I spent an evening stuck in Elden Ring's Fog Rift Catacombs and experienced the purest despair I've ever felt in a FromSoftware game

Elden Ring
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is kicking players' butts, but an optional dungeon called the Fog Rift Catacombs is causing a special kind of despair. After spending some time trapped in this place, I can understand why - this dungeon is simultaneously the best, worst, and funniest thing FromSoftware has ever done.

Naturally, this post will include spoilers for this one dungeon. Once you head across the big bridge that leads away from the DLC's starting area, the map might draw your eye north toward a path that appears to head toward a new Shadow of the Erdtree map fragment to collect. This is FromSoft's first trick. After making it past a fort with piles of enemies raining literal fire upon you and surviving a foggy valley filled with stealthy little gremlins trying to stab you in the back, you'll start to see messages from other players to the effect of "no map ahead, all the more tears."

That's when the valley path funnels you into the Fog Rift Catacombs. At first blush, it looks like any other crypt-style dungeon in Elden Ring, with a bunch of stone pathways and a few enemies tucked into tough-to-spot locations to give you a jump scare. Then come the giant spike traps from the ceiling. Then come the weirdo foghorn-mouth guys who vomit fireballs at you like Birdo shoots eggs in Mario 2. Then you start to realize you don't just need to avoid those spike traps, you need to ride them up to find hidden pathways. 

If you're playing online, you'll continue to see messages from other players suffering from increasing levels of despair. There's a room with several soldiers, which you can fairly easily draw back to fight one-on-one. The last enemy in this room is a knight with his back toward you - and I really should've realized this was a trap, but the secret guy just around the corner from this knight killed me all the same. By the time I hit this room, my despair levels were right there with all those messages I'd found.

Perhaps the ultimate middle finger the Fog Rift Catacombs gives you is a giant, lengthy hall with another ceiling spike trap covering the entire distance. At the opposite end, there's a wizard who pelts you with machine gun-style magic bolts. You have to sprint through the room between each drop of the spike trap, dodging into side alcoves to avoid taking damage. The catch? The second alcove you dive into is actually just a hole that drops you into a sewer area where you must fight what I can only describe as sentient piles of excrement.

"I want to challenge whoever made the Fog Rift Catacombs to a cage fight," as one Reddit thread puts it, and I see where that sentiment is coming from. I also see why so many people are calling it "so fun," a "10/10 catacomb," and "my favorite Elden Ring dungeon." You can just feel the level designers laughing at you to a point where it's honestly kind of endearing.

This post from Reddit user Magistraten sums it up for me: "This is honestly the funniest location in From Software history. Basically just a series of patented FromSoft pranks with you the player as the punchline. It's not particularly difficult, especially compared to the rest of the DLC, but holy fuck is it good. Oh, you survived several bomb sneezers, a variety of death traps, a couple of messages that said 'first of message, then try explosion'? Dodge these magic missiles, then, have a little imp. Still alive? Have a hole with a sewer, fight some literal shit, then try again."

Then there's the boss of the whole dungeon, who is literally named Death Knight. As with a lot of Shadow of the Erdtree bosses, Death Knight has tons of fast attacks that hit hard and extremely limited windows in which you can deal damage. The kicker is a rushing grab where the boss takes hold of you and drains your life to restore its own health bar. Despite eventually beating Death Knight, I still don't know if it's even possible to dodge that attack.

And while looking for comments on the Fog Rift Catacombs to both flesh out this story and justify my own complicated feelings on the DLC, I just discovered the tweet above and learned that I have even more to find in this dungeon. Damn it, I guess I'm not finished yet. 

Need some help surviving the DLC? Check out our guide on where to find Scadutree Fragments in Shadow of the Erdtree.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.