Let's play Elden Ring! (sort of)
It's been tradition for me ever since first playing Demons' Souls back in 2014 to start these games with a knight. At that time it was the class that most resonated with me. To flesh the character out a bit more I would always put at least some points into faith as well. Healing spells are really handy when you're new to the game, and my weaon of choice in Demons' Souls turned out to be the Large Sword of Moonlight. However my favorite in Dark Souls II turned out to be the Crypt Blacksword, which conventiently scaled with faith, but also required me to invest stat points into intelligence.
Long story short: the plan for my first character in Elden Ring was to start with a knight, invest points into faith mainly and to be open about investing into intelligence as well, depending on the weapons the game would present to me.
This post is going to describe how I approached my first playthrough of Elden Ring. By this time most fans of the Souls series will have already played the game, but I'm going to mention the obvious anyways: this post contains spoilers.
More disclaimers: I already beat the game a while back as of the time writing this. There may be chronological errors as I'm going by memory. Screenshots may be from my actual playthrough, but don't have to be, as I didn't record the playthrough from start to finish.
Also have to admit that I made use of the official guidebook and the wiki, to make sure I wouldn't miss out on anything and that I wouldn't waste all of my smithing stones before deciding on the weapon of my liking. Yes, when I made that choice I had no idea that basic smithing stones weren't limited in quantity. Looking back I kind of wish I had played entirely blind. But I also recognize that it would have stretched my already long playthrough (170 hours..) even more.
It was getting late when I started playing to I tried not to spend too much time on the sliders this time around. Chose the vagabond class because it most closely resembles a knight. The characters' face I first came up with didn't turn out to work well. Thankfully the game has an option to change a characters' appearance at any time, which I eventually used to switch to one of the preset faces.
It had been many years since I last really got into one of these games, so I wasn't able to beat the first boss. The one you're supposed to lose to but can also beat if you play well enough.
Straight out of Limgrave this shady dude would make fun of me for not having a maiden. Apparently my character was already renowned for being maidenless. I wasn't in a great mood and had to hold myself back not to just slay the guy. In any case, I learned that my first task was apparently to meet the girl that could help me spend runes and level my character. Since the game seemed to make a deal out of the fact that my character was maidenless, I felt like I might be presented with a choice at some point.
Anyways, as everyone else I was also told that I should follow the guidance of grace to make progress in the game. Now my initial assumption was that the game would at some point straight up tell me to go around and explore. At the very least starting my real adventure without a means of leveling up and making use of my runes didn't strike me as the best idea. So after a little detour to the cliffs nearby I went straight ahead towards Stormveil castle.
So it wasn't long until Melina introduced herself to my character and offered him to act as his maiden, in exchange for guiding her to the foot of the Erdtree.
Trivia: The Erdtree is simply referred to 聖樹 in japanese (lit. holy tree). Quite a difference, since Erdtree implies a pagan history to me. The way Fromsoftware worked in the past (see screenshot below) might lead to the assumption that its english name was decided while working with the translation team, but my guess here is that its english name was already part of the world setting that GRRM had written for the game and that the japanese team decided to simply refer to it as the holy tree. Maybe only to avoid ambiguities because both Eld and Erd would be spelled エルド in japanese.
Anyways. Accepting Melina's proposal seemed like a big deal. Other than an early opportunity to level up I didn't see any reason to trust her and just accept. But I also didn't want to risk having to play the entire game at the base level of my class. So I did some reading online to see if the game would present me with other choices in regards to the characters' maiden.
Disappointingly it turned out that my suspicions were wrong and that Melina was in fact the only character that may function as this games maiden to the player. I still wonder if the developers played with the idea of having a choice here, but discarded it as they fleshed out the story for the game. So the game coerced me into accepting this shady woman's offer.
With the ability to level up and ride Torrent I took another detour to the cliffs and beaches near the start of the game. I discovered the seaside cave, but had no light source available. Playing around with jumping on the pillars in the vicinity, in the hopes of making exciting discoveries, I quickly learned that there wasn't much to find in the area and moved on towards Stormveil castle.
Getting past the barricades by sneaking through the bushes nearby was an easy task. Confronting Margit however didn't spell well for me. At around level 15, no clue about spirit summons and a lot of inexperience as of late he wasn't the easiest boss for me to deal with. I consulted the internet after a couple of attempts that weren't going too wel for me. Apparently I was supposed to be at a much higher level and to have explored the majority of Limgrave before coming here. Lesson learned I guess.
While I had received my first spirit ashes from Roderika before, I missed that I needed a chime to actually make use of these. Having missed Renna in the church near the start, research led me to learn that I could purchase this tool in Roundtable Hold. I suppose I could have attempted Margit again right away, but was curious about what I had been missing out on by not exploring.
Of course my first discovery after deciding to go and explore had to be the path to skip the Margit encounter entirely. Anyways, I did some stuff here and there, got lucky and found myself a Zanbatou and eventually came across my first Evergaol. Its boss took me a while, but the Bloodhound's Fang I found myself rewarded with was well worth the time investment. I was ready to tackle Margit sooner than expected.
I had explored almost the entirety of Limgrave by the time I started to seriously explore Stormveil Castle. Obviously my character was pretty strong at that point, but not OP to the point where I could faceroll the dungeon. I took it slow and played carefully. Especially the Banished Knights were still dangerous. I hadn't upgraded my straight sword and shield much yet, saving my smithing stones for a Banished Knight's Greatsword which I would later farm to prepare for the encounter with Godrick. Farming said weapon unexpectedly took me hours. It was getting bothersome to the point that I went and checked if I couldn't get my hands on equipment and consumables to increase my discoverability. It looked grim. The talisman was found in an endgame area and to craft the consumables required me to farm a rare drop off critters. However the sword still dropped for me just as I was about to give up on it. It's somewhat of a boring weapon but looked better than the alternatives I had on hand at the time. Besides, it comes with a neat scabbard unlike most weapons. The farm also equipped me with a lot of extra runes that allowed me to be more than prepared for what was left of Limgrave, the depths of the Siofra well and Stormveil Castle's boss.
Godrick indeed turned out to be pretty easy for me. It was somewhat close but I beat him first try. As ready as I was for traversing Liurnia of the Lakes, I still wanted to make sure I hadn't missed anything in Limgrave before moving on. Checking my guidebook taught me that I had indeed missed a couple of caves and catacombs, even an evergaol, in the area. Dealing with those lose ends was my next priority before exploring the Lands Between beyond Limgrave.
Also fighting bosses and tougher enemies had me feel that shields weren't all that much. One of my favorite weapons in the series was Dark Souls' Zweihander, so I figured it was time to check out ultra greatswords in Elden Ring.
While the Zweihander is in this game as well and available without leaving Limgrave, the weapon unfortunatly is equipped with its moveset from Dark Souls II which I never liked much. Its silly R2 poke defies physics just a tad too much for my taste. Although I historically used to prefer weapons with a noble feel to them, the Greatsword seemed to be what fit me best at this stage of the game. I went out of my way to get it and started investing a bit more into strenth than I had planned at first. It's a fun weapon to swing around and served me well for a very good while. With this beast of a weapon in hand I finally went on to journey through Liurnia of the lakes.
To be continued. Maybe.