Elden Ring DLC needs to steal this underrated mode from Assassin's Creed

2 months ago 81

Yes, really. Bear with me.

Eivor (female) from Assassin's Creed Valhalla stands in the middle of the Elden Ring map. Image credit: VG247

Have you ever clicked on a suggested YouTube video only to have it ruin your algorithm and spam you with the same stuff over and over for weeks on end?

It happens a lot with baby animals, Apple Vision reviews, and sad-eyed men eating expired military rations or camping in the bushes next to a roundabout.

But a bout of algorhythmia I’ve actually been enjoying recently has seen my feed flooded with Elden Ring lore videos.

If there was a time before most of my evening was spent wondering why that Crucible Knight was locked in an Evergaol, about the origins of the Misbegotten, or who that knobhead Commander Niall even is anyway, I don’t remember it, and I’ve become accustomed to my new life. There’s even a 12 hour compilation mix from one of the main channels you can sleep to.

But I don’t think I fully appreciated Elden Ring’s backstory as a collaboration between FromSoftware and fantasy author George R. R. Martin when it first came out, preoccupied as I was with figuring out where all the best weapons were and how to beat the bosses from a mechanical perspective.

I think I assumed the story would be more on the Souls side, as delicately told as Bloodborne (something about putting eyes on your brain?) through implication and item descriptions. There’s still a lot of that in Elden Ring, but there are so many more present characters, many of whom lore dump a lot of interesting info – like in Rogier’s quest – that it slots together more traditionally once you figure out How To Parse All Of The Proper Nouns.

Some unfortunate folks in Elden Ring. Elden Ring has a lore unto itself. | Image credit: VG247/FromSoftware

Replaying Elden Ring with this new context (and the various tweaks and quality of life changes FromSoftware has made since release to make things clearer) has been truly awesome.

This time around, I understood the Shattering of the Elden Ring, Ranni the Witch’s role in the overarching narrative, and the origins of the bosses and trash mobs I was battling so much more. Even stuff as simple as seeing a headless Mausoleum Knight at the entrance to the Black Knife Catacombs, where you find the imprint of the weapon that killed their former lord, adds a layer of intrigue that feels very intentional without removing the mystery from The Lands Between.

But in my haste and over-excitement to see these tidbits I thought two things: one, that I bet loads of people who just played the game and didn’t look further into it would love to know this stuff, and two, I kinda wish I didn’t have to play the game for 20 hours, then kill the same giant bird 100 times at a rune farm to grind out the cheesiest bleed build I can muster, just to point at my TV like the DiCaprio meme at Goldmask T-posing in his pants.

That reminded me of one of the silliest, most niche, but low-key brilliant things I’ve ever seen in a triple-A video game: Assassin’s Creed’s Discovery Tour.

Marika, her head turned away, in Elden Ring. Marika!? I barely knew her. | Image credit: FromSoft

In the last three Assassin’s Creed games (that’s Origins in Egypt, Odyssey in Ancient Greece and Valhalla in Viking England), Ubisoft added a dedicated mode geared towards telling the real history of each setting.

It turns out magical Apples of Eden weren’t actually the instigating factor in most major historic events. The Pope can’t shoot laser beams, Pythagoras didn’t have a triangle staff of immortality, and Henry Ford didn’t establish Abstergo. Charles Dickens was in the Ghostbusters, though.

To redress the balance between fact and fiction, the Assassin’s Creed Discovery tours let you run freely around the painstakingly recreated cities and settlements and interact with different stations like a virtual museum.

In Origins and Odyssey, you look in on maps and artefacts as a soothing voiceover spoons warming knowledge into your hungry brain, while Valhalla takes a more Renaissance Fair 'living history' approach.

Come on, you'd love a relaxing tour around here, right?

Either way, wouldn’t it be great to have something similar in Elden Ring? Where, after you’ve experienced an area naturally, you could float around and get a good look at the amazing models and small details that make The Lands Between so lived in and ancient, filling in the gaps about Empyreans, the Tarnished, and the battles between warring Demigods in The Shattering.

In some areas, I’ve started making my own Elden Ring Discovery Tour. A good one is to kill all of the enemies in Nokstella, Eternal City, then plod around with a video about the Nox or the silver tears, the cut Mimic Tear quest or just the twin Eternal Cities themselves playing in your headphones.

You can marvel at the celestial backdrops and ponder their meaning, all the while traipsing past the ragdolled bodies of the poor souls you’ve dispatched, wondering whether you’re supposed to be the bad guy in all of this.

History lessons make for a good (crucible k)night in.

So, while you can feasibly achieve something similar with a free camera mod and a YouTube playlist, I feel like Elden Ring’s lore is already presented so thoughtfully and expressed so elegantly that an official companion could tie it up into an even more perfect package.

Here's hoping we see something like that in the DLC. But I'm not holding my breath.

Continue reading