How Elden Ring DLC could make 2022’s Game of the Year even better

Elden Ring picked up dozens of Game of the Year awards in 2022 and was enjoyed by millions, so FromSoftware will surely be keen to return to the Lands Between. Here are a few ways DLC could potentially bring improvements.

If you’ve worked your way through all of the Elden Ring achievements, chances are you’ll be hungry for an excuse to head back to the Lands Between for more glorious vistas and brutal boss battles. While nothing has been officially announced, the wild success of FromSoftware’s punishing action-RPG make DLC feel like an inevitability — all of the Dark Souls games had extra post-launch content, after all, as did PS4 exclusive Bloodborne with the superb The Old Hunters, which is probably the benchmark for which any new Elden Ring content should be aiming. Since blasting through the game last year, we’ve been pondering over things we’d like to see any such DLC bring to the (round) table, so we thought we’d share a few of our thoughts with you here.

Elden Ring DLC: Six things we’d love to see

Don’t expand the map too much

elden ring dlc improvements

While we obviously want plenty more interesting sights to see, that doesn’t necessarily need to involve the existing map growing beyond its current borders too much. There’s so much space in the Lands Between already where new landmarks could pop up to completely change how an area looks and feels, where new caves or dungeons could appear to make the familiar feel unfamiliar and intriguing once again, or where we could go deeper, with several existing areas proving just how cool underground exploration can be in Elden Ring. Filling out the existing map with even more content, even if only as part of any potential new content, would be an awesome way to make it all feel fresh again… maybe even give players the option upon starting a file whether they want the original map or the revised and expanded one, director’s cut-style. There’s already precedent in Roundtable Hold for being whisked away to areas that technically exist off the map too, which would be a neat way to show us something completely unique without having it need to somehow tie into the pre-existing world — Bloodborne has some examples of From pulling this stunt to great effect, from the frozen gothic grandeur of Cainhurst Castle to the oppressive nightmare realms. Elden Ring’s world can already feel a bit too big for its own good at times, which you may have felt for yourself if you’ve played through it multiple times now, but making it even just a little denser would be preferable to tagging on yet another expansive land mass.

Alternatively, don’t expand the map at all — send us somewhere completely new. A smaller, denser play area that is all completely unknown would be fantastic, and as many other modern games prove, bigger isn’t always better. Packing more stuff into smaller spaces gives more opportunities for that thrill of discovery and less downtime as you run or ride through empty areas you’ve already picked clean. From is also really good at hiding things in its games, so you wouldn’t even necessarily feel like you were getting through everything quicker just because the play area was smaller… there’d still be plenty of scope for missing stuff and exchanging stories with other players about the wild stuff you each found that others might have missed, which is always interesting. Heck, the Souls games have made entire strings of areas optional or missable — in my first Dark Souls 2 run, I never even saw Huntsman’s Copse or beyond, leaving tons of new stuff to see in NG+ when I eventually learned how to get there. Leveraging secretive things like this is great for replayability, and given how well Elden Ring already hides some of its bosses and secrets, we fully expect to see even more mysteries if and when From expands the world, or even changes it…

Bring the world to life

elden ring dlc improvements

Without going too deep for fear of spoiling stuff for those who might not have played it yet (or haven’t got far enough to notice this), Elden Ring has a few amazing moments when story beats enact permanent change on the map. As with some of the things mentioned above, this could be an amazing way to refresh the world in some truly creative and meaningful ways — what if a new Legacy Dungeon could have us fighting our way through a keep, then beating the boss sees the castle razed, turning it into a second, totally new dungeon as we pick our way through the ruins, for instance? Perhaps a key story beat could see a ravine cleaved clean through a progress-blocking mountain, effectively unlocking a shortcut between areas (we know how much From loves its shortcuts) while adding to that fantastic sensation of the world evolving around you. One potential issue with things like this is that changing the landscape can make things missable, but that’s almost part of the point of Souls games and their ilk. They don’t want you to find and collect everything (even if achievement lists sometimes suggest otherwise), with their most cryptic secrets and deeply buried surprises oblique by design, bringing the whole community together to piece together mysteries and share locations of special items so out of the way that most players would never have a chance of finding them without knowing how to do so.

