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Elden Ring makes me want an old-school strategy guide

Picture this: It’s 2006. Your parents just got you Kingdom Hearts 2, which, for whatever reason, you’re obsessed with. In fact, you like it so much that your parents even got you a massive book filled with information on the game. It’s like an ancient tome; the thing weighs at least six pounds and its page count nears or exceeds 1,000.

When I was a kid, I spent hours with my nose deep in that old BradyGames’ Kingdom Hearts II strategy guide. It had information on everything in the game that I needed to know. Pages upon pages of “how to beat this boss” or “why you need to pick up this item so you can eventually craft this Keyblade.” At the time, I felt that with a game so massive, there wasn’t any way I could play without a strategy guide.

Some 16 years later, Elden Ring has me feeling the same way.

Soulsborne to be Wiki’d

If there’s one thing you’ve heard from the people playing Elden Ring, it’s that the game is immense — and that couldn’t be any more true. I’m only nearing the 30-hour mark in my playtime, but others I know who have crossed 70 hours are still discovering things: New areas, bosses, dungeons, and content to be explored over two-and-a-half days into playing a game. That’s a mind-boggling number of things to keep track of.

During about 20 of my hours playing Elden Ring, I’ve had the game’s Fextralife Wiki open on my second monitor. That’s not to say that I always use it — sometimes you have to let the spirit of adventure take you and just go with the flow, safety be damned. But whenever I’m curious about how to purchase a certain item or whether or not I’m missing something in a dungeon, I give it a read.

Using that Wiki, I’ve been able to purchase more smithing stones to upgrade my weapons, and have found gear that I would’ve otherwise walked right past. But for my own sake, I wish I didn’t need to have a Wiki open on my second screen. A physical book would be much more welcome, especially because I wouldn’t run the risk of alt-tabbing off the game in front of an NPC, reading the Wiki, and clicking back in just to punch and kill a would-be quest giver (yes, this did happen, and yes, it sucks).

A player rides past a tall Erdtree in Elden Ring.

Having physical strategy guide is simply more convenient, and doubly so if you’re playing on a console. You don’t have to look back and forth between your TV screen and your tiny phone screen. Instead, you could have massive pages, emblazoned with gorgeous illustrations of Elden Ring‘s characters, and plenty of text detailing each area.

More than anything though, Elden Ring, like every one of FromSoftware’s games, has been made to be guided out. If you don’t believe me, go to any major gaming website (including this one!) and search “Elden Ring” and you’ll find tons of guides. Souls games have always been obtuse or purposefully misleading. There’s no quest log, NPCs pop up seemingly at random, and some even have encounters that you can miss depending on how much progress you’ve made.

It’s gotten to the point where I can’t recommend playing Elden Ring without some kind of Wiki or guide open. There’s simply too much worthwhile content in the game that can be missed. I only wish that instead of opening a Wiki, I could open up a massive book.

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