Elden Ring, one of the most anticipated games of all time, is set to be released in a few days. This is arguably one of the biggest projects by Hidetaka Miyazaki to date, and thus the hype surrounding it has been the biggest in FromSoftware history.
Elden Ring will be an open-world Soulsborne game that will very much drive the genre into a brand new direction. So far, every Soulsborne game, be it Sekiro or Dark Souls, has been linear in design.
However, this is the first time From Software has decided to increase its game's sizes exponentially. The game introduces many new features that are unlike any that players might have experienced previously.
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Thus, one of the questions that might arise within the fans' minds is how much it delivered. The promise that this game holds is enormous, but the ultimate measure of the game will be based on the final product that players get in their hands.
Elden Ring’s vast scale provides a brand new experience within the FromSoftware genre
As soon as players enter Elden Ring, the first thing they will notice is the game's massive scale. Its beautiful atmosphere, accompanied by a bright and dynamic world, will enhance the urge for exploration by several folds.
Elden Ring offers almost everything to quench the thirst of every Soulsborne player that has developed within them over the past two years since the game's first announcement. However, there is a lot to discuss before a final judgment on Elden Ring.
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Thus, to start, the first point of discussion has to be its gameplay.
Elden Ring at its heart is a Soulsborne game. Thus, players will face difficult enemies throughout the game, and they will die a lot before finally achieving victory.
But the thing that makes this game different is its scale. The same Soulsborne ideology is now applied to an open-world setting, and players will now have a lot of different ways to approach things compared to previous games by the developers.
Previously, if players saw an enemy, they would be forced to face them because of the constricted spaces. Since, this time, the playing field is massive, players can now run away from an enemy until they feel their strength is optimal to defeat that particular foe.
The game is littered with solid world bosses and offers varied loot, including weapons, armor, and upgrade materials. However, players can skip those bosses and farm for runes (souls previously) to further strengthen their character.
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Speaking of farming for builds, Elden Ring makes this job much less tedious when compared to the previous games by FromSoftware. Within this game, there are two places where players can practically gain a lot of runes to make builds. One such place is the hidden dungeons.
Once players start exploring the open fields of Limgrave, which is the first major area within Elden Ring, they will come across small dungeons that have pretty easy boss fights but provide a lot of runes in return. Even though these dungeons are farmable only once, they offer quite a large chunk of runes.
The second place where players can farm for runes is from camps. Elden Ring has massive enemy camps with grace sites (equivalent to bonfires) nearby. Players can repeatedly clear the camps, go back to the grace site, come back again and keep stacking up the runes.
One of the most essential aspects of camps is that their flasks get refilled once players clear them. Thus, if players plan to clear multiple camps in the vicinity, they do not need to sit at grace sites consistently.
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There are also moving vans that carry loot and are guarded by enemies. Players will ideally find these while traversing the roads of Elden Ring. This is pretty good to gain both weapons as well as runes.
Finally, speaking on the concept of traversing, there are two ways to approach this in the world of Elden Ring. The first amongst them is through a horse named Torrent. Horses can be summoned multiple times without delay and can be used for various things that include combat, running from enemies, picking up dropped runes, and quickly reaching boss fights.
The second method is through fast travel. Unlike other Soulsborne games, this game has a map, and all the grace sites that players discover are revealed.
Players can travel between any grace site at any point. In fact, they do not need to be present at a grace site to do so, which makes discovering new areas so much more rewarding.
Combat within Elden Ring is not very different from previous Souls games. It is a mixture of everything players have learned this far in the Soulsborne series.
It involves dodging by rolling, sidestepping, parrying, and even blocking. Ideally, players would want to remain aggressive in fights as bosses do not respond well to passive players. If players keep dodging away and hope to find openings, the situation will never arrive.
Players will need to stay close to their boss and learn their movements while also countering their attacks and finding a short window to inflict damage. So far, the window to strike back is much less than any other Soulsborne bosses.
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However, since the bosses are difficult, players have made some unique changes to their approach to fights. The first amongst them is weapon art and ashes of war. Most of the weapons players pick up during their battles can be equipped with ashes of war.
These enhancements will help players enhance certain stats of the weapon or add a special attack to the guns. Players will be able to use those in battle, and they provide a lot of advantages in dealing with bosses.
The second biggest thing that players will often have access to is phantoms. Players can use certain spells to summon phantoms to assist in battle. These can be used to distract bosses while players take down at least 50%-60% of the bosses' health with well-timed hits.
