Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
- What should boomer shooters be called?
- Do you check how long games take to finish before you play them?
- Have you learned a real-world skill from a game?
If you were having trouble with Malenia in Elden Ring, you could rely on Let Me Solo Her (opens in new tab) to win the fight for you. If you were having trouble with pretty much anything in Final Fantasy 7, the Knights of the Round could be relied on to drop more than 100,000 points of Arthurian damage on it. And in Yakuza: Like a Dragon you can whip out your phone and call a storm of lobsters to fall on your enemies as the "Plague of Pincers". Relying on a summon to help you win a particularly hard battle isn't cheating—it's just phoning a friend.
What's the best summon you ever summoned to help you out?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Chris Livingston, Features Producer: I was gonna say it was definitely the time I summoned an army of hippos in Assassin's Creed Origins. But then I remembered I didn't really summon them, I just threw sleep darts at them until they fell in love with me, and I think I used the cheat console a bit. I also remembered they were pretty bad at killing Romans.
Then I also also remembered I played Pillars of Eternity as a party of bears. Those were proper summons, cuz I was playing as six rangers, I made them each summon a bear, and then just left the rangers behind and used the bears. And they were awesome! There are very, very few problems that can't be solved by six bears.
Fun fact: a group of hippos is called a bloat (or a thunder, or a crash) and a group of bears is called a sleuth (or a sloth). Isn't that fun?
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: I still think the magic system in Baldur's Gate is the best I've ever seen in an RPG, and that definitely extends to the summons. Out of all the options like Planetars or Mordenkaiden's Swords, I still love the humble spell, "Animate Dead."
It's only 5th circle, so it's even accessible in the first Baldur's Gate's level range in the enhanced edition. The skeletons you summon have such a generous timer they're effectively up until they die in battle, and they even scale in power as your necromancer beefs up. No pre-dungeon buff stack is complete without three or four of these bad boys.
Andy Chalk, NA News Lead: My campaign against Malenia, Elden Ring's most notoriously difficult boss, was going badly. Facing her in a fair fight exposed my kung fu as foolish and weak, and the summons I called in for help weren't much better. One managed to almost finish the job, until I got nervous in the late moments of the fight, tripped on my own dick, and died; all the rest were simply demolished and dispatched as though they were low-level NPCs. But as despair set in and I began to entertain thoughts of walking away, I saw the glowing sign:
Stand Back I Do.
With nothing to lose, and no one else left, I clicked. In a moment, the figure appeared, wielding a sword and wearing some nondescript armor. They were unremarkable—unimpressive, even—but they answered the call, and there was nothing else to do. We exchanged bows; they did some quick pre-fight preparations. And then, side by side, we marched toward destiny.
Entering Malenia's lair, I booked it to find a place to hide while Stand Back I Do rushed our foe. What transpired after that cannot fairly be called a fight. It was an absolute housecleaning. Malenia charged and thrust and slashed furiously, while Stand Back I Do danced through it all with practiced ease, dodging and landing blows effortlessly against a raging whirlwind who had repeatedly killed me within seconds. At one point they actually stopped mid-fight and waved at me, as if they were worried I wasn't paying attention and might miss a cool move. It caused me a moment of intense panic, because I absolutely was paying attention and now my saviour suddenly was not paying attention and JESUS CHRIST WHAT ARE YOU DOING SHE IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU
Of course they returned to the fight a second later, and not long after that it was all over. It was such a thorough dismantling that I almost felt bad for Malenia, the famed Blade of Miquella, Goddess of Rot, breaker of Starscourge Radahn—reduced to helplessness in the face of this true hero, someone I wish I could have properly thanked as they faded out of my game, waving all the way.
I could not—and so instead, I paid a small tribute on Twitter. And I will always remember the day I met the one they called...
Stand Back I Do.
Robin Valentine, Print Editor: In Nioh 2, you occasionally come across this thing called a scampuss. It's basically a cat the size and shape of a basketball. If you stop to pet one, it'll follow you through the whole level.
Generally in soulslike games, I'm not a fan of summons. I'm no masochist but it does all feel a bit empty if I just get another player or an overpowered AI ally to beat the big challenges for me. But the scampuss doesn't throw out loads of damage or tank bosses. It just kind of bumbles around being an adorable mascot and a minor distraction to enemies. A perfect companion to keep your spirits up when the going gets tough.
Honourable mention to Torrent from Elden Ring, if they count. I'm a big fan of horses that just materialise out of thin air, none of that "Ooh I was just hiding slightly off-screen" nonsense.
Jody Macgregor, AU/Weekend Editor: In South Park: The Stick of Truth you could summon Jesus Christ to fly down from Heaven and shoot people with a machine gun. That felt a wee bit OP, to be honest.
On the subject of returning from the dead, I'm playing the Vampire Counts in Total War: Warhammer 3's Immortal Empires campaign right now and to my surprise relying on the basic Raise Dead spell a lot. All it does is drag a unit of zombies up out of the ground, but they can block charges, prevent ranged units from shooting, flank units that are already in combat, and just generally be quite useful. Plus they eventually deal more damage than a direct-damage spell would, and help exhaust enemies while they do it, meaning that after finally defeating the zombies they'll be less effective fighting anyone else. It's not as just a handy spell to have.
From our forum
Zloth: I would give it to the original Final Fantasy 7, Neo Bahamut's summon: Giga Flare (opens in new tab). There are stronger summons for sure, but this one is the most fun just for the spectacle of it.
Sarafan: There can only be one winner—Planetar summoned by high level mages in Baldur's Gate 2. He's almost invincible. This celestial being is capable of taking out whole groups of enemies and we're talking about high level enemies. Planetar has some impressive resistances and a 25% chance of decapitating any opponent with a single blow, if that target fails a Death saving throw. What more, he's capable of casting priest and mage spells. If you pair him with one or two Mordenkainen's Swords, you'll have a team that's capable of taking out almost anything the game throws at you. The only exception are the top level bosses, but even then these summons are an immense help.
McStabStab: I'm a huge fan of the Bone Widow in Divinity: Original Sin 2. My ranger character has points in necromancer abilities and I use the spider to distract and soak up damage from enemies while I hurl arrows at them. It's great for a 1 memory slot skill so early game it's a boon.
Pifanjr: I feel there must be a much better answer, but the first thing that comes to mind is the Dremora Lord from Skyrim, one of the strongest summons in the game and great for keeping your enemies busy for a while, if not outright killing them.
Kaamos_Llama: The one that sticks out in recent memory is my Ancestral Follower from Elden Ring who I used right up until the end. I did try the Mimic Tear but it wasn't as good at breaking poise as the Ancestral Follower who also fires arrows from range, and tbh I just got quite attached to having the giant horned dude around.