Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: level design

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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Elden Ring second half blues

I love Elden Ring. I have four characters, one at the very end of NG+ about to go into NG++. But, I’m realizing that–oh, spoilers for the end game–the second half of the game is porbelmatic for me. In my first playthrough, I thoroughly explored everything. Every nook and cranny. Every cave and every catacomb. I wanted to see all the secrets the game had for me. At hour 100, I thought I was in the end game and nearly done. Oh, I was a sweet, summer child. The reason I thought that was because I was told to kill two shardbearers to get into the capital city. So I erroneously assumed that was the last area. Someone in the RKG Discord said it was like ringing the two bells in the first Dark Souls. When you do it, you think the game is over! Nope. It just opens the path to the second half of the game. Which, by the way, is universally considered much weaker than the first half.

In Elden Ring, when I reached the capital city, I literally said to myself that I was in the end game. At a hundred hours. I ended up with 225+ hours on that plathrough, so I wasn’t even halfway through. Although, I will say tha I saw the end boss probably before the 200 mark and then did some clean up. At any rate, though, the game was roughly twice as big as I anticipated it to be.

There are three areas in the end game. There is one repeating one as well, but that is mostly just the very end with two different (dual) bosses, but no actual new stuff. Wait. Three bosses. Kinda. It’s complicated.


I’m going to thoroughly spoil the end of the game so be forewarned.

After the capital city is the Mountaintop of the Giants. This is probably my least-favorite of the mandatory areas. You get there from the capital city, and I had a really tough time getting there in my first playthrough. I will say that my number one tip for a beginner is to make sure your health is over 18. Yes, that’s a weirdly-specific tip, but I was at 18 for the first hundred hours, and it was not a good time. I had to add several points in Vigor at one time to use a certain invaluable item that stayed with me for the rest of the game. Even then, I was hurting because it was 22, I believe. By the end of the game, I was at 30 Vigor. It’s funny because an article I read said you should have 60 Vigor by the end of the game (I ended up with roughly 180 levels, so it’s possible), which made me laugh in both envy and incredulity. 60 in Vigor? In what reality. Honestly, most people do not have that much. But 40 seems to be bare minimum if you’re going strength.

My first two characters are at the end of the game because I was using them to get the plat. My first playthrough was 225?+ hours as I stated, and then I parked her at the end of the game to wait for the DLC. I know from long experience that I don’t want to do it for the first time in NG+and I want everything open so I can get there as easily as possible.

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Wo Long is not long for this world

Yesterday was the first day I did not play Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty (Team Ninja) since I first tried it out. Ian has said that the big boss of this level is pertty interesting and something he had never seen before, but that means finishing the level. Which I have absolutely no desire to do.

This level was the nadir of the game (so far). I mentioned several reasons why this was true in the last post. I will add to that in this post, but, honestly, I’m pretty much done with the game. Ian has told me that the boss of this level is something he’d never seen before, so I might push through, but, it’ll be with my teeth gritted.

Side note: Speaking of teeth, I had two temporary crowns and a bridge put in on Monday. It was supposed to take 90 minutes (including breaks). I have a tiny mouth. Tiny. Even the kid’s jaw opener block thing was hard to fit into my mouth. I was not looking forward to this appointment at all. My dentist had to build up the two teeth that needed crowns (wihch means posts inside them) plus bridge them as they have one tooth between them. Each tooth on its own was not strong enough, therefore, the bridge.

I went in thinking it was going to be agony. The last time I had to have a root canal, I was in tears because of the mouth block thing. This time was 2 1/2 hours not including the breaks. We started at 2 p.m. and I walked out at 5 p.m. My jaw ached, but I did not cry at all! I consider that a success.

Anyway, back to Wo Long.

I spent two hours trying to get enough fortitude to take on the head evil mermaid. She was a 7. I would get up to 4 or 5 and then be killed by an exploding big porcupine. I cannot tell you how much I hate those big porcupine. I’ve said in the past that they remind me of the worst enemies in the 2nd DLC of Dark Souls II. Except these are totally different because they explode in fire! They’ne not made of ice. Get it??

I think my biggest complaint about this game (and believe me, I have many) is enemy placement. This is actually a problem with all Team Ninja games–they mistake enemies you can’t see jumping out at you as difficult. No, it doesn’t make the game hard (at least not in the sense they mean)–just unreaasonable. There was one giant porcupine that I still don’t know where it came at me from.

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