelines, such as making sure my weapon was upgraded as high as it could go. I was using the Furysword, so that took special upgrade material. I looked at what they were weak to and what tactics I should employ. I also found out that you could get the Rite of Kindling by beating Pinwheel in the Catacomb, which would give me 20 heals. So I left Anor Londo, went back to Firelink Shrine (all the way, painfully, down through Sen’s Fortress), and I made my way to Pinwheel.
It was painful getting to him. But Pinwheel himself is a cakewalk with buffed up Pyro. I made my way back to Anor Londo and kindled Solaire’s bonfire to 20 Estus Flasks. That helped a great deal in the fight, and I would never have figured it out on my own.
When I hit the DLC, I started using the wikis for everything because it was so fucking hard. Well, the Sanctuary Guardian wasn’t that hard, but everything after it was. The enemies smacked me like a Mack Truck, and every new area was grueling. The bosses were over-the-top hard, and I nearly lost my mind in Oolacile.
I start every game with the intention of not reading wikis, but something pushes me to it. In the third Dark Souls game, it was when I cured the Dark Sigil by having the Firekeeper take it from me. It was a new mechanic, so I had to try it, right? Well, that made Yuria mad at me and she disappeared from my playthrough forever. As I was doing a dark magic run, I was furious. I thought she was the vendor for dark magic, which, turned out not to be the case. She doesn’t sell anything fundamental and is only needed for one certain ending (my favorite ending).
Still. I was furious and I contemplated starting over. I didn’t want to do that, though, so I unhappily accepted my fate and went on with the game. It really soured my experience, even though I knew it was part of the FromSoft brand. Byzantine NPC questlines that can be easily fucked up, I mean. Of course, I bounced back and finished the playthrough (and dozens more), but it taught me that you can’t have a pure playthrough and do all the questlines at the same time.
Side Note: I recently watched RKG’s Retry series on Demon’s Souls, first ep. included above. I’m a Producer on their Patreon, so I got the whole thing at once. This is the reason I sub to them–their FromSoft content. I cannot wait for them to play Elden Ring, though I don’t know how they are going to handle it. I would love to see them co-op, all three of them. I think they only have two PS5s, though.
Anyway, the way it works is that Krupa plays the game ahead of time. He is the From fan, and he’s the lore master. He plans how Rory is going to play the game, and sometimes even has charts. With Demon’s Souls, he had to decide if he wanted to bother with the world tendency system, and decided he did, indeed, want to do it. So he had to tell Rory about it and why Rory had to kill himself in the Nexus after every boss fight to keep the worlds white.
As a viewer, I appreciate the attention to detail that Krupa does. The last From series was doing all the Chalice Dungeons in Bloodborne, and Krupa had quite the chart for that one. It was a TED Talk, basically. Even with all the set-up and the careful planning, Krupa sometimes has to look things up because he forgot or just didn’t know. Such as when they found the Hands of God (fist weapon) and Rory decided he wanted to use them. They went to Blacksmith Ed to upgrade them and couldn’t find them on the list. So Krupa had to look up how to upgrade them. (The answer is that they take Colorless Demon Souls to upgrade, which can only be found in pure white or pure black worlds.) Krupa never used them so he didn’t know what they took to upgrade.
It’s weird in Elden Ring. In some ways, the questlines are more generous. There are a few that I didn’t do until the very end of the game and then I was able to do them all in one go. But, there was another that was very elaborate. I’ve mentioned this before. It’s my favorite NPC questline and took me thirty to forty hours the first time I did it. I would have paid $20 to $30 for the questline alone. I didn’t find it until later in the game, but was able to do it despite skipping the first few steps with one of the NPCs. Great! Woo-hoo! That’s terrific! Except, I went on to do one of the sideline questlines within the questline and returned to that NPC too late. I found him dead, which meant I couldn’t do part of his quest and get a talisman from him.
I discovered that because yesterday, I was trying to get all the talismans with my first character. The one who is now plat-credentialed. I am level 175 with that character (which is higher than my second character was when she finished NG+), and it took me 225 hours or so to finish NG. Thankfully, you don’t have to get all the talismans for the plat, otherwise I would still be chasing it. You only need to get certain ones–I think they’re legendary? That’s how the spells, incantations, and weapons went. You had to get the legendaries in each category.
Why am I trying to get all the talismans? Why not? No real reason. I’m also trying out a vampire build that causes bloodloss and has lifesteal. It’s pretty fun, though I’m only doing it in earlier areas.
I’ve always gone back and forth about going into a From game without watching any trailers/videos or reading any articles. I prefer to have as much of an organic experience as possible, but there is an argument to be made that part of the organic experience is figuring things out with the community. There is something to be said about coming together and finding out secrets and paths that aren’t immediately obvious.
In the end, would I have felt I had a better experience with the game if I hadn’t looked up anything? I don’t think so. I needed some guidance as to where to go next and tips for difficult bosses (which you can’t get without also seeing spoilers), which meant I couldn’t control the information I read/watched concerning that section of the game.
And, near the end, I had to make sure that all my ducks were in a row for the platinum, which meant Googling many different things. I knew there was a point of no return for many things, so I had to make sure I got things done before that point.
At the end of the day, I try to strike a balance between going in without looking anything up and being completely spoiled. I think that’s the best way to experience a From game, and it’s what I’ll do for the foreseeable future. I’m sure I’ll tweak the formula as I continue to play them.