This post will be a ramble/vent/blogpost so I will try and keep it somewhat concise and maybe spark a discussion.
I was listening to a podcast for background noise. As they were discussing Elden Ring they started talking about "The Experience" that you get from playing it, and other Souls-like games, and that it's bad to play in certain ways, because you lose from "The Experience", basically you end up cheating yourself from "The Experience". For instance to get the best "Experience" it's better to solo bosses yourself, instead of relying on human summons(at least on a first playthrough), or maybe playing blind, instead of using a walkthrough. They also talked about how this "Experience" is good, because players can talk to each other, knowing they had the same "Experience", and as such have respect for one and another, because they know what they went through to finish the game or just beat a certain boss. One of them commented that he was using spirit ashes in his playthrough, but when he notices that with them he was winning the boss fights in 2-3 tries, he "knew" they were bad for "The Experience" so he stopped using them.
In a way I understand this, as I did the same thing with the spirit ashes, mostly limiting myself to the jelly fish and mostly using it when there were two bosses instead of just one, or the boss could fly/had a horse, whereas I couldn't use Torrent, but on the other hand I think people, both here and, I assume, on reddit
are trapped in this notion that we need to get the mythical "Experience", or else we lose something from the game. This is also expressed with things like "playing the game on Easy Mode" when using certain weapons, spells, arts, spirit ashes or items to defeat bosses, which I have seen, even here, in the Elden Rings threads we had when the game got released. This implies that there is a certain way of playing the games, unless you want to be a casual, in order to get the best "Experience". The problem with this line of thinking, is that the "proper way" of playing the game, is based more on majority rule, and it's a bit arbitrary. If using certain things makes the game easier, then it's bad and we shouldn't use them, then we should all go for Lvl 1 Wrench playthroughs, or other challenge runs, yet nobody who levels up or uses armor will get called a casual, and not "playing it right", yet if he uses mimic tear or Hoarfrost Stomp, then he is basically "cheating". Where does one draw the line? If the devs didn't want us to use the spirit ashes, in a boss room, then they could have simply coded it so you can't use them in some boss rooms.
I have started going through the Armored Core series(an older FromSoft series), and it had a mechanic called Human Plus, which made the game easier, but you had to go bankrupt to get it, and had to do it several times, in order to get all the abilities. I heard it was because From Soft likes to make hard games, but also want everyone to finish them ,so they give use crutches, like Human Plus in AC to finish the games. If that is true, then it implies a certain way of playing the game, in this case without HP, though this creates some other problems, that I have listed in >>688025
(hopefully I don't confuse "loose" and "lose" anymore), but whereas HP was a more obvious crutch in AC, what is it in Souls-like games? Leveling up? Using other weapons and armors than the ones you started with? Using magic? Using spirit ashes or weapon arts? Jump attacks? Summoning other players? It's mostly arbitrary, from what I have seen.
I also think that both, we the audience, as well as FromSoft fell for the "Hardcore" meme, and now Souls-like games have to be hardcore, and if we do not die less than 5 times to a boss then it's too easy, or we are using an OP build, but if we die too many times, then the boss is poorly made, or we are too much of a casual. It's like saying that the best way of getting the "Experience" is to die 8 times to a boss, like some sort of mathematical formula, and I think that is wrong. What's worse is that sometimes FromSoft themselves will take away that "Experience" for us. Take Radahn for instance, he was a very hard boss when the game got released, but then they nerfed him in a patch, so now a lot of players won't have the same "Experience" as the players who defeated him when the game got released. Speaking or Radahn, I hear things like "using NPC or other player summons makes the game too easy, so do it solo", and I have done that, but you also hear justifications like "bosses were not designed for multiple people attacking them at once, so that is why it's too easy to do it with spirit ashes or summons", to which I will reply, why haven't they designed bosses that can handle multiple opponents, yet? We are at our fifth or so Souls-like game from FromSoft, and they still can't do it? And then you have Radahn, in which you can summon an infinite amount of npc summons, so that WAS designed for multiple players, yet his AI is no more advanced than the other bosses, the only thing he has is a lot of AOE moves and the meteor hit. So is the proper Radahn "Experience"? to go solo? to go with a party of NPC summons? per-ptach? post-patch? what the majority says? what Fromsoft thinks? I don't know.
In the end nobody has the same experience, as people will use different builds and strategies and I think it's futile to chase the mythical "Experience", yet we will still continue to self impose limitations like no spirit tears or no Hoarfrost Stomp, to have a better "Experience", but if we look at other games like Morrowind, there the "Experience" is to use alchemy to break the game, and nobody will call you a casual for it, or playing the game on Easy Mode, or playing the game wrong, so why are we doing this to Elden Ring and not Morrowind?