Elden Ring new game+ terrifies me so much, that I've turned the Lands Between into a walking simulator. It's not that I expect life after my first playthrough to be overly punishing per se – I've even heard Elden Ring new game+ might be the victory lap I didn't know I needed – it's just that taking on and taking down final boss Radagon of the Golden Order will mark the end of the game as I know it. Crossing the threshold means watching the credits roll, starting afresh, and laying waste to antagonists I first slaughtered hundreds of in-game hours ago; when the most powerful tool at my disposal was a pithy flurry of Glintstone Pebble sorcery.
Spells, items, abilities and levels rollover into your next adventure in new game+, of course, but I'm just not ready for Elden Ring to end in its current state. And so, I've just ridden Torrent from the Bestial Sanctum, over Farum Greatbridge, southward past Fort Farum, then west by the Church of the Plague, and into Sellia, Town of Sorcery. And I haven't come across one single hostile enemy. By revisiting past areas super OP, killing scores of baddies and choosing not to rest at Sites of Grace (thus, not resetting and refilling the world with previously felled enemies), I've inadvertently turned Elden Ring into the most twisted, non-combative, exploration game in existence. The thing is: I'm now running out of things to do and places to plunder.
Truth be told, I've always kept this routine in Souls games. I have a save file in the original Dark Souls that drops me into a Gwyn-less Kiln of the First Flame, and has all of its side quests completed – from Big Hat Logan's descent into madness, to Siegmeyer and Sieglinde's unfortunate reunion – that I use for wandering around Lordran minus any unwelcome distractions. I have something similar in Dark Souls 2 right before the final showdown with Nashandra; and likewise have three concurrent idle saves in Dark Souls 3 – one in the base game after offing the Soul of Cinder, one in Ariandel, and a third in the Ringed City.
I've combed the wikis, forums, and Discord servers enough times to know I've pretty much 100%'ed these games at this point, but even if I hadn't, the structure of FromSoftware's pre-Elden Ring games makes it pretty clear when you've reached the end of the line. Owing to the sheer scale and size of Elden Ring itself, however, players are still finding new NPCs, sidequests, mini-events, shortcuts, and set pieces among other weird and wonderful things two months after its launch on February 25. And I suspect there's plenty more still left to find. All of which means I can't shake the thought that somewhere out there in the Lands Between I've left at least one stone or two unturned.
That's what I tell myself, anyway. The truth is, I don't think I've enjoyed sinking so much of my spare time into a video game since, perhaps, Skyrim a full decade ago. With two kids and a house to run these days, my life is so, so different now compared to how it was in 2012, which only speaks volumes of Elden Ring's moreish qualities and their ability to draw me back in again and again when I have other real-world commitments to consider. Do the stairs really need to be vacuumed today? Do those dirty dishes really need to be cleaned right now? My girlfriend, as you might expect, says yes. But the Tarnished who I've spent just over 200 hours with – side-by-side, roving the most accomplished, death-defying, intriguing, and intricate open world I've ever had the pleasure of exploring – says no. Or, at least, in the absence of actual words, offers a 'Reverential Bow' gesture that, to me, indicates we're on the same page.
It ain't over till it's over
That's a page with all but one single main Elden Ring boss defeated. It's a page where whole stretches of the game's map are now bereft of standard enemies due to my commitment to avoiding Sites of Grace. A page upon which I've stopped fast traveling altogether in favor of simply wandering; a page that's littered with icons pertaining to past side ventures and previously completed questlines. Short of hunting for the next 50-hit secret wall – the last one has now been patched out via Elden Ring patch 1.04 – I suspect this page marks the final page of my pre-new game+ Elden Ring exploits because I'm now running out of loose ends to conclude. And, given how busy my life is nowadays, I've no idea if I'll actually commit to another playthrough in new game+ at all.
Which leaves me where I am now: putting off my final showdown with Radagon, instead choosing to rove around in the increasingly barren plains of the Lands Between as they exist in my game, safe in the knowledge that it can't end until I say so. "It ain't over till it's over,"American baseball legend Yogi Berra once said about the 1973 National League pennant race. And when it comes to Elden Ring and I, I'm determined to squeeze a few more innings out of its sprawling bounds yet.
Looking for everything to do in Elden Ring before NG+? Click that there link, intrepid Tarnished.