Elden Ring is an open world game, and as such, it features exploration in abundance. With more locations to adventure to than past From Software games, it was only fitting for the Japanese game developer to give new players a taste of what's to come even before they properly set foot in The Lands Between.
Right before Elden Ring players open those big doors to The Lands Between, they get to rest at the Stranded Graveyard site of grace. To the right of the checkpoint is a white fog wall with an imp statue beside it. This fog wall can only be broken by two Stonesword Keys - a relatively rare item found in the world.
Now, most players would usually skip this impassable wall, but for those who have the tenacity to find two Stonesword keys during their later Elden Ring adventures (or picked a pair of Stonesword keys as their starting gift), this fog wall is just begging to be explored. This leads them to Fringefolk Hero's Grave - a gauntlet of pain and misery which can cause players to quit or take the adventure as a lesson in curiosity.
Elden Ring's Fringefolk Hero's Grave
Upon breaking the fog wall, players have to first climb down into a pool of poison which introduces them to detrimental status effects. Spend too long in the poison pool and a poison meter builds up, which eventually leads the player to start losing health. This isn't too bad to circumvent, as with some careful positioning on some jars and taking extra care not to roll in the poison, players will be able to easy pass this first hurdle.
However, that's just the first part. Beyond the poison is the dungeon's most notorious trap - a stone chariot that constantly follows the player. Adventurers have to time their runs and dive into cubbyholes on the side of the main passage, taking care that the chariot doesn't change its path to hunt them down.
With enough time (and deaths), players will usually get accustomed to the chariot's movements and pathing, but that's where From Software's level design comes in. Cubbyholes become scarcer and are usually home to enemies the deeper gamers delve into the Fringefolk Hero's Grave, providing less margin for error when making those life-threatening runs. One section narrows the main path down to a person-sized walkway, making it hard to tell if this is still the right way to go or not.
Thankfully, players whose curiosity directed them to explore this Elden Ring dungeon may find the same curiosity direct them to jump off into a secret path right below the person-sized walkway. They still have to go through some tough imps and a fire-belching trap to reach an area where a pincer attack between two Grafted Scions (weaker versions of Elden Ring's first boss) occurs. This fight is completely optional, as what players want to do is carefully drop below that pincer attack area to find a lift that will take them to a vantage point.
It is here where Elden Ring players can take out their bow (provided they have one), and shoot one of the three jars overlooking the main passage. Timing this perfectly will allow them to destroy the annoying chariot once and for all, netting themselves the Erdtree Greatbow and some Great Arrows.
That is just the main section of Fingefolk Hero's Grave. With the chariot is finally destroyed, players can more easily explore the dungeon. Going to the right of the dungeon's forked path leads to a difficult fight with a soldier guarding a piece of Dragonwound Grease, while going to the left leads to the area boss - the fast moving, fire-spewing Ulcerated Tree Spirit (which one drops a valuable spirit summon as well as a Golden Seed to power up flasks).
The many trials of Fringefolk Hero's Grave helps players ready themselves for what to expect when exploring Elden Ring. There are times when curiosity may be the death of those playing the game, but that same curiosity is what can net them a new item to add to their collection. The trick, it seems, is to know when to risk progress and when to try another time.
Elden Ring is a very large and mysterious game. From Software doesn't provide much in the way of hand-holding, so players' most consistent way of discovering things is finding out for themselves and through messages others leave behind. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it can never kill a determined Tarnished.
Elden Ring is out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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