A Genuinely Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: I finally beat ELDEN RING

I finally– FINALLY managed to put Elden Ring to bed just now, after a completely ridiculous 122 hours of gameplay over roughly a month and a half (the game came out on February 25) of my actual life. I’m not doing the math to figure out how many hours a day that represents; I can tell you I did actually take a couple of days off here and there, but not many.

Here’s the review: this is easily one of the best games I’ve ever played, and I’m probably never touching it again. Now, there are plenty of other games I’ve put more than 120 hours into– there are other Fromsoft games I’ve put more than 122 hours into (Sekiro and Dark Souls III, definitely, and while they aren’t Fromsoft, Nioh and Nioh 2 as well) but those have all been on multiple playthroughs. Even something like Skyrim, which is legendary for the amount of content it contains, wasn’t close to 122 hours on my first playthrough. 122 hours is twice the length of a really big game, and I am one hundred percent certain that there is a ton of stuff left to do in this game that I left on the table– even if it’s just as simple as the fact that I was playing a strength build and so I went basically the entire game without casting a spell. I’m sure I missed dungeons. I probably missed entire quest lines scattered here and there, and who knows what other little landmarks or interesting bits of content I just never noticed.

It’s difficult to explain to people who don’t play video games just how big this game is, and how– much as I predicted, about 90 hours ago– that kind of scope ends up actually being detrimental to the game. Because, okay, this was my first playthrough, and subsequent playthroughs won’t need to be nearly as long, because 1) I really won’t feel the need to do every single thing that I can possibly do on a second playthrough and 2) Since I know the general layout of the world and the basic path for exploration I won’t need to do as much fiddlefarting around as I did on the first playthrough, where there were big stretches where I didn’t really know what to do next so I just sort of wandered around until I stumbled over something. So I’m not in for another 120 hours, but even 50-60 for a second playthrough of something I’ve done before is just a big investment of time. That’s literally multiple days of playtime. Like, I loved it, it’s delicious, but if I eat any more I’m gonna throw up, and that’s not what I want.

I am uploading the final batch of episodes now; episodes 88 and 89 will go live today, so that’s 22 more episodes, meaning that the last episode will air on the 21st, since I don’t intend to bump up the release speed at all. I need to decide what I’m doing with the channel now; I’m closing in on a year that I’ve been doing this (I started in June of 2021) and I was really hoping that this series would goose my follower count a bit. I started the series with 116 followers on YouTube. I currently have, after 88 episodes of what at least to me seems like quality content about the hottest game on the market, have … 116 followers. I think a year of an hour of content every single day— I didn’t miss a single deadline once I started– is probably enough to determine whether I’m 1) going to blow up or 2) want to blow up on YouTube as a platform. I think the first answer is no; I had heard all kinds of stories about how follower counts pick up a lot once you get your 100th follower and your first video with 500 views; I’ve done both and they haven’t. The second … I’m tired, y’all. Video games and reading are my two big leisure activities and I effectively converted one of them into a job over the last year and I’m really not sure I want to keep doing it. I’m going to take those eleven days and play a game or two and not record at all, just to see if I feel differently about it, and we’ll see if I pick things back up in a couple of weeks (I could always just finish that year out and make it official) or if I decide to walk away from the channel for a while. I mean, I could always just record stuff when I want to, or cut down on the recorded episodes and do more livestreams or something. There are avenues in between “keep doing exactly what I’m doing” and “completely shut down.”

Elden Ring, 35 hours in, and the channel

First, the I’m-maybe-a-third-of-the-way-through review: Elden Ring is phenomenal, a towering achievement that has all sorts of interesting things to say about its predecessors from FromSoft and the notion of “open world” gaming to boot; this is one of the best games I’ve ever played on any console, and if my opinion ends up changing on that front it will be because ultimately there ended up being too much of it and it got overwhelming.

