I'm so obsessed with Elden Ring's twisted sickness cult that my family has banned me from talking about it at home

Elden Ring
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Blood. Lashings of the stuff. Rivers of crimson flooding Elden Ring from pillar to post, so deep that you'd be forgiven for thinking you're in the Lovecraftian throes of Bloodborne's Yharnam. But you're not. I'm not. I'm just about 400 hours lost in the Lands Between across multiple saves. And this one's my absolute favorite. 

Don't you just think the Scarlet Rot is fascinating? I ask my girlfriend, who literally could not care less as she shakes her head and reminds me she's trying to watch Guy Ritchie's new thing on Netflix. But Miquella… I trail off as she shoots me a thousand-yard stare that'd leave even Malenia quaking in her greaves. I've been warned about this, you see. Several times. However I'm starting to think my infatuation with Elden Ring's twisted sickness cult has become more than an obsession. I think it might now be part of my personality. And now I'm seeing red in an entirely new way. 

Bloody heaven  

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Elden Ring devotees have of course been singing the praises of bleed builds since the game landed in March, 2022. But as hype continued to rise around the incoming Shadow of the Erdree DLC – following its official announcement last year – and as rumors continued to suggest Miquella's story would be the basis for it, I began flirting with the idea of investing time in this particular play style. We now know that, indeed, Shadow of the Erdree will explore Miquella's story, which will inevitably dig deeper into Malenia's background, the motivations of Mohg, Lord of Blood, and, very possibly, the origins of the Scarlet Rot.  

From a narrative standpoint, I can't wait to learn more about all of the above – but from a practical point of view, the thought of digging into Miquella's world inspired me to finally  discover what all the bloody hype around Elden Ring bleed builds is all about. And I can't believe what I've been missing. 

Besides having the potential to be ridiculously OP, everything about my new favorite Elden Ring build oozes cool. After scouring the interwebs and YouTube for advice on how to cobble together the best bleed set-up (huge shoutout to Titus Actual – this article isn't sponsored, but their content is well worth a sub in my opinion!) I learned that stats of 50 Vigor, 30 Endurance, 65 Strength, 20 Dexterity, and 50 Arcane were golden; with my weapon of choice being the Marais Executioner's Sword, dropped by the Elemer of the Briar boss up at The Shaded Castle. Not only is its two-handed animation properly bad-ass, it also hits enemies for 12-shots with every powerful swing. 

Elden Ring

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Seppuku is likewise my go-to skill, which I now know is essential for bleed builds. As an Ash of War, Seppuku grants the Blood affinity and Seppuku skill where you plunge your blade into your stomach, in turn increasing its attack power exponentially, and also improving your chances of landing the Blood Loss status effect on foes. You can find Seppuku on the frozen lake to the east of the Freezing Lake site of grace in the Mountaintops of the Giants zone via an invisible scarab. This, partnered with Royal Knight's Resolve, has made me unstoppable, making the arduous journey to the dungeon at the back of Volcano Mansions for this skill totally worth it. 

Armor-wise, I took a leaf straight from the above-linked Titus Actual's book and sought out the White Mask found in Mohgwyn Palace. Part of the War Surgeon set, the White Mask is a lightweight helm that raises attack power by 10% whenever blood loss is in the vicinity, dropped by an invader down in the Palace's blood lake next to the giant crows. I understand that Blaidd's armor set is considered the best relating to its poise buffs, but I just couldn't face killing that loveable rogue. Instead, I opted for Raptor's Black Feathers for a Game of Thrones-like feel, and the 28-Poise Bullgoat Greaves that are as cool as they are functional. With a Strength-Knot Crystal Tear and Thorny Cracked Tear combo in my Flask of Wondrous Physick, and I've found myself to be absolutely formidable. 

Again, so much so that I cannot stop talking about it. To anyone who'll listen. My mum when I'm round with the kids. My dad when we're at football. Random strangers – I heard two boys talking about Football Manager in the shop down the road from my house the other day, and chimed in with a Hello Fellow Kids-like interruption, asking if they play Elden Ring. They didn't. I was distraught. My poor suffering girlfriend has had enough, to the point where I'm no longer allowed to utter the words elden or ring or Scarlet Rot in the house ever again. 

That's what she thinks, at least. Elden Ring's Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is due on June 20, 2024. Its story is rooted in the cursed blood that flows like an undercurrent around the Lands Between, and the custodians who've lionized it in the action role-player's lore. I am but a town cryer to that end, an undercover reporter who's too far gone on the other side of the fence. Bloody hell, pardon the pun, I'm losing the plot. But I wouldn't have it any other way. My family would. But I wouldn't.  

From Skyrim to Elden Ring and even Final Fantasy 7 – my favorite RPG magic spell has never once let me down.

Joe Donnelly
Features Editor, GamesRadar+

Joe is a Features Editor at GamesRadar+. With over seven years of experience working in specialist print and online journalism, Joe has written for a number of gaming, sport and entertainment publications including PC Gamer, Edge, Play and FourFourTwo. He is well-versed in all things Grand Theft Auto and spends much of his spare time swapping real-world Glasgow for GTA Online’s Los Santos. Joe is also a mental health advocate and has written a book about video games, mental health and their complex intersections. He is a regular expert contributor on both subjects for BBC radio. Many moons ago, he was a fully-qualified plumber which basically makes him Super Mario.