Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Elden Ring

Stronk chonk is bonking

my strength character with no clothes and a big hammer
Chonking and bonking! Nekkid.

I’m still exhausted from the flu shot, but I don’t want to talk about that. I’m bored with being exhausted, so let’s talk about Elden Ring (FromSoft) instead. I’ve been doing a strength run which I have never done before. I’ve done strengthcaster builds before, but not a pure strength build. To be completely honest, I I did put three tiny levels into faith. Very tiny. Barely bumped it. But it allows me to use Poison Mist and Flame Cleanse Me. The former is a great way to kill bosses v-e-r-y slowly. The latter is for curing Poison or Scarlet Rot. That is very necessary in the game. Yes, you can craft bolluses that do the same thing, but why when you only need 12 faith to use the incantation?

To put it in perspective, I have 45 in Vigor. That’s nearly 3 times the amount I had in my first playthrough up to this point. Last night, I went up against


Radahn, Starscourge Radahn, to be more precise. Let me set the scene for you. The first time I fought him, I had 18 Vigor. That is not good. This is about a third of the way through the game, and you should have about 30 health at the minimum. Health is vigor. I know this. This is the way you play these games. You can do whatever you want with your levels, but you really should have plenty of vigor. With only 18 Vigor, Radahn could one-shot me with his opening arrows. It was, shall we say, not fun. 

Let me back up and say that at the beginning of this fight, you have to traverse across the sands in order to even get to him. It’s very long. Very long. Using my shield can block it, but that takes up all my energy. Stamina. Which I also didn’t level up. Look. There are eight stats. Vigor, endurance, mind, strength, dexterity, intelligence, faith, and arcane. Because I wanted to use all the spells and incantations, I needed to level up Mind (how much FP/mana/blue bar I had), Intelligence (sorceries), Faith (incantations), and Arcane (ah, not exactly sure what this does, but Google tells me finding items, so luck. But you need it for some incantations, too). That doesn’t leave much for anything else.

I always skimp on Vigor and Endurance in these games. Always. If I had all the levels in the world, of course I would up Vigor. But I don’t. And in Elden Ring, you can get flasks back by beating groups of enemies, so Vigor is not as important. At least, that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. It served me fairly well in my first playthrough, but, yeah. 18 Vigor was skimpy, even for me. I managed to limp along with that tiny tiny health bar for over a hundred hours by patching together techniques. Mostly, zapping from afar.

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Elden Ring and elegant level design

I’m watching the newest Retry Elden Ring episode (Early Access) and they are in the firstt legacy dungeon–Stormveil Castle. I’m watching Rory struggle, and I remember how hard I found it in my first playthrough. Of course, there are going to be *SPOILERS* about the legacy dungeons in the game. It’s classic Dark Souls, and it’s gureling as fuck. The common soldiers of the area are hard enough, but then there are the Banished Knights who are nails hard. As indicated by their names, they were not meant to be there. They were banished from elsewhere, and they are this game’s equivalent of Black Knights from the Souls series.

Honestly, I skipped most of them the first time around because I was such a squishy little caster. They do whirlwinds that do massive health, poise, and stamina damage.

I loved the open world of Elden Ring, but I felt at home when I was in the legacy dungeons. This was my jam and where I’d spent thousands of hours (collectively). Stormveil Castle is so classic, it made me nostalgic. When I wasn’t cursing under my breath. There are fewer bonfires, er, Sites of Grace, but more shortcuts. There were branching paths that you had to make choices, and each one was difficult.

I was messaging with Ian about it, and he said that Raya Lucaria (the second legacy dungeon) might be his favorite so far (he’s less than halfway through the game). I had forgotten about Raya Lucaria, which is wizard school, by the way. It was really difficult for me the first time as a sqkishy caster, but it’s fucking breathtaking.

It’s magical, indeed, with the stone-faced wizards. The thing about it, though, is that you can miss half the level. The first time I made it to the final boss, I thought, “This dungeon is rather short. Huh.”

I don’t remember how I found out–oh, right. There’s an NPC, Thops, who asks you to find him a Glintstone key s o he can get back into Raya Lucaria. I had not found the extra key by the time I met the big boss of the dungeon. I Googled it, and it said to go up on the roofs…what??? You can go up on the roofs?

