The Fire Ring makes it easier to summon NPC combatants than Dark Souls

When someone says ‘Dark Souls’, the first thing you’re probably thinking is ‘really wildly difficult’ – or a variation of it at least. Historically, players in the series have had the opportunity to summon Phantoms – AI or player-controlled characters who could intrude to help you survive particularly threatening boss fights – and Elden Ring’s takeover of this idea makes it even more useful and practical.

While you can still ask other players for help, the Elden Ring adds ‘spirit ashes’ – ghostly versions of certain enemies – that you can recruit to stand by your side in battle. We heard this was supposed to be a thing a while ago, but now that we’ve played the Elden Ring technology test, we know more about how it will work.

The only thing it will cost to summon a spirit ash is FP (the same, easily replenishing currency that you will use to cast spells and so on) rather than items for limited use as humanities, and since they are AI-controlled , they do not do not depend on other players putting down a summons sign, or exposing you to grief or network problems. In addition, you can summon backups in any area marked with a small blue bow, which in our experience included not only boss fights, but also some difficult encounters in the open world.

While previous Souls games have offered AI-controlled summonses, they were rare and not available to most bosses. They were also a bit rubbish (except for Tarkus in the Iron Golem fight, of course). This all means that in Elden Ring you can call for help in much more affordable, easy and far more places.

Exciting for fans of this feature, Elden Ring offers a number of different types of summonable monsters to help you, reflecting what will definitely be a large number of different monster types in the game. This means that not only do you have a choice of the best ally for a particular scrimmage, but you can also be creative.

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For example, if you are accused of a horde of undead in the open world, you can summon a team of five wandering nobles. They are not the best combatants, but they are perfect baits so they can distract enemies while you pick them off, one by one. Or for tough boss battles, you can pick up someone like Northern Mercenary, which is a bold single unit with plenty of health and damage management capabilities. In his replay of the Elden Ring tech test, our editor Rich Scott-Jones found that this made a significant difference to the severity of the battle – his character and the NPC recruit were able to swap the boss’ attack between them, and he ended up with to beat them in no time.

It’s not hard to see how this will place the game in the eternal ‘difficulty debate’ surrounding FromSoft games. This option will of course help break down some of the difficulties that Souls fans can expect and offer a higher level of accessibility for those who are less well versed in – or less happy with – the series’ often exhausting battle, while those who enjoying it can continue to play without summons. Everyone wins!

The release date for Elden Ring is February 25, 2022.

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