Fire Ring‘s dungeons are challenging, but some of them let the player know much earlier than others. Between crushing defeats at the hands of powerful bosses, treacherous environments where the slightest misstep could be the player’s last, and unwelcome surprises like PvP invasions or transforming enemies, Fire Ring‘s Lands Between is an incredibly hostile place to be. Still, the player can be proud of overcoming Fire Rings attempt, in anticipating its threats and meeting them with ample preparation and skill.

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[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Elden Ring.]

While some dungeons hide their demoralizing boss fights behind stretches of winding corridors and obscuring walls of fog, others make it clear from the start that the player is in a world of hurt. These early warning signs, which some of Fire Ring‘s most annoying enemies outside a cave entrance or unusual environmental effects can signal to low-level players that they should stay out. More masochistic players will of course rush in eager to meet a worthy obstacle. They may not always be the hardest dungeons in the game, but these Fire Ring locations will have players muttering curses under their breath from the moment they enter.

Related: Elden Ring’s best early game weapon is actually a curse


The Fringe Hero’s Grave greets the Elden Ring, tainted with a poisonous pool

Most players will first encounter Fringefolk Hero’s Grave early in their Fire Ring travels – it’s directly next to the game’s tutorial area, the Stranded Graveyard. However, it is secluded behind a fog wall that can only be opened with two of them Fire Ring‘s Stonesword Keys, which players won’t find until a little later. Probably expecting a secret treasure, players will readily offer the keys, only to find nothing more than a short drop into a room filled with poison. They’ll have to rush through the poisonous puddle at top speed to avoid incurring a health-reducing status effect, but what awaits them around the first corner is even worse.

Fringefolk Hero’s Grave hosts a colossal Chariot, a mechanized enemy that cannot be killed by traditional means. Fire Ring‘s Chariots look like giants riding horse-drawn chariots, and can crush the player by rolling over them or impaling them on spikes protruding from their wheels. Players will have to rush between safe nooks in the walls to progress. Additional enemies lurk in these nooks, and the player must engage them while looking for Fire Ring‘s first Hero’s Grave Chariot. After being run over countless times, the player will face an Ulcerated Tree Spirit, a giant, snake-shaped enemy that swarms the arena. This dungeon is difficult from the start, but rewards completion with a rare golden seed.

Elden Ring’s Lake of Rot presents a familiar obstacle with a deadly twist

A player crossing the Lake of Rot in Elden Ring.

Anyone who has played a FromSoftware’s Soulsborne game knows the trials and tribulations that the typical poison swamp area presents. These areas always require the player to navigate a large, open area where the floors are covered in status-affecting muck. Demon’s souls has a, Blood borne have one, each Dark souls the game has one, and they’re all relentlessly frustrating. Not to be outdone, Fire Ring has several infamous poison swamps, and one of them – Rotsøen – further increases the difficulty. The lake of Rot’s red water will already be a familiar sight to those who have survived the swamps of the Caelids, but they will still give Soulsborne veterans flashbacks to the most frustrating parts of past FromSoftware games.

However, the Island of Rot does not inflict the Poison status effect, but Scarlet Rot instead. Scarlet Rot works much faster than Poison, so players who get it will need to mitigate the effects immediately. Players will have to brave the deadly lake piece by piece, stopping at raised platforms in the water to heal and let the Rot buildup wear off. The Tarnished will have to explore several Rot-infested paths and defeat several bosses including Fire Ring‘s otherworldly Astel, Naturalborn of the Void. But the reward for completing Fire Ring‘s Lake of Rot are fantastic, including a cookbook that allows the player to craft rot-affecting consumables.

Elden Ring’s Haligtree tries to cast The Tarnished’s Balance

The Tarnished stands on a branch of the Elden Ring's Haligtree, staring at a distant structure.
The Tarnished stands on a branch of the Elden Ring’s Haligtree

Miquella’s Haligtree brings new meaning to the concept of “branching dungeon paths.” The player can only access this area late Fire Ring‘s story, as it requires completing a complicated puzzle in a high-level, late-game area with invisible assassins to even gain access. By the time the player gets there, they will likely be familiar with the art of navigating narrow passages with certain death on either side – many Fire Ring dungeons require this skill. But the real challenge begins at Fire Ring‘s Haligtree, where the player will be greeted with a harrowing sight: the dungeon consists of criss-crossing tree branches stretching in all directions, the largest of which is barely wider than the approached stance.

Related: Elden Ring’s walking mausoleums hide a terrifying secret

To make matters worse, the Haligtree’s branches are populated with enemies called Oracle Envoys. They are kind of cute from a distance, and look a bit like snowmen carrying brass instruments. But the ranged attacks they send out when they blow their horns prove to be quite the menace, often knocking the player off their seat. Players also need to be careful when dodging melee attacks, as it’s all too easy to roll over the edge. Players will likely breathe a sigh of relief when they reach the end of Fire Ring‘s Haligtree and is met with the relatively easy boss Loretta.

Crumbling Farum Azula is the Elden Ring’s worst omen

A screenshot of Elden Ring's Crumbling Farum Azula area, a floating city being torn apart by multiple tornadoes.

After setting the Erdtree on fire with or without Melina’s help, Fire Ring‘s Tarnished wakes up to a series of ugly sights in Crumbling Farum Azula. The first thing they’ll likely notice is the red lightning and powerful whirlwind in the center of the dungeon, which is apparently strong enough to toss debris wildly in its wake. Then there’s the petrified dragon corpse collapsing over the building just ahead, and the living dragons circling the storm – all pretty uninviting.

The player continues into Crumbling Farum Azula, where he walks on a perilous platform across rotting chunks of stone torn loose by the storm. The way forward is labyrinthine and often uncertain, and difficult enemies await around every corner. Depending on whether the player has chosen to proceed with Iron Fist Alexander’s questline, Farum Azula may be there Fire Ring‘s most charming living jar makes its tragic final stand. But even if not, it has more than its fair share of difficult bosses. The Godskin Duo will take turns keeping Tarnished busy, then Farum Azula’s final boss, Maliketh, will dodge all but their fastest attacks.

Fire Ring often prey on the player’s expectations by using their knowledge of common video game tropes and past experiences to create some nasty surprises. But sometimes the game is shockingly straightforward: it promises a difficult dungeon from the start, and that’s exactly what it delivers. While these warnings strike fear into even the most experienced player, they are some of the game’s greatest joys, motivating the player to take on new challenges. With hope for that future Fire Ring DLC will expand the open world, there is a chance Fire Ring will provide more heart-failing warning signs outside of punishingly difficult dungeons.

More: Elden Ring’s bosses would have been even better with one change

Source: Bandai Namco Entertainment America/YouTube

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