My experiences trying to play Elden Ring with real-life friends have been as arduous as my journey to the Erdtree. Just as I think I'm getting closer I fall into a ravine, or discover that there's a whole new land between me and my goal. Such is the struggle of getting co-op working that I wonder if all those disconnects, invasions, summon signs failing to appear, and inability to ride horses or fast-travel together are part of the game's grand message on the necessity of suffering.
Well I say 'hooey' to all that and let me play LukeYui's mod instead, which turns Elden Ring into a seamless co-op game (thanks, PCGamesN). The mod, which is still a work-in-progress, claims to remove "all multiplayer boundaries and allows for connections to persist after death.”
That's not all. With the mod you no longer need to fiddle around with Finger Remedies to summon friends, and can sit around a Site of Grace together so you can all level up, memorise spells, and generally invoke the ambience of being on an old-school RPG adventure together. To that end, the mod will support up to four players, all of whom will be able to gallop around on their respective Torrents simultaneously. There'll even be little touches like a fast-travel voting system, with players having to agree on where they're being zapped to.
It won't all be plain sailing though. Luke has added a stackable debuff called Rot Essence, which gives you various ill effects each time you die. Rot Essence can be cured by resting at a Site of Grace.
Crucially, it looks like this clear violation of FromSoft's online terms of service will bypass FromSoft's EAC and matchmaking systems. The mod will run through its own launcher, which means it'll be its own instance of the game separate from the game proper. LukeYui has previously released a standalone offline launcher that bypasses EAC, usable by players or "for mod creators to use the source code to inject their mods into the game at runtime."