Auto-translated messages are all just part of the challenge in the Dark Souls successor.

Elden Ring, the latest offering from developer From Software, shakes up the gameplay formula established by director Hidetaka Miyazaki in the Dark Souls series by giving the player a vast open world to explore in whatever order they choose. It still retains plenty of aspects from its forebears though, such as brutal difficulty and cryptic, even obtuse hidden questlines and event triggers. There’s far less hand-holding than modern gamers are accustomed to in major titles, and players are instead left to figure most things out for themselves.

Luckily, Elden Ring also carries over the Souls pseudo-franchise’s system of letting players leave written messages around the world for other players to see, and many choose to leave hints, warnings, and other advice so that others can profit from their knowledge.

▼ A message marker in Elden Ring

This brings us to the tale of Japanese Twitter user @ETC_only. Something Elden Ring players will notice very early is that the game has the first day/night cycle in the Souls pseudo-franchise. As usual, there’s no explicit explanation about what changes, if any, take place after sundown, but after seeing the same message over and over as he traversed the map, @ETC_only thought it might be the key to unlocking the mystery.

The message consisted of only two words. The first was toride (砦 in kanji), a word used to describe medieval-era strongholds smaller or simpler than a full-fledged castle (which would be shiro/城 in Japanese). The other word in the message @ETC_only kept seeing was yoru (夜), which means “night.”

With so many people leaving this exact combination, @ETC_only came to the conclusion that there must be some sort of major in-game event that only takes place if you go to a specific toride at night. The problem, though, was figuring out which one. Elden Ring has a gigantic world map, and it’s dotted with dozens of toride in varying states of ruin. Was he going to have to go to each and every one and sit around until nighttime to check, repeating the process over and over until he randomly stumbled upon the right one?

Fortunately, though, before he wasted all that time, something dawned on him. See, while Elden Ring lets you write messages, it doesn’t have free text entry. Instead, you choose from a pre-set list of words. Not only does this add a bit of mystery, since you can’t always say exactly what you want, it also allows messages to be automatically translated to different languages. For example, if an Elden Ring player in the U.S. writes a message in English, when a player in Japan is playing the game, the message will appear for them in Japanese.

Remembering this, @ETC_only decided to translate the toride yoru messages he kept seeing back into English, which works out like this.

And then it clicked: “fort night” sounds just like “Fortnite.” All those message weren’t a hint about going to a fortress at night, just a bunch of English-territory gamers leaving gag-message references to the smash-hit battle royale title from Epic Games.

“Crying over all the time I spent searching for what turned out to be a joke message.”

Tragi-comic as it may be, Elden Ring’s “fort night” messages are a continuation of a Souls community tradition of treating the message system as a game within the game by squeezing double meanings out of the available vocabulary to write weird, suggestive, or just plain silly messages.

On the bright side, @ETC_only seems to have taken the misunderstanding in stride, and as one commenter pointed out, there are also probably a lot of Elden Ring players in other countries who are baffled every time they come across a seemingly random mention of “grass” in a message and go digging through the game’s lore to understand it without realizing it’s actually just a piece of Japanese Internet slang.

But hey, the Souls Franchise has been connecting fans around the world through a sense of shared confusion and frustration for years, so it’s good to see Elden Ring continuing to capably carry that banner.

Source: Twitter/@ETC_only via Jin
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