While we all knew that Elden Ring was going to reignite the debate about the difficulty of FromSoftware games and the many titles they’ve influenced, I wasn’t expecting to find myself suddenly conflicted about the game’s difficulty level and general design philosophy as soon as I encountered the first major boss in the game’s open-world: Margit, The Fell Omen.
It seems that some fans may have found a few sneaky ways to avoid the fight against Margit (though it does sound like you may need to fight him eventually), but for many Elden Ring players, this bridge guard will be the first proper boss they have to fight in order to progress through the main story. That also means that it’s the first significant roadblock that many players will encounter on their path to victory.
Now, “roadblock bosses” are a Soulsborne tradition, and rightfully so. The basic idea behind them is that you need to face off against a significant early challenge in order to check your progress, test your mechanical abilities, and generally get a feel for where you’re at during that point in the game. If you struggle with one of those bosses, it usually means you need to level your character, upgrade your gear, or just refine your technique. They’re both barriers and the boss fights that really give you a feel for how rewarding these games can be.
To be clear, I’m usually in favor of the “roadblock boss” concept. They’re typically representative of the “tough, but fair” style at the heart of the best FromSoftware games. Yes, you will struggle, and yes, you will most certainly die, but by learning the right lessons from these encounters, you will better prepare yourself for what is to come.
However, that’s kind of the problem with the fight against Margit. It’s supposed to better prepare you for what is to come, but it turns out to be significantly more difficult than most of the things you’ll encounter in the game for quite some time.
Elden Ring: Why The Fight Against Margit is Too Difficult
Margit is fast, hits like a tank, utilizes an erratic attack pattern that covers a lot of ground, and even benefits from the fact that you have to fight him near cliffs that you can fall down but he cannot. What’s so frustrating about that last part is that it arguably violates that idea of “tough, but fair” that is supposed to be at the heart of a great Soulsborne game’s balance. Is it fair that you can fall off a cliff that the boss is able to ignore for no reason other than the fact that he’s essentially protected by an invisible wall?
Even if you accept that mechanics like that are just examples of the “welcome to Dark Souls…err…Elden Ring” moments you sometimes have to shrug off when you’re working your way through these games, you’re still left with two bigger talking points regarding the design of the Margit fight: how new players will react to it and how it paints a somewhat poor picture of what is to come.
Talking about the new player experience in a game like Elden Ring is always a bit like navigating a minefield, but to get to the heart of the matter, Margit will very likely be the boss that chases a lot of people away from Elden Ring. While some will walk away from the game well before that because it’s just not for them, there’s something troubling about the idea that the game’s first real and (mostly) unavoidable boss fight is tuned in a way that will likely leave a lot of people feeling like they must have done something wrong or simply don’t understand what is expected of them.
When a boss can kill you in seconds, it’s kind of hard to actually learn anything from that fight. More importantly, it’s tough to get a feel for where the game really expects you to be by the time you reach Margit when you may be able to deal with most of the challenges that preceded this fight with relative ease but will still be vaporized by this boss.
What’s worse is that it turns out Margit is significantly tougher than the next major boss you’ll fight in Elden Ring: Godrick the Grafted. From a lore and escalation perspective, Margit being tougher than Godrick is a little questionable (though there are some ways you could justify it if you were so inclined to do so). More importantly, the skills, gear, and levels it will take most players to beat Margit may very well make them a little “overpowered” for what is to come. Indeed, it took quite a while for me to reach a challenge in the next part of Elden Ring‘s world that was anywhere near as difficult as Margit (though you can a couple of optional ones out there if you’re inclined to find them).
As a roadblock boss, Margit arguably fails because they’re so much more difficult than most of the things that come before it and more difficult than too much that comes after. If you can’t beat them, you’ll likely walk away with very good questions about what is expected of you, and if you can beat them, you’re likely going to breeze through the game for a little while as you start to wonder why that particular fight was such a pain. There are already calls for the boss to be rebalanced, and I can certainly understand the sentiment behind those requests. It’s going to upset a lot of people in two distinct ways.
However, there is another side to the Margit argument that is important to consider before you write off the design of this fight outright…
Elden Ring: Why The Fight Against Margit is Just Right
For as tough as Margit is and for all the problems it represents and touches upon, it also has to be said that there are a few ways that the fight against Margit does properly prepare you for what is to come and the ways it is designed to teach you what separates Elden Ring from other Soulsborne titles.
There are many ways to defeat Margit, but some of the best strategies for this fight require you to acquire a powerful Spirit Ash, summon an NPC you will have hopefully met shortly before the battle, call in help from a friend, master Elden Ring‘s altered defensive mechanics, apply a powerful Ash of War to a weapon, and explore more of the game’s world until you’ve acquired some of the gear, items, and Runes that will help you do all of those things. In short, the fight against Margit really asks you to make sure you understand a lot of things about this game that you may have breezed past if you walked straight up to them or have been trying to play Elden Ring like it was another game.
I have to say that I find the idea of a roadblock boss that is designed to break Soulsborne fans of their habits to be pretty fascinating. I’m also a fan of the way this battle really wants to highlight how one of the best ways to overcome a lot of challenges in Elden Ring is to explore more of the world and learn to utilize the various (and surprisingly viable) options offered to you. Whereas it was previously possible to rely on quick attacks and a couple of well-timed roles to overcome so many of the combat challenges in the Dark Souls games, Elden Ring really does ask you to explore everything that has been made available to you and give those things a fair chance. Oftentimes, you’ll need to utilize a variety of strategies and tools to get past this game’s toughest challenges, which is honestly something we haven’t always seen in previous FromSoftware titles.
So while I do have many questions and concerns about the specifics of this fight’s design, its placement in the game, and whether or not it’s really working as intended, I do have to say that I really respect the idea of making the first major boss in Elden Ring a boss that really encourages you to explore more of what this game has to offer. I can certainly say that I learned quite a lot about this game that I may have otherwise ignored if those new mechanics didn’t help me finally get through that fight.
That’s the funny thing about Margit. In a way, the fight against him is when I really started to appreciate the ways that Elden Ring is both one of the most difficult Soulsborne games yet and the most approachable yet due to the various tools the game offers you and how it allows you to overcome pretty much everything if you’re willing to understand and experiment with what the game is making available to you.
Elden Ring: Is Margit Too Difficult or Just Right?
While I believe that FromSoftware had the right idea when it came to the design of the boss fight against Margit, I ultimately feel like the fight is tuned in a way that prevents it from being the ideal roadblock boss they clearly wanted it to be.
While I doubt that the fight will be significantly altered via future updates, I do find it to be an interesting example of the delicate balance that determines whether or not a Soulsborne game really works and how fine a line you have to walk to ensure a game like this is properly balanced. While it’s nothing short of a minor miracle that Elden Ring is as balanced as it is given everything that this game is trying to do, that balance does make this particular fight stand out and feel especially cruel at times.
Do you think that Margit is too difficult? Let us know in the comments below.