Months after launch From Software is treating Elden Ring like it just came out with another enormous balance update: Patch 1.04. Elden Ring already saw one huge overhaul back in March. The update weakened some controversial items and skills (e.g. Mimic Tear and Hoarfrost Stomp). Though it also buffed numerous Sorceries, fixed Arcane weapon scaling, and patched in new quests for various NPCs whose stories simply ended out of nowhere. The new update is more of the same — only this time it mostly affects Incantations, weapons, and Patches.
That’s right, folks. Patches has been patched.
If you’ve somehow managed to avoid knowledge of everyone’s favorite character to hate, Patches is a recurring NPC that shows up in most modern FromSoft games in one form or another. He also treats you like crap. Whether that means kicking you down a hole, calling you names, trapping you in weird places, or… kicking you down a different hole. This relentless, cartoonish skullduggery has earned him a place as a fan favorite character in Dark Souls and the like. Naturally, he also appears in Elden Ring. Albeit briefly and only if you know where to look. He then disappears after you reach a certain point in the Volcano Manor questline. In fact, he even directs you to a very funny early entrance to the manor (that I won’t spoil here) if you speak to him early enough.
To be honest, I assumed that was that. Despite his outsized presence in the developer’s games, Patches doesn’t typically have his own super deep story to follow. He’s just an asshole. That’s part of his charm! But I guess he has more to say now that Patch 1.04 is hitting consoles and PC today.
It’s hardly a DLC-sized addition to the game, but this is honestly kind of fun for me. NPCs like Kenneth and Nepheli felt very obviously unfinished — a vibe that panned out when Patch 1.03 did, in fact, finish their questlines. By comparison, it didn’t feel like anything was missing from Patches’s story. He just seemed like Patches. That makes this whole thing feel like a neat little bonus two months after the game came out.
That’s not even the biggest news, really. Surprise: this balance update made a whole mess of balance changes as well. Nothing feels quite as earth-shattering as breaking everyone’s favorite toys like last time. Instead, a bunch of stuff just got better. Incantations and weapon skills saw huge improvements to things like FP cost and animation time. Faith players will be happy to know that a lot of underused spells (like Scarlet Aeonia) also have poise now. That means you can actually cast these Incantations without getting knocked out of the animation by a stiff breeze. I’m personally very excited to use the “Ancient Dragon” Incantations more. These medium-ranged spells were extremely cool and flashy before, but had such long windups with so little poise that you could rarely launch their multicolored lightning with any certainty.
It’s not all about the magic, though. Colossal Weapons also received better block rates, faster animation times, and improved recovery speeds. One of the great criticisms of Elden Ring among longtime Dark Souls fans is that Strength-based builds have been really weak. Enemies are so fast and typically attack you at range with all kinds of wacky magic. Now you can more easily fight back by smacking them in the face. The higher block rates, in particular, even makes me think of the Great Sword in Monster Hunter — which also doubles as a makeshift shield.
Just when I think I’m out, they always find a way to pull me back in (possibly with a gravity spell).