Recently we revealed that Invasions in Elden Ring will not be possible unless the player being invaded has at least one Cooperator in their game world. This came as a huge surprise to many, ourselves included when we first found out, but FromSoftware made it clear of course that this decision is not yet finalized. It has however sprung up a number of conversations across Reddit, Social Media, and YouTube about whether or not this should be changed. In this article I want to explore why I don’t think players should be able to opt-in to Solo Invasions, and my logic behind this opinion.
Elden Ring | Why I Don’t Think “Opt-In” is the Solution to Solo PvP Invasions
There are many things that have made FromSoftware titles fan favorites, even winning the Most Wanted Award at Gamescom, and one of them is the mulitplayer experience they provide. Not only is it unique to say the least, but it’s very unlikely that you haven’t cooperated or been invaded at least once if you play them, which is something nearly all players have in common.
These experiences, combined with places like the Anor Londo archers, or the area after the Pontiff Sulyvahn fight where you constantly get invaded the second you step into it, are what makes the Soulsborne community so special. There are moments and events that nearly the entire fan base have shared, creating an instant bond between strangers, united in the “struggle” that serves as the series’ main focus.
I still remember the first time I was invaded just outside the Bell Gargoyles in Undead Parish by a mage Invader who obliterated me before I had any idea what was even going on. After repeated deaths to the Gargoyles, I was forced to use Humanity to try to summon other players to assist, which spawned a series of more Invasions that I still have nightmares about to this day. Seriously, screw the Undead Parish PvP Grief.
You Cannot Be A Hero Without a Villain
Griefing is a massive problem in Souls titles, and often noobies catch the brunt of that, as veteran invaders find a way to skirt the rules no matter what they are. This can absolutely ruin the experience for new players who are already getting used to the much higher difficulty of From Software games, or it can have a completely different effect entirely.
I’ve never considered myself a “PvP” player in the Soulsborne games, as the challenge, exploration, and generally fantastic world building of From Software games has captivated me far more than the multiplayer aspects, though I do enjoy some jolly cooperation from time to time. And if I’m totally honest, if the Soulsborne games didn’t shove ***hole after ***hole in my face I probably wouldn’t bother too much about PvP at all. However, I’m very happy it is the way it is, because it allows me to be the hero of the story.
You cannot be the hero if there is no Villain.
What constant invasions did was make me into a player that despised Invaders, and wanted nothing more than to help others make it through their levels while destroying them in the process. It got to the point that I designed my builds specifically to deal with Invaders when summoned by other players, on the off chance this happened. And when Dark Souls 2 introduced the Blue Sentinels, I felt like that Covenant was designed just for players like me who reveled in punishing the wicked.
I took a ton of satisfaction in preventing Invaders from ruining the day of noobies, and after my first of second playthrough, this became the primary motivation for me to continue playing. To not only help the newer players with their bosses, but to also make sure they even made it that far safely without being stabbed in the back. In short, PvP made me play far longer than I would have had it not been in these games, because victory over Invaders was so so sweet.
The Hero Becomes the Villain
What eventually happened over enough time, was that I became relatively decent at PvP from protecting players. And as the populace of these games began dwindling, I found myself being summoned less and less, but I still had that craving to help destroy other Invaders. I realized that I was getting bored waiting, and that’s when I began Invading other players.
At first I would Invade and try to help out the other players, drop them items or try to be friendly and show them where to go. I didn’t really want to harm them, I still wanted to help, and this was a way that I could still do it without all the wait. But as time wore on, and I was attacked over and over, I began to fight back, and the concept of honor began to slowly fade away.
I started to build a grudge against hosts who would not fight honorably, that ganked me and used every dirty trick in the book to kill me, even when I waited for them to heal up and disengage enemies before facing me, even though it was I who had invaded their game world. Over the course of more and more invasions, I stopped caring about these things as much, and went for the kill when I saw the opportunity. Wins were few, but the satisfaction was just as good as helping someone destroy an invader.
If you had told me that I would become that guy that invades and stabs some unsuspecting host right in the back while he’s engaged with some enemy when I first started playing Souls games, I’d have told you you were crazy, but here we are. And it all started way back when with that first griefer who I had absolutely no chance against…
What I Propose As My Solution To Invasions in Elden Ring
The moral of the story is of course that sometimes you don’t even you what you may like until you try it, and you might never try PvP in From Software games if you aren’t given a little push. There are those who will try PvP and despise it nonetheless and that is fine, but it would be an absolute shame if players didn’t experience it at least once, because I’m sure there are plenty of stories out there like mine.
