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Radahn Is Elden Ring’s Dunharrow Moment

Caelid is like visiting a Tesco Express at midnight. Everyone reasonable is asleep, the depressed night shift workers are strolling in for their late meal deals, and the shelves are barren. The weirdos (like me) are visiting to avoid the busy hours, but it’s eerily quiet aside from that. Then you’re greeted with a surprise when you round the corner and see a seven-foot man buying Quavers. That’s Caelid. It’s a strange place, dusty and red, almost like shining your phone light under your bed, but the very end is where things really ramp up – when you fight Radahn.

He’s a big son of a bitch with a little horse. He’s basically a rich Tory. But before you even get a chance to see him, he’s firing off lasers like you’ve strolled onto a farmer's field without permission. “Get off ‘ma lawn!” No. You rush in, ignoring his warning, get slapped around, and before you know it, you find an early grave in the red sand. It’s so, so red. And it’s lonely – you can’t even summon Torrent to help out, leaving you in this vast, empty desert to fend for yourself. I just want to go home, ‘O I just want to go home.

But there’s a silver lining. You can summon all the friends you’ve made along the way, bringing together your cursed Fellowship to stunlock Radahn into the dirt. There’s the big pot you smack up the arse to get out of a pinch, the wolf knight with a penchant for four-armed witches, a few forgettable faces that pad out the roster, like Bilbo’s friendly band of dwarves, and Patches. He’s not so helpful. He’ll ditch you like a dad going out to get milk. Caelid might be a Tesco Express, but you won’t find him there after he’s gone.

In reality, you’re running around like a headless chicken, dodging lasers while you spam the triangle button to summon more NPCs. But it feels like you’re Aragorn, walking in with a menacing squint to your eyebrows, sword in hand, an army of ghosts charging in from behind. It’s Elden Ring’s very own Dunharrow moment, the sum of your journey up until this point, the culmination of your trek through this treacherous, inhospitable wasteland. Caelid is a beast, an easily accessible spot that’s essentially Elden Ring’s way of saying, “Not every area has to be done when you see it.”

The boggling thing is that Radahn isn’t the endgame. He’s more like the mid-point. This is a celebration of the friends you’ve made so far because you still have so far to go. Blaidd hasn't betrayed you yet, Patches hasn’t revealed himself to be a cutthroat merchant at Volcano Manor, and the pot is still chipper with a pep in his step. You’re weathered but not beaten down and these allies make your victory feel like a hard-won gauntlet. It truly is a celebration.

Given that Radahn is found in a ruined castle across an impassable bridge in the middle of a festival, it’s only fitting that the battle feels like an event. It’s not just a boss fight, it’s an epic throwdown between the ‘heroes’ and the ‘villain’, although things are never that black and white with FromSoftware or George R. R. Martin. Few games have captured the triumph of fantasy, the excitement and thrill that comes with a party of adventurers banding together, but Elden Ring does, and Radahn is the perfect example of that. It might not be the visual spectacle of Peter Jackson’s spectral horde, but it’s still perfect.

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