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News video games 13 March 2024, 01:09

Elden Ring’s Beginning Was Meant to Differ. Fan’s Discovery Gives Meaning to Game’s First Scenes

Have you wondered why we end up in a gloomy cave at the beginning of Elden Ring, even though moments earlier, we were fighting a fierce battle not far from a majestic chapel? Here is the answer - and an alternative version of the story that FromSoftware studio originally wanted to treat us with.

Source: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco Entertainment.

From the interview that the CEO of the FromSoftware studio, Hidetaka Miyazaki, gave to the Japanese website Famitsu, we know that the Shadow of the Erdtree expansion for Elden Ring will start after defeating Mohg, the Lord of Blood and Starscourge Radahn, and by interacting with the cocoon located in the Mohg's palace. In this way, we will move to the Land of Shadow. Where exactly? It's hard to say for sure, but Michael "VaatiVidya" Samuels suspects that the goal of our journey through this dark dimension will be the castle presented in the trailer.

Regardless of the final destination, the path to the location with the extension seems quite clear. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about how our tarnished ended up in the Lands Between. We start the game, design a character, watch the intro -- where the characters linked to the "base game" endings are presented - and immediately after the protagonist is "blessed once again with grace" by Queen Marika, we witness him passing through the mist and reaching the Chapel of Anticipation, to embark on a journey, "stand before the Elden Ring" and "become the Elden Lord."

It only gets weirder later on. Leaving aside why we happen to appear in the Chapel of Anticipation - its name seems to suggest that it's the place where the servants of the Fingers were supposed to await the Tarnished to assist them with advice and help (ours was murdered) - and what the Lands Between lie between (the sea of mist? the Land of Shadow? the Numen world?), we take the first few steps only to die. Regardless of whether the Grafted Scion kills us or we simply jump into the abyss, the screen will darken, we will hear a loud splash - if we play on a pad, it is accompanied by strong vibrations - and then we will end up in the Stranded Graveyard.

Melina and Torrent find us right there. As it turns out, however, this wasn't the initial plan of FromSoftware.

Mismatched cutscene

An Internet user named Sekiro Dubi, who is one of the most popular "dataminers" in the Souls community, depicted the original concept of the devs.

  1. Despite being astral entities, Melina and Torrent were unable to access the Stranded Graveyard as the gates leading to it were closed, and the alternative entrance, a cave from the beach side, was located on a different level.
  2. Noting that the cutscenes in Elden Ring are named after the maps on which they take place, Sekiro Dubi pointed out that the Graveyard is marked "M18_00" and the cutscene in question is "S60_43."
  3. Digging deeper, he discovered that there was a message in Japanese on the pre-release online test map "M60_43_35_00" that read: "(Disable) respawn point for game start."

The label is linked to the beach that extends at the base of the cliff, where the Seaside Ruins are situated. Everything indicates that Melina and Torrent were supposed to find the protagonist on that sandy coast, washed up by the sea. While it would be quite sensible, Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team have evidently concluded that placing the player in a cave - possibly washed there from the beach by a powerful wave - would be far more effective. Why?

  1. Because it results in a more powerful feeling of being lost.
  2. Furthermore, we first truly connect with the open world of Elden Ring when we raise the gates of the Stranded Graveyard to take in the sight of the green Limgrave, bathed in sunlight (unless we intentionally change the time of day), the Erdtree, and the looming Stormveil Castle in the distance. I've started Elden Ring multiple times, and this moment always gives me goosebumps.
  3. Furthermore, it can be said that with this change, FromSoftware studio achieved two aims with one action. I assume that many players spent a longer time in the darkness of the Graveyard, contemplating how to reach the purple item on the rock shelf. Well, first you need to find the way to the aforementioned beach, which requires a bit of exploration and ingenuity. If we were to start a game on it, the Haligdrake Talisman would just fall into our hands.

Unused dialogue

Sekiro Dubi, however, took it a step further as the aforementioned cutscene not only originally occurred in a different location but also featured different lines of dialogue from Melina. You can watch the modified versions of the dialogue - there are two, differing only in the first sentence - at 1:50 and 3:00 in the video above. Below, I am posting Melina's lines (both included and not included).

Cutscene included in Elden Ring


Don't worry, Torrent, fortune is on her (his) side. We found her (him) here, after all. One of her (his) kind is sure to seek the Elden Ring. ...Even if it does violate the Golden Order...

Cutscene not included in Elden Ring


You think this the one, Torrent? / Is that her (him), Torrent?

Don't worry, it's not too late. She (he) is sure to seek the Elden Ring... For that is their curse...

The last sentence of the latter statement - "For that is their curse" - seems unusually curious to me. When I heard these words, I immediately associated them with Dark Souls III, specifically with Prince Lothric's line of dialogue during the fight with him and his brother, Lorian. "Rise, if you would... For that is our curse..."

Elden Ring’s Beginning Was Meant to Differ. Fan’s Discovery Gives Meaning to Game’s First Scenes - picture #2
The princes from Dark Souls III have a lot in common with Miquella and Malenia from Elden Ring. Meant to rule, Lothric and Miquella, became effeminate, opposed the prevailing rules, while the disabled legendary warriors, Lorian and Malenia, made efforts to protect them. Graphics source: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco Entertainment.

Even though the undead curse from Souls isn't present in Elden Ring, our tarnished being resurrects after each death just like the protagonists from "Dark Souls." So did FromSoftware originally intend to make the search for the Elden Ring a kind of curse that weighs on the tarnished?

While it's not impossible, it appears to me that this storyline has been ultimately abandoned and probably won't be included in Shadow of the Erdtree. On the other hand, the Land of Shadows, to which the DLC will take us, is a place directly related to death, so its exploration may bring many unexpected answers (and even more assumptions). The expansion is set to premiere on June 21.

  1. In Shadow of the Erdtree, Malenia's brother enters the scene.
  2. Elden Ring Review: A Soulful Experience
  3. Elden Ring - game guide

Hubert Sledziewski

Hubert Sledziewski

Has been writing professionally since 2016. He joined five years later - although he has known the service since he had access to the internet - to combine his love for words and games. Deals mainly with news and journalism. A sociologist by education, a gamer by passion. He started his gaming adventure at the age of four - with a Pegasus. Currently, prefers PC and demanding RPGs, but does not shy away from consoles or other genres. When he's not playing or writing, he enjoys reading, watching series (less often movies) and Premier League matches, listening to heavy music, and also walking the dog. Almost uncritically loves the work of Stephen King. Does not abandon plans to follow in his footsteps. However, he keeps his first "literary achievements" locked away deep in a drawer.