You most certainly can. Not only that, but there are other little areas that you can reach if you roof-hop. I can’t tell you how much my mind was blown when I realized taht there was another level to the level. I can’t say for sure, obviously, but roughly a third of the level is up on the roofs. And, yes, I found Thops’ key on the chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

Oh, also, there is a lower level, too. There’s not much there, but it does contain a really good armor and a secret that you can find out ahead of time if you talk to Patches. If you give Thops the key, you will find his body here later. It’s rather tragic, but then again, so are most of the NPC questlines.

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Everything can be OP if you want it to be

It’s that time again when I go on a long, angry screed about how magic is not OP in FromSoft games. Or rather, it’s not the only thing that’s OP, depending on how you want to frame it. In the latest episode of Roundtable Hold (companion show to the Elden Ring Retry  by RKG), there was a question sent in asking if Rory was going to be allowed to use magic. Or something like that. There has been a long-standing toxic masculinity bullshit meme that magic is OP in From games.

I have ranted about this before, but I need to do it again. Even, sadly, Krupa buys into it to a certain extent, and it’s because you don’t “get in there” and get “up close and personal”. Except that’s not right, especially not in the actual Souls games.

Let me step back a second and explain. Apparently, in Demon’s Souls, magic was OP. I do not know because I have not played it, but there’s a ring that steadily (but slowly0 regens your MP. FP. Mana. Whatever it’s called. And the spells look siiiiiiiick as fuck. Anyway, I will grant that it seems like it might have been OP in that game. However.

In the first Dark Souls, I started as a Pyro. Pyromancies did not have stats in the first game, which made them great for the onebro run, apparently. And they were considered OP. I did not find them OP because you had limited casts. Once I ran out of casts, I had to use my plink-plonk axe, which did not do much damage because I did not level up my strength. Or rather, I leveled it up enough so I could use the Battle Axe, and that was it.

Also, the magicks in Elden Ring are incredible. I was skeptical that they would be better than they were in the previous games, but they are. So much better. So much more varied and diverse, and such a wide array. You have glintstone sorceries, night sorceries, gravity sorceries, and more. Then in incantations, there are buffs and cleansers, holy order incantations, lightnings, pyros, and so. much. more. Let’s not forget the dragon incantations, which need a bit of arcane.

In addition, the way Rory plays, he will not have access to the most powerful spells because he’s very much into spreading his levels around. In addition, he rarely remembers to level up at all. It’s fascinating, actually, how he’s foregone leveling up, keeps switching weapons, and hasn’t leveled up his weapons much or his spirit ashes at all. Also, he refuses to have more than three spells becasue that’s all he can handle. Sometimes, he forgets he has magic at all.

In other words, he’s very chaotic, which is both one of his best qualities as well as one of his worst. I feel bad for him because viewers constantly complain about the way he plays, no matter what. I know it’s part of being a content creator, especially someone who streams a popular niche series of games, but it has to be disheartening.

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Truly the end of Elden Ring

Ok. I’ve dallied long enough. I need to talk about the last boss of the game, so, of course, *SPOILERS* ahead. In the last post, I talked about the penultimate boss, but I didn’t really remember him because I melted him quickly. I hate the trope that magic is OP. Newsflash! Any stat you put 70 points into is OP. In fact, the most OP I’ve ever been is the first time I did a Zweihander run in Dark Souls. Now, I am OP in NG++ , but that’s without focusing on one stat. Yes, I have 70 in Intelligence, but I Wolf’s Assault more often than not. THAT is OP! And I only have 26 or whatever in Strength.

By the way, I have died four times in NG++. I have finished the main bosses of Limgrave, the first area. I have yet to die to an enemy–all four deaths are fall deaths. Twice because I tried to jump somewhere I couldn’t (but absolutely should have been able to) and two Torrent-related deaths. This reinforces my belief that games that are not platformers should not include platforming. One of those deaths was on the horizontal tombstones that you can jump down on, of course.

Let’s talk about the final boss. It is a very divisive boss. Some people love it and some people hate it, but very rarely are people indifferent to it. First, I’ll tell you what the boss is. It’s Radagon, the consort to Queen Marika. But wait! That’s not all he is. He’s actually part of Marika. I mean, they are the same person/demi-god. You find this out with an incantation in Leyndell Royal Capital in front of a Marika statue that changes into a Radagon statue once you do the gesture (with the incantation) in front of the statue.

It’s supposed to be a big reveal, but it didn’t astonish me at all because it made perfect sense. No idea why, but I did. Of  course he was Marika. Why the hell not? Never mind that they had children–twins. A son and a daughter–Miquella and Malenia. Don’t think about it too hard because then yu’ll have to make sense of it. It’s not meant to fit into our world.

