Underneath my yellow skin

SotFS compared to Elden Ring

I started a character in Dark Souls II (Scholar of the First Sin) because I’m crazy like that. It’s not enough to play Elden Ring and Dark Souls III, oh no! I had to delve back into SotFS for the first time since I platted it. And, unfortunately, that playthrough is thoroughly fucked because I had to sequence-break to get what I needed for the plat. By the way, it’s balls that you cannot cloud save for the From games on Steam. Yes, you can with Dark Souls Remastered, but that’s because it’s not FromSoft who did that version. And, there’s a bug in that version that makes it impossible to play with others for some people. Which doesn’t matter now, but in general, is a big drawback.

For the plat in Dark Souls II/SotFS, I had to make it to NG++, which is the same in the original game and in DS III. And I had to make it to Drangleic Castle, which is roughly 2/3rds through the game. But, you can get there early if you have a million souls (total) per NG. Which means I needed 3,000,000 souls. I think I had over 2,000,000 at that point. The easiest way to get that amount of souls is to kill one of the Great Souls over and over again, using Bonfire Ascetics. (I am not explaining every little thing in this process. Sorry.) The easiest Great Soul boss to reach is the Rotten, who isn’t that difficult to kill. At least not on NG. On NG+++++ whatever I reached, however, he’s not fun. But I managed to get him and enough souls to open the castle early.

As a result , that game is trashed. I mean, I could keep playing, but it’s hard to get back into it after I sequence-broke the game. Oh, and the reason I decided to start another character in SotFS is because I watched RKG’s inaugural season, which was SotFS with Mama Finchy. I love that all their characters for the FromSoft games are named Finchy with a descriptor before the name. So Dark Souls is Chimpy Finchy; Dark Souls III is Froggy Finchy; Bloodborne is Posh Finchy; Dark Souls II/SotFS is Mama Finchy; Sekiro is….well Sekiro. He’s an outlier, obviously, as you can’t make your own character in that game. Demon’s Souls is Papa Finchy. I have no idea who’s going to be their protag in Elden Ring. There’s also Dumbledore Finchy for the ‘can we finish the original Dark Souls on a livestream?’. He’s a distant cousin of the  Dark Souls Finchies.

I know that Dark Souls II is the hated stepchild of the Dark Souls family. People were so upset when it came out, and while I can see why, I also think FromSoft was in a no-win situation. Dark Souls was a surprise hit that took the gaming community by storm. There was no way the sequel was going to live up to it. People would want the same thing, but with innovative twists. Part of the delight of Dark Souls (if you hadn’t played Demon’s Souls) is being surprised at every twist and turn. So, people wanted the same from the sequel–but not TOO out of the realm of what they liked about the original.

One big change that no one liked (including me) was the health system. When you died, you lost a bit of your maximum health every time until it got down to half. There’s a ring, the Ring of Binding, that caps it at 75%. People hated it because it was so brutal, especially in the beginning before you got the ring. And, how you get the ring in SotFS is particularly brutal. I did not like this change, but I appreciated that it was something different–and it was similar to Demon’s Souls. In that game, you had full health when in body form and half health when in soul form (I think. I’ve never played it. Waiting for it to come to PC). There is a ring that gives you 75% health. Cling ring. You can only wear two rings in that game.

Another big difference was how you healed. In the first game, you started with five Estus, ten at the bonfires with Fire Keepers. With the Rite of Kindling, you could kindle up to 10, 15, or 20 Estus. I really liked having a set number of Estus like that. In the sequel, you started with one. One Estus. You can get up to 12. Total. Over the whole game. Oh, I forgot to mention–you have to find Estus Shards and bring them back to the Emerald Herald (Fire Keeper) so she can strengthen your Esus Flask. There are also Undead Bone Shards that you burn in the bonfire in Majula (hub city) to give you more Estus every time you drink.

This makes the initial areas extremely challenging. They mitigate it somewhat by adding Lifegems. They are consumables that slowly add an amount of HP over time (500 HP over 11 seconds, so Google tells me). There are also Radiant Lifegems and Old Radiant Lifegems that add more and much more HP, respectively. Yes, those are the scientific terms for it. Deal.

These are also scarce in the beginning, though you can start with an assortment of them as your starting gift–which is what I usually do. By the mid-game, however, it’s trivial to buy 99 Lifegems (all you can carry at one time) and just have them on you at all times. Therefore, the best way to deal with the game was to use Lifegems for exploration and killing enemies in the area. Estus was for boss fights. It became an easy way to abuse the healing system and make the lack of Estus trivial. But, again, this was only after I was able to buy as many Lifegems as I wanted that this became a viable way to play. Is it cheesing the game? Hell, yes! Do I feel guilty about it? Hell, no!

If there’s one thing I can impress upon people, it’s that using everything and anything in the From games is fair game. If they didn’t want you to do it, they would patch it out. Also, the point of playing a video game is to have fun. If it’s fun to you to solo all the bosses, then have at it! If it’s fun for you to explore the wondrous environments and not worry about the bosses, you go!

In other words, fuck the haters. I have no issue with people who like to solo the bosses. Hell, I used to be one of them. But I do have issue with people who want to put down others for daring to play the games differently. I hate gatekeepers. I want more people to play and like FromSoft games. Sneering at them is a great way to turn them off the games.

In the RKG group on Facebook, there was a dickhead dude (and it’s usually a dude) who said that in his opinion, you couldn’t say you beat Bloodborne unless you  did the Chalice Dungeons. Which, is just objectively wrong as Miyazaki meant them to be a companion experience. More to the point, who the fuck cares what one dickhead thinks? Like, he can play by his own rules. Who cares? But why try to shit on other people playing it differently? There’s a storyline to BB that ends after a certain fight. That is the canonical ending to the game. I admit I was a snotty shithead when I responded that I didn’t consider BB beaten unless you did it with an arcane build before going on to excoriate gatekeepers.

I have no patience for gatekeeping , especially since my medical trauma. More people have played Elden Ring than any other FromSoft game, and I’m ecstatic about it. I want people to love these games and think they’re the bees knees. That’s not going to happen if we in the community sneer at them for enjoying the games ‘wrong’.

There is no wrong way to play the game. If it’s in the game (including glitches), it’s right. Besides, everything you do in the game is considered cheesing by someone. Using a shield? Wuss! Havel it up? Ugh, can you even Dark Souls, bruh? Forget using magic. But on the other end, you better not even THINK of using the Zweihander. In fact, the only way to legit play DS is to onebro run it.

I’m not dissing the Level One run. I’m in awe of people who can do it and those who can no-hit the games. But, that’s not the only way to play them, and I think it’s detrimental to insist that it is. Or that any one way to play them is the only correct way. Someone in the RKG group wanted to know how to help his friend play Elden Ring, his first From game, for the first time. Other people were giving very detailed tips to optimize a first playthrough.

I went in a different direction, of course. I said, mention the tutorial plunge and point out horse boi at the beginning of the game, sure. I did mention that the Prisoner was a good starting class to have access to magicks as well as melee. But I said my biggest tip was to tell his friend to enjoy himself in exploration because that’s the best part of the games (while letting the friend know he’s there if the friend has questions).

I have more to say in comparing the games, but this is running long, per yooz. See you in the next post!




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