There are also ways to alter the world without making such severe physical changes, and again, the base game already does this a little. But FromSoftware has played around with this idea in much more depth previously, and it was just incredible. We’re going back to Bloodborne chatter again, folks, and more specifically, its ingenious Insight mechanic. Insight can almost be seen as Bloodborne’s twist on a sanity mechanic, with certain encounters and items raising the stat as you gain more forbidden knowledge and your eyes on the inside begin to open to see the world as it truly is… that way madness lies. As Insight rises, the unseen reveals itself to you. Hulking eldritch monstrosities cling to buildings and block out the sun, once-hidden enemies join the hunt as they wise up to your growing awareness of this grim reality, and distant cries punctuate the howls of Yharnam’s beastly residents. It’s a wild journey, and while the mechanic couldn’t really be lifted wholesale for Elden Ring, even something as simple as a new key item that allows you to see what you couldn’t before would give yet another reason to explore the world anew in search of even more secrets.

Enhance the arsenal

elden ring dlc improvements

It’s important for the Souls games and others like them to have a varied array of weapons and armour, as I’m sure my fellow Fashion Souls players will agree, and while Elden Ring is already no slouch on this front, there’s always room for improvement. It’s not just about adding new stuff — it’s about adding relevant new stuff. If you follow Elden Ring’s speedrun or PvP scenes, you’re likely sick of seeing the same few weapons used constantly, and we really need any new gear added to offer a reason to put down those old favourites and try out the new stuff. Power-creeping the original gear out of the headline slot isn’t ideal (especially as it would unbalance PvP in the favour of DLC owners), but adding weapons that can stack up to the top-tier gear would help make competitive play and casual reruns alike much more interesting. Maybe even introduce some more novel or out-there weapons that bring something totally new with how they function — Elden Ring already offers a few unique weapons like this, but Bloodborne (there it is again… it’s not my fault it’s From’s best game) is built around them with its multi-function Trick Weapons, such as a cane that can disassemble into a whip or a sword that comes with a free anvil into which it which can be plunged to form the handle of a giant hammer. Each weapon is effectively two, each with their own properties — imagine how useful something like that would be in taking on Elden Ring’s many and varied challenges.

Elden Ring’s mechanics mean it’s not just the weapons and armour pieces themselves that could see upgrades, but the Ashes of War as well, with practically limitless potential for new weapon skills that could instantly turn underperforming weapons into genuine threats. As with weapons, skills tend to boil down to the same few obvious picks a lot of the time, but curious players have likely already found some pretty busted off-meta combos even just with the base game’s kit. Again, the team would either need to be mindful of non-DLC players when balancing this kind of stuff or split the Colosseum pools for versus play to account for the differences in available options, but in a game about loading up on cool gear, we’re never going to say no to even more cool gear. On that note, boss gear in general did feel a little underwhelming in Elden Ring compared to some of the Souls offerings (especially considering the number of bosses in the game), so making any new stuff in that pool feel a little more special would also be neat.

Less repeated content

elden ring dlc improvements

The tail end of a completionist run of Elden Ring can feel like a bit of a chore, with many dungeons and optional areas playing host to boss fights which are just reruns of old ones. As much as we may love the wild design of the Erdtree Avatar — basically “what if Asylum Demon was actually a tree?” — it starts to lose its lustre come the sixth encounter with the same damn boss, and others are reused even more heavily than that. One of Elden Ring’s biggest strengths is that sense of wonder and discovery that dominates the early game as you first start to find your feet in this strange land, but dredging up the same big bads for landmark encounters, as much as it might make sense in the context of the world, feels like it flies in the face of that somewhat. It also makes that fight feel less special, like going through the motions with another boss for having a boss’ sake… it’s better, I think, to have a smaller selection of unique bosses than something like Elden Ring’s bloated rogues’ gallery where almost every big enemy appears at least twice.

The tail end of a completionist run of Elden Ring can feel like a bit of a chore, with many dungeons and optional areas playing host to boss fights which are just reruns of old ones. As much as we may love… see? Gets old, doesn’t it? We have to appreciate that resources are limited, and we shouldn’t expect hundreds and hundreds of original bosses, some of which most players will never see. But if you’re going to retread old ground, it really needs to be done more creatively than simple reruns or ‘ummmm okay, now fight two at once,’ which admittedly can be ace when done well, although From will struggle to avoid comparisons with Smough and Ornstein, having peaked with the first Dark Souls when it comes to duo bosses. Elden Ring does toy with changing up mechanics with some of them, but there’s plenty of potential for something like this to be taken a bit further without creating too much extra work.

