Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: fromsoft

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.


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Having fun in Elden Ring

I hadn’t played Elden Ring (FromSoft) in some time for reasons. Just wasn’t feeling it, mostly. I watched a few videos on the best and most rare armors in the game and decided to give it a go. That means farming, which is not fun. One of them was fairly easy to get, but another, I had trouble getting the head piece. It’s an armor that has both an altered and unaltered helm and chest piece. Different sources gave conflicting info as to how to get the pieces. These enemies (Banished Knights) are in a few areas, and there’s one at the entrance to–oh, spoilers for the whole game, I guess–the Cathedral of Dragon Communion in Caelid. They are a bastard hard enemy, and I normally just avoid them. I wanted their armor, though, so this time, I backstabbed them and then slashed them once, and they were dead. I did that over and over again and got most pieces to armor set. The chest armor (unaltered) is supposedly one you can only get from the Banished Knight in Sol Castle, which is really late in the game and twice as hard as the regular version of the enemy because it can disappear and teleport.

The way to do him is to get above and spell him rapidly so he can’t teleport. I didn’t manage to do it the first few times, and he killed me handily. I was told in a video this would take hours, but to persevere. I was thinking I might have to give up because there was no fucking way I was going to farm this asshole for hours. I got the chest piece the first time I killed him, though, so that was a boon. I went back to farming the other guy for the rest of the armor, and I look fly now with the altered helm and the unaltered chest piece.

It took me an hour or so to get the whole set, and I can see how people would get into farming for hours. It’s soothing in a way, and farming one guy over and over again isn’t a big deal. There was another armor set that you could get by having the enemy break a tent in a late-game area, and I found out something neat about the area as well. It’s a platforming section that for some reason didn’t faze me. Talking about it in the RKG Discord, many people took hours to get down it. I got it in ten minutes or so, which is nothing for me!


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Bits and bobs about Elden Ring

I’ve been watching people fighting

::spoilers for the whole game::

 

Malenia, Blade of Miquella, who later becomes Malenia, Goddess of Rot. She is well-known as the hardest boss of the game, if not the entire series. In fact, I would say the whole series. Well, I wouldn’t because she’s not in my top ten, but she is considered to be the toughest boss in all FromSoft games.

It’s one of my favorite things about the games–that different bosses are difficult for different people. Unless you are my young Canadian friend from the RKG Discord who doesn’t find any boss difficult. He had the most trouble with the Guardian Ape of Sekiro–taking 8 times to beat him.

8 times. That’s me not even warming up for that fight. I can’t tell you how many times I died to that boss. I honestly wonder what the Canadian guy gets out of the games when he cruises through them with such ease. When I was doing the plat in Bloodborne, he decided to go back and play the DLC again because he had lost to Ludwig when it first came out–and he was twelve. I championed using the Hunter Axe because that’s what I use. It’s a starting weapon, but it’s my favorite weapon of the game. He loved it and used it to beat Ludwig in one go, and the same for the rest of the bosses in the DLC in honor of my plat. And then to plat the game for himself using save-scumming. I was so damn proud of him, flattered, but also jealous. He was doing me better than I could do me!

He reminded me of a YouTuber whom I watched playing the DLC of Bloodborne. They were really good at the game and beat the bosses in one or two tries. When they took three on, I want to say Lady Maria, they apologized. I stopped watching because they were just too good.

I felt similarly watching my young Canadian friend fight the bosses in Bloodborne (he uploaded the clips). It was incredible, and there were many tense moments. They are a good watch. But, yeah, a tinge of jealousy for how fucking good he is.

I’m watching videos of people playing Malenia, and I can’t get enough. She was so notorious that everyone who runs into her knows who she is immediately. It’s hilarious to see people go from scared to angry to upset to tearful to joyous relief when (if) they finally beat her. She, more than anyone, is the boss who teaches you the stages of fighting a FromSoft boss.


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Bloodborne my first and last official plat

Yesterday, I wrote about Bloodborne and about different aspects of accessibility. Today, I want to write more about Bloodborne, but let’s talk about the plat this time. This is my first actual plat (given that PlayStation is the only platform to give actual plats), but it’s not my first time 100%ing a game. Which in itself is a misnomer because it’s about getting all the achievements, not doing everything in the game.

