Elden Ring's developers know most players use guides, but still try to cater to those who go in blind: 'If they can't do it, then there's some room for improvement on our behalf'

elden ring let her solo me
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Raise your hand if you've played through a FromSoftware game without using a guide. If your hand's up, you're a rare and impressive bird, clearly suited to a life of luxury in some billionaire's menagerie. I can't think of a developer I associate more heavily with online guides and wikis than FromSoftware. While it's certainly possible to beat their games without outside help, I think the vast majority of players look up weapons, NPC questlines, boss strategies, even basic item descriptions to better piece together what the heck is going on in Dark Souls or Elden Ring.

Who's related to who? Who betrayed who? Whose magic and hubris destroyed the world? To the internet! 

PC Gamer magazine issue Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

(Image credit: Future)

I always assumed FromSoftware knew good and well that its players turn to wikis and multi-hour YouTube videos to explain everything, and FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki confirmed as much in our interview for PC Gamer's cover story on Shadow of the Erdtree, which you'll be able to read before the expansion's out.

"Of course players are going to consult guides, and there's going to be a wealth of information on the web and in their communities where they have access to the secrets and the strategies. We expect that," he said.

But as FromSoftware's games have become more and more popular, I wondered if the studio has tried harder to surprise or outsmart players. Some of the bosses in Elden Ring do seem to have attack patterns peppered with long wind-ups, surprise fast swipes and changes in rhythm that are meant to catch longtime Souls players off guard. Does the studio do the same with its secrets and try to design around guides? Or do they totally ignore them?

"We obviously understand [players use guides], but we don't make or plan anything with that as a prerequisite. If anything, we try to cater to the player who is completely blind and wants to go through organically. If they can't do it, then there's some room for improvement on our behalf, and we'd like to try to embrace those players more in the future."

For Shadow of the Erdtree in particular, Miyazaki said, once players have made it through enough of the base game to access the expansion, the developers "have faith that they will be able to continue, find these secrets and overcome these challenges." 

There's no need to feel sheepish if you do play FromSoft's games with a Fextralife tab open at all times, though; Miyazaki casts no shade in your direction:

"We don't necessarily cater to players who are reading guides as they go. Of course, it's a perfectly valid playstyle, and we respect those players who like to approach it with a guide in hand. We just want to let you know it's not our prerequisite, designing the game in their favor."

On that note—if you're diving back into Elden Ring for the DLC, check out our Elden Ring guide with links to build suggestions, NPC quest walkthroughs, where to find enough smithing stones to upgrade your gear, and more. 

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).