Echoing the long, lonely wait for Elden Ring itself, stinky, maidenless tarnished now stand in not-so-mute vigil for any news of a big ole’ expansion. Some have turned to absurd performances of devotion on YouTube—we lived through the infamously long-running Elden Ring Daily Update (opens in new tab), and now new tarnished torchbearers are showing either a religious devotion to ritual, a hilarious commitment to a bit, or a little of both.
Back in May, a YouTube account named JPNB uploaded “Beating Malenia with a different build everyday until DLC is announced – Day 1 (opens in new tab).” The video is exactly what it says on the tin: a duel with Elden Ring’s notorious hidden ultraboss, the first by way of the Rivers of Blood Katana and Flame, Grant Me Strength incantation. Just a month later, in June, JPNB was featured on Kotaku (opens in new tab).
What follows from that first video is a bit of an apocalyptic log that would be right at home in a Bioshock: “Beating Malenia With a Different Build Every Day” quickly became “Beating Malenia With a Different Build Every Other Day.” After a few months, this morphed further into “Beating Malenia With a Different Build Every Week.” It has remained thus ever since, with JPNB’s latest video (opens in new tab) featuring a Hyetta cosplay incantation build, and a new one is due shortly.
And you know what? Fair play to JPNB. I’ve only beaten Malenia the one time, and what initially seemed like a reasonable joke to commit to was tested by weeks stretching into months. The now-weekly Malenia takedown seems like a far more reasonable endeavor as we wait for FromSoft’s word on future Elden Ring plans, but there is another who has taken up the mantle of absurdist ritual.
Cue lellollo (opens in new tab), coming in like some kind of Terminator in September 2022, promising to fight Dark Souls 3’s Slave Knight Gael every day until an Elden Ring DLC is delivered. And by god they’ve done so 136 times. I’d definitely rate Gael as easier than Malenia, but he’s still no picnic, easily vying with Darkeater Midir as the hardest boss in the Dark Souls games.
Lellollo has kept up this blistering pace since September 10, mixing it up with different weapon and armor combos. Today they were some manner of naked axe-wielding bishop (opens in new tab), while on that initial outing (opens in new tab) four months ago they opted for a greatsword-wielding, fast-rolling Executioner Smough.
I can only hope that these gamers will have cause to end their digital ultramarathons soon, but a dark thought occurs to me. I remember when talk of “Half-Life 2: Episode 3” slowly creeped into discussions of “Half-Life 3” as the late 2000s ticked over to the early 2010s. As we approach the base game’s one year anniversary, I wonder: at what point does this happen with Elden Ring DLC? Whatever the case, these brave YouTubers soldier on regardless, and I know I’ll keep tuning in to watch them punk these mega-hard bosses until time makes tarnished of us all.