Side Note: There is a debate in the RKG Discord about calling anything other than the plat on PS a plat. Some people believe it is Not To Be Done, while others don’t think it’s a big deal. I normally call what I’m doing the not-plat, though not for that reason, but I don’t think it’s a big deal either way.

I am two trophies away from the plat (two endings) plus the Bloodborne trophy, which is the trophy for getting all the other trophies. I just did Mergo’s Wet Nurse last night on NG+ by myself with the Tonitrus, Executioner’s Gloves, and the last few swipes with my Hunter Axe. Shoutout to the Hunter Axe, which is a starting weapon, but it’s been my main all along. It’s a basic bitch, yes, but it does WORK. Plus, it’s got reach, which the Tonitrus is sadly lacking.

Side Note to the Side Note: There is a notorious boss in the Chalice Dungeons who is a plat stopper. Amygdala. She is also in the main game, but this is in an arena with limited room in which to run. Oh, and you have half-health is this whole dungeon. The Defiled Pthumeru Dungeon. So she’s not-so-affectionately known as Defiled Amy. I’ve watched people try to kill her and not have any success. She can one-shot you, and it’s such a slog of a fight. Supposedly, she doesn’t have much health, but it can seem like it takes forever.

There is a cheese, though, and I picked it up very quickly as I was just trying to do this as fast as possible. Which, by the way, made me upset when I realized that you don’t have to do all the Chalice Dungeons for the plat.

Anyway. The cheese is that you stand by Amy’s tail in a certain spot and she’ll jump straight up in the air. Your impulse will be to run away, but you need to stand as still as possible. She will land with her head right next to you (but 180 from where you are facing), and you can hit it a few times or with one heavy R2 attack before you’ll want to run back to her tail again.


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Being the weirdo…again

I love FromSoft games. They are amazing and Miyazaki is a genius. I think Sekiro is brilliant and an incredible stand-alone game. It’s also my least-favorite of the games with Bloodborne just above it. This is a controversial opinion in the community as most people worship at the altar of Bloodborne.

Before I continue, I have to address the elephant in the room. There has been a lot of debate about the accessibility of the games. Usually, this breaks down to the question of modes and the advocation of adding an easy mode. I don’t believe that’s the answer, but it’s also not an interest of mine because it’s clear that FromSoft will never do that.

I am more interested in the other things they have and have not done in order to make the games more accessible to people, but that’s also not something I’ll really be discussing this post. My interest right now is how much should FromSoft have to adapt in order to be accessible and in what areas?

For example, I’m terrible at platforming because I have depth and spatial issues. Add a horse to that and, well, I cannot tell you how many times I plunged Torrent into the deep abyss of nothing. It doesn’t help that he’s not very precise and FromSoft continues to insist that you can turn on a dime while jumping–even on a horse.

In the RKG Discord, there is a Soulsborne channel, of course. People were gushing about how great the game is and how when it clicks, it just clicks. Which is what many people who love that game say. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t click with everyone. I found ways to get around my issues with Bloodborne, but I never actually liked the game. Yes, I found a way to beat it, but I was never any good at it. Not having a shield is such a handicap to me, that I will do what I can to mitigate it. In the case of Bloodborne, using my Hunter Tools including the Augur of Ebreitas to TENTACLES TO THE FACE! helped, but did not wholly negate the damage of not having a shield.


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Being in the minority is hard enough

I’m still thinking about societal norms and the dictum to listen to other people’s opinions. I wrote a post about it yesterday, but it was still percolating in my brain. I didn’t feel as if I had really gotten to the root of the issue, and then it hit me. I’m a minority in almost every way. In the big things–gender, race, age, religion, and  sexual identity. Also in the daily things such as marriage status, having children status, what popular media I like, and even in more niche ways.

I like Taiji and Taiji weapons. That in itself is weird for Americans. Then, let’s talk FromSoft games. Before Elden Ring, it was a very niche genre of games. Yes, influential in many ways and much beloved as a concept, but the actual number of people who have played the game isn’t that big. As a comparison, Call of Duty has sold 425 million copies collectively. Before Elden Ring, the numbers for  the games sold as far as I could find in a quick Google search: The Souls games (plus Demon’s) is 27 million. Bloodborne is 2 million. Sekiro is 5 million. Elden Ring sold 13.4 million copies in the first month. So, pre-ER, the From games sold roughly 34 million copies. ER sold roughly half the total amount of Souls games sold in its (ER) first month.

