Elden Ring No-Level SL1 Characters Explained

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Elden Ring is here, and fans and critics alike are loving the experience, as brutal and punishing as it can sometimes be, and Elden Ring has already sold over 12 million copies. Accordingly, as is tradition, people are making no-level SL1 characters in Elden Ring, playing the game all the way through without leveling. In this article, we'll explain Elden Ring no-level SL1 characters.

SL1 in Elden Ring Explained

SL1 in Elden Ring Explained
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Credit: FromSoftware

SL1 means 'Soul Level 1' which is what levels were in Dark Souls, Soul Levels. Soul Level 1 was the first Soul Level, meaning your character was as low-level as it could possibly be. Depending on which class you pick, you'll start at different Suul Levels in Dark Souls.

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A certain class, Deprived, which started you with nothing would traditionally start you at Soul Level 1, but this was not always the case, as in Dark Souls 1 the Pyromancer class was the only SL1 class while the Deprived class actually started at a higher level.

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In Bloodborne, the SL1 equivalent was BL4, or Blood Level 4, Soul Levels in Bloodborne were Blood Levels, and the lowest-possible Blood Level is Blood Level 4. Elden Ring works like a traditional FromSoftware Souls game in terms of SL1.

The Wretch class in Elden Ring (the Deprived version of the Elden Ring world) starts off at Level 1 (simply called Level in Elden Ring as opposed to Soul Level), equalized stats, and next to no equipment. This is the class that will be used for all SL1 runs in Elden Ring, which will still often be called SL1 runs even if there is technically no Soul Level in Elden Ring.

Traditionally, an SL1 run in Elden Ring will involve defeating the game's major required bosses, culminating in the final fight before credits roll. However, other SL1 runs will encompass all the game's bosses and fights. Doubtlessly, in time, all kinds of SL1 runs will be done in Elden Ring.

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Plus, SL1 runs in Elden Ring are going to be, in some ways, easier than SL1 runs in other FromSoftware games, not because the game's any easier but because Elden Ring gives so many options to the player that there are many more possibilities.

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Are SL1 Runs in Elden Ring Too Hard?

SL1 in Elden Ring Explained 2
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Credit: FromSoftware

Naturally, Elden Ring is a different game from other FromSoftware games, so it plays differently, too. It's hard to say, in an objective way, that Elden Ring is much harder or easier in Elden Ring, but there are more mechanics and tools the player can use in Elden Ring than there are in other FromSoftware games.

Most importantly, there are a variety of ways in Elden Ring to boost your stats without actually leveling up. This is a new thing for FromSoftware games, and the possibilities it introduces for SL1 runs are endless.

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The main bottleneck in an SL1 run, outside of your limited pool of health, are your stats that restrict what weapons you can use. Weapons, of course, have minimum required stats, often strength or dexterity, necessary to wield a weapon. Of course, you can two-hand a weapon to lower those requirements, but this won't let you wield anything you want.

With a way to increase your stats at SL1, many more weapons become possible to use with an SL1 character. Now, rather than there being a few agreed-upon weapons people use for SL1 characters outside of special challenge runs there will be more of a variety you can pick and choose between.

In general, Elden Ring gives many different tools to the player, many different ways for players to take down their foes. This may not necessarily make the actual taking down of foes easy, but with more tools in the toolbag, there's always some other thing you can try.

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Plus, open-world encounters work very differently from FromSoftware combat encounters of the past. In an open-world environment, you can use the world to your advantage to take a lot of the challenge out of fights with some intelligent positioning.

Why Do People Do SL1 Runs in Elden Ring?

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Credit: FromSoftware

Elden Ring is a challenging game, but underneath all that challenge is well-balanced combat encounters, smart enemy design, and a lot of attention to detail. Most of the time when you die, it's your fault.

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This means that, theoretically, if you play a FromSoftware game well, or at the least understand how to play it, you can make once difficult fights become a breeze with a little practice.

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For most gamers, defeating a particularly tough boss in a FromSoftware game is immensely satisfying, but when you defeat that same challenging boss at SL1, the sense of satisfaction is much more intense.

Defeating bosses at SL1 requires you to make smart decisions, learn fights, and think critically, and when you finally succeed, it feels fantastic. This is at the heart of why people do these kinds of runs in Elden Ring.