back to article The Souls noob's guide to Elden Ring

Greetings, traveler, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. You'll forgive the lateness of this edition because there was really only one game that mattered in March – perhaps the entirety of 2022 – and that game's name is Elden Ring. I've never gelled well with FromSoftware titles, but that …

  1. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Fun to watch, not to play

    I've been watching Luke guide Ellen through DS III on their OutsideExtra channel.

    These things are fun to watch, because Ellen already has a lot of video game dexterity and skill, so she doesn't do too bad, and Luke is that "magic GPS" saying "ok, now you want to go through the 3rd door on the left"

    Me? I'd just have a short repeating life as a floor wipe.

    I stopped playing the new HALO Infinite because it now has bosses (a very non-HALO thing) and even on easy, they're impossible to defeat. I just keep getting stuck on a wall and the guy with a hammer just keeps smashing me flat. That isn't fun.

    Edit: And no, I don't want to be part of any "community" - games are a respite from dealing with other people.

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Fun to watch, not to play

      Play Chronno Trigger, is a whole lot more noob friendly. I recommend the PSX port, it includes the videos without the trash changes in the DS version.

    2. AdamWill

      Re: Fun to watch, not to play

      I accidentally found a handy trick for hammer guy...grapple yourself onto a doorframe and he'll just stand under you, swinging and missing, and you can kill him at your leisure.

      I didn't like that fight because the game gave me an autosave point right when the boss spawned, and I happened to have a terrible choice of weapons. Trying to pick up new ones while he's splatting you is no fun. But then I accidentally wound up on the doorframe while running away from him and that solved that problem...

    3. staringatclouds

      Re: Fun to watch, not to play

      Try The Dark Mod

      The emphasis is on stealth rather than combat, it's based on the Doom 3 engine & runs on PC's under Windows & Linux

      99.9% of the mission content is fan generated so missions can be a bit variable, but it has quite a few missions that rival AAA games

      Oh & it's free just google "The Dark Mod" for the website & downloads

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Fun to watch, not to play

        That looks interesting, I'll give it a go.

    4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Edit: And no, I don't want to be part of any "community"

      A million upvotes for this. Too much focus on community over content kills games dead for me e.g. Fallout 76. Too much community, weak quests and plot lines. Among it's other failings. Getting killed by some random idiot who wants your stuff just isn't fun.

  2. Andy Non Silver badge

    Nearly bought the game

    After reading about the game on Amazon a couple of weeks ago I was almost ready to buy it when I noticed someone commented there were no settings for difficulty level. A case of one size fits all (or nobody). As an older gamer in my 60s with some arthritis in my fingers that immediately ruled the game out for me. I loved playing Horizon forbidden west, Ghost of Tsushima, The outer worlds, Death stranding, all the Assassin's creed games etc but all had a setting for difficulty so I could play at a level my fingers could cope with without them seizing up, especially when fighting bosses. Anyone know if Elden Ring has any disability settings that could mitigate the lack of difficulty settings? Prolonged rapid movements of my fingers on the controls isn't possible.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Nearly bought the game

      That's what has put me off the Souls games, ie the dexterity needed to 'git gud'. Plus memorising boss attack patterns and combos. I suck at that, but at least there are usually guides on how to beat the bosses. It's fun watching YT'ers like ChristopherOdd playing through them through.

      Think I'll stick to the fighting the most terrifying game boss, Clang, who can be summoned unexpectedly in Space Engineers.

    2. yoganmahew

      Re: Nearly bought the game

      I'm in my 50s and similarly arthritic. I'm on PS5 - I think the controller is easier to use. Anyway, I bought the game a couple of weeks ago, escaping from the incessant PvP drive that suits younger gamers, but not us fumblers. Like Gene Cash, I use gaming to get away! I admit I'm completely lost, and death becomes me, but I'm gradually discovering who I can beat. I haven;t taken on any serious bosses yet, but so far, timing is more important than speed, and timing is about finger memory, so hopefully my fingers will stop playing Elder Scrolls!

