As we all know by now, Elden Ring is an excellent video game. It has spectacular boss fights, engaging areas, and a legitimately entertaining storyline. While I’ve argued that the world is too big for its own britches, there is no doubt that it is worth the time and effort to work through.
Well, as long as you don’t try to do so with other players. FromSoftware has an astounding relationship with multiplayer gameplay. Throughout the Souls series, the team has demonstrated the desire to make any sort of cooperative experience a living hell. Elden Ring is no different. Constant re-summons, invasions, level-downs, limited functionality… This ancient lobby system has grown tiresome, especially for goobers like me who like playing games with buddies.
So, if the game designers have decided not to make part of their game work… it’s up to the fans. Introducing the fix to Elden Ring’s multiplayer problems: “Seamless Co-Op.”
What Is Seamless Co-Op in Elden Ring?
Seamless Co-Op is a Nexus mod created by LukeYui that completely overhauls Elden Ring’s co-op feature. Instead of only allowing summoning at specific points on the map (and creating a strict barrier to contain co-op players), the game becomes a truly open-world co-op experience.
Up to six players can explore the Lands Between together. Players can complete dungeons, fight bosses, and interact with Sites of Grace, all while being on completely separate sides of the map. Enemies naturally scale to compensate for the increased player count, turning bosses into true raids. And all players get credit for Sites of Grace, boss kills, and key items that they collect during multiplayer, meaning everyone progresses at the same pace. Players can leave and rejoin at a moment’s whim, or the initial host can kick everyone out. Creator LukeYui’s thoroughness is both impressive and thoughtful.
Everyone is considered a “server host” in this realm, leading to unique situations where individual players can die and respawn at Sites of Grace without interrupting the game flow or causing enemies to respawn. This also allows players to explore entirely different areas from one another. LukeYui acknowledges, “This mod undoubtedly makes the game much easier.” To compensate for the decreased difficulty that comes with exploring the Lands Between with a bunch of friends, the developer added in a “curse” which drastically reduces your stats or runes from combat until you actively sit at a Site.
Additionally, the mod adds several new items, primarily to work with the multiplayer functionality. For example, for those who crave PvP, there is an item to ensure you and your friends can duel.
Massive Bugs That Make the Dragonflies Look Tiny
Sadly, this isn’t some kind of magic mod that completely solves the game’s most neglected feature without downsides. The mod is buggy as all get-out. Clearing NPC questlines with your friends is like doing brain surgery: You need to be careful about doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, or the game won’t recognize your personal progress. Sometimes, characters will chat with you like you’ve never even started their questline… despite getting all the way through it in your individual world.
There are also annoying gameplay and visual bugs. The game has to load all players within the same “zone.” So, if you explore somewhere that your friends aren’t, a version of your friends will appear to haunt you, floating about 10 feet above your head. Torrent will often spawn and just stay there, causing your buddy to ride an invisible horse into the sunset. Sometimes, he just won’t come at all! Desync is rare but can ruin boss fights at inopportune times. And enemies don’t always know how to handle a ton of players in the same fight, leading to glitchy— albeit hilarious—interactions.
The mod is currently in a “beta” stage; LukeYui originally launched the mod in May 2022 and recently updated it in May 2023. The modder writes, “The purpose of the beta is to pool resources, get as much information as possible, and fix bugs as they arise. Updates to address bugs will be frequent. If you are looking for a bug-free experience, you won’t find it in this version.” LukeYui has a Discord for the mod and is crowd-sourcing ways to improve it.
In an average play session, my friend group usually has to close and re-open the world, in a desperate bid to get everything working again, about three to four times. The tiny hiccups and headaches do stack up.
And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
It’s All Worth It
Are the bugs annoying? Absolutely. But they mean I don’t have to deal with the annoyances that were intentionally coded in by FromSoft to limit multiplayer. I don’t have to worry about me and my filthy casual friends having to deal with invaders. I don’t have to summon my buds just for one of them to die, forcing me to restart all over again or continue without them. I don’t have to struggle with the online features that make finding summoning signs such a chore.
If I want to play with every single member of my giant D&D group at the same time… I can. I can, in one massive, beautiful, disaster of a group, getting picked off by Tree Sentinel, because he has about one million health and deals extra damage. And it’s great.
Playing Elden Ring with Seamless Co-Op also adds unexpected changes to my experience. Making builds with friends is a ton of fun. We all get the same items and can trade like normal, so we can go double Staff of Loss or double Jellyfish Shield and enjoy ourselves. We can gang up on bosses and practice avoiding moves in a more forgiving environment. Someone can get clotheslined off a cliff by an imp and sprint back from the Site of Grace while the gang taunts them—a moment of levity and joy, rather than frustration, as everyone prepares to either regroup or go on without them.
As someone who beat the original Elden Ring both solo and in co-op, Seamless Co-Op really feels like playing a different game. Planning and coordinating builds are great, dungeons are hilarious rather than frustrating, and bosses can still be tricky. Malenia might not be harder with three idiots running around, but she certainly staggers less!
The Seamless Co-Op mod allows players to experience Elden Ring as an open-world game where they can bash their heads against a problem or expand their horizons, rather than be cooped up in one dungeon, bashing their heads against the game’s archaic system of summoning that FromSoft is so fond of.
Lessons To Be Learned From Seamless Co-Op in Elden Ring
Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree expansion is on the horizon, and I don’t think FromSoftware plans on adjusting its multiplayer format for the occasion. Even fighting games don’t drastically alter their netcode post-release.
But, when Elden Ring 2: Electric Rot-a-loo enters full development, I really hope an employee at FromSoft takes note of the Seamless Co-Op mod. It is very possible to make this game an exceptional multiplayer experience. A team of Discord modders was able to do it. And it’s excellent. It’s a gaming experience unlike any other: a full, open-world FromSoft game where I can explore the Siofra Riverfront while my friend dunks on Margit with dual-wielded Lances.
I’m not expecting much from FromSoftware. The studio has made it quite clear where its co-op alliances lie through generations of prior games. If the devs don’t want to make Elden Ring a game where three dinguses ride a horse through corrupted swamps, then it’s probably not coming in the second edition.
Who knows? Maybe Seamless Co-Op 2 will be just as effective in the sequel. Rooting for you, modders, but praying for FromSoft to finally make a game with enjoyable co-op, instead of a game where the co-op simply “exists.”