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Elden Ring modder chops down giant Erdtree for a performance boost

Elden Ring character looking at tree-less sky
(Image credit: FromSoftware)
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Elden Ring is, essentially, a game about people with different beliefs about a big golden tree. Some say it's god's grace made manifest, while others think it has an unnatural grip around their mortality and should be usurped of its power. K4richard, a disciple of the church of NexusMods, believes the tree is soaking up a little too much of their frame rate, so they got rid of it.

In Remove Erd Tree (FPS BOOST) (opens in new tab), a slightly misspelled mod (it's "Erdtree") for Elden Ring, K4richard deletes the centerpiece of FromSoftware's sprawling action RPG. That's like plucking the Death Star out of Star Wars or the ring out of Lord of the Rings; although their goal is to free up some frames, K4richard might have just written fanfiction that turns Elden Ring from a hundred hour adventure to a 20 minute short story.

K4richard's only other mod (opens in new tab) removes part of the model for one of the game's final bosses—who is, notably, fought near the Erdtree. Seeing this, I asked K4richard if he had something against the golden tree.

"The closer I got to the Erdtree the more demanding the game became," K4richard told me of their struggle to maintain a stable frame rate in Elden Ring's second half. It's fitting that, in the final sections of the game, the physical and thematic core of the world held them back from finishing it.

K4richard plays the game on a five-year-old graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 (opens in new tab), and an omnipotent tree wasn't going to get in their way. So they did what any PC gamer would do, and fixed it themselves.

"The Erdtree and a bunch of particle effects were clearly the root cause of the problem. After removing the tree and a couple of particles I was able to play at 30 fps on a low-end PC. A whopping 15 frames increased on a GT 1030! This mod practically lowered the graphics card requirements for the game," they wrote.

To install the mod, you need to have Mod Engine 2 for Elden Ring (opens in new tab), which is available for free on GitHub. You can then take K4richard's file, drop it into the mods folder within the Mod Engine 2 directory, and load the game with the custom offline mode launcher. If you want to get rid of the particle effects too, you'll need this mod (opens in new tab) (slight spoilers for a major story event).

I can see why K4richard committed this sin against the tree-worshiping Golden Order, deleting the tree increased my frame rate by around five to 10 frames per second. On modern hardware that can already run the game at a constant 60 fps, that's not a big deal, but for a low-spec PC gamer, this could be the key to finishing the game. Don't look too closely though, a few branches remain suspended in the sky, an error that k4richard plans to fix in a future update.

I didn't get a chance to ask what K4richard is going to delete from Elden Ring next, but I have some ideas. What is Elden Ring's quest to become the Elden Lord like when the Elden Throne gets moved to the Recycle Bin? Nobody likes Caelid, what if we erase it? There are tons of things in Elden Ring that I'd prefer not to deal with. I think the game needs more mods that aren't afraid of shaving off a little fat.

Tyler Colp

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.