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Elden Ring DLC: Why The Colosseums Were Built (& Then Abandoned)

The recent update for Elden Ring gave players access to a PvP Arena battle mode, where customized Tarnished player characters fight each other in formal duels, team deathmatches, free-for-all brawls, and spirit summoning. These various PvP modes are unlocked in an Elden Ring playthrough when gamers visit three colosseums scattered throughout the game’s open world. Much like the real-world colosseums of the ancient Roman Empire, these circular arenas were created to glorify military power. In Elden Ring’s case, the Golden Order and its Erdtree are honored through ritualistic violence, only to be shuttered and closed as the values of the Golden Order changed and a new Elden Lord ascended the throne.

The first PvP arena in Elden Ring is located in Stormhill, just north of the Limgrave starting area. Entering this colosseum grants access to the United Combat PvP mode (where teams of players fight each other) and the Combat Ordeal PvP modes (where a mob of players fights each other in an “Every Tarnished for themselves” deathmatch). The colosseum in Leyndell, Royal Capital, blanketed with golden leaves from the Erdtree overhead, unlocks access to a Duel mode where players can fight each other one-on-one; while entering the colosseum in the Caelid Wilds gives players the option to summon Spirits during arena matches.

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There are two sets of items with descriptions that talk about the halcyon days of gladiatorial combat in the Lands Between. First among these not quite essential items in Elden Ring are the Ritual Sword and Ritual Shield Talismans, which share the following description:

Next, there is the Duelist Helm (modeled after Roman Murmillo gladiator helmets), Gravekeeper Cloak, and Duelist Greaves dropped by gladiator enemies outside the Colosseum in Leyndell, Royal Capital. The aforementioned helm of this Elden Ring armor has this description:

With these two item descriptions, it’s possible to craft plausible theories about how colosseum arena battles became popular back during the early days of the Golden Order and its sky-spanning Erdtree. If ritual arena combat had died out by the age of Elden Lord Radagon (the namesake of Elden Ring‘s Radagon’s Soreseal Talisman), then it must have been at its most popular during the reign of Godfrey, the First Elden Lord. From the item descriptions of Godfrey-affiliated armor and weapons, plus the passionate demeanor of Godfrey during his boss fight, it’s clear the first Elden Lord was a fanatic for battle and the art of war.

Even with the ghostly lion spirit Serosh clinging to his back and restraining his warrior’s spirit, Godfrey was most in his element when leading a war host into battle against the Erdtree’s enemies, be they the ruin-wielding Fire Giants or the enigmatic rival known as the Storm Lord. To entertain the battle-hungry Godfrey when he wasn’t out on a campaign, Queen Marika the Eternal may well have built the Colosseums in order to re-enact the combat her consort so loved. Based on the Elden Ring item descriptions listed above, the ritual combat of the Colosseums was designed to not only honor the Erdtree but also ritually demean the Erdtree’s enemies.

Historically some gladiators dressed like the Roman Empire’s enemies and killed each other to symbolize Rome’s military supremacy. Similarly, the snakes seen on the armor and weapons of Gladiator enemies in Elden Ring are repeatedly described as “traitors to the Erdtree,” but don’t seem to be linked to the Fire Giants, Storm Lords, or Ancient Dragons. Instead, these snake effigies might refer to the God-Devouring Serpent Elden Ring Boss of Mount Gelmir – the monster the Demigod Rykard fed himself to in order to gain the blasphemous god-devouring powers (and a possible homage to Níðhǫggr, the World Tree-devouring wyrm of Norse myth).

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By the time players start a playthrough of Elden Ring, the Colosseums have been abandoned for a while. Reading between the lines of Elden Ring‘s game lore, the colosseums might have gone out of fashion close to when Godfrey became Tarnished and led his fellow warriors on an exodus from the Lands Between; both the lord of the battlefield and the simulated battlefields had become obsolete. With the ascent of Radagon, a less combative Elden Lord adept at the scholarly discipline of Golden Order Fundamentalist Incantations (popular with Elden Ring Intelligence/Faith builds), the cultural values of the Lands Between shifted to value knowledge more and strength less.

The titular colosseum of real-life ancient Rome was built using plunder from the Jewish-Roman wars. During the peak of the Roman Empire’s fascination with gladiator games, the Colosseum and other amphitheaters hosted spectacles such as staged beast hunts, duels between exotically armored fighters, and even reenactments of Rome’s most famous battles. The current Arena PvP modes in Elden Ring effectively recreate the one-on-one duels, battle recreations, and even the beast hunts of Roman gladiator games (if players enable Spirit Ash summoning for a match). Future Elden Ring DLC outside the Lands Between may introduce new Arena PvP modes inspired by the more exotic gladiator games of Roman history.

There are anecdotes – some more historically verifiable than others – about how certain Roman emperors would host exotic, high-budget gladiatorial events such as fights on horseback, chariot duels, and even mock naval battles where the Colosseum was flooded and filled with boats. Any of these games would make for fun PvP modes in Elden Ring‘s next DLC. A colosseum arena where Tarnished PCs could summon their spectral steeds could homage the jousts of medieval tourneys and generate a whole new PvP arena combat meta regarding which Elden Ring weapons work best on horseback. A naval battle arena mode, in contrast, could shake up PvP by challenging players to hope and maneuver between shifting boats.

More: Elden Ring DLC Can Fix Its Lightning Build Problem

Source: Bandai Namco/Youtube

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