That’s such a small fraction of the Collar Duties games sold, that I think I can comfortably call it niche. Even within the niche, however, I am even more niche. I cannot parry for shit, and I struggle with the main combat  convention of every game (save ER in which the parry wasn’t that important). It took me quite some time to realize that it’s because I have spatial issues and reflex issues. It’s the reason I like the Souls games/Elden Ring better than BB and Sekiro: I can make up for my deficiencies and cobble together a way to make things work.

I’m currently poking at the Bloodborne plat (true plat because I can only play it on my PS4), and I’m being reminded of why I did not enjoy playing that game. I’m in the Defiled Chalice Dungeon, in which I have half-health. that’s the gimmick of this chalice dungeon, which, honestly is horseshit.

I fucking hate the Chalice Dungeons. I’ll just say it. That puts me in the minority because everyone loves Bloodborne and some people think you can’t say you beat Bloodborne if you don’t do the Chalice Dungeons. To which I say, fuck off, gatekeepers! There is a literal ending in the game (three of them, actually)! Fuck alllll the way off with that bullshit.

I hate the Chalice Dungeons (CDs) and have been grimly plodding through them with nary a moment of enjoyment. Before I decided to do the plat, I had done two or three of the CDs. I quit because I loathed them. They’re all the same and they’re so utterly boring. Plus, I keep getting lost in them, and it’s just not fun. But
I dealt with it until the Defiled Chalice. Oh my god. It’s such utter bullshit for someone who has shitty reflexes. I’m on the Watchdog of the Old Lords (boss for the second level) and there is one move that keeps getting me. And because I only have half-health, it kills me every time. The RKG Discord is eager to help me out, but I’ve been trying to do it on my own. Why? Because I don’t like asking for help. I’ve tried to summon the regular way, but I can’t get anyone. Just the NPCs, which is not good enough for this boss.

I can put out that call, but this just makes me not want to do it at all. I don’t get the point of this, honestly. And this isn’t even the hard boss. That would be Amygdala on the next level. I took a break form the CDs and went to the main game because I have to see the other two endings as well. I have only played this game once all the way through and twice halfway through (once on NG+ and once with a new character). Or maybe a bit further with my new character. I went to do the Forbidden Woods which is such a slog of an area. I made it to the Shadows of Yharnam and summoned Old Hunter Henryk to help me out on my second try. He died halfway through, but I managed to squeak it out with my Tonitrus +9 and TENTACLES TO THE FACE. I wanted to make some blood bullets, but forgot how.

I raced through Byrgenwerth and summoned Damien of Mensis to take care of the Church Hunter before facing Rom. And we got her in one. Easily. Damien ended up with almost full health. It was a breeze! I mean, I’ve never had much trouble with Rom, but this was E-A-S-Y. Granted, Damien was a badass who did WORK, but still.

I’m hoping I can do save-scumming if I choose to continue with the plat. But I HATE the CDs so much. I really don’t understand why that’s a part of the FromSoft plats. Same with the covenant grinding, but way worse because I have to actually be good at killing bosses. Which I most emphatically am not.

Good lord. Look at me going off  on a tangent, per yooz. get me started on a FromSoft game, and you will NOt get me to stop.

My point is that I always have to decide when I can bring up my opinion/idea/point of view and when I can’t. I don’t have the luxury of assuming my opinion is the norm because it’s most emphatically is not. Ever. In fact, my brother and I have this running joke. When he does marketing for his job, he’ll ask me what I think. Then he knows to do the opposite. It’s a joke, but it’s not a joke. If you want to have a marketing idea that would work, just do exactly opposite of what I would like.

That’s why I have such a negative reaction to ‘talk with people with opposing ideas or you’re just living in a vacuum/echo chamber’. I already have to hear/see/read opposing ideas all. the. goddamn. fucking. time. if I were to go around spouting what I believed at the drop of a hat, I would be ostracized. Not necessarily because my opinions are vile (though some may consider them so), but just because they are so outside the norm. It took me a long time to realize just how incredibly weird I am and how to act like I’m semi-normal. It took me even longer to recognize that I think differently and on many different levels in comparison to most people.