Some may never reach the stages of becoming an Invader, but even those players need Invaders to fight against, and so there is a symbiotic relationship here. If being invaded solo provokes you into defending others, it nourishes the online community as a whole, because we need defenders and invaders and that’s what makes the multiplayer of these games so complex and interesting. If you disrupt a single part of it too much, you may break one of the greatest online systems in modern gaming.
There are some core problems with Traditional Invasions unique to Elden Ring:
- Open Landscape needs to be sectioned or invading becomes a game of run around, and the mount’s speed makes this difficult to do on the fly
- If you section the Open Landscape and the host uses a jump point before the invader spawns, they would be in a completely separate and inaccessible vertical level.
- There is no hollowing mechanic so no way to use asynchronous features without being open to PvP
- Plethora of builds will mean much harder to balance anti-griefing
The simplest solution to the mount and open landscape issues is to disallow single player invasions on the overworld, so that zoning problems with the mount and the scale of exploration do not create a frustrating experience. Solo invasion pvp could be relegated to the “Legacy Dungeons”, and Dungeon areas where there are no mounts, and the layout is more conducive to these encounters.
Obviously, players don’t want to be “Griefed” by uber geared players, and From Software has taken more and more measures over time attempting to remedy this problem. And, it’s likely Elden Ring will have some form of “Anti-Griefing”, whether that’s weapon level matching or some other means. Implementing a penalty system for PvP could be a solution to prevent twinked out players from chain-invading the game’s starting areas.
Options to control griefing can include invader total attack rating scaling to match that of host, limit invasions to mid-level and onward, or simply adding a spam control system where the invader will sacrifice some sort of progress or resource for each successive kill. Less Griefing means better experiences for new players, and hopefully more interest in PvP and Cooperative play.
It’s for these reasons that I don’t think there should be an “opt-in” option in Elden Ring, but rather an “opt-out”, and preferably after at least one Invasion has happened, so that players can have “that” experience before making up their minds.
So what is then the best way to design an opt-out? I’m not a fan of the “Covenant” idea that allows you to control Solo PvP Invasions, because that would then lock you out of all other Covenant mechanics, which may hurt the activity of those Covenants or the depth of their RPG implications. Similarly a player shouldn’t have to sacrifice an equipment slot of any kind for the option to stay out of pvp while remaining online.
I’d much rather there was an item you could use that would lock you out of being invaded while solo for like an hour, being given to you after your first invasion, regardless of whether you win or lose said invasion. Maybe the counter to the “Dried Finger” that instead of making you more likely to be invaded, it wipes you from the list of detectable invasions for a specific amount of time, or until you rest at a “Site of Lost Grace”.
This opt out mechanic should be deactivated or limited for “protection zone” covenants such as the Forest or Farron, as such factions depend on there being players going through the areas. There could perhaps be a lessened punishment such as not dropping your runes (souls) if you were killed by an invader in these “protection” zones.
One thing is clear, however, and that’s that the removal of the hollowing mechanic has put From Software in the precarious position that they need to devise a way for players to be invaded if they want, and to avoid invasion without simply “going offline” and missing out on the game’s Asynchronus features.
To me it isn’t just about veteran players who want to be invaded Solo, because that should definitely be a thing, and given an “opt-in” I’m sure many would take advantage of it. It’s about creating more PvP and Co-Op enthusiasts by putting them in the same position many of us were put in years ago, and letting the game work its magic (ideally with working Anti-Griefing measures). This is far harder to accomplish, than simply letting veterans just opt-in, which is why I’m sure From Software needs feedback and ideas.
If someone tries the PvP and decides they don’t like it, they should absolutely be able to “opt-out”, but I fully expect Elden Ring to have many fresh faces, especially with the amount of RPG elements and accessibility it will feature, and they should not be robbed of an experience that may change the way they play Elden Ring forever. And one that does so hopefully in a good way.
I’ll be live on Twitch on Friday at 6PM CEST (12 NOON EDT) talking about this aspect and asking for feedback about this topic. From Software has not yet finalized their decision about the way Invasions may occur in Elden Ring, and we all need to let them know exactly what we’d like. It’s not often you get the opportunity to influence the way a From Software game is played, and you may not get another chance. There will also be a Reddit thread up that players can post their feedback in hosted by the mods of r/Eldenring, to try to consolidate all feedback into one place for them to view. I urge you post there even if you’ve already posted in another thread or in the comments section here.
What do you guys think about the way Invasions are currently setup? Would you rather an Opt-in than an Opt-out? Did you have a similar experience to mine? Let us know in the comments below!