Elden ring, o Elden Ring who knew this game would blow up the way it did. It goes without saying that the long build-up to this game’s launch was hype. One has to ask, is this game actually good, and what makes it good is the real question. Well with that, I’m here to give you our Elden Ring review. With just under 200 hours put into the game; I can give you a definitive answer.
Now I will be going into some spoilers as there are mandatory story parts. However, a majority of sidequests, alternate endings, or secret bosses I will not go into. Simply to leave the magic of exploration and wonder to the players.
SPOILER WARNING NOW, Continue at own Risk
Now as with all SoulsBorne games, the story is not given. By that I mean it is given to start with, as it is presented in the opening cinematic. This is to set up the world that the players will be in. Whether that’s far after a great war, or in the earliest years of the aftermath. It sets up for the conflict of the world and the reasoning of why the player’s chosen, in this case, the Tarnished, is embarking on this quest.
In Elden Ring players are told of an event known as the Shattering. A war between all the demigods of the Golden Order that has broken the Elden Ring into many runes. The event that led to the Shattering was the Night of Black Knives. The day that Godwyn, The First Elden Lord, was assassinated and murdered. This led to the world known as the Land Between falling into war and disarray; the royals and demigods having turned their backs on the grace of the Erdtree and the Two Fingers.
It is because they turned against the Greater Will and words of the Two Fingers; the grace of the Erdtree was blessed upon the Tarnished. Another race of beings called to the Land Between. Along with the assistance of a Finger Maiden to guide them, they would follow the call of grace. To kill the demigods and gain the runes to restore the Elden Ring, as the new Elden Lord.
The World Story:
That’s all within the first 5 minutes of the game. Then from there, the world opens up. Here the story is what the players make of it, by finding items and reading its lore. From finding some notes or ghostly apparitions of those before and hearing their words. As well as what info players can get from NPC, as few and far between as they are.
It is at this point that the story opens up and is now unique to each player. While the only initial advice is to head to Stormveil Castle and kill Godrick the Grafted; players are given the freedom to do as they please. And even which ending they get. This all depends on a multitude of actions, such as to which NPC questlines were completed. From turning their back and killing other characters and choosing which Rune to use to mend the Erdtree and the Elden Ring. Or even outright rejecting the Erdtree and ushering in a new age separate from grace altogether.
With beautiful cutscenes for the introductions of the demigods and bosses right before we fight them; it truly is a wonderous feeling to see them presented so cinematically.
And it is this level of freedom that FromSoft and Souls games have always done well. It can’t be ignored, that having Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin creating this world together is truly something special. From its history, and lore, to its visual world-building as you fight certain bosses and do certain quests it is beyond words.
The story as its presented and grows is simply some of the best that FromSoft has done to date. Along with the collaboration with one of the biggest fantasy writers of our time it shows.
Elden Ring is truly a world of beauty, and that is by no means any stretch of the imagination. This game is truly beautiful from the first time you awaken in the Land Between and gaze upon the Erdtree; to every mountain, forest, lake, and more that you can see. Everything is able to be approached, as long as it is not across the edge of the world, but you can still see the world’s vast landscapes.
From the sprawling green hills and fields of Limgrave, with its ruins of old castles and forts. To the hellish rotting wastelands of the Caelid Wilds, a rotting poisonous land. From the Sunken ruins of the Liurnia of the Lakes and the towns that surround the Academy of Sorcery; To the Molten and barren cliffs of Mt. Glemir.
To the wonderous glistening hidden underground city of Nokron, the Eternal City. The most impressive sight is the capital city of Leyndell, the city located squarely at the base of the Erdtree. High above the lands on the Atlus Plateau. Every location has been given the utmost care with its design and visuals.
Even the enemies are so unique in their designs. From the hardy rock trolls that players may see early on. to the literal giant crabs and lobsters that will kill the player. From the design of every skeleton to even graveyard reapers. To the vampire bats, craven hags, mushroom people, even giant marionette warriors.
Fromsoft Has A Visual Marvel On Their Hands
The bosses themselves are always a marvel to look at visually. While most bosses were sometimes the size of buildings, this one not every boss is. Especially the gods themselves. Each one is so uniquely crafted and of varying shapes and sizes.
FromSoft has a way of building visually captivating worlds, that all interconnect in ways that seem almost impossible. Now while the world may look nice there are some points to be aware of. There are two modes that are present, with either prioritizing framerates or resolution.
And for most fans of the souls-style of games will tell you that framerate is key. Having smooth 60 fps is an absolute must in these kinds of games. Where frames are important for things like invincibility. Now I didn’t notice too many issues with frames drops in most areas post-day-one patch. There have been reports of some issues still, however it tends to be mainly on PC. However, we do want to take into account all known issues. Still, with very few loading screens it is simply amazing how they took advantage of next-gen hardware.
