From Software has spent years developing what many gamers would call some of the most challenging games of all time. Dark Souls, Sekiro, and Bloodborne, are trials of attrition and skill. Mastering the core mechanics is the only way to succeed. However, there is a true sense of victory after every hardship. Elden Ring is their latest in this series of games, and it’s indeed turning into their most outstanding gaming achievements yet. Elden Ring has taken what the company has developed in the past, mixed in new mechanics, and refined it into a near-perfect gaming experience. While the game has some minor flaws, I can genuinely say this is the peak of the ‘Soulsborne’ experience.
In, From Software fashion, this game is challenging. It does not hold back, and it will teach you lessons that you need to learn immediately. After most likely being defeated by the first boss from the tutorial level, you are thrust into a large open world. You are a Tarnished, a lowly being with no actual power. You are sent north, and along your path, you find the first field boss, Tree Sentinel.
He does not care about you or your gaming experience; he is only there to hurt you and to teach you a core concept that you will realize sooner or later. As free as you are to explore this magnificent world, you are always in danger of being brutally murdered. It’s recommended to dodge this foe until you return stronger and more prepared. You can choose to fight, but that fight will be tough, forcing you to master the mechanics, or you can choose to run away. I ran.
The new open-world adds so many layers to a series with beautiful game design in its foundation. Secret caves, catacombs, hidden dungeons, the game has mysteries in nearly every map aspect. The inclusion of something as simple as jumping and a whole new level in the game design, being able to explore vertically, adds a lot more secrets. It brings me back to when gaming was less streamlined and more about figuring it out and dealing with whatever may come.
The game gives you a goal and a direction to head but getting there and what you do before you get there can be entirely different. I spent 10 hours riding around, discovering every part of the starting area, Limgrave. I found a cave and within a den of wolves. Fighting my way through, I found one of the first minibosses littered through the game. Another boss, I found when it was dark, only appeared at night. A fascinating surprise that I didn’t expect. Fighting him on horseback was very fun.
My only gripe was that dismounting is bound to push down on the right analog stick (for controller players, that is). It’s effortless to do that during tense boss fights on horseback, which quickly leads to death. You can’t outrun dragon fire on foot. I tried.
Another issue I found is with some vague instructions of crucial mechanics. For example, you can summon spiritual summons like wolves and even a jellyfish. Still, you need an item you’d only get if you happen to arrive at the Church of Elleh at night. It’s easily missable, as it’s a very early point in the game, just like its version of the “Humanity” mechanic. Unlocking the Greater Rune is a massive boon to your health, giving you buffs on all your stats and life bar.
However, you might not realize you need to unlock this feature. You’ll beat the first elder boss and continue pushing onward. However, accessing this requires backtracking to get this feature already included in all other games from the start. I appreciate the no hand-holding, but these core mechanics can be critical to surviving the treacherous environments. Finally, as reported by many others, there is a stuttering issue, which leads to some frame drop moments that add an unnecessary danger in already critical moments. However, one of the latest patches seemed to improve on this, and I found these experiences very far in-between.
Elden Ring is truly a fantastic game and definitely worth the experience of playing. It’s honestly one of the best games I’ve played in years, and as I currently write this, I’m 34 hours in, and I still haven’t explored half the map. It’s hard, yes. You’ll die a lot, yes. You aren’t all-powerful, but this is a journey of a lowly Tarnished, who struggles and grows to become one of the strongest beings in The Lands Between. So do yourself a favor, and experience the best games of all time.
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