More Legacy Dungeons

elden ring dlc improvements

Legacy Dungeons were one of the highlights of Elden Ring for me: a chance to substitute the feeling of getting lost in the intimidatingly huge open world with that of getting lost in cramped, labyrinthine corridors and caverns closer to what we’d expect from a Dark Souls game. There’s a sense of familiarity to them for any Souls veteran, but also trepidation — you just know these epic castles and manors are going to be home to some of the worst things Elden Ring is going to throw at you, after all. It’s important that these make a comeback if/when From returns to this world, as they serve as an awesome change of pace and their density is welcome as a counterpoint to some of the more barren open expanses of the map. I wouldn’t even be averse to potential DLC being just Legacy Dungeons… pepper the existing map with even more major landmarks and as mentioned above, you’ve already made meaningful change to the world while introducing a bunch of new content, although this would admittedly sort of miss the point of Elden Ring’s open world shift so I can’t see it happening.

One other idea that I love is using any new Legacy Dungeons (or even any new locations) to tap into some of the more interesting and original PvP aspects that the Dark Souls games have offered in the past. Covenants in general are something that have always appealed to me about the other games, though I appreciate they’re not to everyone’s tastes, especially with how obtuse some could be (and with the busywork they entail when related achievements are included). Still, two series standouts that serve my point here are Dark Souls’ Forest Hunter Covenant — which automatically allowed you to invade ‘trespassers’ who dare walk the grounds you and yours protect — and a personal favourite, Dark Souls 2’s Rat King Covenant, which set up for reverse invasions where interlopers were pulled into your version of a couple of the crypt-type locations, which you’d likely laced with traps and left plenty of enemies roaming around in. This kind of creative multiplayer integration is missing entirely from Elden Ring, and I for one feel its absence. But then again, I was always a Gravelord fan in Dark Souls who just enjoyed flooding other players’ worlds with more powerful enemies, so maybe I’m just a wrong’un. Screw it, Covenants were cool. Bring those back too.

Normalise randomisers

elden ring dlc improvements

It’s absolutely wild to me that more games don’t include randomisers as standard. The modding scene for the Dark Souls games is rife with all manner of mods that change up item and enemy placement to make every play unique, with more extreme ones going even further to muddle the map so you never know where doors or portals might take you. Having this as an option built into a game as standard just gives it almost endless replayability — you need to adapt to whatever you happen to find and encounter, meaning you can rarely fall back on the same builds you use all the time, and you might discover fun new ways to play that you would never have tried otherwise. Hitman is getting what is effectively a randomiser mode, and it’s great to see this kind of functionality starting to hit the mainstream and hopefully it’ll only grow more common. Some may groan at the idea of games like this leaning more into roguelike territory, but it’s typically an option, and more options is almost always a good thing. I’d say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, too… I was a little sceptical at first as it just seems daft to play something so inherently unstructured, but I couldn’t tell you how much time I’ve put into various Pokémon and Link to the Past randos since coming around to the idea, as well as Cadence of Hyrule, which is effectively a Zelda-themed Crypt of the Necrodancer randomiser. Embrace the chaos.

Interestingly, From actually already has embraced it… can you guess where? That’s right, it’s Bloodborne (last time, I promise), which had an entire side mode dedicated to random dungeons. If anything, though, the Chalice Dungeons should serve as an important lesson in how not to do randomisation in a game like this. The problem was simply a lack of locations in the ’tile’ set, which led to most ‘random’ dungeons feeling pretty much exactly the same: wander identical corridors, find lever, pull lever, go to door, see which boss wants a piece, kill, rinse, repeat. It’s the same kind of wasted potential we saw in Destiny 2’s Infinite Forest — in theory an ever-changing dimension that offers unique challenges and rewards on each visit, but in practice just a slog after the first few times when you realise how little variety there actually is. While it’s probably not viable on resources to put a full-scale location randomiser into an already complex game, it doesn’t necessarily need it. Just being able to mix up item and enemy placement would be enough to offer boundless replayability and a new experience every time.

And that’s our lot. What would you like to see if and when From goes back to the Lands Between? Let us know down in the comments!

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