      Anyway, thank you Richard for the tips, and I may well watch my first Twitch streams!

    3. gernblander

      Re: Nearly bought the game

      Elden Ring is like the other FromSoft games in that the combat system is really good and difficult and requires a lot of controller involvement. I like the FromSoft games, but they are really made for combat mechanics.

      Elden Ring is a throwback to the old days of obtuse and difficult games to play with a lack of involved story. There is a fan-base that likes this, but ER does not have the modern features of lots of other open world games today. If you like games like Assassins Creed, Far Cry, Witcher, Skyrim, then expect to be disappointed.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    What's good - the graphics, which are the best I've seen on my Xbox Series X, and the size of the open world.

    What's bad - nearly everything else.

    The combat is more along the lines of a shooter rather than an RPG. It emphasizes fast twitch combos which is a talent I lost years ago.

    Death as a constant companion is fine but not letting me save and reload when and where I want to is not. I've died (or failed missions) a lot in Skyrim Special Edition but I could analyze what I did wrong and try again with new tactics after reloading the save I made before the battle without losing anything I had at that point.

    Farming souls is the most tedious farming I can remember. It takes far too long and is far too boring. Plus, there is no safe storage. You carry all your souls around with you until you get enough to spend them and when you die they're gone.

    In my mind a game should be fun. Challenges should be fun. There should also be a level of difficulty setting which doesn't just drop me into hardcore.

    Elden Ring has none of that. It is frustrating even if I compare it to the unpatched Cyberpunk 2077.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Good/Bad

      Having read your post I'm definitely happy I didn't buy it now! You'd think game developers would be astute enough to maximize on the sales of their games by making them as widely saleable to as many gamers as possible and not effectively restrict sales to able-bodied young gamers with nimble fingers and lightning fast reflexes. Most RPG games have features to make them more accessible. Even back in the old days when I played the original Doom on a DOS computer, it had difficulty levels. I remember playing on "Hurt me plenty" I think it was called, but there were easier levels for those less able. Forty years on and I need to play games on "Story" level.

      1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

        Re: Good/Bad

        Even on the occasions I can get my act together with dexterity and tactics (yeah I know, like that happens often...) I just can't be arsed. A lot of this stuff that supposedly adds to the challenge just makes it an intolerable chore IMHO. Let me quicksave where I like: people who don't want to... well, y'know, don't. Forcing everyone to "enjoy" the same experience is effectively just making it multiplayer without the other players.

        I play games for escapism. If I want chores, drudgery and difficulty I'll just do a bit more RL. Often I prefer lower difficulties because I kinda suck, but mostly it's because I can't be bothered with interminable combat: if I feel like I've won fair and square (and I'm in the mood) then overcoming adversity can be rewarding, but yet another battle of attrition or having to learn the one carefully-choreographed routine to progress combined inconvenient save points and losing all your stuff... meh.

        Unadjustable difficulty and no quicksave have to be right up there with timed quests, escort the idiot and One True Savegame as the biggest gaming annoyances (and at least with the One True Savegame you can usually make manual copies, though some e.g. the otherwise excellent Dragon's Dogma try to make even that work-around potentially risky).

    2. Naselus

      Re: Good/Bad

      It's almost hilariously over-rated at this point tbh. You read games sites bending over backwards to try and proclaim how some terrible feature of Elden Ring is actually brilliant because it's part of the 'creative vision'.

      The game's combat is great; it feels meaty and visceral. And it's not afraid to challenge the player, which many modern games very much are - I don't need the game to pop up a 'suggestion' on where I should go next if I don't do anything for 30 seconds (which is literally something that they teach you to include in games design courses. They also teach you that 'the player should never be able to lose', which is dreadful advice). It's extremely satisfying to defeat an enemy, as mistakes are brutally punished and so managing to down a boss means you know you've played more or less perfectly.

