Elden Ring Needs A Proper Co-op Mode Without Invaders

Elden Ring Needs A Proper Co-op Mode Without Invaders

Elden Ring is really hard. Please take a moment to digest this momentous revelation I have just bestowed upon you before I get to my actual point. Elden Ring is hard, but it’s sometimes hard in ways it doesn’t need to be. I’m all for unforgiving enemies and challenging boss encounters, but when the mere act of exploring its world is interrupted by some overpowered wanker spawning into my world and kicking my teeth in, things can grow a bit tiresome.

Last week my friend and I managed to figure out co-operative play as I summoned him into my world, and we decided to explore The Lands Between of our own accord. He was a higher level than me, so was leading the way through unknown parts of the map as I followed along. We didn’t have a set destination in mind, just a determination to kill some monsters, find some loot, and catch up in the meantime. That was the plan anyway, but it didn’t take long for an invader to come along and ruin our fun.

Before you start calling me a pussy in my Twitter mentions please hear me out – I love the act of invasion in Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring. The idea of a stranger invading my world with the sole goal of murdering my ass fills me with a sense of untold dread. But it’s also hugely exciting, an invitation to duel with an adversary who is always every bit my equal. That wasn’t the case here, a toxic dude just showed up and rocked our asses with a broken weapon combination for the hell of it. No honour, no intention to achieve anything, just a way to make the game less enjoyable for us. Get out of it, fam.

Elden Ring gives us the opportunity to summon a friend to explore its sprawling world, but this is frequently undermined by an invasion mechanic that is largely unchanged from the games that came before. I didn’t mind being invaded in Sen’s Fortress when I was about to go up against a boss in Dark Souls because we could take them on with no problems, and it became our sole objective above everything else. It’s different in Elden Ring because I just wanted to summon a friend, so we could discover the awaiting horizon together, making bespoke discoveries and conquering demons on our own terms instead of a needless online hostility seeking to take that pleasure away.

Summoned allies are also returned to their own world upon defeating a boss, so you’ll often have to go through the tedious cycle of exploring, killing a boss, watch as your friend disappears, summon them again, and rinse and repeat until it all just grows a bit obnoxious. There are too many obstacles standing in the way of Elden Ring being an enjoyable co-op experience. You could argue that this cryptic execution of multiplayer is a deliberate part of the game’s approach to difficulty, but that doesn’t work when the entire genre of the Soulsborne template has shifted and your formula refuses to change alongside it.

There’s a chance it would make the game too easy with a friend by your side permanently, but it’s the co-op mode I really want to see in Elden Ring. Increase the health and damage output of enemies to balance out the presence of a second player, causing us to be increasingly trepidatious about each and every combat encounter. There are concessions to be made in order to make this mode a reality, but right now I have to look up a guide in order to figure out open world multiplayer without smashing my head against a wall. I don’t need to git gud in this instance, I just need to put up with weirdly obscure bullshit.

While being trolled by invaders remains a nuisance, getting payback will never not be satisfied. After being killed by the same asshole a couple of times he came back for a third, but this time we were ready. We ambushed him in a village filled with enemies, using them to draw his attention while slowly whittling down his supply of healing potions. Damage was being dealt at a consistent rate, so the second his flask ran dry he turned tail and started running away. The coward knew he couldn’t win, so he decided to leg it. Fortunately for us, he was running straight towards a castle guarded by myriad trebuchets. After a while we stopped giving chase, choosing instead to sit down and watch as he was butchered by an onslaught of airborne projectiles. Soon he was defeated, and we felt so smug about it.

Moments like this make unexpected invasions worthwhile, but they are far outweighed by tiresome groans of defeat as xXRuneFucker69Xx steps into my game world with a broken loadout ready to stunlock me into oblivion. A more approachable co-op mode would fix this, and Elden Ring already has the foundations to make it possible.

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