For as long as there have been video games, there have been debates about difficulty. But those has never raged longer or more fervently than when Soulsborne games are discussed, ultra-difficult roguelikes that make death more punishing than usual, and do not have various difficulty settings.
The same is true for Elden Ring, the new FromSoftware game tearing up the sales charts. It too does not have traditional difficulty settings.
But it does have an easy mode.
Look, I can play these games “normally.” I beat Bloodborne, I’ve done the thing. And yet I will admit that I have taken an easier path than some in Elden Ring, and I do not regret it. Using the tools the game provides, namely magic and summons, the game becomes easier than if you were doing early game melee builds full of much more timing and risk.
But compounding that are a few tools suggested to me that make my character even more of a menace, and I’m eating through bosses that most players may struggle with endless.
I do not care! I do not want to spend 30 deaths against every boss when I could be using that time to explore this gorgeous map! Even in “easy” mode here, I’m still given plenty of challenge from time to time, and I know late game scaling may not work in my favor with my current build. But I regret absolutely nothing about using both pure magic and frequent summons in my fights.
So, how to do Elden Ring easy mode? This is my path:
I am an Astrologer focusing on INT magic. This gives you access to Pebble and Arc, two early game spells that are shockingly good at doing damage for the mana they cost, and can be carried well into the game. The whole thing with spellcasting is that you can kite enemies endlessly and be a lot safer than you would be at melee range. Yes, you have to manage your mana, but generally speaking, it’s a much easier way to fight.
The second thing you’ll discover is that frequent use of ash summons are even better for mages because you want something to tank the damage and aggro while you are slinging spells from a distance. While you can use your starter wolves, you will soon unlock a ton of summons, and my best ones are the Skeletal Militiamen, a pair of skeletons that constantly resurrect themselves after being killed. You can get those guys after killing a boss here, in Summonwater Village.
The final piece of the early game domination puzzle here is a specific staff and spell that will carry you through endless boss fights. If you make your way to Caelid early on, you can find the Meteorite Staff and a spell it boosts, Rock Sling, which hurls three chunky rocks at your enemies. This is a blistering spell to use against bosses, particularly bosses that are busy with ash summons, and I’ve crushed everything I’ve come into contact with since I got it (I still use other spells for rank and file enemies).
This pair of items are not hidden behind a boss or dungeon, they’re just hanging out in some ruins in a swamp that you would be unlikely to randomly run into early in the game, if ever. My friend Nem showed me where to get them, and even if I am mostly trying to play the game blind, I have zero regrets about acquiring these two things. Here’s where to go:
Magic and summons are both frowned upon by Elden Ring elitists because they’re supposed “easy mode,” but who cares about those guys? For me, anything that gets more people to experience more of this game and not throwing them into frustrating encounters that feel impossible, the better. Plus, you can always respec or do NG + with a new build later on once you have more of a handle on things.
Easy mode Elden Ring is fun. Do not knock it.
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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series spirit The Earthborn Trilogy.