It is important to remember that these phantoms are no joke and can tank many hits. Thus, they are the sort of cheese that the game provides to the players on purpose to make life a little less frustrating when dealing with enemies.
Now, although combat seems fun, it will not feel complete unless players choose their favorite character for the same.
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Elden Ring offers a wide variety of character customizations, including both player classes and visual appearances.
Initially, when players enter the game, they will be greeted with a total of 10 classes, each with their own specialty. The characters are differentiated through stats like vigor, endurance, strength, dexterity, and other aspects.
Some classes are built for melee combat, while others are more suited for ranged or magic-based combat. This point of consideration is something that every player will enjoy, irrespective of being a veteran or a rookie.
However, the customizations do not just end in class selection, as the game offers varied options to tweak their characters visually. Players can make major changes that include the shape and physique of their body to minor changes like the shape of the nose, eyes, or other features.
Players even have the option to add cosmetics like tattoos, lipsticks, and other small aspects that add a little bit more to their engagement. However, one ought to remember that a character without a purpose is not enough to create an engaging game.
Elden Ring is arguably one of the best stories ever within any Soulsborne title of all time. As soon as players enter the game, they will be greeted with a massive cinematic that provides a brief overview of the world that they are part of.
The primary aspect around which the story revolves is the Elden Ring. This Ring has been shattered, and thus the world has been driven into anarchy. It is the job of The Tarnished (the player's character) to ultimately take matters into their own hands and become the Elden Lord to restore order and peace.
Even though this is a key idea, there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered. Most of these answers can be found in NPC dialogues, item descriptions, and even boss fights. The further players progress, the more they will get to know about their own existence as well as that of the world.
At times, once players defeat major bosses, they will find dialogue that provides a lot of insight towards the player's primary goal. While players might often ignore those on account of the ecstasy of beating the boss, they must keep a keen eye on the game if they want a more immersive experience.
Overall, how the story progresses is better than in previous Soulsborne games. It is not as upfront as Sekiro, but it is better than the Dark Souls trilogy.
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Despite being a polished game, Elden Ring has a few issues that players will have to contend with. The first one is related to performance. The PC system requirements are pretty high, especially the CPU and RAM requirements. Thus, players who have a bit of a dated system will face lags and FPS drops.
In general, players might face occasional stuttering even on newer systems, though it is scarce and mostly happens in the vast open world. Hopefully, FromSoftware will fix those in future patches.
Apart from the issues mentioned above, the game runs quite seamlessly. Nothing major will hamper progression or experience.
Secondly, the game can be a bit daunting for newer players. Occasionally, the game drops items that have almost zero explanation. While veteran players will figure their way out, newer players will get overwhelmed.
To wrap things up, Elden Ring is arguably one of the best Soulsborne games ever. The vision of Hidetaka Miyazaki is quite distinctly visible within the game, and players will have a blast as they slowly make their way through “The Lands Between”.
When I first jumped into Elden Ring, how beautiful the game looked was the first thing that struck me. The atmosphere was bright and vibrant, and the beginning cinematic already gave me a clue about the grave situation the world was in.
Right from the get-go, the game instilled the urge to explore its world and find out more about the various names mentioned during that first cutscene. The feeling of both joy and fear compelled me to take the first step into The Lands Between.
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However, as soon as I stepped in, I realized it would not be an easy ride. The game made it quite apparent that I needed to carefully think about and assess my situation before even taking a step. Yet, it seldom forced me into a decision.
I had a vast open-world with numerous opportunities to play around in, and I had the freedom to proceed as I pleased. If I felt that dying to the same boss over and over again was the way I wanted to play the game, then that was the way to go. This is one of the key facets that makes Elden Ring probably the most beautiful in the series.
In truth, almost every game by FromSoftware is visually vibrant, but it's something that lies deep within Elden Ring that makes it feel different. Be it the looming Erdtree with its branches reaching the heavens and the roots of the earth or the larger-than-life adversaries that I met during my playthrough, the game truly feels like a living world imbued with an intricate story that I got to be a part of.
The hype surrounding Elden Ring has reached its tipping point. I cannot wait to see as countless Tarnisheds get to dive into the world and share this experience - what was possibly one of the most unique experiences of my life. The game has not just lived up to its expectations. In my opinion, it has genuinely exceeded it.
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Reviewed On: PC (Early copy provided by FromSoftware)
Platform: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Release Date: February 25, 2022