Writing about Elden Ring has been done to death and it’s still very much in the popular zeitgeist at the moment so it’s time for yet another Elden Ring review, this time written by yours truly. A gamer who never really got into the souls games and despite now having a love for Bloodbourne I’ve always had an air of caution about Elden Ring. I’ve written about Elden Ring before (check out other games to play before the launch here) but I made sure to rent the game rather than commit to a purchase. Much to my surprise this is the first From Software game I’ve played and immediately clicked with and dived in so deep I surprised myself.
This post only has the mildest of spoilers from the screenshots and chances are you’ve seen the areas in the promotional material already.
In Elden Ring the core experience remains the same. Sluggish feeling combat that packs a punch, punishing enemies that love to gang up on you and plenty of moments where if your concentration slips for a moment you’re greeted with another death. What drastically shifts Elden Ring is the open world format allowing the extreme bosses and Souls-like claustrophobic grinds through dungeons to become pockets in the experience and not just an oppressive atmosphere from start to finish. At any safe point you can pop to the map and a few seconds later be horse riding into a different wild area. Even at its bleakest you can always take a moment to see something beautiful elsewhere and there’s plenty to see.
Elden Ring maybe a technical masterpiece with everything running smoothly and the addition of jumping opening up the areas to exploring but what it truly excels in is spectacle. There are jaw dropping moments all over the world of Elden Ring and it’s a ridiculously big game so you’ll see plenty. Unlike Dark Souls where you’ll be on a linear path to scripted moments in Elden Ring you’ll find yourself travelling around, spot something interesting and next thing you know you’ll be blown away. The soon to be iconic Dragon’s Dogma or Monster Hunter moment in the start cannot be understated and there are multiple moments like that which will have you both cheering in delight and running in terror.
Unlike its predecessors Elden Ring has a lot less grind to it. Like a vast MMORPG you can bump into enemies that are much higher level than you but unlike most there will always be 2 or 3 areas you can easily pass through and level up your stats and weapons accordingly. There’s already plenty of guides and first step tips and hints on character builds to cheat the game, magic has being a strong starting point but I’ve been mostly enjoying my time as a jack of all trades. Relying on two handed weapons, occasionally parrying with a shield and using summoning magic as a backup. I’ve surprised myself killing bosses on a second or third attempt and enjoyed myself more than any other From Software title.
While the lore of Elden Ring feels as impenetrable as the previous games the inclusion of more NPCs and side quests helps the world feel more lived in. There’s a hub to jump back to but unlike the dream in Bloodbourne it’s not a place for respite but one to tool up and chat with the other characters. Watching it expand as you progress is a fantastic addition, although don’t be surprised if you miss out on a lot of Elden Ring without being aware of it. There’s enough here that you’d expect in two RPGs let alone one and it makes very little effort to point you to any of it, you’re supposed to explore and find it out for yourself.
Obvious a Souls game changes drastically depending on how many players are online and how many messages and helpers are around to support or hinder. At the time of writing it’s that fantastic point where everywhere is busy and help is always on hand but when I started playing the servers weren’t ready and it was forced offline. The fact I couldn’t stop playing despite this and if they went off again I’d still want to go back blows my mind. The stunning oil painting visuals, the incredible sense of exploration and little moments of wonder really are a cluster of joy for the senses. Sometimes something is popular just because it’s that good.
10/10 – The Ring maybe Elden but it’s incredibly polished