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Elden Ring end but not ending

In yesterday’s post, I went off on a tangent about NG++. Why? Because that’s the way my brain works. I don’t stay on any one paith for much longer than necessary. In my youth, I loved a footnote and/or a side note. I used to find it amusing to have as many footnotes in a post as possible. Once in a while, I would even have a footnote to a footnote.

Anyway, I’m cruising through NG++ like it was no big thing. I have died once, and that was to a fall on Torrent. He is the best boi, for sure, but goddamn doing platforming on him is impossible. It’s so imprecise and there is no coming back if you’re about to go off a cliff. Do I count that? No, I do not.

I did *SPOILERS* Margit easily. Me and Mini-Me. Then it was onto Godrick the Grafted. I have never done them solo because…I don’t actually know why. Well, I do. I love Nepheli Loux. I love her a lot. So I want her by my side. Anyway, I decided to do it with just Mini-Me, and it was a blood bath–for him. I melted him and moved on. I had done a bunch before meeting him, something that took me probably fifteen to twenty hours in my first playthrough. I think it took me roughly an three or four hours this time. Maybe five. About a fourth of the time it took me the first time. Which is understandable because I’ve done this bit six times now.

I’m not trying to zip through at high speed, but I’m not trying to dally, either. My goal is to just see how easy I find it and it’s been no sweat so far. That doesn’t mean it won’t be at some point. I’m mostly not summoning, but I’m not holding myself to that, either. It’s been chill so far, and I don’t anticipate it being much harder for at least the next area.

So. The final area of the game. Leyndell, Ashen Capital. I do understand that it’s thematically correct to have the capital as two areas in the game. One pre-Erdtree-burning and one afterwards. But there’s still a hollow feeling in my breast that it’s the final area. Especially as there is nothing else in it except the final bosses. Well, you can access the Slumbering Shunning-Grounds through a hole in the ground, but that’s it. After Gideon, then you have to fight Godfrey/Hoarah loux. They are two separate bosses, though they share the same health bar. Godfrey is much like his golden shade whom you fought earlier when you first got into this area–the first time around. He wasn’t a big deal then, but I expected him to be a big deal now. He was the second-to-the-last boss! I expected him to be HARD.

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Last area of Elden Ring

Ok. I have dilly-dallied long enough. Let’s tackle the last area of Elden Ring. In the last post, I rambled about a lot of stuff, including the different endings, the plat, and whatever else is on my mind. So let’s talk about the final section, which is *SPOILERS* a reskin of an earlier area. One you were at just previously. The one I jokingly say is the end game area–and it actually turned out to be true. Leyndell Royal Capital, the place I was firmly convinced was the last area. Except, now it’s Leyndell, Ashen Capital. Everything is in ashes because you set the Erdtree on fire. Or something. I am not 100% clear about that, but that’s close to what happened.

Anyway, you’re transported to Leyndell, Ashen Capital once you kill Maliketh. You are outside in the sandy dunes and have to make your way up to the throne area. Or you can go through the hole to the Subterranean Shunning-Grounds if you want. But you cannot go back to Leyndell Royal Capital.

That irritated me in my first playthrough because there was an easily missable item that I could not get once I burned it all down. It’s a faith-based weapon behind a closed door that I did not know could be opened. I can get it on NG+, of course, but I’m saving this character for the DLC, which means she cannot go into NG+ for some time.

It’s an interesting thing to do. I’m ambivalent about it, honestly. I get why it happened from a story point of view, but it feels a bit….cheap. Like, we can’t be bothered to make a new area for the last area. Which, I know that sounds contrary to my earlier argument that there are too many areas in the game. It’s not, though. They could cut out Miquella’s Haligtree, cut Mountaintops of the Giants in half, and then create a whole new final area.

Hm. In thinking about it more, I do understand why they did it the way they did. For context, the first time you go to Leyndell Royal Capital, you fight the Golden Shade of Godfrey and then Morgott, the Omen King. Afterwards, you try to get to the throne, and there are thorns blocking your way. You find out that you have to do something to burn them down.

That’s when you go to the Mountaintops of the Giants…by the way. There are these field bosses that are only found at night. They are the Night’s Cavalry, and they are pretty imposing. They are a knight on a horse, all covered in black, and they come out at night, obviously. They are the nighttime version of the Tree Sentinels. In the Consecrated Snowfield in the Mountaintop of Giants, there is a calvacade that has two of them guarding the yeti-pulling caravan. The first time I fought them, it was such a hard time. Common advice is to pull one away from the caravan and fight them and then pull the other.

