I can’t stand clutter, in real life or in my video games. Those people who save up all of their potions and power-ups, not breaking them out even when they’re facing the last boss of a video game? I can’t relate. If I get something in a game, I use it. If I’m not going to use it, I sell it. That’s what I’ve been doing in Elden Ring, and it’s all been going great — up until this past week, when I realized I’d made a serious tactical error.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Fia’s questline in Elden Ring.]
I’d like to emphasize that I made it quite far in Elden Ring before my penchant for selling items became a problem. At the time of writing this post, I’ve played for 87 hours, and I still keep my inventory as clean as a whistle. I don’t regret my choices — except for one specific moment during Fia’s questline when I did, very strongly, regret my choices.
Fia is an NPC in Elden Ring who offers you a hug every time you visit the Roundtable Hold, a safe area where players can level up their weapons with the blacksmith Hewg, among other administrative in-game chores. Once you’ve gotten far enough in the game, if you accept a hug from Fia, she’ll make an additional request of you: Deliver a dagger to someone for her.
She won’t tell you to whom the dagger belongs, but if you happen to talk to a guy named D, you’ll have the option to give him the dagger. If you do give it to him, though, Fia will use it to murder him, after which you’ll be able to grab the armor off of his corpse.
You can guess what I did next: I sold that whole set. I’ve been wearing Radahn’s set of armor since I beat him, and it’s stronger than D’s armor, which was worth thousands of runes. I often sell armor to the blacksmith while I’m upgrading my weapons, because many times I need only a few runes to pay for the job, and he’s got a “Sell” option right there (although, importantly, there is no buy-back mechanic).
After selling D’s armor, I continued on in Fia’s questline. The next big step was to battle the Valiant Gargoyles in Nokron. Even with my Mimic Tear summon to help me out, I found it to be a tough fight. They spit out a lot of poison, and there are two of them; you’ve got to keep one distracted so you can take out the other. After a few tries, I looked up whether or not I could summon any NPCs to help me get through this fight. Turns out, the NPC sitting right outside the boss arena is D’s brother, and he’s cursed to sleep eternally, unless I give him … D’s armor. If I’d held onto it, I could have awakened him and gotten his help with these freaking gargoyles.
Folks, I still have not beaten those gargoyles. I have packed on several more levels; I just beat a few mid-bosses in the Mountaintops of the Giants, and I even redid my character build (with Renalla’s help) to transform into an even stronger powerhouse. I think I’m going to be able to take out those gargoyles whenever I head back.
Yet I have to admit: I fucked up. Also, I was repeatedly warned about my behavior. Whenever I would stream Elden Ring with my pals on Discord, they would tell me that my empty inventory screens made them feel “stressed out.” My coworker Mike McWhertor saw me bragging in Polygon’s Slack about how often I sell stuff in Elden Ring and he didn’t mince words, telling me, “I cannot support this behavior.” Readers, I admit: I thought this mindset was ridiculous. Why would I hold onto weak short swords I’d never wield, or scrappy leggings I’d never wear? Even for a few runes, it was worth it. Every rune counts!
But if I had only searched online as to whether D’s armor had any plot relevance, I would have easily avoided this — and usually, I do check that, but I saw the high rune cost and cashed in. I regret my mistake, yet I don’t intend to change my lifestyle choices, even though I also regret the time period when I sold my GameCube and all of its games (including Super Smash Bros. Melee) because I was short on cash at the time and I didn’t think I’d care that much in the future.
It can be hard to know what’s worth saving and what’s worth letting go — and in general, my penchant for getting rid of the old things I don’t use anymore has served me well and resulted in a clean home that doesn’t stress me out. In Elden Ring, however, I don’t have as good of a reason for making a mistake this stupid. I could have simply Googled it. I can only hope that next time, I do. But no promises.