Elden Ring is finally here. Over 10 years in the works have led to this moment. But does it live up to this expectation?
I will be honest I have not finished this game yet, but from what I have played already, I am beyond pleased. This game has easily smashed my expectations and has rapidly become one of my favourite Souls-like games so far. Every part and every area this game moves into works so incredibly well, that I can hardly describe how impressed I was with it. It’s extraordinary. There are no other words to it.
A Glorious Open World
I want to start with the Elden Ring open world. And it is a fantastic one. The world is truly breath-taking, both visually and in terms of what it has to offer. If you have played so far or have seen the trailers, you will already know how great it looks. And exploring the world has been just as great as viewing it. It’s absolutely beautiful and there is no better way to put it. From the vast and vibrant lands to the dark and brutal fortresses that you will fight through, it is all amazing. There are even layers to this world, including numerous underground sections that you get to explore on your own.
One particular praise I have is that it feels truly open. With many other open world games, you will always have a feeling that there is a set layout and objectives that you have to follow. Taking you from one place to another. But in Elden Ring, this feeling has been completely removed. You have to figure things out completely on your own, and explore as you will. Not only does this make the world truly feel open, but it makes every area feel important as you are constantly searching for secrets or where to go next.
Though this was a massive plus for me, I imagine some players will have a problem with it. There is essentially no guide to help you make your way, and the world is so huge and full of secrets, it takes a lot of time to explore it all.
The presence of a horse here is also a massive help. Making it a lot easier to travel through this huge world. Just another great addition once again. The horse, Torrent, offers a lot when it comes to traversal and even combat. But I did find the horseback combat to be very situational, and often found it easier just to fight on foot.
For those who are expecting a difficult experience, you are certainly going to be happy. If you weren’t expecting a challenge then I don’t know what you were expecting. It is a souls-like game after all. This open world is packed with danger. Ranging from various dungeons all of the way to huge jumping puzzles. No matter where you go, something dangerous will get in your way.
Of course, bosses are always going to be main attraction. Especially for veterans. And this game is definitely not short of them. You have bosses like dragons, giant bears and spiders, menacing knights and so much more in between that are all just excellent. And what I found particularly amazing was the fact that the majority of these bosses are completely unique. There are around 80 bosses in the game I would say, and nearly 70 of them are unique. It very rarely feels like you are facing the same boss and it keeps the game feeling fresh throughout.
Elden Ring certainly does not disappoint when it comes to opponents. Bosses are just one major part of it, but it is the presence of standard mobs that make it whole. Most of the castles and areas that you explore will be packed with them. Some slower and easier to take down than others, some that are truly brutal. You have your more standard types like knights and wolves. But you also have some rarer but more brutal enemies. Like giant eagles with crushing claws. It’s all an absolute blast.
When it comes to difficulty too, I would rank this up with Bloodborne. The game is brutal, especially right off the bat. At the beginning you will find yourself having a bit of trouble, especially if you are new or haven’t played a Souls game in a while. It does take a little while to fully adapt to the difficulty, and this is certainly one of the more challenging souls-like games. There is not a single point in this game where I thought it was easy. But I expected nothing less from a game like this.
With such a variety of enemies, you can also expect a wide series of option when it comes to combat. And Elden Ring certainly has it. What better way to start by talking about the Elden Ring classes. There are 10 different classes to try out. There is the Samurai, Vagabond, Astrologer, Warrior, Prisoner, Hero, Bandit, Confessor, Wretch and Prophet. Obviously as the game has just released, I have not managed to try all of these. On my playthrough so far, I have picked the Samurai. Which involves a mix of ranged and melee combat. Along with a bleed effect. What you choose will obviously come down to what combat style you prefer to play. But from what I have seen, they all mostly look fairly effective.
The main thing console players will have to get used to is the new bumper system. Essentially, you control the characters hands through each bumper and trigger. Light attacks or block with shield through bumpers, heavier attacks through triggers. It does have a bit of a learning curve to it, but it shouldn’t be much of a problem for most players.
Your best friend in any fight is going to be the dodge. There is a parry system, but it is just not as effective as the dodging system. And of course, to parry, you will need to use a shield. You should attempt to master dodging as soon as you can, as it is going to make your life a lot easier throughout the whole game.
There are a few more points to mention as well, all I think are great and work well. The weapon art system I think is very straight forward and a massive help when it comes to your weapons. Weapons arts are essentially abilities that you can add to your weapon. Like storm stomp, this allows you to stomp the ground and bring up a storm. This is just one of many. And of course, you also have weapon stats to take into mind. Like strength or agility. Again, nice and straight forward, but vital when building your character.
Lastly, the new summon system. It is a good help in many fights. This summon system allows you to call upon an ally during battle, and they will help you to take down a boss or enemy. Obviously, you have quite a range. Some summons are a bit weak, but are a great help in taking the bosses aggression for a short time. And there are others which are more powerful, though these aren’t as common. It is a good system, even greater if you are unexperienced in this game genre. And a massive help in many situations.
As said in the beginning, I have not finished the game yet. Mostly because this game is a lot bigger than any of the previous souls games. From many others, I have heard this game can take over 60 hours to complete. Making it over twice as long as Bloodborne and other Dark Souls games. Though this number could change depending on how many activities or quests you decide to take on.
Other than that, story so far has been delightful. The NPCs and characters that you meet are mostly well written. With a lot of them having interesting back stories and setting you on great adventures. No complaints at all in this area.
I do not imagine a lot of experienced players will pay attention to the story, but if you do you are certainly not going to be disappointed.
With such a huge world, numerous enemies and brutal boss fights, you would expect the performance to be a bit shaky on launch. Thankfully, it hasn’t. Elden Ring has performed very smoothly so far. On a PS5 on performance mode, you will be playing at around 45-60fps. With a minimum of 30fps if you favour graphics. The only thing I will say is that off launch the frame rate is quite inconsistent. But From Software have already said that they will be putting out a patch soon.
Elden Ring has definitely been worth the wait so far, and really lives up to the expectations set for it. This open world truly sets up a brutal challenge that truly tests the skill of players. I cannot think of any complaints off the top of my head. This game has been an absolute joy so far and is definitely worth the praise.
Overall, I am going to give Elden Ring a 9.5/10. Why not 10 if it is so good? While Elden Ring is an experience that I recommend to a lot of players. I do imagine that newer players will find the lack of navigation and difficulty to be more frustrating than enjoyable. By all means, this is a phenomenal game. But it is not perfect. Nor is any game.