I'm standing on the precipice of a snowy peak in one of Elden Ring's late-game areas. To my right, the Forge of the Giants towers over the land below, with its hulking wrought iron chains tying its cauldron to the mountainside. To my back is the rotten husk of a Minor Erdree; and to my left, poking just above the horizon, are the masonry spires of Castle Sol. I know this part of the Lands Between like the back of my hand, and I've laid waste to just about all of the twisted wanderers in this icy corner of the world. Well, all besides the ones slouching around the grounds of Heretical Rise, because I just can't bloody figure out how to get over there.
In typical FromSoftware style, accessing this particular point of interest involves locating an invisible bridge on the other side of a ravine, tentatively easing my way forward hundreds of meters in the air, before taking a sharp left and winding around an also-invisible spiral staircase that leads onto the first floor of Heretical Rise itself. I mean, what took me so long to work that out? Surely that was obvious.
And while this is clearly one of Elden Ring's least conspicuous routes of discovery, I can't say it's the first time I've been left scratching my head while trying to locate the entrance of somewhere either way above my current position, way below, or well out of reach. This has long been a topic of discussion in forums and mod request pages, but it's in these moments that I think: surely it's time Elden Ring introduced a Zelda-like glider.
Blasphemy, was the cry. And I get it. I first spotted the half-joking call for gliders among players in April last year, just over a month after Elden Ring had graced our screens. At the time I scoffed myself, because I thought: surely that defeats the purpose of the Lands Between – it's FromSoftware's first proper stab at an open world, one that's as incongruous as it is incredible, and if you're struggling to find your way from point A to B then, well, tough shit pal, because there is always a way to make it. It's rarely a straightforward journey, granted – more often than not you're required to kill scores of enemies, or tussle with a giant or a dragon or something even worse – but it's always doable with a bit of time and perseverance.
Fast forward the best part of a year, however, and I find myself pining for the skies. Why? Mostly because despite the fact that I'm over 300 hours in and am still discovering areas that are entirely new to me, I have unlocked pretty much all of the overworld's Sight of Grace spawn points. Nowadays, if I'm faced with a treacherous path between two locations – in the above scenario, for example, you can access the front end of Heretical Rise by climbing back down the mountain, circling the frozen lake (dodging an optional boss battle with an ice-breathing dragon assuming you haven't already killed it), and clambering up the hillside – I'll almost always skip the journey via fast travel. Big drop? Fast travel. Big climb? Fast travel? Big baddies… you get the picture.
And so while standing atop that snowy cliff in the Mountaintops of the Giants, I was consumed by the what ifs of an Elden Ring hang glider. Just the thought of leaping from the edge and floating down onto the platform below, perhaps roll-dropping and slicing up a Marionette Soldier upon landing really got my juices flowing. So much so, in fact, that I wound up throwing myself off the hill, sending myself and Torrent plunging to our doom on the off-chance I'd somehow trick the hard-wired game code into letting me and my trusty horse fly.
In doing that, I was reminded of the so-called 'Pegasus glitch' (opens in new tab) that surfaced around the game's launch (subsequently patched) that let players tear through the skies on horseback to their heart's content. I'm not sure tying an imagined gliding mechanic to Torrent would be the best way to do it, but I think gating the operation of gliders in some way could actually work. Not unlike the way Spiritspring Jumps allow Torrent to reach higher climbs in very limited locations, for example, having a glider that's only obtainable in certain spots under specific circumstances, that could only be used in specific areas would prevent them from being overused.
Perhaps magic is the way to go. In the same Loretta's Greatbow or the Carian Greatsword simulate oversized weapons by virtue of the dark arts, maybe an FP-sapping spell with a high Intelligence prerequisite would work – meaning players would be required to commit to a sorcery build in order to make use of it at all. Maybe gliders could be unlocked after toppling the Elden Beast as a wee New Game+ treat, similar to, say, the way the first Metal Gear Solid game gave players who submitted to Ocelot's torture table Stealth Camouflage for their next playthrough. Or maybe there are no limits at all, and gliders just make traversing the Lands Between even cooler than it already is, minus the geographical headaches in its current state.
Because when you put the quests and boss battles in the likes of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (and from what we've seen so far, its follow-up, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom) to one side, one of the most fun things to do in these games is climb to a vantage point, throw yourself off it, and lazily glide to the next landing. It's the same in the Batman Arkham series, in Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, Just Cause, Midwinter, Astro's Playroom, and the list goes on. Unofficial PC mods are the most likely route for Elden Ring gliders moving forward, you'd have to assume (I've seen some flight mods doing the rounds, but most of them are fake or janky as hell), but if we're talking about an Elden Ring DLC wishlist? Well, almost a year on, I just might need to update our selection.
Explore beyond the Lands Between with the best games like Elden Ring