I’m approaching 60 hours with Ring of Elden and, frankly, I still have no idea what’s going on story-wise. Like the previous souls games, the FromSoftware tradition designed with game of thrones author George RR Martin is a mess of proper names and vague innuendos. One thing that I do know, however, is that a boss known as General Radhan is arguably the best character in the game. He may even be the greatest souls character of all time.
OK, wow, calm down. I know that’s a big statement! But please don’t suddenly rush me to defend overwhelming fan favorites like dark souls pseudo-mascot Solaire d’Astora or Patches, the universe spanning jerk featured in several previous FromSoftware games. While they and many others souls the characters are great, General Radahn stands head and shoulders above the rest, both literally and figuratively, thanks to the way Ring of Elden mixes silly, touching, and awe-inspiring snippets from his past with a unique boss battle that ends up drastically changing the game world.
The moment you meet Radahn in Ring of Elden, he’s a pale facsimile of the brilliant demigod general who once commanded the forces of war after the titular Phenomenon broke out. Radahn had previously been downed in battle by his half-sister Malenia the Severed and was infected with Scarlet Rot, a disease that turns its victims into mindless ghouls with one overarching desire: to consume everything they see. As such, Radahn now roams corpse-strewn battlefields on the back of a horse much too small (whose name is apparently Leonard), waiting for the day when someone strong enough can end his misery.
Radahn’s official title in Ring of Elden is “Starscourge”, and for good reason. At some point in his past, a witch named Sellen tells you, the hulking warrior “challenged the whirling constellations” themselves. I still don’t know exactly how Radahn fought stars, but his victory over these celestial bodies was complete enough to leave them frozen in the sky. “He is the force that pushes back the stars,” Sellen adds. “If General Radahn were to die, the stars would resume their movement.” Simply put, the dude is strong as shit.
Along with his gigantic size, Radahn’s raw power also comes from his wielding of gravity itself, a school of magic that the player themselves can also wield with the proper stats and knowledge. Not only do these skills make Radahn a fearsome warrior, but it’s also how he’s able to ride his horse of skin and bones without, you know, crushing the poor animal under its incredible weight. In fact, Leonard was Radahn’s main driver for developing his gravitational powers in the first place, as noted the description of this item:
Radahn is positioned throughout the early hours of Ring of Elden like quite a challenge. Many friendly faces you meet in the Lands Between, including a wonderful “may goblin” known as Iron Fist Alexander and my boyfriend Blaidd the Half-Wolf, talk about going to Radahn’s old stronghold, Castle Redmane, to participate in some kind of festival. Once you reach the castle yourself, it becomes clear that the festivities are just a pretext to lift Radahn out of his misery, hosted by the loyal servants he left behind. Some of the world’s most capable fighters have gathered to test their mettle against Radahn and, if everyone’s lucky, finally give him the warrior death he deserves.
Although Radahn can be defeated normally, I consider the encounter to be the latest in a long line of fancy boss battles from FromSoftware that play out much more smoothly when using their unique mechanics rather than taking on the threat as you do. would do for any other fight. Consider, for example, Dark Souls IIIface to face with Yhorm the Giant. sure you can reduce to his massive health bar with your puny weapons all you want but the devs have planned for you to use a special sword found in the arena to smack its impending skull with wind magic instead. It turns what can be an incredibly difficult fight into a cakewalk and feels more thematically appropriate to boot.
Radahn’s fight in Ring of Elden is also about using the resources at your disposal. Do you remember I said that several warriors were gathered at Redmane Castle for the festival? Well, that means you can summon not one, not two, but six NPCs to help you take down Radahn. I wouldn’t say they make the fight as easy as ripping Yhorm to pieces with Storm Ruler, but having Radahn’s massive attacks focused on someone else while you do hit-and-run style strafing attacks -Run on your own horse is way better than having him on your ass all the time. And, best of all, when your allies die – and believe me, they will. many– you can simply re-summon them repeatedly. He reigns.
Oh yeah, you can also summon Patches in the Radahn fight, but don’t expect him to stay.
Either way, the fireworks really do happen when Radahn is defeated. Just as Sellen said, his death ensures that the stars can move again. However, they must have really wanted to stretch their legs, as they begin to cross the skies en masse, filling the skies with radiant light as they resume their regular cycles. Soon a comet is heading towards the ground and crashing somewhere on the horizon, open a huge chasm in Mistwood, an early game region. This remains a permanent geological feature for the rest of your playtime and allows you to enter a new area known as Nokron, the Eternal City. And if it is true that conquering souls bosses often alter the world around you, I don’t recall anything of this magnitude happening in previous games.
Ring of Elden‘s General Radahn is everything I look for in a souls chief. Its story is both eerie and harrowing, the narrative obscures just enough of its past to make it a compelling mystery, and it offers a unique experience in a game full of instant surprises, the challenge of which can be tailored to suit your own. choice. “Big dude in bigger armor who’s lost his mind” is a common word souls trope, of course, but I love how the devs explained his gravity-based movement through a touching connection to his horse. It’s amazing that 13 years later Demon’s Souls released for the first time, FromSoftware can still create characters that are just as impactful.
I’m sure many of you disagree – it’s the internet, after all – so please let me know who you think is the best. Ring of Elden character (or even your favorite character souls character in general) in the comments. If this is Radahn, we’re officially best friends.