      However, everything else is mediocre. The graphics are very dated. The engine is sub-par and the performance issues on modern PC hardware are inexcusable. The frame rate lock on PC is absurd; the keyboard and mouse controls are poor, and you can't even remap several keybinds because apparently Fromsoft just outright forgot to include them in the options menu.

      The story is frankly incomprehensible from in-game (I've completed the game and didn't know half the stuff mentioned in the article). The open world is a lifeless, empty thing with few quest givers and otherwise inhabited by endless bands of wandering monsters like an early-2000s MMO. It's largely just a selection of swamps and forests. Your actions have very little impact on the world around you, in a manner which most open world games get slammed for, but for some reason Fromsoft games don't.

      The UI is extremely bad. This is repeatedly hailed as some kind of visionary minimalism but in many cases it's actually just obtuse and lazy design. You can't compare kit in shops against your existing gear, so you can't tell if it's better or not unless you either buy it, or else write down your present armour's stats on a scrap of paper. There's no quest log, or notes of any kind. Buffs are just symbols which are never explained anywhere, so you may have no idea what the hell the icons mean unless you look them up on a third party website.

      Combat mechanics are not really explained to the player at all, so quite a lot of the game's much-vaunted difficulty is simply a matter of not really knowing what the hell is going on. Once you understand stuff like i-frames, or the interaction between stamina and block, or what poise actually is, the combat becomes much easier. You will need to look up all these concepts in third-party guides, however, as this information is not presented in game at all.

      The game is incredibly grindy. You need to spend hours and hours farming runes from trash mobs, and the runes you get from a given enemy only loosely correlates to how difficult the enemy is - you might get 400 for killing a huge giant that can 1-shot you and has a giant melee range, but get 1000+ from weedy slow human-size grunts who only take a couple of hits to kill. Many of the best armour pieces likewise require repeatedly killing specific trash mobs over and over; there's one specific knight in the first major dungeon who can drop very good armour pieces with a very low drop rate. Again, discovering this requires either exceptional luck, or resorting to third party websites.

      The lack of difficulty options is routinely held up as a vital design decision to maintain the True Creative Vision, but including an easy mode that reduced enemy health and damage by, say, 30% each, or simply increased runes per kill by 20% so you levelled up quicker would not have been some terrible compromise.

      Ultimately, it's a good game. But it's in no way perfect and honestly I've no idea why so many reviewers are terrified to admit that it isn't, possibly for fear of a legion of toxic fanboys flooding their review's comment section with 'GIT GUD!!' bollocks. Either that, or they've been so starved of decent games over the pandemic that even something fairly average like ER looks amazing at this point.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Good/Bad

        Interesting. I think losing is part of the fun given there's the future reward for beating the mob. Unless that turns into frustration because you can't beat that boss, and it's gatekeeping progression. Then it's back to farming xp, or grinding for gear in an area you've already explored.

        I prefer the way Valhalla does it with level guidance on the map. You can still wander into those areas, and you may get your ass-assin handed to you. Or I might stumble across one of it's witches as a <100 viking. In which case, engage flee drive, and avoid that map marker for a bit.

        By contrast, Black Flag had a main quest gated with a QTE chase by boat, then by foot. That involved timing, and death scouting. Some games don't always provide enough clues, so it becomes trial & error until you've learned the right route or combo to progress.

        I think the mercy or dynamic difficulty scaling in some games is a step in the right direction. Boss notices they've killed you 27 times before, so adjust timers to give the player a chance to progress.

  4. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge

    I'm not alone!

    I thought if I'd post my comment, I'd be laughed out of the forum, but I'm so gratified and relieved that I am NOT the only one who plays games in easy mode.

    I never played DS and from all I've seen I would have zero interest in it. For the same reason Elden Ring has no appeal. Too old, too slow, too focused on "I want to play games like interactive books or movies". Dying 20 times to some obscure boss is like getting interrupted at the same page in a book over and over until you've forgotten what the plot was about.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: I'm not alone!


      I dislike hard games that don't allow save scumming. It's frustrating to encounter a boss that can 1-shot you and send you back to your last distant camp fire.

