Does our casual playful journalist without souls experience learn to love the difficulty without compromise hitting?
You might not guess it from his lifestyle of competitive pole dancing, fine dining with beautiful models, and death-defying adventures, but our crack reporter Mr Sato also as video games…many. “I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore gamer, but I love playing the headlines, taking my time with them and enjoying the stories” he says.
Indeed, his favorite games from the past few years are all high-profile titles that even casual gamers can easily enjoy: Cyberpunk 2077, Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4and Red Dead Redemption 2. But even though Mr. Sato identifies as “a middle-aged guy who likes games even though he’s not very good at them”, Mr. Sato has spent a much higher than average amount of time on these games, as per its Steam records its playtime totals for them:
● Skyrim: 241 hours
● Cyberpunk 2077: 280 hours
● Fallout 4: 286 hours
● Red Dead Redemption 2: 361 hours
● The Witcher 3: 392 hours
So when Mr. Sato started hearing about this new Ring of Elden game, he decided to take a copy. Like the other games on its favorites list, it’s a AAA open-world title, but there’s one key difference: Elden Ring is tough. As the successor of dark souls legacy, developer From Software has kept the challenge to a level rarely seen in modern games.
Let’s take a look at some of Mr. Sato’s notes from his early hours with the game.
“I was instantly destroyed by the first group of grumpy enemies I encountered after the tutorial.”
“Why are all the enemies so aggressive and dangerous?!?”
“I’ve died so so so so so so so many times!”
“What is this game ?!?!?!?”
OK, an early panic was inevitable. Despite Mr. Sato’s love of games, he somehow managed to miss dark souls, Bloodborne, sekiroand Demon’s Souls, Elden Ring’s spiritual brothers and sisters. Let’s fast forward to when he’s passed 100 hours of Ring of Elden recess, to see how much progress he has made.
“Keep getting assassinated by even the weakest enemies.”
“This game is terribly ruthless!”
Still, Mr. Sato persevered, and after much blood, sweat, and tears, he made it to Redmane Castle, the entry point to the boss fight with Starsbane Radahn. Mr. Sato felt quite proud of himself for this achievement. While Radahn is a boss you can reach fairly early in the game, Redmane Castle is at an edge of the map, so Mr. Sato figured he had some idea what the game was going to throw at him at this point. .
He was wrong.
Radahn is a giant armored warrior with a gigantic sword and a horse fused to the lower part of his body, as well as the ability to transform into an actual meteor for good measure. The fight with him is exactly as bizarre and difficult as one would expect from an enemy with such a diverse set of gear and monstrous powers, and Mr. Sato has mumbled “Damn” each of the 50 times he Radahn killed him.. That doesn’t mean he only died 50 times though. It just means it went from “Dammit” to “Yep, back to square one” for deaths from 51 to 100, and stopped tracking after its death toll hit triple digits.
But something else happened after I passed 100 losses. The deaths ceased to be disheartening and Mr. Sato’s mood changed from “I can’t stand this” to “Let’s go again!” He stopped wasting his moves, learned to differentiate between Radahn’s different attacks, and made smarter decisions about when to go on the offensive and when to retreat. His cries of “What? How?” transited through “Ah ha!” and “I got it!” His notes at this point read:
“That’s what makes this game amazing. It throws things at you that make you say ‘This is absolutely impossible! There’s no way you can beat this thing! This is ridiculous!’…but before you can’t believe how much you’ve improved From Software is amazing.
Before Mr. Sato could claim victory, however, he was faced with the sudden arrival of a new enemy: the coronavirus. A positive test confirmed he had been infected and was expected to spend a week in a quarantine center in downtown Tokyo. Since he wouldn’t be able to leave the facility during this time, he figured he could kill time for much of his stay by settling scores with Radahn. Unfortunately, although he remembered to bring his PC with him when checking in, he forgot his controller at home, so he had to order a new one from Amazon and have it delivered.
With an overnight expedition on Day 2 of his quarantine, Mr. Sato was ready for the 100-something round with Radahn. He loaded up his save file, walked up the red sand hill to the boss, and…
…beat it in five minutes.
Yes, it seems that Mr. Sato had, like the souls the community likes to call it, “gone good”. He felt a strange mixture of joy of victory coupled with just a touch of disappointment at a major element of his plans for how to spend the week having concluded so quickly than he had expected. But hey, with over 100 fights against Radahn, he couldn’t say he didn’t get his money’s worth. Ring of Eldenand with plenty of bosses to beat and mysteries to solve, it’s hard to think of a better game if you’re not going anywhere for a week.
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[ Read in Japanese ]