Underneath my yellow skin

Elden Ring odds and ends and the nature of spoilers

Before Elden Ring came out, there was a discussion on various sites about spoilers. What is one and what isn’t. Most sites came down to, “You have to know what is a spoiler for you” about which I agree. However. I find it humorous, specifically in terms of FromSoft games that many games sites don’t consider anything shown in the CNT to be a spoiler.

I get it. The games are so dense and crammed with things to do. The idea that anything in the first ten hours is spoilery seems a bit precious. But to say that nothing in the first two areas should be deemed spoilers is doesn’t sit well with me.

There was a mini-kerfuffle about a Game Informer video, featuring Dan Tack, their resident Souls guy (well, at least he was. He’s since left to work for Bandai Namco). I’ve included it in this post. GI was chosen as the official, uh, games site? Cover story? Something like that for Elden Ring. They were given a lot of information that other sites didn’t get.

I had no issue with that. My M.O. for deciding what I wanted to see was that I watched all the trailers. I watched journalists play the closed beta and the CNT. That was in the first area only and I made my peace with knowing things from that area. Even with that, they were carefully penned into certain areas. It wasn’t as if they could truly roam everywhere; you could see the fog walls where they couldn’t go.

When the aforementioned Game Informer article came out, I watched the first ten minutes before quietly shutting it down. He was showing then-never-seen-before footage of Castle Morne and the Academy of Raya Lucaria. I don’t think I even got to that point before nope-ing out of the video.

Here’s my line when it comes to spoilers. I will watch official trailers. I was fine with the CNT and the hoopla surrounding that. Anything other than that, no. When Elden Ring came out, my fave channels did let’s plays of it, of course. And they all said there were no story spoilers, meaning they went and explored the worlds without going into the legacy dungeons.

I was not fine with that because one of the joys in a From game is exploring the worlds. In the past, I didn’t even watch the trailers because they like to stuff them full of bosses. Ian argues that you can’t tell what’s going on with the bosses from the trailers, which is fair. My argument was that I didn’t even want to know they existed. Which I also think is fair.

Anyway, when GI did the 3-and-a-half hour Q&A (embedded above), there was a mini-kerfuffle. Why? Because some dude who didn’t even watch the video ranted about how it was too much. Yes, you read that right. He did not even watch the video. He got clips from his subs, if I remember correctly. And after a day, he did a non-apology and made it private so you could only see it if you were a Patreon (or something like that).

Look. I’m not looking it up. I don’t want to give this guy any more pub. I think he did a wrong by ranting about something he hadn’t even watched, which is a big part of the internet–I know. I’ve done it myself. Complained about something without reading/watching the root source. I try not to do it, however, because situations like this can happen.

Other more reputable content creators did muse about the responsibility of game sites to people who have poor impulse control–like lottery tickets or alcoholics. Meaning, with the sheer amount of information pouring out, it’s nearly impossible to avoid being spoiled. I’m sympathetic to this, honestly. In the few weeks before the release, I was trying to avoid being spoiled, but I also wanted to hear about some of the basics.

I realized that I either had to go in completely unspoiled (not clicking on anything with Elden Ring in the title), or I had to accept that I was going to be spoiled and have no control over that. Because every site had a different idea of what a spoiler was, I went in knowing that if I clicked on an Elden Ring video, I had to accept I’d get whatever I got.

It’s the same when I wiki something while playing. I’m looking for a very specific thing, but I can’t separate that from things that surround it. For example. When I was playing Sekiro, I needed help with the Guardian Ape because he was whupping my ass. And, yes, there is going to be a spoiler for the Guardian Ape. Two, actually. He kept getting me and getting me, so I wanted some basic tips on how to fight him.

Well. I got those tips, but I also got more than that. I learned that he had a second phase which was even more difficult than the first, and he came back again with a mate later in the game. Or not. It depended on the order in which you did events. Knowing that the one life bar was not the only one really deflated me, and it also took something away from the triumph when I got that first death blow (and second, if I remember correctly. Sometimes, you had to do two death blows in order to get the win) because I knew I had another life bar to go.

In Elden Ring, I just accepted at a certain point that if I was going to look up anything, there were going to be spoilers. At some point, I looked up Fia because i wanted to know what I was needed to do with her questline. When I found out, there was a line about something that massively affects another NPC. I wish there was a way to warn that other NPC questlines were going to be spoiled, but I can understand why they wouldn’t think to add that.

I tried not to use the wikis, but it’s almost impossible not to look shit up with a game like Elden Ring. With so many elaborate storylines, it’s almost inevitable. Even if I wasn’t trying to follow NPC questlines, there’s still the main story and figuring out where to go after, say, killing Rennala. I will say that I’m glad that most of the NPC questlines weren’t gated. I did a bunch of them after I was supposed to do them, and I was able to make progress in them when I realized they existed.

My main point is that a spoiler is something different for everyone and that you can’t rely on anyone else to buffer you from content you don’t want to see. I’m fairly happy with the line I drew, though I did not like that I had to ruin things for myself in order to set up the different endings on my first playthrough because I wanted to get the plat. The fact that it didn’t happen just makes it even worse that I spoiled things for myself. But that was my choice. No one made me do it. I could have not looked a damn thing up and gotten the ending I got.

And, if it was a normal FromSoft game, that’s exactly what I would have done. But, overall, I don’t regret the way I played Elden Ring. It was the best compromise to be had at the time.


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