Playing Elden Ring As A Jouster Is The Best Way To Explore The Lands Between

When I was kid there was no better day out than going to Camelot. Not like, actual Camelot, as nobody knows where that was actually located (it’s probably Tintagel Castle in Cornwall though), but a run-down theme park in Lancashire. It’s been abandoned for years now, but it was pretty grotty when it was open, too. Look, not every company has DisneyWorld money.

The rides were bang average – there was a log flume and a dragon-themed one that slowly lapped the circumference of the park, and I think one that did a loop-the-loop to make things really exciting. But as a kid obsessed with all things knights and dragons, the park itself was the main attraction. The walls were actual ramparts, you entered through castle gates, and staff were dressed as knights and jesters. It was everything a kid could want.

The highlight, though, was the jousting tournaments. Held every hour, two knights in not-so-shining armour would ride their horses at each other full pelt in a scripted performance to end all performances. I was a complete mark, screaming at the Black Knight’s cheating ways and cheering on the heroic Sir Lancelot who would always overcome the odds and clutch it out at the last – usually with a glorious sword fight like something straight out of the Lord of the Rings.

The actors were proper stunt people; they fell off horses and shields spectacularly shattered when an opposing lance hit them square on. It was adrenaline-filled excitement, and I ate up every second. I also ate up a slice of some kid’s birthday cake that a knight presented him because, well, who can say no to cheap cake?

Anyway, my boss says I have to talk about video games at TheGamer, so I guess I should stop this little trip down memory road. I’m just providing some background for why jousting is objectively cool. And that’s why I’m playing Elden Ring almost exclusively as a jouster.

The premise is simple: equip a spear and shield of your choosing, and ride your horse around jabbing people. I equipped my Partisan spear – the tassels around the tip really scream jouster to me – and a standard knightly shield. I’m currently using a tortoise shell shield, but it didn’t look enough the part. I also don’t think having a shield does anything while you’re on horseback, but that could be my FromSoftware noob brain not understanding a simple mechanic. I also wore some knightly gear (a far cry from my usual shirtless berserker vibe) that I’d pilfered from Godrick Knights I’d beaten in Limgrave. I look like a proper jouster, so let’s get jousting.

For the most part you can ride up to an enemy and stab down at them with your spear. It’s effective, but more mounted cavalry in a battle of attrition than flamboyant showman dealing out as much pizzazz as death.

To try and really get into the mindset of a jouster, I took things a step further. If you use your heavy attack with R2, you ‘charge up’ your lance (spear) attacks, and do a small amount of damage to anyone who’s in the way of your pointy stick. It finally feels like proper jousting, and it’s even more satisfying when you find your rhythm and can time your heavy attacks to land just as you reach some poor footsoldier’s back. Godrick Knight, Godrick Shmight. I spent a good hour riding around and launching my spear into soldiers, crabs, and every other ungodly beast I could find.

Challenging another horseback knight was the next step, so I readied my spear and fondled a flask (just in case). I gave myself plenty of run up and the Mounted Northern Mercenary noticed me right away. He accepted the metaphorical gauntlet I’d laid down, and we rode at each other in a game of medieval chicken. We both knew the other would not back down.

On our first run, we both missed. It happens. As we turned and launched at each other a second time however, I made solid contact. Not enough to knock my opponent from his perch, but a solid chunk of his health bar had been eaten away by my Partisan. We traded a few high speed blows before I dealt the most important hit: I killed his horse. I would have loved it if Elden Ring allowed me to knock people off their mounts instead of having to kill them (maybe it does and I haven’t broken opponents’ poise yet?), but this was victory enough. With the stricken mercenary sprawled out on the floor, stunned by the impact of his horse falling beneath him, I simply poked him a couple of times to finish the job. It may not be the most honourable way of finishing a jousting match, but it’s certainly the most successful.

My final challenge as a knight of the Roundtable Hold was to challenge a boss. So far I have challenged and died to two separate bosses in Elden Ring, but vanquished a couple of minor dudes behind magical veils. I don’t know if it’s my level or my poor skills (reader, it’s probably both), but I’m not there quite yet. Still, that would not dissuade me. I managed to find a boss that was fightable on horseback, an Erdtree Avatar. And then I died. Multiple times. Once I managed to get it down to half health, but then the postman knocked. Seriously.

It’ll take some practise, but soon I'll prune this bothersome bush and be crowned the true champion of Elden Ring’s jousting arena. And then, after a few more levels, I’ll take on the ultimate jouster of Limgrave: the Tree Sentinel. No cheese, no magic, just pure, hardcore jousting. Bring it.

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