This is what bothers me the most about the smug admonishment to think about opposing points of view: It’s never reciprocal. I understand in an advice column, you can only give advice to the person writing in, but still. Maybe take into consideration that the person DID look at other points of view (as proven later when the LW wrote a comment, adding more context). People in the comments were grumping that she should have included the clarification in the original letter, which, fair, I guess, but I understand what the LW wrote from the initial letter and thought the commenters were being unnecessarily harsh.

But, again, that comes back to my ability to read people exceedingly well. I get that not everyone can do that, but it would make my life so much easier if they could.

 

Let’s talk about Bloodborne

I have said for some time that if Bloodborne was on the PC, I would play it more. Then I played Sekiro, which is on the PC, and it turned out not to be true. I’ve played it through nearly two times, and I have no desire to play it any longer. I like Bloodborne better than Sekiro, but it’s still below all the Dark Souls games (and now Elden Ring) for me in terms of how much I enjoy the game.

When Bloodborne first came out, I didn’t think I would ever play it because I don’t do consoles. I could not justify buying a PS4 just to play BB, so I sadly accepted that it would not be a thing. Just like I will not play Deracine because it’s only VR. Then, my niece’s husband offered me his at a really good price because he was getting the PS Pro, and I happily accepted.

And I hated the PS4. It was so alien to me, including the fact that you had to pay to be online. I mean, what? I got that for free on my PC. It’s an issue now, but not for monetary reasons. I begrudgingly paid for PS+, but I wasn’t happy about it.

Side Note: They make it really difficult to cancel your auto-renew on the subscription. When you try to end the auto-renew, an error message pops up. I Googled it and it’s been a problem for several years. They could have fixed it by now, but they obviously would prefer to get the  money from people who just shrug and vow to take care of it later. What you have to do is delete your credit card info completely, which, fine, but it makes me less likely to rejoin at any time because they made it such a pain in the ass.

Side Note to the Side Note: I’m considering re-upping for one month because Krupa is continuing his plat run in DS III next week and he’ll want to summon slugs (name for the RKG community members) to help him out. I was bad the one time I got summoned because stream lag and because there was an invader and because I got ganked. There’s a weird pressure to hurry when you’re a summon in a way there wouldn’t be when I’m soloing. Plus, less health and less flasks.

Anyway, I hate the DualShock. I don’t know why as it’s similar to the Xbox One controller, which I love. It’s probably because it’s just different enough that I can’t adjust to it as I rarely use it. I think it’s also psychological as it runs on batteries which means theoretically, it can run out at any time. My Xboner (as I affectionately call it0 is just perfect for me.


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Dark Souls for days

Continuing on with my thoughts on how I’ve changed concerning the FromSoft games. Here is part two. The last time I played the game, I was breezing through it like it was nothing. I had the Zwei maxed out and all the most powerful Pyromancies. I went in the back way to Blighttown because I could, and I took down O&S without even sweating. I was shadow-matching Ian as he made his way through the game for the first time. I quit when I hit the Tomb of the Giants because I just couldn’t be stuffed and because he was crushing it.

Did I do the DLC? I don’t remember. Probably not because I normally wait until right before Gwyn to do that. I was frustrated because there’s a glitch in the remaster version that doesn’t allow for saving or connecting online, which I don’t care when I play for myself. But if Ian had needed to summon me, it would have been a problem.

It’s incredible all the different way you can play the game. Games, really. I watch videos and the amount of people who just mess around is insane. Fists only runs, Soul Level One runs (onebro), no hit runs, bows only runs, and more. naked runs, and more. I am proud of myself when I can kill Kalameet and it only takes five or six tries.

I tried a onebro run in Dark Souls III, which I read later that it was much harder to do (and technically can’t because there is no level one character) than in the original. I made it about a fourth of the way into the game (to the Deacons of the Deep) before conceding defeat. I just did not want to go on any further and gave up the good fight.

Side Note: I made my onebro a male character because I always play as a female. I thought it would be fun and much to my surprise, one of the NPCs, Anri, is a different gender depending on which you chose to play as. They are the opposite gender, I mean. There is a reason for this (spoilers, I guess). You ‘marry’ Anri and stab them in the face, so I guess we have to reinforce the het norms that men and women can only marry each other.

