You know that feeling of being completely hooked to a brand-new thematic world? Elden Ring manages to do it just as you start your journey in The Lands Between.
Fight your journey through dungeons and catacombs, find treasures, get to know your enemies and discover exciting new areas, each containing new lore and development that can be discovered by various means, talking to NPCs, reading items descriptions, finding patterns that link the bosses and lords of that area to the creatures there. It’s everything we always wanted in a Classic Fantasy Medieval RPG.
I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun just exploring and running around in a game’s open world, and realizing the sheer scale of it all was both exciting and overwhelming. I spent something like 50 hours exploring Limgrave alone and getting familiar with the gameplay and controls.
If I had trouble with a boss or an area, I’d just go somewhere else on the map until I felt ready to take it on, and there’s plenty of things to do before even beating the first story boss.
Creature summons were also a huge help, and I was very happy with the options available. Trying out new weapons was fun, and even finding new ones for the lore bits was very compelling and made me want to collect them all.
Overall I found the world and zones themselves very varied and interesting going between zone to zone, so that’s definitely a big plus of the Open World design. Whilst From Software isn’t the pinnacle developer of graphics, From Software has always been phenomenal at environmental design and they carry on their form in Elden Ring.
Elden Ring is basically Dark Souls 4, or Dark Souls but now you can sneak, jump, and ride a steed around the open world areas. You start by creating a character and choosing a class to determine your starting gear and stats (e.g. Astrologer to be a spellcasting sorcerer, or Samurai to be a katana-weilding DEX melee build). You progress through the game by traveling around the map and finding items/gear to upgrade your equipment setup and defeating enemies to gain ‘runes” that you can spend to level up or buy items from shops.
‘Sites of grace’ are the bonfire equivalents in Elden Ring, and most of the time they visually display a path of light that indicate the direction you need to head in to progress the main story through locations of major bosses. There are plenty of these grace sites littered everywhere in the open world and within dungeons so it is easy to fast travel to where you want to go immediately.
There are various minidungeons/secrets hidden away in every corner of the map. It is to your advantage to seek out these locations to find rare materials and unique weaponry that may or may not change your play style altogether. The open world feels like there is always something waiting for you to discover, such as powerful enemies that drop unique weapon arts (ashes of war) or an NPC standing around waiting to offer you a quest. With the introduction of a day/night cycle, there are even some bosses that only spawn at nighttime in specific locations waiting to ambush you, but offer unique drops as well.
The combat got much better from previous titles in the soul series, being able to jump is amazing and having your horse to battle along side you creates a feeling that the other games simply couldn’t give you.
Elden Ring doesn’t break new ground when it comes to overall presentation, but it is a very colorful game compared to previous Souls games. You can really tell when you enter a new region when all the colors transition from one palette to another and the sky/landscape dramatically changes as well. Dark areas are also pretty spooky as you can only see far enough from the light of your torch or lantern and enemies hide in the shadows very well. Simply put, the game looks phenomenal.
All in all, it truly is an amazing game and I’m happy that it managed to keep up with our expectations, it’s certainly a title that I’ll keep coming back to play more of in the future. It’s hard nowadays for games that have an open world to not feel empty and to not make the player feel tired, but From Software sure managed to do it in a much better way than other recent titles could, and that alone is something that I was sure looking forward to. I’ve set some high hopes for the DLC as well!