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  2. Elden Ring
  3. Summons and Game Balance & Difficulty
KotR9001 3 days ago#1
I posted this in another topic, but I wanted to discuss the topic of summons here, since they are often talked about with regards to the game’s difficulty and balance. Here’s my take - one that may add another dimension to the discussions.

I agree that summons are used as an excuse to make bosses over-tuned with regards to frame data, attack patterns, damage outputs, etc, but while that is unfortunate, I think people overstate the problem.

The good thing about summons is that they’re not all the same. Some are tanks and fight up-close, some fire at enemies from a distance, at least one blocks for you, at least one heals you, and there are probably numerous other perks that the various summons provide. Given this, it stands to reason that summons enhance combat, at least from a strategic standpoint, because you are incentivized to pick a summon that is suited for both your character’s build & play style and the type of boss (or other enemies) that you’re fighting against.

For example, in my playthrough as an Astrologer, I usually rely on Banished Knight Oleg to pin bosses in close-quarter combat to open up use of Comet Azur. However, this approach didn’t seem to work as well against Astel, so I switched to Lautrina the Albinauric to fire at him from afar so my character could more safely approach and use Carian Phalanx. I’m now fighting Malekith, and I’ve found that it’s extra important to draw aggro, so I’ve found the Greatshield Soldiers seem best suited to the fight.

So basically, even though bosses tend to be balanced around summons and thus brutal without them (more so than called for in my opinion), the silver lining is that the variety in summons adds another layer of strategic decision making to the game - same as with weapon, shield, armor, and spell choices. Additionally, there is tactical depth in regards to maneuvering the player character and guiding the bosses with your movement to maximize the effectiveness of summons, and because summons can get killed, it’s important not to get too passive, lest your summon die, and you’re left to fend for yourself.

All-in-all, I think this is a better response to complaints about the presence of summons and how they ruin balance as opposed to just flippantly saying that you can choose to play without them.

Anyway, what are peoples’ thoughts about this?
DravynLeCrux 3 days ago#2
I view Summons as being similar to a Megaman game. After enough effort, you can turn your enemies abilities (sometimes even the extremely strong ones) against them.
caramel_cod 3 days ago#3
Just finished a playthrough where I focused on using mid-strength summons, so they don't trounce the boss instantly and I still have to participate with some skill.

The problem is that, even when I'm using a reasonably balanced summons, the feeling of these fights is just off compared to all of the past games. It sucks to split aggro, it sucks to have the summon deal the final blow, it sucks that there's no discernible rhythm or flow to the enemy's movement as a result of balancing around these spirits.

So I've done solo playthroughs that felt bad, playthroughs with OP summons that felt bad, and now a playthrough with balanced summons that felt bad. It's just a bad innovation overall, and I hope From returns to the old style of boss design. It's fine if they want to keep spirit summons, but they should just increase boss stats when they're used instead of universally balancing boss AI around them.
(edited 3 days ago)
Blancshammer 3 days ago#4
Wanna truly break the game? Equip shibirie’s woe, summon mimic, unequip shibirie’s woe.
As long as you can deal enough damage to kill the boss fast enough they will focus on the clone and never Agrro on you.
Is it wrong to think a zombie girl can be totes adorbs? NO says I!
https://i.imgur.com/dzJgeY3.gif
KotR9001 3 days ago#5
Blancshammer posted...
Wanna truly break the game? Equip shibirie’s woe, summon mimic, unequip shibirie’s woe.
As long as you can deal enough damage to kill the boss fast enough they will focus on the clone and never Agrro on you.
Color me intrigued! I’ve never gotten that accessory. I’ll try to look into that.
Blancshammer 3 days ago#6
KotR9001 posted...
Color me intrigued! I’ve never gotten that accessory. I’ll try to look into that.
Just watch out for AOE and wide attacks.
Is it wrong to think a zombie girl can be totes adorbs? NO says I!
https://i.imgur.com/dzJgeY3.gif
serpentaurus 3 days ago#7
I dont think PVE balance is bad. It is just a game. What sucks is PVP balance.
Now playing: Elden Ring, King of Fighters XV
jeanel 3 days ago#8
People who blames summons is just making excuses so they don't feel bad about being bad at the game.
(edited 3 days ago)
DJ_0000 3 days ago#9
The issue is that for some people summons simply aren't fun to use. Splitting aggro means you spend a lot of time not really engaging the boss but rather just hitting it in the back while it focusses on the summon, then there's the weird way the game tries to counteract this where the bosses will randomly change target mid combo which just feels awkward and sloppy.

You can choose not to use them if they diminish your enjoyment but then you are left fighting bosses with extremely long combos and small punishment windows and even then they can often cancel their recovery to stop you from punishing them. If you are trying to fight some of these end game bosses solo without taking damage they feel like some of the most tedious experiences in any FromSoft game.

Summons don't completely ruin the game, but they do feel like they had a negative effect on boss design towards the end game.
Elden Ring without Summons is like Star Wars without Droids

like yeah it’s the same, but is it?
CONTEXT
  1. Boards
  2. Elden Ring
  3. Summons and Game Balance & Difficulty