Good morning! Sorry for being late to the party. I tried to hold myself back until I got a PS5 or some gaming rig that could run the game, alas it wasn’t meant to be. So right now I had to borrow a PS4 Pro (thanks Zanais_ for that, please go follow him) and played this version of Elden Ring.
Anyway, on to the review.
Elden Ring is, to its very core, Dark Souls, set in this monstrous map where absolutely nothing feels safe. It’s the kind of game where you have to be on your toes, all the time, even for a Souls game. At least in previous games, even in Bloodborne, you can find a place where you feel sure nothing is going to shoot you. Elden Ring doesn’t give you that sense of security, as even the simplest torch-wielding enemies can pop up out of nowhere.
The Lands Between, the world where Elden Ring takes place, is a champion among open-world maps. You are free to explore locations with your mount and discover treasure and death lurking around every corner. It is an extremely enriching experience. The last game map I really enjoyed was Breath of the Wild and Grand Theft Auto V, due to their attention to detail. Even though there’s nothing on the horizon, they’ve done a great job of making it interesting and a place to relax. Elden Ring achieves this, whether the hill you climb opens up to a wide dark vista, gets ganked by a horde of enemies, or a treasure chest kills you, or gets crushed by a giant, it all oozes of mystery and intrigue. If you’re a fan of the late Kentaro Miura’s Berserk, Elden Ring does a fantastic job of making you feel what it’s like to be in this dark and vicious world. (It helps a lot, I guess, that Elden Ring director Hidetaka Miyazaki is a big fan of Miura and draws a lot of inspiration from Berserk, like the similarities between Knight Artorias and Guts, among other things).
I miss Dark Souls’ intricate world design, where areas interlock, open up gateways as shortcuts to the main hub, or you can see previously visited areas while traversing new ones. Some regions of the Middle Lands continue to be connected in a more subtle form, and shortcuts in dungeons and castles remain. Elden Ring however, allows you to plan your approach when entering castles. They give you options between the hard way or the hardest way, and maybe a secret way that may or may not be intentional, which can be ridiculously fun.
Due to the size and sheer volume of the map, there is plenty to explore. From a passing caravan to a cult in a forest, you will encounter many curious and strange things. Bosses lurk here and there in the wilderness of the Lands Between, there are no fog gates to protect you. Normal enemies can interfere in intense boss fights and some of them, at least for me, will appear right behind you and ruin your day. Its good. Breathe deeply. Take some water. Take a minute to play Wordle. If this is your first time playing a game from FromSoftware, the first step is to master your patience.
The map does not adjust for you. We can cite some games where it softens certain enemies to match your player level, to make sense of “free exploration”. Elden Ring doesn’t do that. You may very well end up in a place meant to be traversed on a higher level. Soul games have always provided players with a high risk, high reward system. And it’s never been brighter than in Elden Ring. If you advance into dangerous terrain, you might earn weapons and armor and plenty of runes (the currency you’ll need to buy items and level up). In fact, some farming spots have already been discovered and are making the rounds on the internet. I advise against this, however, because it ruins the first experience.
Elden Ring is by no means an extremely difficult game. It’s tough, sure, but I personally didn’t find it as relentless and unforgiving as Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne. But this game will definitely demand a lot from players.
Combat is so Dark Souls 3 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Elden Ring was originally called Dark Souls 4. But movement has been refined, it’s faster, and even drinking from your flasks to replenish health seems faster than any Souls game out there. The biggest difference is the ability to jump and have a horse called Torrent. This creates some interesting ways to fight or flee battle. You can also crouch and sneak up on enemies, adding a layer of stealth and that’s great because you’ll end up in places you’d want to take a stealthy approach and stab any enemies you find. The conscience of the enemy, I have noticed, is indulgent. You can engage in loud combat with an enemy and not aggro one standing a few feet away from you. Although you must maintain the distance, just in case you fall within this range that triggers them. Fighting more than one enemy is always a big risk.
The amount of weapons and armor in the game is vast. If you’ve always been a fan of “Fashion Souls,” you’d be pretty impressed with the selection of wardrobes. What I find overwhelming is the amount of spells available in the game. Almost all of them are worth using. Once you manage to get certain spells, you’ll probably never want to use a melee weapon again. It was the same problem I had with the PS3’s Demon’s Souls, spells are broken, and it still is in Elden Ring. It’s incredible. You can also craft items with all the stuff you pick up here and there. It allows you to craft certain items on the spot, which can be very useful depending on your situation.
Unfortunately, I can’t comment on PvP. I haven’t tried that yet. But given FromSoftware’s history, I can assume PvP and summoning will be smooth. I’ve seen many areas of the game that seem to be designed specifically for PvP. I’m already excited for DLCs and expansions.
Elden Ring is a massive achievement. Even though FromSoftware has basically recycled an old but tested formula. The idea here is to stick with what fans love and scale it up carefully. It’s hard to see where they can go from here. Maybe FromSoftware can get away with a bigger board for Elden Ring 2 once. Or better, as they always do, surprise us with a new IP.
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