Underneath my yellow skin

What Elden Ring means to me

I love FromSoft games, but they don’t love me. Ian and I have a long-standing discussion about whether the games are meant for people like me or not. He thinks they are whereas I think they are not. He believes the struggle is the purpose and people who can beat bosses in one go are not going to get the full experience.

I see his point. There is nothing quite like struggling for hours against a boss and then finally beating that boss. I have never felt as exhilarated as I did when I beat Isshin, the Sword Saint of Sekiro. Normally, I swear and curse loudly as I beat a boss. With him, I set down the controller and had a little cry. I felt a sense of awe that I had done it, and I knew I would never feel it again.

Sadly, I knew i would never beat him again, either. Sekiro is so fucking hard. People keep saying once you click with the combat, it’s the easiest of the games. I never clicked with it because I was physically unable to deflect at the proper time. My reflexes are shit. I tried and tried and tried to get it right. I could not. My niece’s husband said, “I didn’t realize you could play the game without learning to deflect.” My response, “Oh, you can, but it’s not fun at all.”

I don’t think normies understand that I physically cannot do the deflect. Or rather, I can do it roughly 50% of the time and not on purpose. That meant I had to chip away at the health of every enemy instead of doing the deflects. I’m justifiably proud of myself for never parrying in any of the From games, but I would have if I could for that one.

It’s frustrating that people dismiss my experience with the game because they think it’s just a matter of ‘git gud’. “It’s a rhythm game!” Yeah, well, I suck at those, too. I love the game, Night in the Woods. It’s probably my favorite indie game of all time.  But I will never get the plat, and it’s in part because there is a rhythm game in it that you have to perfect, which I’ll never do.

Elden Ring was my anticipated game of 2022. I was hyped back when it was first announced–I think it was in 2019. Then, the pandemic happened. All hell broke loose. There was no more mention of Elden Ring. on Reddit, there was a really sweet thing where people made up their own areas of Elden Ring and made up enemies, weapons, etc. It was sustenance during a time when I doubted that Elden Ring would actually be released.

Then, on June 10, 2021, I watched the Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest thing, waiting for the Elden Ring trailer. And waiting. And waiting some more.I lost hope, I will admit, as time dragged on and no Elden Ring trailer. But, of course, Keighley wanted to milk it for every last drop.

It was the last world premiere he showed, and it was everything I had hoped for. It looked lush and gorgeous, and just as immersive as I could hope for. I had tears in my eyes as I watched, and I immediately started planning how I would play. Of course I would be a caster because I always do my first playthrough as a caster, leaning towards incantations. I would fight solo against the bosses with one character and have another for co-op.

All that fled my brain when I ended up unconscious in the hospital. When I woke up, my one goal for Elden Ring was to savor another Miyazaki world. I just wanted to be able to explore and discover, and not care about anything like soloing bosses. Seriously. I just did not give a fuck, which was unlike me. In the past, I prided myself on soloing the bosses the first time through and felt some kind of shame if I couldn’t. Except for the last three bosses of the DLC of Bloodborne. By the time I got to the DLC, I was done with the game and did not give a shit. It is my second-least favorite of the From games to begin with, and the DLC did not do it any favors.

This is the opposite of what most hardcore From fans say. They gush about the DLCs for the game and how incredible they are. Which, to be fair, is true. But they are also markedly harder than the main game, and they are definitely fan service for the hardcore fans. No matter how much fans dance around it, a big part of it is how fucking brutal they are. They can talk about the intricate level design (true) and how masterful they are (also true), but the bottom line is that they are a huge step up from the base games, which is what drives the masocore fans to play the games.

There will be DLC for Elden Ring, I’m pretty sure. I want more about life before the shattering, but I’d also take more on Blaidd. I wouldn’t mind DLC on Fia, either. Actually, I’d like to know more about the NPCs in general. Except, and it goes against the grain to say, Alexander. I’m not against him. He’s cool, and I shed a tear over his questline. But he reminds me of the Onion Knight, who was never my favorite NPC, either. I would like to know more about the pots/jars in general, though, so a DLC about Jarburg would be OK by me.

I love Elden Ring. I farmed for an armor set last night in a late game area, which was frustrating as fuck. The standard enemies I was farming could kill me in two hits. Granted, I am still very fragile with low endurance and strength, but it’s frustrating to be two-shot in the end game. I have never liked that about the From games, to be honest. The optional area that is rock hard and not any fun. It’s another hallmark of the games, and it isn’t much fun.

I don’t like the games because they are hard. That is probably the least-interesting thing about them. It is a thing, and I would not want the bosses to be cake-walks, but I hate the amount of time talking about the difficulty of the games. Learning how to overcome the obstacles? Absolutely. Crowing about what a badass you are because you beat Nameless King with one hand tied behind your back and with bananas? Yawn. Boring. Because that comes down to your base skill level, honestly. I cannot learn to parry by ‘gitting gud’. My body won’t allow it. Believe me .I practiced for hours against the Silver Knights of Anor Londo in the original game, and was able to parry them maybe 75% of the time. In Sekiro, it was closer to 50%.

Elden Ring, I didn’t even bother trying to parry because it was so unnecessary. There were many other ways to fight the enemies, including jump attacks and charged attacks. Parrying was superfluous, and I did not even bother trying.

I love the From games. They have been my life line when things have gone really wrong. I look forward to whatever they produce next.







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