Elden Ring is overwhelmingly saturated with features in its grand open world. There are many locations, characters, and mechanics that players may never discover in a handful of unique playthroughs. Then, only by looking online thereafter may they learn about Elden Ring’s clandestine and unintuitive questlines. This is standard of each FromSoftware game, where community discoveries are co-dependently followed in order to have a more fulfilling experience in later playthroughs. One such feature in Elden Ring that players may not know much about on their own is absolution.

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Absolution is a feature that some players may not even need if they are warily precarious around any NPC. But if an NPC becomes hostile for one reason or another, such as if players accidentally take a swipe at them, players can be absolved of this hostility. This also works with reviving certain NPCs, but to be clear, it will not revive every single NPC, and thus players still need to exercise caution in their playthroughs. Still, it is a fantastic feature allowing players to absolve some of their mistakes or choices, and future FromSoftware games would be generously considerate if they reprised it.

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Elden Ring’s Absolution is a Fun Gameplay Do-Over

Maybe the most prominent purpose of absolution is to have an NPC back to their normal self in order to sell their wares again. Players may have accidentally made an NPC hostile, such as if they were to attack Elden Ring’s Patches while unprovoked after the Murkwater Cave ambush in Limgrave.

He may well deserve the player’s wrath, but he also has predetermined locations where he will appear afterward and sell items to the player if kept alive. Killing him cuts out a ton of content involving his character, such as having him be summonable to no avail during the Starscourge Radahn boss fight. But like many NPCs, killing him then and there results in an instant reward of loot that players would have had to endure hours of optional questline to procure otherwise. In Patches’ case as well, keeping the NPC alive means players miss out on loot. Therefore, there are a number of different reasons why players might choose to kill or spare any NPC.

To put it in perspective, Rennala’s stat reallocation mechanic is similar because it allows players to alter the course of their playthrough without severe course correction, and all players need to do is spend a unique resource. In order to reallocate stats, Rennala asks for Larval Tears. But for absolution, players must atone by delivering Celestial Dew to the Lady Rennala statue in Liurnia’s Church of Vows.

FromSoftware Games Can Be Purposefully Unforgiving

Bloodborne is a wonderful example of how FromSoftware’s NPCs can be morally ambiguous and seemingly untrustworthy. There are characters whom players may initially stereotype as being mischievous due to their behavior or demeanor, but are actually well-meaning and kind. On the other hand, there are characters who seem stereotypically ordinary, but are intentionally misleading and wish to lure the player to harm. Not having the option to redo an interaction where an NPC becomes hostile is unfortunate, but also helps Bloodborne’s unforgiving tone and atmosphere feel consequential and meaningful.

It makes sense in a game as big as Elden Ring to have some leniency with regard to idling merchants. However, having to decide with conviction which NPCs will go to Iosefka’s Clinic and which will go to Oedon Chapel is a significantly meaningful choice. Ultimately, the mechanic’s return will depend on how linear or nonlinear future FromSoftware games are. If the world is as elaborate as it is in Elden Ring with hundreds of hours of content in a single playthrough, absolution would be welcomed back warmly.

Elden Ring is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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