There’s no shortage of memorable moments to choose from in Elden Ring, a game that grabbed the video game industry by storm earlier this year. From grand boss battles, to its sometimes heartbreaking narrative, it’s easy to see why Elden Ring is already so beloved. One noteworthy segment takes place during an early-game dungeon, and although it’s not exactly a pleasant experience, it’s one I can’t stop thinking about, as infuriating as it might be. This dungeon throws so much at you, kicking you when you’re down, without letting you get back up. It’s utterly unforgettable, especially after overcoming it.
Your chariot awaits
The dungeon I can’t get out of my head is the Fringefolk Hero’s Grave, which actually appears right at the start of the game. But it’s locked and requires the use of two Stonesword Keys to enter, pushing the player to come back once they’re leveled up. Any poor soul who somehow visits this area early will surely get their face kicked in. And poisoned. And smashed.
While there are many tough dungeons in Elden Ring, this one, specifically, is maddening due to its design — hurling obstacle after obstacle at you.
As soon as you gain access to the dungeon, you have to traverse through a poison pit, which can cause issues if you have heavy gear equipped or the wrong stats leveled. It’s likely you’ll become poisoned by the time you reach the safe zone, but even if you make it there unscathed, the torment has only just begun.
Then, just as you approach a narrow hallway, you hear something in the distance. As you walk forward, it gets louder until you finally see it: A massive, moving chariot with spiky wheels on either side. This thing is huge, and seeing it for the first time (or hundredth) is shocking. Of course, if it hits you, you’ll probably perish (or take heaps of damage), so you have to navigate down the path while avoiding the chariot, a task much easier said than done. All along the path are little alcoves to hide in while the chariot makes its rounds, but within these safety zones are enemies wielding crossbows and swords.
So, not only do you have to time your moves precisely, you also have to deal with powerful enemies along the way — many of which can attack you from afar. On top of that, it’s not entirely clear where to go. You’ll likely get hit by the chariot several times along the way, causing you to restart the entire section, sending you back to before the poison pit.
After numerous attempts, I finally reach what appears to be the ending. A narrow path awaits, and surely, the chariot can’t cross it, right? Wrong. This part is one of the hardest because you have to run to the alcove beyond at the exact right moment. If you hesitate even for a second, the chariot catches up to you, sending you off the edge to your doom and making you do it all over.
This section goes on and on, requiring you to pay attention to the chariot’s position while making your way down. There’s no way to tell if you’re going the right way. At one point, I remember coming to yet another path, and my heart sank. I came this far, surely the end has to be near. Finally, at the end of a dimly lit hallway, I see a golden boss door, indicating I’ve reached the end.
I’d never been so glad to get to a boss — an enemy who will undoubtedly decimate me. But I was okay with that. I challenge the Ulcerated Tree Spirit, a heavy-hitting creature that is certainly no pushover. And after getting hit a few times, I realized I was out of healing items. I used them all while making my way to the boss itself. Then, in one fell swoop, the Tree Spirit destroyed me.
Back to the beginning of the dungeon.
This was enough to make most people want to rip their hair out. But I pressed on and eventually made it back to the final hallway, just before the boss door. And then, my timing was off and the chariot hit me. But this time, it didn’t knock me off to the side. Instead, it ran over me, right at the end of the hallway. This meant it would turn around to restart its lap, crushing me once more. As if I hadn’t endured enough punishment, I perished once again. It was like the game was mocking me.
At this point, I decided to throw in the towel and come back to it later. After progressing through most of the game and becoming overleveled, I finally came back, reached the boss without even using a healing item, and whipped the Ulcerated Tree Spirit into next week. It was a cathartic experience because of how much trouble this entire area gave me.
Then, in the most fitting way possible, I learned that you can actually destroy the chariot. Yep, all that work, anguish, and madness can be avoided entirely. FromSoftware definitely knows how to troll its fans, and this is easily one of the best examples of that.
Elden Ring is out now on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.