Elden Ring players are normalizing using summons in the DLC


Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is already kicking players’ butts. The tough-as-nails DLC takes a challenging game and makes it even more difficult. Players have been making jokes about how a character higher than level 500 and the strongest build in the game can get pulverized by a random creature in a field. Now that it’s out, FromSoftware has successfully solidified its reputation for making difficult games yet again, but that’s not all. Players themselves and the culture around FromSoftware games can make playing Elden Ring even more difficult, since some players shame others for using certain items or fighting styles.

As FromSoftware developers have diversified the toolkits that players can use to beat their games’ many monsters, a subset of intense fans has responded by discussing which ways of beating the game are valid. Tools like the Mimic Tear Ashes can summon a duplicate of a player’s character to fight alongside them during a boss fight, or magical spells like Meteorite of Astel can fire a barrage of meteors against an enemy. These items exist within the regular base version of the game, but some people argue they can lessen specific challenges since they can be used from afar. Now, with the difficulty up even higher for Shadow of the Erdtree, prominent streamers and players on social media platforms like Reddit are taking to the platforms to discuss why it’s actually OK to use these tools — especially now that the DLC is even more difficult.

Im_dontai, a streamer with more than 1.9 million followers on Twitch, has been streaming the DLC since its release. In a clip, he pushed back on the larger culture of players who disapprove of using features like a magic build or the Mimic Tear and people complaining about the difficulty of the game.

“It’s because y’all are playing it the way that the internet is making you feel like you gotta play,” Imdontai said on a stream. “Yo, no magic, no summons, no mimic, no armor. […] The game is hard as hell, and I got my motherfucking Mimic by my side, bro. I’m playing how I want to play. I don’t care who calls me a bitch, and you shouldn’t either. Play the game how you want to play the game.”

The idea that Elden Ring should be played without summons originates prior to the release of that game and ties to a decade-plus-long conversation about difficulty in FromSoftware’s previous games. All modern FromSoftware games have included ways for players to get help with certain challenges, either by enlisting NPCs or other players to fight alongside them. Elden Ring also expanded much further upon the repertoire of fighting styles and magical powers available to players. Yet there are still some players who say that this isn’t the “right” way to play a FromSoftware game. If you had an issue beating a boss, magic and summons aren’t the answer. The proper response, according to die-hard fans, was to “git gud” and learn the proper patterns of attack for each boss without the need for magical ranged attacks, NPC summons, or (in the case of Elden Ring) spirit ashes. But now, players have their hands on the DLC, and it’s… well… really dang tough! So much so that it has sparked a larger conversation about the role of summons and other supports in the game.

My Elden Ring character and her Mimic Tear companion get ready for another ass-kicking from the Valiant Gargoyles

A Mimic Tear duplicate stands alongside a player in the base game.
Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Reddit user TheHessianHussar shared a post on Reddit discussing summons that has been upvoted more than 11,000 times. “To everyone still not using summons…. Just do it. The game is literally balanced around them,” the user said. “I am myself an oldschool souls gamer and I was one of the people who refused to use summons, since I wanted to play the old way. The ‘ethical’ way I told myself. But let me tell you, they are no longer optional.”

Commenters resonated with the general sentiment of pushing back against those who say you shouldn’t play the game with the additional support. One person responded by likening the sentiment to “low-self-esteem, insecure teenage bullshit,” and others said that people who don’t like players using summons can go “touch grace.” It’s not as if using sorcery and summons makes a difficult game that much easier; each player still has to learn how to fight each boss. Additionally, Elden Ring is largely a single-player game, and whether or not someone uses summons doesn’t impact other players.

The Reddit post insinuated that you need summons to beat the DLC. That’s not exactly true, but maybe the time has come to simply let people play the game the way they want to. In cordial conversations about the idea of using no-summons runs in Elden Ring, some players have talked about how “rewarding” it can feel. Any way you play Elden Ring, whether you like it as a horse-girl simulator or you play it for the fashion, the game can feel rewarding. You can even run away and that’s still a valid way to deal with an overwhelming enemy! So now, at least some players are supporting each other — summons or not — in playing the game however each person wants to.


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