The debate over Elden Ring's lack of pause is getting heated

A pause function is a small thing, but it's inspired mods, workarounds, and pretty heated debate over accessibility.

If you've played a Souls game before, the following scenario has probably happened to you. You sit your little knight in a safe corner to make yourself a sandwich, only to return ten minutes later to discover it wasn't so safe after all. Getting your souls back usually isn't a problem, but it still begs the question: why exactly do these games insist on not having a pause button, again?

Well, it turns out that Elden Ring does have pause functionality, though it's more of an exploit than anything else. As YouTuber Iron Pineapple posted to Twitter, you can freeze the bad guys in their place by going into your inventory and hitting the "menu explanation" option. Good luck finagling that when three giant trolls are chasing you down a rocky volcano, but it's there if you want it.

Hidden in plain sight — PC players who want a more easily-accessible option can try TechieW's "Pause the Game" mod, which allows you to stop the action with a single button press. Unfortunately, we can't actually recommend the mod, as it seems that the game's anti-cheat doesn't like it very much. Getting banned from the Lands Between's multiplayer for installing a pause button would be unfortunate indeed.

Even before Elden Ring's release a few weeks ago, discourse raged about FromSoftware's divisive approach to difficulty, with all sides resorting to the same tired arguments. While some are still upset that the game lacks a defined "easy mode" — even though it has many clear options to mitigate difficulty, such as AI summons and multiplayer co-op — the lack of a pause button has remained a sticking point for many.

Some have gone so far as to label it an accessibility issue, saying that if you have carpal tunnel or another chronic pain condition, you should be able to take breaks whenever you want. While that's true, it can be a problem for anyone who has to deal with unexpected situations in their home life, whether that's a crying child, an unruly pet, or a stovetop fire.

Souls fans usually reply to these sort of arguments by pointing to the game's always-on multiplayer as the reason for not including this basic feature. Given that Elden Ring now requires players to opt into invasions and other PvP modes, however, this contention is even weaker than usual this time around.

At the end of the day, a pause button isn't going to make or break anyone's experience with the game, but there's no real reason not to include one, and I hope that Fromsoftware comes around eventually. Until then, I’ll be hunting for safe corners every time my fiancée wants to show me a funny TikTok.