If you’ve followed my work here, on YouTube, or even on the the now-dead Mixer (R.I.P.), you’d know I’m a big Fromsoftware fan. I started out with King’s Field, and eventually discovered Armored Core, Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Sekiro, Bloodborne, and of course, Elden Ring. I own every copy of the latter mentioned games, on multiple platforms — sometimes multiple copies. I suppose you can call me a Fromsoftware Stan, and I’m proud of it. However, despite my love for the company’s games, there’s one thing that genuinely upsets me. That would be how the Soulsborne games online co-op is handled.
Sure, the PVP aspects are done well. You either invade or get invaded, and then you fight to survive the encounter. In all honesty, I’ve done my fair share of invading other gamers’ worlds, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It’s fun. If you haven’t tried it, you should. There’s no shame in it. It’s the entire reason why it’s something you can do in the game. But on the other end of the spectrum, progressing through the games, completing objectives, killing bosses, and things of that nature, I’m not too fond of.
Why? Well, excuse me for being blunt, but it stinks. How so? How dare I say this? Well, let me tell you.
In most games, such as Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, you merely have to put a symbol down and wait for someone to click on your summoning symbol. Now, given that there are anywhere from a few to hundreds of players playing at any given moment, you can spend seconds to minutes—or even hours—waiting for someone to join you in jolly cooperation. I’ve literally spent two hours waiting, and I’m not kidding. I actually timed it.
With Bloodborne, things are immensely easier, as all you need to do is ring the Beckoning Bell or Small Resonant Bell. Assuming you have enough insight, that is. The downside is that anytime you summon a player into your world or make yourself available to other players, it also invites the Sinister Bell-ringer Woman into either world, who makes you ripe for invaders. Yeah, that’s no fun if I’m trying to kill a boss or help others do the same.
In Sekiro… Oh, wait. There’s no multiplayer component to that. If you’re playing on the PC, there’s a mod for that. Definitely go check that out.
Lastly, we have Elden Ring. winner of so many damned Game of the Year awards, it will make your head spin. However, its coop is also a pain in the rear, making you jump through so many hoops. The Furlcalling Finger Remedy comes to mind, as you can either craft it or have it drop off of NPC invaders or random drops. Eventually, you’ll be able to purchase it as well. But that’s just for summoning players. If you want to be summoned into someone’s game, you’ll need to use another item called the Tarnished’s Furled Finger. Don’t forget the summoning pools and the small golden effigy that you’ll need to use them.
Don’t even get me started about players’ levels, which are used to balance cooperative gameplay. Of course, it’s game over after you’ve done all that, and you’ve managed to get into someone’s world or vice versa, should you or the host die—all that effort, using all those items which are used up, all gone. Then you have to do it all over again.
But hey, suppose you do all that, make it to the boss, and vanquish it? Congrats! You did it. Your reward? Well, you get sent back to your own game, or your summoned friends still have to take a hike. I always hated that.
That’s a lot of work, no matter which game you’re playing, and frankly, I’m tired of this mess. Getting into a co-op session is way too complicated for its own good, and FromSoftware needs to do better. The problem is that the company isn’t motivated to do better, as everyone glitzes it up and says it’s the best cooperative system under the moon. Well, it’s not. Not by a long shot.
I’d like to introduce a little game called Remnant from the Ashes, which has the best cooperative system I’ve seen in a Souls-like game. Of course, that’s my opinion. But hear me out. There’s no need to get co-op working. No worrying about player levels or ensuring you’re in the same location as other players while hopping on one leg.
It’s really simple to get a game co-op game going as well. As soon as you start your game, you can easily select either play the game with “Friends Only,” or “Public.” Either will open up a browser, allowing you to select your friend’s game, or if you open the public games, you’ll have a list of everyone who’s playing the game. You’ll see how many players are currently in those sessions, their gear score, difficulty level, and what world they’re in.
Finally, unlike any of the Fromsoftware titles, the game continues if you or the host dies. You can either revive the other player, or they can revive you. If you’re just progressing to another stage in the world, you can continue on without them, and they’ll be revived on the other side. When you’re fighting a boss, you’ll need to revive them manually, but the game keeps going. Well, unless the host rage quits or they (or you) lose connection.
This is entirely drop-in / drop-out. The only thing that sticks, but makes sense, is that the host’s progression is the only one that matters. The other two players are just along for the right. Regardless, this is leaps and bounds better than anything Fromsoftware has implemented. Impressive, right?
Perhaps Fromsoftware needs to take a page out of Gunfire Games‘ playbook, and implement a system like this into Elden Ring. I mean, everyone’s (almost) Game of the Year could do with some quality-of-life updates, right?
And if they don’t, you can always go play Remnant from the Ashes, or just wait until Remnant II gets released. It will have the same co-op system – a proper co-op enabling system. I know I will be. Maybe I’ll see you in the game.
In closing, I don’t want this to seem like I hate Fromsoftware, or its games, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I wouldn’t be criticizing its online features if I didn’t care. I want them to be better, either with the award-winning Elden Ring, or whatever the next game Soulsborne game the company releases into the world. I just want to be able to play with my friends or randoms easier than we can currently.