On the slim chance you haven't heard, Elden Ring is FromSoftware's latest title in their line of Soulslike video games. It's based in a fantasy land full of dragons, demigods, giants, and squishy poison-spewing frog-things. (Why yes, that is the technical term for them, thank you for asking!)
Now, FromSoftware is famous for its challenging gameplay. While Elden Ring is reportedly somewhat easier to tackle due to the availability of Spirit Ashes–spiritual companions the player can summon for aid in combat, it's still no easy feat. With that in mind, I've invited fellow Malenia, Blade of Miquella slayer, and professional TTRPG player Erika Aundawyn to discuss a dire question: to cheese, or not to cheese?
While I've climbed the boss list using just about every cheese method I could find, Erika has the skills to pay the bills. She's on her third New Game+ playthrough of Elden Ring, helped me finally beat Rykard, and has the legitimate know-how needed to beat the game–no cheeses required. Thus, while this is our subjective opinion, we promise to be fair in this article. With that said, let's get into the cheddar!
First off, Liza, why did you "cheese?"
When the legitimate method of beating a boss is doing you absolutely no favors, and you've spent hours and hours of your precious time on one single boss fight… it might be time for a cheese. What is this "cheese" I speak of? Well, when talking about video games, "cheesing" means "to win (a battle round) by using a strategy that requires minimal skill and knowledge or that exploits a glitch or flaw in game design."
Is it honorable? No, but a girl saw Ned Stark get his head chopped off from a surplus of honor, so a girl doesn't have time to spare. Cheesing gets the job done. Plus, let's be real: some of these methods are almost impossible unless you make a jump juuust right. I, for one, have shamelessly cheesed my way all the way to Malenia at the time of this article–but I taught her what defeat feels like with my glorious Rivers of Blood katana. No spells, no incantations, no cheese, just my Mimic Tear and me kicking ass. Definitely one of my proudest gamer moments, right there.
Boss rants aside, the opportunity to cheese makes incredibly difficult games like FromSoftware's titles more approachable for those who are just getting started in the sub-genre. For players who want to experience the story without popping a blood vessel, are short on time to devote to the game, or haven't built up the skill level required to melee a high-level boss just yet, cheesing is a viable option to progress. I'm just saying… playing Elden Ring and working 40 hours a week is a handful, so if you need to shave some hours off that gameplay, you'll find no judgment from me.
However, cheesing isn't an excuse to skimp on the skill. Using these methods as a last resort or a way to level up before playing New Game+ and re-trying the bosses the legitimate way can be a method to grow skill level without hitting the "fuck it" button and chucking the controller across the room. Not to mention, all the quests and scavenger hunts required to gather the items to perform the cheeses give players even more reasons to explore the game–and practice slaying enemies along the way. While I could rely on the stinky cheese forever, I think I might find more self-satisfaction from putting in the effort to "git gud."
This brings us to the argument that the cheese method is just that: stinky and should be avoided at all costs!
Erika, why go the "legitimate" route?
"I choose you, hard mode!"
By that, I mean no cheesing is the way to go. But, before I continue, I have cheesed one boss… Starscourge Radahn. I beat Malenia while she was bugged and gaining health when she had no business doing so! But Radahn…! That boss fight was harder than hers and took me about five days before I gave up and performed the cheese. I highly recommend giving Scarlet Rot a shot!
This is my first Souls game ever! So, don’t take my opinion as gospel because I am a classic “noob.” This influenced the way I played, and I wanted to prove myself. I went into Elden Ring, scared out of my ever-loving mind. No idea what to expect other than frustration and copious amounts of raging to the point of quitting.
Before I started the game, I did a lot of research via wiki and YouTube videos on how to make builds that worked best for my playstyle. I chose the Astrologer class, which is more or less an Int-focused build with magic, faith, and spells. I prefer fighting from a distance over being a Leroy Jenkins.
Moving onto the game, I noticed my magic was OP and got overconfident pretty fast! My hopes were dashed quite quickly going into the first several bosses–I was getting my face bashed in repeatedly. This made me either rethink my strategy or do the same thing over and over again until it finally worked!
That is why I enjoyed the non-cheesing (aside from my one boss exception); it forced me to not only rethink strategy, but my weapons, build, and the idea of multiplayer.
Without giving any details away, Elden Ring forced me to work incredibly hard to get far and be successful and put puzzle pieces together in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. And it prepared me for future battles, where I'd have an idea of what to do only to get bashed repeatedly and come up with something new!
While some gamers know their playstyle long before they hit the "Start" button, others might find themselves grappling with this vast, crushing moral dilemma mid-game. Say, when a certain serpentine Demigod Boss keeps biting your head off... When your back's against the wall, it's time to make the decision: to cheese or not to cheese?
If you're capable of dueling every boss in the Lands Between while still enjoying the gameplay experience, live your best life! But if you find yourself beating your head against a wall (Radahn, anyone?) and it's ruining your fun, no one will throw tomatoes at you for running to YouTube to find the cheese strategy. Well, someone might throw tomatoes at you, but it won't be us! And if you need some time to get your character leveled up before you start practicing your swordplay, there's no shame in switching it up as you go along.
Looking for some cheddar? Here's a few Elden Ring cheese methods that worked for us:
Now, keep in mind that these particular options might have been patched since Erika and I put them to work. If you're looking for updated methods, YouTube is an excellent resource for finding all the latest tips on giving Elden Ring's bosses the cheesy treatment.
Have you survived the Lands Between without the cheddar? Or did you go the route of the good old-fashioned Cheez Whiz? Let us know in the comments!