Elden Ring's co-op mod made the adventure new again

Elden Ring's co-op mod made the adventure new again

Elden Ring's co-op mod made the adventure new again

While not perfect, the co-op mod is the best way to re-experience this tremendous RPG.

On what had to be our 10th attempt at Elden Ring's first major boss, Godrick the Grafted, the big guy froze. A friend and I were using the Seamless Co-op mod(opens in new tab) and Godrick, despite having a literal fire-breathing dragon-head for an arm, decided to surrender. My fellow Tarnished got roasted a second earlier so it was just me and Godrick the Frozen. Cautiously I swung at him, ready for his brain to turn back on. It never did. I slashed away the last half of his health bar and sent him back into the ether. LEGEND FELLED. The mod may have broken him, but we were also several attempts in and just wanted to move on. A win is a win.

The Seamless Co-op mod solves all of the problems with Elden Ring's awful multiplayer summoning system, but it also introduces a slew of new ones once you're playing with it. Sometimes they're funny: my friend got to see my character ride an invisible horse a lot of the time. Sometimes they're useful: when one of you dies, the enemies don't reset, so you can cheese harder dungeons. And sometimes they're legitimately game-breaking: your ability to lock-on vanishes in the Radahn fight, which essentially prevents anyone who plays a spellcaster from doing damage at all.

The mod sits right in the middle of being unplayable and glorious. As Ted Litchfield wrote in his early impressions(opens in new tab) of it, it's simply the best way to play Elden Ring with a friend. Nothing could be worse than the normal method where you have to set a multiplayer password, drop a summon sign, wait for your friend to find it, and then be summoned in long enough to defeat the area's main boss. In the Seamless Co-op mod, you set a password, have your friend open their world, and then you can join them for as long as you want. You could play the entire game without ever getting kicked out.

On top of that, the Seamless Co-op mod lets you both ride Torrent (normal co-op prevents any horsing around) and, as part of a recent patch, you both can summon spirit ash allies anywhere you want. In some ways, playing with the mod is like playing in New Game+. There are some challenges here and there, but you have enough tools to barrel through however you want. Because my friend was new, I let her lead the way through catacombs and castles. She experienced all the little tricks FromSoftware plays on you with ambushes and puzzle-like combat scenarios. And, if things got hairy, I could assist using what I've learned from my own playthroughs.

New rules

The best moments with the Seamless Co-op mod are when things go very wrong. When the challenge is at its highest, the mod changes how you approach the game. Normal enemies are extremely susceptible to getting staggered when two of you are beating them up. We found this out rather quickly in the early parts of the game, so to keep things interesting we took on the toughest enemies. The patrolling Tree Sentinel in the opening area is a little more manageable when you have two people taking swipes at him on horseback, but he can still pulverize you in a single hit. For that fight, I equipped the talisman that kept his attention on me while I tanked him on the ground. My friend played the role of DPS and wore him down while he was distracted. It took us a few tries, but once she landed that final blow it felt like beating a raid boss in an MMO: going in with a plan and adapting on the fly based on the enemy's behavior.

We also decided to skip most of the optional catacombs and dungeons until we absolutely needed an upgrade or item they offered. This method kept us rune-starved enough to make some of the fights a genuine obstacle. For Castle Morne, we had to take turns pressing forward as one of us got killed, utilizing the fact that enemies don't respawn unless someone rests at a grace. The player that ate it can run back with a small penalty to their stamina regeneration. There were times where I intentionally bolted into a group of enemies and dispatched the most powerful one. I'd likely die in the process and leave my friend with the job of staying alive as I made my run back.

Under these new self-imposed rules, you're forced to come up with strategies that differ from the singleplayer game. By myself, I crept through dungeons and learned where enemies would appear. I'd wait until they were separated from the pack almost like a stealth game, or I'd pull them back to a safe spot. Wrong moves would be the end and I'd have to try again. In co-op, the goal is to cycle between each other long enough to make it to the next grace. To my surprise, Elden Ring works well as a gauntlet if you have someone who finds it equally thrilling to think on the fly.

Road trip

While not necessarily unique to the co-op mod, re-experiencing Elden Ring's open world with a friend who hasn't seen any of it before is a delight. It's like watching someone play your favorite game for the first time, but you get to be right there with them.

I completely forgot until the door was locked behind us that Gatekeeper Gostoc traps you in a dark room with a brutal knight at the beginning of Stormveil Castle. Nothing is more scary for my friend than when something like that happens and we're both panicking. The same thing happened when she led the way towards a group of enemies in the middle of a swamp in Limgrave and the gigantic dragon flew down and barbecued her and everyone else. I've always said that Elden Ring's open world is basically made to emulate the popular Dark Souls memes(opens in new tab) where some person or animal gains a health bar and dramatic choir music starts. With persistent co-op, you can stumble into all sorts of problems, which is really what Elden Ring is all about.

The Lands Between also remain absolutely stunning to look at. I thought some of that would be lost while playing with a friend, but there have been several times where we've both crested a hill or came out of a cave and stood there looking out over the landscape. With two people, you have the time to appreciate the day/night cycle and how it can create the sort of imagery you'd usually see in staged screenshots. I desperately wanted a photo mode when all I could see on my screen were our silhouettes as we galloped across the grassy hills of Limgrave, or when we stood in the middle of Radahn's battlefield, soaked in the crimson rain.

The Seamless Co-op mod's biggest weaknesses are in the most scripted sequences, which end up being the main Shardbearer boss fights, like Radahn and Rennala. You can't respawn at a Stake of Marika near them, so on top of AI and mechanics not working, you have to do the full run back. I imagine as we get deeper into the game there will be fights that might verge on being legitimately maddening. But we're halfway through and the worst we've had to deal with was the lock-on issue and one of us not correctly receiving runes as a reward for downing a boss—thankfully minor bosses are easy enough to farm souls from to alleviate that.

Otherwise, the mod is like playing on a new difficulty mode. It's still Elden Ring, but with pockets of new challenges that in-turn create new surprises. The mod's creator continues to update it as FromSoftware rolls out new patches. It's possible that at some point most of the bugs we encountered will be fixed. When that happens, I'll have zero caveats when recommending people to give the game a shot with a co-op partner. I wouldn't go so far as to say Elden Ring is purely better with friends, but it's easily the best way to re-experience it if you know someone who is willing to join you on the journey.

You can download Seamless Co-op from Nexus Mods

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