What’s killing me is I’ve got the next two games for the channel on deck already, and they’re both also huge, and I recorded episode forty-seven tonight for Elden Ring and … yeah, I’m maybe a third of the way through. Maybe. This is going to dominate my channel for two months, easy, unless I increase the number of episodes per day that I’m airing, and even then I could see it going two months. Three episodes a day for 60 days is 180 episodes. That’s not unimaginable. And I’m regularly crushing my typical 30-minute limit because breaking every half hour just doesn’t make sense the way the game is structured– there are no missions, like there usually are in an open-world game, so there’s not a situation where you can go do something and it takes 20 minutes and it’s discrete. There’s always a tower in the distance or a cave to explore or a new boss that’s killed me five times in this episode and I’m pretty damn sure I can kill the motherfucker with one more try, and it leads to longer episodes. The cool factor is off the charts. I’ve already used the word overwhelming once; it’s absolutely the right word.

What’s a real pain in the ass is feeling like I’ve got to record it all. I started the channel last June, so we’re at about 9 months now, give or take, and I’ve been rock-solid about not missing episodes that entire time; at least two a day, with occasional but rare 8:00 episodes as well. I’ve got 115 subscribers; I was led to believe by the Internet that subscriber counts would start rising more drastically once I hit 100, and so far that hasn’t happened, and … I may be getting tired of waiting. I mean, the chance that this was going to lead to any kind of money was slim to begin with (it is worth pointing out that that 115 followers puts me in the top 5% of YouTubers globally) and the channel definitely has some fans, but having to spend an hour a night or more locked in my office playing video games and occasionally dealing with tech or editing hiccups which takes even longer is kinda getting old. I think I remember what the boy looks like; he comes in occasionally to ask for money.

I dunno. This could just be the tired talking, but I’m starting to feel like the work/fun balance in this whole thing is starting to tilt too much toward work, and I might need to reevaluate some things. I’ll finish this series out, so it’ll be a minute, but I need to think.

(I uploaded four episodes while I was writing this, by the way.)

My eyes are bleeding but that’s fine

I have recorded nine episodes so far, and I’ve done some offscreen screwing around during my– heh– “breaks” from playing, and I’m having a Goddamn blast so far. I spent a good chunk of last night as a spitting, rage mess because my microphone abruptly decided to shit the Goddamn bed on me, and the workaround that I finally came up with so that I could actually get started recording wasn’t nearly of the quality I wanted.

I replaced the mic first thing this morning, and we are rolling now. It’s 6:40, and I’m hoping to get another four or five episodes in at least before I go to bed. Staying up late to keep playing is absolutely on the table. We’ll see what happens. I’d love to be twenty episodes in by the end of the weekend but I have a fair amount of stuff from my stupid actual life that needs to get done tomorrow, including more grading than I really want to think about, so we’ll see how it goes.

I also owe somebody a book review, which will be written tomorrow. Teaser:

Short version: read these.

In which I’ll see y’all later

I think I said this a couple of days ago- I do not remember the last time I was this excited about anything, and I fully expect this game to eat my life for a month. I will probably post a character creation video on the channel at 8:00 and then full coverage starts tomorrow. If you need me, call my wife.

Love y’all. ELDEN RIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG

God I hate this guy

I have spent a couple of hours over the last two days struggling to beat this sonofabitch so I can move on with my Dark Souls III Let’s Play, and I am defeated; I just had to upload an episode that was nothing but me losing, because I’m not as far ahead as I usually am and the alternative is having no video at all to upload.

It is possible you recognize the picture! I have griped about the Nameless King before; this is a boss I have only beaten (twice, I think) with magic, long-range characters. I have never beaten him with a melee character, and my current build is a Strength build. Again. The big difference here is that the first time when I wasn’t able to beat him I wasn’t recording my ignominious failure to put it on YouTube. I’ve gotten close a couple of times, but no success yet, and I am at the point right now where if I can’t paste him tomorrow within half an hour of getting home I’m going to just give up and go beat the game.

I love this game, but Christ do I hate this boss.

EDIT: Got ‘im. On the very next try, as a matter of fact. With nine heals left. I could see the fucking Matrix.