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Poison swamp-loving sicko at it again with Elden Ring

There’s no cure for Hidetaka Miyazaki’s desire to poison you

A Tarnished player raises a torch in a swampy, giant ant-infested cave in Elden Ring Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Elden Ring will have a poison swamp. That’s because toxic marsh enthusiast and player-poisoning sadist Hidetaka Miyazaki, president of developer FromSoftware and director of Elden Ring, simply “can’t help” himself. The guy just gets off on making people carry a special flower or medicinal herb in their inventory, and having fans of his games watch their hit points slowly drain while dealing with everything else a FromSoft game throws at them.

In a new interview snippet from Game Informer, Miyazaki says he “rediscovered [his] love for making poison swamps.” I’m not sure at which point he purports to have lost it, given the the poison swamp situations in Demon’s Souls’ Valley of Defilement, Dark Souls’ Blighttown, Dark Souls 2’s Harvest Valley, Dark Souls 3’s Farron Keep, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’s Ashina Depths, and Bloodborne’s very cleverly named Poison Swamp. The screenshot above this post, full of giant ants and gross egg sacs, may very well be Elden Ring’s poison swamp. It certainly has the vibe.

“I know how people feel about them,” Miyazaki told Game Informer, “but you know, suddenly I realize I’m in the middle of making one and I just can’t help myself. It just happens.”

The “love” Miyazaki appears to have been reawakened by new levels of cruelty, because he hints that there’s something “especially horrible” in Elden Ring, an affliction called Scarlet Rot that he says is different from poison and toxic status effects in his previous games. Great! Just great. If it’s anything like Dark Souls’ notorious curse effects (which From had to nerf at one point, because it was pure evil), Elden Ring players are in for a fun challenge when the game arrives next month.

So yes, Elden Ring appears to be just as challenging as other recent FromSoftware games. In a separate interview with the PlayStation Blog, Miyazaki said that the studio has “not intentionally tried to lower the game’s difficulty,” but noted that Elden Ring might be more manageable to complete than other Souls games.

“[T]he player’s level of freedom to progress through the world or return to a challenge later are all elements that I feel will help people get through the game at a more leisurely pace,” Miyazaki said. “Also, there isn’t a focus on pure action. The player has more agency to dictate their approach against, for example, the field bosses in the overworld and how they utilize stealth in various situations. We’ve even reduced the number of hoops that you have to jump through to enjoy it in multiplayer. So we hope the players embrace that idea of receiving help from others. And we feel like the overall clear rate will go up this time because of these things.”

All that, of course, is dependent somewhat on just how many of those players will tap out when they find out what Scarlet Rot is. We’ll know more on Feb. 25, when Elden Ring is slated to hit PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.