Elden Ring, the newest entry to the “Soulsborne” genre, is finally out, and I got it as soon as I possibly could. Although the genre is well-known by now, Elden Ring finds a few ways to expand and create its own feel and identity.
To jump right in, this game is intensely theatrical. It has majestic graphics, captivating art, and amazing environments. Despite how engaging the setting is, the game is minimalistic in terms of tutorials and introductions: in Elden Ring you learn as you explore. So what have I learned with my time?
Class and Customization
The classes you get to pick from are stylistically and statistically varied. They all start with their own armor and equipment, and each offers special items to help you explore new places or boost stats and gear. This selection makes it easy to find a playstyle you want to experiment with and jump right in.
The character customization is in-depth, but I didn’t explore too much beyond the eyes and hair. After creating your character, you get the classic Soulsborne opening to the game with the theatrical narration and visuals. It’s punchy and short, so you can jump right in!
The World of Elden Ring
The map for Elden Ring is massive. After rushing through the world as far as I could, even skipping bosses and enemies at some points, I haven’t even seen half of the map yet! The game has so much to discover. We aren’t at Breath of the Wild levels of exploration yet, but it’s pretty damn close.
The environment isn’t static or empty, either. You can see the effort the developers put in as you make your way across the land. There is so much life and detail, both grand and subtle, that it honestly caught me by surprise. One example is the day/night cycle, which is gentle and gradual but completely redefines the mood of the environments you explore.
For the first time ever, you get your own horse to ride, with controls that are straight forward. Adding depth to this feature, you can also fight on horseback, making horse riding an asset as well as a convenience. With or without your horse, your understanding of the terrain directly ties to your opportunities in approaching enemies and landmarks. This is especially important because, like all Soulsborne games, Elden Ring makes it very easy to regret taking the wrong turns, making exploration a game of its own.
The Inhabitants of Elden Ring
There were many times while I was exploring that I was caught off guard by a nightmarish boss or giant monsters. The sight of such beasts alone is enough to tell me I should go back the way I came!
The enemies tend to feel like heavy-hitting tanks at first, but I was able to rely on using the environment and out-maneuvering my opponents. Reading enemy movements and attacks is key in this game, and if you can do that, your chances of survival are much higher. Like in previous games, you can get a good amount of runes (equivalent to the souls you get from beating enemies in Dark Souls) if you take down a strong enemy.
Elden Ring’s Leveling System
This game does one thing different that caught me off guard: I could not level up my character on my own. Instead, after you progress a little bit, a girl (shown in the screenshot above) will approach you and give you the ability to level up with runes.
This makes the start of the game a little uncertain, as you don’t have the ability to level up and might have a large number of runes, leading to gameplay that’s perhaps too cautious. Personally, I didn’t like this effect, as it made me avoid obstacles and bosses rather than try my hand at them. Speaking of bosses…
Elden Ring’s Big Baddies
This game spares no expense in making any boss, big or small, look their best. Some of them are just magical. Don’t get me wrong: they are as deadly as they are well-designed.
Especially given the relative non-linearity of the game, it’s important to experiment against each boss with how you attack and where. If you play harder and not smarter, you will be dying on repeat. You can find knights on horseback, dragons, and much more in this game, each with their own attack patterns and weaknesses. This, paired with the fluid and responsive movement and controls, makes each encounter full of experimentation, challenge, and joy.
My Thoughts on Elden Ring
Did I love what I experienced? Yes. Will I continue to play this game after all that I’ve played? Yes! This game is enthralling and has so much to give. The menus are easy to navigate. Controls rock! Through simple mechanics, Elden Ring gives so much to try out and use.
I’ve explored, I’ve fought monsters, I’ve hunted fauna, I’ve collected flora, and I am still finding new things to do and new ways to apply them. Elden Ring is easy to get into, but do not expect it to be a casual game. It demands concentration and focus. If you were worried about slow starts or endless tutorials, this game will not do you dirty like that. It gives enough direction to keep you informed but you will have to learn how to best apply yourself and utilize your tools. Give it a shot and have fun with friends or on your own. Elden Ring is great either way.
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