Elden Ring throws all manner of fiendish monstrosities at you, but few will make your hair stand on edge the way a Runebear does after it catches your scent. I’ve only ever barely killed a few Runebears in the hundreds of hours I’ve put into FromSoftware’s open-world game; I’d literally rather fight Malenia or, more realistically, run away screaming. The Runebears’ outrageous difficulty might have seemed like a weird, hilarious discrepancy at launch, but months later, we’re finding out that there might be a really good reason as to why they have such a knack for bringing us closer to Marika.
As dataminer Zullie the Witch points out in a thought-provoking video, back when Elden Ring was disseminated as a “network test” beta, players discovered an out-of-bounds Runebear. Curiously, when the Runebear was killed, it would drop a dragon heart. After Elden Ring was released, no in-game Runebear appeared to work this way, so most people kinda forgot about the heart thing. But upon further inspection, it seems like Runebears might actually have a specific connection to dragons after all.
Ever notice that a Runebear’s eyes match the reptilian shape and hue of a specific dragon in Elden Ring exactly? This might seem like a weird thing to fixate on, but it seems intentional. After all, dragon hearts do make the player more powerful. And larger in-game creatures all have names that suggest they got souped-up some way, probably via runes, but what if bears ran a different course?
One YouTube commenter on the video points out that the Runebear chest also features spikes where you’d expect a heart to be. They “look very similar to dragon scales,” Raloris writes. “Especially those on the dragon hearts’ icon.” I admit I was too busy mimicking a headless chicken to ever notice this fine detail. Perhaps it’s gravel stone? Let’s also not forget that what current Runebears do drop are Spelldrake Talismans, which depict an “blue ancient dragon.” For whatever reason, Elden Ring still ties Runebears to dragons even post-network test.
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Now you can feel better about your bone-deep fear of Runebears. They’re not just bigger bears, excuse you. They are dragon-powered bears, so of course they’re gonna toss you like it’s nothing.