Underneath my yellow skin

Elden Ring the second time around

nSo. I’m romping through the second playthrough of Elden Ring in about a third the amount of time it took me the first playthrough. I’m around 35+ hours and in the Volcano Manor. I did not get there until roughly 100+ hours in my first playthrough. I think it’s actually more than that because–and, again, spoilers galore–I did not receive the invitations to invade other people’s worlds until after I was in the Mountaintop of Giants. Wait. I don’t think that’s right, but it later in the game, I think.

At any rate, I now have the Crepus Vial (talisman)/Hidden Form (spell) combo. The former is a reward for accomplishing the second Volcano Manor invite whereas the latter is the reward for figuring out how to get into a certain rise (tower). The Mirage Rise in this case. I did not like these puzzle towers, by the way, but that is neither here nor there.

I gotta say that my number one tip for n00bs is to bump up that Vigor. If you’re a FromSoft vet, yeah, you can glass cannon it. But if you’re a newcomer or, iike me, have spatial/twitch issues that make it difficult for you to be no-hit during a boss/mob fight, you really want to make sure that red bar stretches across the top of the screen.

I still remember all the boss fights on my first playthrough that were so frustrating because I was one-shot time and time again. I will never be good enough to do a no-hit boss fight. And it’s not fun for me to fight a boss, knowing that a certain move will instantly end the fight. I know it’s partly my fault keeping my Vigor so low, but I maintain that making it so a boss can one-shot you is just deflating. OK, OK, my Vigor was extremely low. 18 for the first 100+ hours. I ended with it being 30 when it’s recommended you have 60 by the end game.

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I got the Mimic Tear Spirit Summon, which uses health rather than mana to be summoned, I couldn’t use it because I was level 18 and you needed to be 21 to have enough health to summon it (and you’d only have 20 leftover at that). 18 is 598 HP, by the way. 30 is 994 HP and 60 is 1900 HP. I said this before, but the last boss has a HP of nearly 35,600 HP. That’s multitudes more than Gwyn’s paltry 4,250 HP. He was the final boss of the first Dark Souls! To make an even more astounding, Margit, the Fell Omen, the first big boss in Elden Ring, has 4,175 HP.

Now, I know it’s not a one-to-one ratio. It isn’t as if other things haven’t changed to skew what counts as a lot of health or not. Plus, in Elden Ring, you as the player have many more options right off the bat than you did in Dark Souls. So, yeah, it’s not a perfect comparison, but it continues to surprise me when I think about it. Also, leveling up takes much less in this game than in Souls and Souls III (Souls II is the exception).

It’s been a blast breezing through on my second playthrough. I’m trying to do all the NPC quests and not miss any steps, but there are just so many (NPCs and steps). I missed one of Patches steps this time, but got him where he needs to be. I have to find grape/eyeball lady and move her along as well. I wanted to summon Yura to help me fight Agheel, but I had to fight Agheel on my own first before dying near the Stake of Marika in order to summon Yura. I was doin well, but I was sure I was going to die because it took me until much later to kill Agheel in my first playthrough. I told myself it was practice and I would go until I died and then summon in Yura. But, I kept doing well. And doing better. And got him down to a quarter health. And thought about deliberately dying in order to summon in Yura. And then killed Agheel because I couldn’t lose on purpose.

Quick interjection: People like to sneer about summoning, but it adds health to the boss. I was fighting a boss yesterday that gave me trouble in my first playthrough and continued to give me trouble in this playthrough as well. I did almost kill him on the first try with only my spirit summon (got him down to a quarter health), but then I just kept getting fucked over. There was an NPC summon (one of Millicent’s sisters, let’s not talk about Millicent just yet), but she wasn’t great. She wasn’t terrible, but she wasn’t great. Most of the NPCs in this game are best used as meat shields as long as you don’t expect them to do actual damage.

I knew that the second playthrough would be much quicker, but I’m blown away at how much easier everything is. It’s not just knowing what’s coming up, though that does help, of course. It’s because my build isn’t as scatter-shot as it was in the last playthrough. I can bear down on things much more quickly than I could in the previous playthrough. Maybe it’s psychological because I don’t have that many more levels than I did in the last playthrough at this point, but I just feel much better about my character now than I did in the last playthrough. I will say it’s a bit frustrating that the Lightning Spear is not as useful for this character as it was for the last, but I can use magicks instead.

It’s crazy to me that I could actually go to the end game now if I wanted. I’m not going to, but it’s so wild to met that I could at 35 hours into the game. Like, I could get the canonical ending in less than a hundred hours. Wild! But, to be fair, that would be if I just mainlined the main story rather than explore everything around. There are several caves I have marked, but I just haven’t wanted to do it because, frankly, they aren’t that fun to me. They are very same-y, and some of the bullshit feels unfair to me. Like not being able to see enemies around the corner, for example.

I mentioned before the game even came out that I was concerned about the caves and catacombs because they felt like the Chalice Dungeons of Bloodborne, which I did not like at all. I feared the same about the catacombs and caves in Elden Ring, which came true. They are really good for gathering resources, but my god, are they boring. I would happily never do them again if it weren’t for the good loot, which I  don’t say about other aspects of the game. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the caves and catacombs–or wait. Maybe I’m not. I don’t know. I just don’t like them.

Another tip I would give newcomers is to choose two or three stats and focus on those. I tend to spread the wealth around, which makes it harder to be good in any one thing. The problem is that as a caster, you need Mind in addition to either Intelligence or Faith or both, depending on what kind of caster you want to be. In the video I included with this post, Ian from Eurogamer is purely a strength guy. He has 41 in Vigor. 41! I’m so envious, but I can’t afford it, unfortunately.

Still. I’m cruising in this second playthrough and it feels good. Cannot wait to have completed the game once again.


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