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Stop Telling People They're Playing 'Elden Ring' Wrong - It's Maidenless Behaviour

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Stop Telling People They're Playing 'Elden Ring' Wrong - It's Maidenless Behaviour

The Elden Ring community has a problem. 

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It’s not the weird cursed knickers that hackers are dropping all over the shop. It’s not even the fact that after a handful of substantial patches, the Fire Giant is still a massive piece of shit. 

It’s the fact that, even two months on from launch, there are people who feel the need to police how others play the game. This is, to borrow a phrase that Elden Ring made popular, maidenless behaviour.

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Allow me to take you back in time a little way. Elden Ring was still a few months out from launch, and I, along with a number of journalists, streamers, and content creators, had been given early access to the Closed Network Test. 

I started up the game, and immediately opted for the magic-based build from the available pre-built characters. I did this because I’m more comfortable with magic than melee in FromSoftware games. And when you have an extremely limited amount of time to capture as much of a game you’ve literally never played before as possible? Well, you kind of want to feel comfortable. 

We streamed the game, and were immediately attacked by commenters who decided we weren’t playing it "right". 

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“Magic just seems too easy.”

“Cheater.”

“All I see is another spam build that requires zero skill whatsoever.” 

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These are some of the kinder responses we got. There were plenty more that were a lot more insulting. And riddled with spelling mistakes. This kind of response is hardly unique. The internet is bursting with self-proclaimed hardcore gamers just waiting to tell you that the way you're playing Elden Ring is wrong, or that you haven't earned your victories.

Let’s leave aside the fact these whiny little weirdos hadn’t actually played Elden Ring yet but decided anyway that they must know better. Let’s also park, for now, the fact that FromSoftware wouldn’t have put a detailed magic system in the game if it didn’t want people to use it. The bottom line is this: What does it matter how I choose to play the game? And what business is it of yours? 

Elden Ring is a huge game that offers the opportunity to play around with so many different builds - that’s part of what makes it great and why so many of us still can’t put it down. But there’s a (scarlet) rot at the heart of the community that’s been there ever since the days of the original Dark Souls, a pointless, pervasive belief that there’s a “right” way to play these games… and a “wrong” way to play them. 

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Elden Ring / Credit:  BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment / The Author
Elden Ring / Credit: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment / The Author

One of the cool things about Elden Ring is that it’s introduced FromSoftware games to a much wider audience than ever before. That’s why it’s heartbreaking to see many of those newcomers take to Reddit to ask why using magic or summoning NPC allies is considered cheating. 

This is utter nonsense, obviously, and the vast majority of Elden Ring players know it. FromSoftware put these things in the game for you to use. You want to play as a mage that summons a pack of wolves? Go right ahead. Are you a warrior that rushes into battle with a massive pizza cutter for a weapon? That’s awesome too! There is no wrong way to play, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. 

The irony is that many of the people trying to suggest we shouldn't be using magic in Elden Ring are the same ones who say FromSoftware games shouldn't have difficulty options because it's not part of the developer's "vision". I'm not sure the FromSoftware envisioned devoting countless resources to robust intelligence and faith-based magic builds only for nobody to use them because some crusty neckbeard said it was cheating, either. But here we are.

I know it sounds obvious, and I know most of you are probably already nodding in agreement. But that some people still feel the need to crap on how others choose to play in this, the year of our lord 2022, is exhausting. It’s indicative of this weird, toxic gatekeeper culture that has plagued video games since the very beginning. 

There will always be people who want to make it clear how much more of a “gamer” they are, and they do that by pulling others down and excluding them at every turn. Like an eight-year-old who refuses to accept when they’ve lost on the playground, these gamers are always finding new, increasingly ridiculous ways to tell you that your victory “didn’t count”’. 

If Elden Ring proves anything, it’s that even when a game doesn’t have an “easy mode”, some gamers will literally go ahead and outright invent an easy mode in a pathetic attempt to let everyone know they did the “hard” way. The “right way. 

What these people never seem to get, of course, is that nobody cares how they beat the game. There are many reasons for this, and I could explain them eloquently and at great length if I cared to. But when it comes to it, the simple answer is this: they’re arseholes. And as long as they work so hard to keep others from enjoying games, they’ll never truly understand what makes video games so special. 

Featured Image Credit: FromSoftware

Topics: Elden Ring, Fromsoftware, Bandai Namco

Ewan Moore
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