Miyazaki 'went a little too far' with Elden Ring's poison swamps but says he learned a lesson, which unfortunately is that he needed to come up with new and different ways to kill everyone

 Elden Ring screenshot - man with torch standing near giant ants and a pile of gooey dead bodies.
Credit: FromSoftware

Apart from a wasted hour or so dabbling in Dark Souls, Elden Ring was my first soulslike, and so I think it's understandable that when I found myself standing in the muck in the middle of Caelid, my immediate reaction was, "This is bullshit." I was surprised to find out later that it was also tradition: Director Hidetaka Miyazaki has been throwing these things in since the very first Dark Souls because, apparently, he just can't help himself.

Big surprise, then, that the Elden Ring expansion Shadow of the Erdtree has its very own poison swamp—something Miyazaki confirmed earlier this year, in case there was any doubt. But it may not be quite as big and bullshit as Elden Ring's Swamp of Aeonia and Lake of Rot: In an interview with CNet, Miyazaki acknowledged that he "went a little too far" with Elden Ring, and he's "trying to take some lessons from that."

"You can say the version [of the poison swamp] that exists in the DLC, which I've already confirmed, applies a lot of those learnings," Miyazaki said.

"In between it existing and not existing, with this version, let's just say I try to imagine different ways I want to die as a player or be killed. So that expression of myself has been imparted into the poison swamp."

I'm not entirely sure how to take that, but my impression is that maybe the poison swamp in Shadow of the Erdtree is less likely to kill you, but the rest of the expansion is more likely to kill you. Is this a good thing? Variety is the spice of life, I suppose, even when it applies to death.

Miyazaki seemed to confirm that understanding: "So, not in the poison swamp itself—that's been curbed—but in other parts of the gameplay, there are many ways to die."

Look, I don't mean to be critical, but I kind of feel like Elden Ring already has plenty of ways to die, and that the issue here was really just one of, hey man, can we ease up on the poison swamps? Not as a green light to express your murderous urges in new and interesting ways, but just so it's slightly less suffocating and punishing when we have to travel through these areas? I already have 100 different horrors within line of sight trying to kill me, I don't need the geography taking a shot too.

I know I'm going to have countless dedicated soulslikers lining up to tell me to "git gud," and all I can say in response is that I think I'm allowed to slump back into my chair and sigh when Miyazaki says his takeaway from the overblown poison swamp situation in Elden Ring was "I need to come up with new ways to make you dead." I barely survived the first time, man!

None of which, to be clear, is putting off Elden Ring players. Since yesterday's launch of Shadow of the Erdtree, Elden Ring has been putting up massive player numbers on Steam, and could conceivably surpass the base game's all-time peak concurrent player count of more than 953,000 this weekend. That's especially impressive given how many of you still haven't put a shank into Mohg—maybe it's a sign that people are finally getting serious about dealing with that guy so they can access the expansion.