By: Hayden Sadler
“Elden Ring” has caused massive waves with its release. Fantasy games are a dime a dozen these days. So what is it about “Elden Ring” that is so great?
“Elden Ring” is the spiritual successor to “Dark Souls,” the game with engaging and difficult gameplay that changed the way many video game developers approach the fantasy RPG genre. In “Elden Ring,” the core concepts of “Dark Souls” underwent a huge evolution as they transfer from the linear world space seen in the souls games into the sprawling open environment of “Elden Ring.”
As someone who has played all the previous FromSoftware games, the controls are immediately familiar. Longtime “Souls” fans will notice the addition of both the crouch and jump buttons seen in From’s previous game, “Sekiro.” However, as the world space is now exponentially larger than before, players can now utilize a horse named Torrent. Unfortunately, there are times where steering and jumping with the horse feels clunky and almost disconnected from my controller, specifically when needing to make sharp movements. I appreciate getting around faster with the horse, but “Elden Ring’s” mounted combat and basic horse movement just seems awkward. The mounted gameplay isn’t entirely bad, and in fact, it’s a great way of traversing the map at faster speeds. Spirit springs seen around the map can be activated while on horseback to allow the player to reach great heights that couldn’t otherwise be reached.
The on-foot movement is on par with the rest of the “Souls” series – that is to say it’s extremely fluid and offers many different ways to approach the game’s combat system. With the addition of jump and crouch, players can now sneak as well as jump attack, which I found myself doing very often in my time with the game. Much like other games by the developer, the combat buttons are confined to the bumpers and triggers on the controller, with the left trigger and bumper working the left hand, and the right bumper and trigger working the right arm. As with movement, roll dodge and jump are available to better adapt to the enemies throughout the world. Learning the weapon combinations presents its own fun set of challenges, and adds a lot of replayability to the game.
In “Dark Souls,” much of the appeal was in the difficulty, namely in the boss fights and encounters found throughout the game. In “Elden Ring,” the boss fights continue to amaze. The first boss, Margit the Fell Omen, is a rite of passage for players entering the game. At this point, I had just left the tutorial area and ventured up the mountain in search of Grace. “Grace” is the word for the golden path seen on the world map that guides the player through the main story checkpoints. Many players are in for a rude awakening when they are approached by Margit – I know I was. Even having played “Dark Souls,” he was a tough early game fighter. That said, the pride I felt when I finally defeated him made the difficulty worth it. To sum up “Elden Ring” – yes it’s very difficult, but very rewarding.
The world of “Elden Ring” is extremely vast, and players will never run out of new secrets and stories to discover as they explore the game’s environment: The Lands Between. As a member of the group known as “Tarnished,” the player is tasked with tackling various bosses known as demigods. Of course, there are dozens of hours worth of side bosses and content to be tackled as well that builds up the story behind the Lands Between. “Elden Ring” is a near perfect game as a result of the many components ranging from fun gameplay to interesting storytelling, yet there is one area that leaves much to be desired.
I played the game on a high-end PC, and did not run into the many performance issues others have noted. Initially, I remember a lot of stuttering and freezing, but after a recent patch it seems to be running smoothly. Aside from these stuttering issues, bringing other players into my game to assist with bosses has also proved difficult. At times, I get to a point where I begin to bring players in and they disconnect or I am unable to summon help. I kept notes during one point and found that for the near 20 summon signs I interacted with, no more than two would successfully join my game.
While the game is great and can be enjoyed single-player, the multiplayer features should still function for those who need help. Hopefully as more patches are rolled out the game will be able to handle players wanting to cooperate a little better.
Regardless of performance issues, games like “Elden Ring” don’t come out often. The fact that the game is as full of stuff to do as it is while remaining engaging throughout is a testament to how well the game is developed. At the end of the day, games are supposed to be fun – and “Elden Ring” is exactly that, so do yourself a favor and check it out.