As reported by our friends at GamesRadar (Opens in a new tab)dataminer Zullie the Witch ., the prolific Souls series (Opens in a new tab) He released a new video that touches on a slightly controversial aspect of Elden Ring’s much-discussed difficulty: enemies’ tendency to respond to certain actions (such as self-healing) roughly as quickly as you can, and is sometimes referred to by fans as “input” reading.”
Has this happened to you before? You reduced Godskin Guy’s health to within millimeters of victory, as he did yours. Fortunately, you have an ace in the hole: the healing flask of Crimson Tears. One small sound and you will have some breathing in these last moments of battle. But once you pull the flask off your belt, Godskin Guy actually charges his little black hadouken flame.
Already committed to the drinking animation, you can just watch this fireball hit you in the face before you fully regain your health. You die, everything is ruined, your marriage is in shambles, Rome has fallen, it’s game over.
But how does this happen? Roughly “reading input” suggests that AI is tracking your keystrokes, but Zullie’s findings show that enemy AI is designed to watch in-game animations of your movements. It’s not that the Godskin Guy responds instantly to your pressing “X”, and more that it reacts instantaneously to the player’s use of certain items – a key distinction when there are more mysterious healing methods that Godskin’s men won’t punish.
The enemy AI will use a similar function to detect and dodge projectile spells. Zullie illustrates this last point by showing her boss dodging even as she casts her spells away from her.
In her video, Zolli says she sympathizes with some players’ feeling that this difficulty is still “unfair or artificial,” but do you know what? Me, no! I think it’s great. FromSoftware games have adapted the way people play them over time. Players hid behind their shields a lot in Dark Souls, so Bloodborne removed shields and prioritized dodge. Upon noticing some players spamming their dribbling and ignoring placements and positioning, FromSoft transformed into Sekiro’s dominant combat system, decreasing the indomitable frames of that game’s dribbling movement.
The Elden Ring has been known to miss players with difficult dribbling timing of attacks: bosses like Margit or Crucible Knights follow endless long sleds with quick delivery of attack, punishing early dribbling and dribbling. I see punished healing as an extension of this determination.
In previous FromSoft games (and with many enemies in the Elden Ring), it’s simple enough to create some space between you and the enemy and recover. Punishing this behavior keeps you on your toes and leads to difficulty in a clever sideways way, which you can consciously adapt to. It is possible to set a recovery time to avoid being punished by the God Knife, but after that it is also possible to practice not being hit too many times.
So I’m glad that the Godskin men would brazenly interrupt my recovery with small, hateful blasts of flame. They’ll come up and slap my drink out of my hand every time I go to take a sip, and I’ll say “thank you” when they do. I will improvise, adapt, overcome, and evolve as a person and as one Enlightened player.