They are strong, and it tooke me forever to figure out a way to successfully cheese them. This time around, in NG+, I was going around cleaning things up before going into NG++. I decided to do them and resigned myself to several attempts. Instead, it took me twice and I only died on the first attempt because I did not heal at the right time. I still cheesed them, but much less so. Here’s the deal. All the enemies have a leash limit. They are tethered, some with a tighter leash than others. With these guys, you can pull them back to where the Site of Grace is and then they’ll slowly retreat back to the caravan. In the past, I just Swarm of Flies them until they died. That was tedious and hit-or-miss. That’s how I did all the Night’s Cavalry, to be honest.

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Elden Ring and the actual end?

Still talking about the second half of the game. Elden Ring, I mean. Honestly, if we were just talking about the first half of the game, I probably would give the game close to a 10, no notes–or at least very few notes. Yesterday, I was talking about *SPOILERS* the underground and how elaborate it is. It goes on and on and on, and it’s just jaw-dropping in is entirety. The underground itself, I have a few notes, but mostly for one part of it.

The second half of the game, though, I have several notes. Honestly, my biggest one would have been to cut out half of it. All the cut-and-paste bosses (who then became common enemies), the repettion and two of my least-favorite areas (Mountaintops of the Giants and Miquella’s Haligtree) are in the second half. Caelid is grim, but it is a top-notch area. In concept. I hate going there when I’m frail and weak, but it’s integral to the game.

I really feel like From wanted to pad out the game, and I have no idea why. If they had cut out those two areas, it still would have been a cracking game. In fact, I think it would have been better. It would have tightened up everytihng and made the experience better. I know that the Fire Giant was a pivotal boss, but he’s such a blah boss and his area is just annoying AF.

My PSA to devs: Not being able to see in a game is not fun. I always find it amusing when they want you to adjust the gamma until the image is just barely visible. I crank it as high as it can go unless it looks washed out. Most of the people on YouTube are like me. They laugh at the ‘make it barely visible’ notification and crank that gamma.

As someone with terrible vision and almost no periphery, I really don’t appreciate games that mess with my vision. I have enough trouble when the gamma is bright and there is nothing blocking my sight. Once you add all that shit, it menas I’m fighting my hidden disability along with the game.

PSA 2: A lot of people pooh-pooh the idea that games should make any concessions to people who do not have perfect vision and terrific reflexes. In Final Fantasy XVI (Squeenix), there are rings that make various things easier. People hated on them, which made no sense to me. No one was forced to wear them, so why not just let it be? But, no. They were outraged at the fact that this would even BE in the game.

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Elden Ring and the end(ish) of the game

In the last post, I was talking  about (again, *SPOILERS* for the whole second half of the game) the massive underground of Elden Ring, which is, as I just said, massive. In fact, one of the funniest things about the game is the reaction to the lift when you the player is going down for the first time. There are two lifts, and both are pretty inspiring. One is more gobsmacking than the other, though.

You run into this well (in front of one of them is a runebear, which is massive) and step on a lift. You go down…and down…and down even further. And you go down some more. If you look to the outside, it’s purple and ethereal on the way down. There is a starry sky, and it’s just fucking amazing. Like, you think  it’s going to be one little room or something at the bottom, and it’s a whole new city. And more. So much more. It is one of those moments that you don’t get often in a Triple A game.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to go there at all. It’s easily missable–both the entrances to the initial areas. In one case, a big golem is shooting at you. In the other, a runebear is chasing you. So you’ll probably rush into the well and step on the lift, grateful to still be alive. And you’d be forgiven for not paying attention as it starts going down. And down. And, as I said, even further down.

And then your mind is going to be blown when you finally realize that you are in a whole ‘nother city under the areas you’ve already explored. And then later on, when you realize that many of these areas link up in some fashion. That is the part that blows my mind. The map for the underworld is so expansive. Not as expansive as the above-world, but not cheap, either. It’s not just a few rooms here and there. It’s easily half the size of the above-world. I must say that it isn’t nearly as filled, but that’s a plus in my book. One of my biggest complaints about the above-world is that the last third of the game feels like it’s very filler-y.