Imagine my surprise when I met Anri when I was a onebro and she was a woman. I had only known the male Anri, so it was weird when she was a she. I don’t watch playthroughs of the current FromSoft game until after I’d played it, so I didn’t know that was a possibility until I did my onebro. Then, of course, once I started watching playthroughs, it was 99% men who played as men so their Anri was a woman.


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More musing about Dark Souls

Yesterday, I wrote a post about my original journey through Dark Souls and why I hated it by the time I finished it. I linked to the We are the Souls Reborn by ThePrud with Vaati at the end of it. As much as it moves me (which is a lot as it makes me cry every time I see it), the original moves me even more because there is a place where you as the player carry Oscar (the guy who throws the key down so you can get out of your jail cell at the beginning) on your back. It breaks me every time (the video I linked isn’t the original, but it has that bit in it). It’s replaced with you giving Oscar back his Estus Flask in the new version, which is cool, too, but not as emotionally touching.

It’s hard to explain what these games have meant to me and how that’s changed over time. When I finished the first game for the first time, it took me 150 hours including the DLC. Dan Tack ,formerly of Game Informer, stated confidently that it would not take anyone over a hundred hours to finish the game. Ha! I did not intend to take that long, but I’m terrible at the games. And everything took me ten times longer than it took most people.

I am not made for these games. Because of my spatial issues and slow reflexes, combat was grueling. My instincts were completely wrong for the game. I don’t know why I kept playing the first time, to be honest. The second half of the game was so painful. Each area was a chore, and making it to the boss was a nightmare.

The second time I picked it up, it was because the sequel was  coming out. For whatever reason, I didn’t think I could tackle the second game without playing the first one again. This time, though, I knew what I needed to do and was not as flummoxed by the surprises. I mean, there were still new things, but I knew the right way to go and that I should be leveling things up along the way. And with a concerted effort–not willy-nilly.

To my surprise, it was a much easier ride and I was able to see the beauty of the game rather than just grit my teeth and move inch by inch at the time. By the time I was done with my second playthrough, I could see the beauty of the game. I could understand why it was considered to be one of the greatest games of all time.


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Freeballing about the original Dark Souls

Let’s talk more about FromSoft games. We all know that I am a big fan and that they are my favorite games of all time. However, ever since my medical trauma, I’ve changed as to how I think about them.

Brief primer, I hated Dark Souls as I was playing it. It was so fucking hard, and it was relentless. There was something calling me to the game, but I played it all wrong because I knew nothing about it before I went in. I mean, I knew it was brutally hard, but that was it.

I started as a Pyro because I like fire. That’s the only reason. I didn’t realize until later that it’s considered the newbie-friendly class, but it was not friendly to me at all. You have to remember that I only played a handful of hardcore games before picking up Dark Souls, the Prepare to Die edition. Games like Borderlands, Torchlight, and Diablo III. jumping from those to Dark Souls is not advised.

I fucked up from the very beginning. I leveled up whatever felt right to me rather than having a concentrated build. I went the wrong way when I first got to Firelink Shrine (and I’m not relitigating the argument that it’s brilliant on the part of Miyazaki to make two of the three paths almost impossible to traverse), and I felt like I wasn’t making any progress.

When I reached the Bell Gargs, I was broken. I had accidentally punched Andre, and he was permanently aggroed. I could pay Oswald to absolve my sins, but it was a bit rich for my blood. Now, you have to understand that I was using the Battle Axe at +1 or +2. That is not enough to fight the Bell Gargs, especially when you were an utter newb like me. I was rapidly losing my will to play the game, and I didn’t know why I didn’t just stop. Nobody was making me play the game, and yet, I was too stubborn to give up.

I wasn’t too proud to summon, but I was running out of Humanity. I kept going until I got down to one Humanity. I made the decision that I would summon Solaire one final time. If I didn’t beat the Bell Gargs, then I would quit. With that, I suddenly felt light as I summoned Solaire and went into the fray one last time. You won’t be surprised to learn that we did it. I mean, I wouldn’t be banging on and on about it if I’d quit the game, would I? I was able to absolve my sin so I could use Andre again and move on.


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