Elden Ring has been hacked. Maybe that comes as no surprise, considering Souls games often have copious issues with game-breaking exploits. But this is no ordinary hack. No, Elden Ring is just the latest FromSoft game to be targeted by a notorious Souls hacker with a particular penchant for invading players’ worlds them.
If you’re familiar with Dark Souls hacker Malcolm Reynolds, then you can probably guess what’s happening. For the uninitiated, Reynolds is a longtime hacker of FromSoft games who caused myriad problems for Dark Souls 3 and Dark Souls Remastered players some years ago. In both cases, he claims to have modified the game’s code to softban people by giving them invalid items and status effects. Well, he says he’s to the same antics in Elden Ring, invading people’s worlds and giving them items they’d be better off without before killing them. While it’s unclear if he’s actually able to impact people’s accounts, based on footage he’s shared online, he can obviously kill players in what appear to be unfair ways.
Reynolds uploaded a video to YouTube on March 9 showing his latest hack, all his mischief set to the jaunty sounds of “Rama Lama Ding Dong” by The Edsels. First, Reynolds’ mouse cursor checks a box marked “Hardscoping Tutorial,” then another box marked “This bans them,” complete with a little smiley-face emoticon next to it. It should be noted, however, that there’s no concrete evidence actual bans happen. After that, the video becomes a rapid succession of him invading players’ worlds and laying absolute waste to them with a massive beam of fire shooting out of his hand, as well as a few other destructive spells. It’s such bullshit, particularly because every spell he used—like the fire beam—appear to be heavily modified. Reynolds shed some light on just how he makes other players’ lives in the Lands Between hell, and what he sees as the justification for doing so.
Reynolds spoke to Kotaku over Discord messages about the exploit that he used, the “Hardscoping Tutorial” thing, and during our chat he called it a “pavel.” Based on later revelations, it turned out that he was actually trying to trick Kotaku into publishing nonsense about how the method works, which at the time he claimed allowed him to inject invalid items into other people’s inventories. These items would be flagged upon death, he said at the time, and the game would pinpoint his victims as cheaters, resulting in an apparent softban—but, there’s little evidence this part of the scheme is true. Rumors that such things are possible have persisted throughout the community over the years, and while Kotaku can’t verify these claims, we do know that cheating continues to be a problem for the series.
And so, it’s a headache being invaded by Reynolds. There’s nothing you can do when he pops up. His spells are broken and too powerful, so you kinda just…take it. Complaints about Reynolds’ actions in Elden Ring haven’t started surfacing yet, but it may only be a matter of time, as his name often appears in the Dark Souls and Elden Ring subreddits.
What do you do? According to a popular Reddit post from April 2016, the best course of action is to either disconnect or suicide. Surprisingly, Reynolds claims that he wants to get caught hacking Elden Ring. He said Bandai Namco and FromSoftware should use this as a lesson to implement better anti-cheat software that prevents hackers from exploiting game code.
“I’m necessary evil,” Reynolds said. “You might be asking if getting caught is part of the plan, and yes it is. If I pull it off will the game die? I don’t think so, but maybe Bandai will fix it. Time to go mobile.”
Bandai Namco did not respond to a request for comment.
Update: March 17, 12:14 p.m: While Reynolds does have a documented history of cheating, and can be seen exploiting Elden Ring in the video included in this article, he has recently revealed to us that the quotes that he gave Kotaku misrepresented how his cheating methods actually work. It’s also become clearer that he’s overstated his ability to softban people, despite his repeated claims over the years otherwise. We’ve updated this article to reflect this new information.