With shadow nerfs that weren’t noted in the patch notes, FromSoftware significantly simplified Elden Ring in the 1.04 release. The Lands Between is brimming with challenging boss encounters that together represent the game’s pinnacle difficulty. However, group battles, one of Elden Ring’s most taxing categories of combat, have been drastically changed to become easier.
Of course, Elden Ring is not the first Soulsborne game to have group boss battles in its gameplay. The Dark Souls duel with Ornstein and Smough is renowned for both the challenge the pair presents and their general aesthetic. Smough is slower, more docile, and more robust than Ornstein, who is quick and very aggressive. This in turn enables players to attempt to isolate one boss at a time in an effort to streamline the battle. Unfortunately, the group boss fights with Elden Ring have not adhered to the Ornstein-Smough model. It’s common for bosses or clones to fight alongside each other in pair or trio encounters, which usually makes them aggressive and challenging to distinguish from one another. As a result, Elden Ring’s group boss battles can be tiresome and patience-straining because players are always trying to break them apart through mobility and luring.
The Ornstein-Smough formula from Dark Souls was used in Elden Ring’s 1.04 update to address the game’s issue with group fights, despite without explicitly saying as much. In essence, some duo and trio bosses of days are made up of one hyper-aggressive and two meek individuals. The result is that fights like the Crucible Knight and Misbegotten Warrior duo now go as planned and are significantly simpler to finish.
How Elden Ring Changed Group Boss Battles (& What Exactly Changed)
In order to address Elden Ring’s group boss issue, two changes were made: direct AI adjustments and new flags for boosting team efficacy, according to YouTuber illusory wall and dataminer @king bore haha. Several bosses were altered to be less aggressive when they are not the primary attacker by making direct AI tweaks. The number of adversaries who might be classified as primary attackers was limited due to the adjustments made to team efficacy. This basically means that in a pair boss fight between the Misbegotten Warrior and Crucible Knight, the Misbegotten Warrior will be the lone primary attacker (at least initially), playing the Ornstein role. The Crucible Knight, in comparison, will behave more like Smough’s secondary attacker up until they launch an attack or are specifically targeted. You may see the video below:
While many of Elden Ring’s group boss encounters will benefit greatly from these updates, not all characters have yet received them. Only the Abductor Virgins, Mad Pumpkin Heads, and Crystalians experienced these alterations. Additionally, at least one of these modifications was given to the Crucible Knights and Erdtree Avatars. This implies that the notorious Godskin Duo combat and the two-on-two Gargoyle fight are still as challenging as they were previously. However, given the small number of adversaries impacted by the update, if FromSoftware’s application of the Ornstein-Smough formula is favourably received by players, possibly more Elden Ring monsters will undergo similar alterations in the future.
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