      I've been playing Assassin's Creed Valhalla recently and prefer it's mechanics. It restores you to an autosave, or pick your own save so you can skip the battle and come back later. Plus you can adjust difficulty on the fly.

  5. Plest Silver badge

    My favourite quote about the game...

    YouTuber Manley shared this Tweet someone posted about Eldon Ring, "It's supposed to be a huge open world game. I can't find any markers and there's no quest guidance to tell you where to go.". You couldn't make it up! Noobs expecting Dark Souls games to be like Skyrim, that's like comparing 6th form college to kindergarten. Skyrim you cannot possibly fail anything, it's impossible to lose but DS games take a little more dedication and require you to use the mushy thing between your ears.

    I want to play Eldon Ring but I know I'll need time to concentrate and give it my all, so I've held off buying it for the time being and when I take a couple of weeks of work in the Summer I might buy it then. My wife I have too much fun playing FarCry 5 and 6 co-op together, yelling abuse at each other for screwing up and just having fun blowing stuff up and shooting bad guys without too much "strain on the brain".

  6. Cederic Silver badge

    not for me

    Elden Ring is for the sort of person that uses the term 'noob', that thinks they're somehow better than other gamers because they're willing to 'grind', willing to spend tens of hours 'gitting gud'.

    Go and enjoy it. I'm delighted that there are games available even for people like that. I'll stick with games that let me enjoy them, allow for arthritis, have communities that respect and encourage new players, don't require grinding, don't punish slight mistiming by forcing yet more grinding.

    I develop proficiency, overcome problems and apply tremendous fortitude and effort at work. Computer games need to offer me something different.

  7. AgingGamer

    Excellent article- not so fond of the game

    Mr. Currie's article here is well written and helpful. It doesn't 'gush' over the game quite so much as the usual Elden Ring critical piece, and gives some actual useful information for a newcomer to the "Soulslike" genre.

    Elden Ring is a beautiful, well-crafted game. My problem with Elden Ring and Soulslike games in general is quite simply the so-called 'difficulty'. These games aren't really that difficult: every monster has a learnable pattern and counters. But perfecting the timing of those patterns and counters is frustrating and patently unenjoyable for me. Even the low-level 'yard trash' mobs can still kill you easily if you miss-time something or forget their particular move sequence. This makes even 'grinding' for runes into a chore.

    I spent over 30 hours on the game, got to about level 30, and still couldn't beat the first real boss, Margit. Through multiple tries I could get him down to about 30% health before a simple, tiny mistake would result in death. Although I'm sure the 'win' would be satisfying, all the wasted time to get there isn't 'fun' for me.

    Games are, for me, escapism. I'm looking for a story to get engrossed in, NPCs who actually have background and interests to engage with, and a sense of being a 'motivator' to those stories. I like some combat challenges, but dying over and over and over again even to yard trash isn't really a 'challenge': it is developing a particular game-specific skillset that I really don't want or need.

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Excellent article- not so fond of the game

      I'd just say keep at it. Use Spirit Ashes and level them up via gravewort (found in catacombs) after you meet Roderika near the entrance to Stormveil (there's a small group of shacks to the south of the gate iirc). There's also an NPC summon to the right of Margit's gate. The elation after beating a boss you've tried a zillion times is like nothing else.

  8. Robert Grant

    Exactly - no need to "get gud".

    Just play for 70 hours, using all the tools, and grinding away til you're skilled enough to beat the bosses. Totally different.

    1. Excellentsword (Written by Reg staff)

      My response to that would be that I'm not "gud". There are different degrees of "gud". I'd say I'm possibly "gud enuf" to blunder through the game to the end. We will see. Then there are others who are very familiar with the feel of Souls-likes, having played them for years over and over.

      The example I used is the Grafted Scion, which is possible to beat at level 1 if you're "gud". The rest of us will die almost immediately.

      Most bosses I have to try anywhere from 3 to 10 times, and I haven't even got to the endgame fights yet. Looking forward to getting back on tonight now I'm back from holiday.

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