How the modding community made me love Elden Ring
Like 12 million other people, I bought Elden Ring and was excited to play it. I got about 4 hours into it before bouncing off of it. I've played Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, and Sekiro before, so I knew I was getting into a difficult game, but my history with these games is really touch-and-go. Bloodborne is one of my favorite PS4 games, but I bounced off Dark Souls 3 and Sekiro in no time as well. I was hoping Elden Ring would suck me in more, but the game just was more of a headache than I had the patience for right now.
But I chose to buy the game on PC rather than PS5 since I had a suspicion the modding community would give me a better way to play one day. And as always, the modding community delivered.
You can check out the Elden Ring page on Nexus Mods to see what mods are available, but I installed one that made a few tweaks to the game:
- I do a little more damage to enemies
- Enemies do a little less damage to me
- I collect a few more runes when I kill enemies
Those three changes made all the difference for me, and I'm not hooked on the game. Everything I've heard other people say they love about the game now resonates with me! The game is still challenging, and bosses still take a long time to kill, and they can take me out too. I still have to block and dodge and choose my moments of attack well, but if I screw up, there's a little more room for me to survive rather than sit through another loading screen and wait to respawn.
Whenever there's a new From Software game released, there's the same conversation we have over and over about difficulty in games and how that relates to accessibility. Some think that all games should have easy modes so that most people can complete them even if they're not great at games. Others see that as a slap in the face of artists who want to create specific experiences and that some games just aren't for everyone. Personally, I think that games absolutely should have accessibility features, but I don't think that they always need to have multiple difficulty modes.
At the same time, I don't think that a game having multiple difficulty settings cheapens the game at all for those who choose not to use them. This seems obvious, but I have heard on numerous occasions that people "just wouldn't feel as accomplished" if they knew they beat something on one difficulty mode and someone else beat it on an easier mode. This is madness to me, but it is something people feel and I just don't get it.
When someone who loves Elden Ring says they love the grind and that they love the satisfaction of beating a boss after numerous attempts, they say that's part of the fun and that making it easy takes away what makes the game fun in the first place. I get that, and there absolutely is a euphoric feeling when you get past a challenge in a video game that you thought was impossible, but I think that multiple difficulty levels are a great way to get more people to have that feeling. Not everyone's skill level is the same, and even I as someone who has been playing video games my whole life, am not really that skilled at games like this, so when someone who is good at them says Elden Ring is "a perfectly balanced game," I'll say "this is fucking impossible."
If From Software doesn't want to accommodate different skill levels, that's fine, it's their decision, and clearly a large number of people think their games are tough but fair, and a hell of a lot of fun. All I can say is that for me, tweaking the game just a bit to be more in line with my skill level has taken this from a game I bounced off of into a truly transcendental experience. Take that as you will, but the best thing I can say is that I'm thankful to the modding community for making this possible.