If the underworld were a game in and of itself, I would pay forty bucks for it. I have said before that for Ranni’s questline itself, I would pay thirty bucks, but that’s because it took me ten a dozen hours or more the first time I did it–and it includes a major boss who is optional, but someone you wouldn’t want to miss. A large portion of Ranni’s questline is in the underground, and it’s absolutely amazing. And necessary for what most people consider is the best ending (but not me).

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In the Elden Ring end

Ok. Here’s yesterday’s post. Let’s get to the end of the game. Except, I can’t because I forgot that there was another section that is in the second half of the game that….

Look. Ok. I have to explain that there is a whole underground section. This is easily the wow moment of the game. You take this unassuming lift downwards…and you just keep going. There are two of these and they eventually connect. It’s an amazing area, and then you get to the real true underground by beating a big boss in a particularly spectacular fashion.

And it keeps going. There are other offshoots of this that are not connected, but also underground. The underground is nearly as large as the above-ground, which I’m fine with. I don’t need it to be as big, but I will say. I was just watching a video about the however many more secrets in Elden Ring you may not know, which I have included below. I was watching and nodding along because I knew the things he mentioned until he hit the one about reaching part of the underground (Deeproot Depths) in a completely different way–through another area of the underground. This blew my mind because I have pput in hundreds of hours, at least five-hundred, I think, and I never knew this. As always, *SPOILERS* will be ahead.

When you reach Leyndell Royal Capital, you have the opportunity to go underground to the Subtarrean Slumming-Grounds. Which, I will say, I did not love because it’s littered with the imps who do an incredible amount of damage at any level. They are the absolute worst. And you have to walk on pipes (from which you can fall off of) while fighting them. Plus, there are fell omens who are really strong as well. And oversized slugs. And lobsters. And, and, and. Again, no new enemies. Plus, they are just tossed in there willy-nilly. My guess is that it is supposed to indicate that all the shunned were tossed down there, but it feels very haphazard.

And, I will be honest with you. I do not like the constant difficulty of these areas that make me grim and unhappy. This is why I use Hidden Body/Slumbering Dargoncrest Ring, er…what is it called in this game? Unseen Form/Crepus’s Vial. I used it freely to get around when I did not want to be battered by things that could one-shot me. Which was nearly everything in the second half of the game. It makes it much more bearable for me to be able to interact at my discretion, and that makes it a much more enjoyable experience for me.

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Love and hate in the last new area of Elden Ring

Yesterday, I was writing about Crumbling Farum Azula, which is the last new area of the game. It’s an amazing environment, but I do not like going through it. I have said that it’s my fault because I inhale the games, so I’m fatigued by the end. That’s on me. I could have taken breaks. I could have been more measured in how I played the game. It’s my nature to be obsessed with something until I finish it, which the From games play into so aptly.

Couple that with how ramped up the last areas tend to be, and it’s no wonder that my squishy caster wants none. of. it. I was at 18 Vigor for the first hundred hours of the game. I still can’t believe I had skimped so much on my HP. but it makes sense because as a caster, I need to put endless levels into Mind (which gives FP), Intelligence, and Faith. A bit of Arcane.

To be fair, I could have chosen Int. OR Faith, but I never do. Well, not since the second Souls game, though. I love spells and incantations, and I hate having to decide which I’d rather do. It’s always the same. I resolve to put levels into two or three stats, and then I start putting them in this and that, just a few, and beforeI know it, I’m ignoring health for everything else.

I know it’s called being a Glass Cannon, but that would mean I actually had to have the cannon part, which I did not. I usually put a few points into health, but in this case, there were just so many other things  Iwanted to level. I usually put my health to 20 at the very least if not 25, but for whatever reason, I simply ignored Vigor in this game.

Until. And this is a *MASSIVE SPOILER*, but also a well-known thing by this point. And realize that there will be *SPOILERS* for the rest of the post.

Until the Mimic Tear. This is the best spirit ash by far. Some will argue Tiche is, but it’s the Mimic Tear. Because, of course, someone who is the clone of you? Yeah, they are going to be HARD.

Here’s the thing, though. The Mimic Tear takes health to summon rather than FP. You can probably see where this is going. It takes 660 HP in order to summon the Mimic Tear. 18 Vigor is 598. I had to level up my vigor to 21 (680) just so I could summon Mimic Tear, and that left me with 20 HP. There was no way that was acceptable, so I pumped more levels into Vigor. I think I made sure I was up to 25 by the end of the game. Maybe 30. Which still was barely enough. I think that character has 38 Vigor, which is still not much.

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