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Elden Ring Beta's Most Notorious Jerk Has Chilled Out Now

FromSoftware NPCs can be a fickle lot, but I’m giving Varré a chance

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A man in a white mask addresses a woman wearing a simple robe.
Screenshot: FromSoftware / Kotaku

Early Elden Ring players were shocked when an NPC in the closed network test called their character a “bit player” who should “die in a ditch somewhere.” His outright and immediate hostility was seen by some as a personification of the Souls-like genre’s brutal difficulty, but I’m here to report that, for better or worse, this notorious douchebag’s rough edges have been sanded down a bit in the final release, launching on February 25.

Unless you stray from the obvious path at the start of Elden Ring’s open world, the very first person you’ll meet is a man named Varré. He seems amiable enough at first, wearing a smiling, white mask and standing near one of the game’s ubiquitous checkpoints. But in the early preview Bandai Namco hosted last year, Varré was barely able to hide his disdain. Every line, even those meant to instruct or fill out the lore of the game’s setting, was dripping with contempt.

Here’s a brief taste of what I’m talking about:

FromSoftware / Cerealkillerz (YouTube)

And a couple transcripts if you can’t watch the video:

First conversation (Closed Network Test)

Oh, yes... Tarnished, are we?

Come to the Lands Between for the Elden Ring, hmm?

Of course you have. No shame in it.

But I’m afraid you’re plumb out of luck.

You are maidenless. A bit player, fully divorced from the strength of runes.

Feel free to go off and die in a ditch somewhere.

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Second conversation (Closed Network Test)

Oh, can’t seem to wrap your head around your predicament?

It’s no surprise. You poor have-nots are a stubborn lot.

Fine, then.

If you must have a go at it, maidenless as you are, you’ll require an education.

On the ways of the enlightened Tarnished.

Are you familiar with grace? The rays of gold that give life to you Tarnished.

You may also behold its golden dust pointing in a particular direction at times.

That is the guidance of grace. The path that a Tarnished must travel.

It’s nothing short of a miracle. That the guidance of grace can lead you, maidenless as you are, to the perfect place to die in obscurity.

While Elden Ring’s predecessors were certainly home to a hostile NPC or two, this felt different. The first person to speak with you on your travels through the Lands Between basically telling you to fuck off set the mood for the entire adventure. It was almost as if the developers were being completely up front about the kind of game they’d created, daring you to ignore his warnings and soldier on. Souls fans, who above all else desire FromSoftware’s punishment on an almost psychosexual level, relished Varré’s negging.

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Varré in the actual game, however, is a great deal more chill than how he appeared in the closed network test. He’s not the nicest person around, not by a long shot, but his explanations in the final release feel more patronizing than nasty. Varré treats you like a simpleton in dire need of instruction, with a voice that almost says, “Oh, you poor little dumbass, you’re totally going to die out there but it’s not going to be my fault.” And folks, I have to say, it’s almost more frustrating than when he was just telling you off, despite feeling like a more laid-back interaction overall.

FromSoftware / iantothemax (YouTube)

Again, here’s some of the text from Varré’s updated dialogue:

First conversation (Final Release)

Oh, yes... Tarnished, are we?

Come to the Lands Between for the Elden Ring, hmm?

Of course you have. No shame in it.

Unfortunately for you, however, you are maidenless.

Without guidance, without the strength of runes, and without an invitation to the Roundtable Hold...

You are fated, it seems, to die in obscurity.

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Second conversation (Final Release)

Luckily for you, however, there is one shining ray of hope for even the maidenless.

Me. Varre. Take care to listen.

Are you familiar with grace? The golden light that gives life to you Tarnished.

You may also behold its golden rays pointing in a particular direction at times.

That is the guidance of grace. The path that a Tarnished must travel.

Mm, indeed. Grace’s guidance holds the answers.

It will lead you Tarnished to the path you are meant to follow.

Even if it leads you to your grave.

All that said, I’m not convinced Varré doesn’t have some sinister agenda waiting in the wings. Maybe it’s due to the distrustfulness seeded in me by FromSoftware’s previous games, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to watch my back for the rest of my Elden Ring playthrough. Whoever happens to be under that mask, Varré still seems way too invested in my character dying to fully let my guard down where he’s concerned.

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But hey, at least he’s not calling me a “maidenless runt” anymore.