The sound design of Elden Ring is a varied one. From the music of the world as one explores, to the heart-pounding orchestral. boss music. The sound is simply memorable. From the sounds of the world of every water drop, the howling of wolves, to even the rain. Every sound holds weight and that is just the music.
That’s not to count for the sound of combat. With every swing of a weapon, the sound of every spell being cast, and the impact of every kill. Every injury the player sustains and even enemies, the impact and cries of death. Everything just sounds clean.
Even the cries of monsters in the overworld can sound squishy, wet, and disgusting. Even when exploring caverns just the sound of dripping water, the crackle of burning fires; and pounding of the ground as you ride your steed, Torrent, everything sounds clean. It’s hard to find a problem with any part of its design. One of the strongest points that souls games have always had was its sound design.
However, there were times when there was the occasional desync in audio. But, these were so few and far in between. And when it did happen it was so minute that I could barely tell. Especially, since this never happened when it mattered most. Since audio cues are a major part of the game in fights, this can be a potential issue. however, since it was not a consistent issue or happened often it is just something to be aware of.
Now here is the main point of what makes Elden Ring so special and that is in its gameplay. And this is where Elden Ring truly shines. Having over 10 years of experience and iterations of improvements, Elden Ring takes a little bit from every previous title. Because of this approach, that is what makes this the most accessible souls game to date.
So the one thing new players need to know is that the game can be tough, but fair. And that in this game dying is a part of the process. It can be frustrating, but going in knowing you will die, will take out the sting of it… If only slightly. However, they did take out some of the frustration of this by including a new respawn mechanic with Stakes of Marika. A mid-point respawn in some areas that you can revive at if you are far past your last site of grace; and uncertain how close you are to the next one. It is a very small addition that takes away, large amounts of frustration when you die. Being sent back to your last campsite and having to trek back to where you died.
Now one of the most obvious things about the game is its open world. This has to be one of the biggest most jaw-dropping things to date. There are so many secrets to find and places to see it’s mind-boggling that it’s all one continuous world, with a day-night cycle no less.
So because of this massive-sized world, they needed an obvious mode of transportation. And that is where your trusty steed torrent comes into play. You can call your spectral horse at any time, permitting you are in an area where you can call him with the horse whistle. Allowing you to roam across this large open world. Not only can you ride your horse as well, but there is actual horseback combat as well.
Spectral Steeds Makes Life Easy
Now with the need of a horse and open-world came the inclusion of a map. Maps were never a part of any previous Souls title. It required players to have to remember their way around, as well as find their own shortcuts. So having a map as a way to help keep track of where a player has been, does wonders to help keep track of where they are going.
In addition with a small compass at the top of the screen, for newer players, this helps to allow them to always orient themselves and not get lost. Veteran players would have to remember landmarks and try to remember shortcuts, but this small quality of life change helps tremendously; while never taking away that sense of exploration upon finding a new ruin or cave or catacomb to explore.
Along with maps came a feature that is truly nice and was something that was introduced in Sekiro, and that is fast travel. In an open world game having the option to fast travel makes a huge impact on gameplay. Especially when you get to a point where traversal across the world becomes much harder. While there are hidden chests and items that can teleport players. It makes it very hard when players get trapped in high-level areas with no way to make it back with ease.
As well as this helps if you have been to an area before that an NPC tells you to go to, to continue their questline.
Caves and Traversal:
This leads me to the next point, which is mini-dungeons. Caves and catacombs acting as mini-dungeons and bosses that players can find are a nice addition. As it provides small intermittent challenges to help test players while offering nice rewards. This helps to prepare for larger boss fights and more challenging areas that players will inevitably run into.
One small addition that plays a large part in the new traversal now is the inclusion of a jump button. To those who may think this was always a part of the game, it was but not as you think. Before, players would need to double-tap the run button after already being in a sprint to jump. Which made it clunky and awkward, especially when finding certain hidden items or puzzles.
But, after its inclusion, again from Sekiro, this helps to make the options for both combat and traversal. It also adds to more complexity in traversal puzzles and exploration. As now due to the increase in mobility, they thought it would be fun to have players test it out more. By hiding areas or treasure on small ledges or in corners around buildings, it incentivizes more minute exploration. This adds another layer of discovery and surprise to the game with a simple concept.
Classes & Combat:
Lastly, let’s talk about the starting classes and combat. Classes in Souls games are not hard-locked like most RPGs. If you choose to be a warrior you’re stuck as a warrior, if you choose to be a mage you’re a mage forever, and so on. However, in Elden Ring, the classes act as a starting point. Having stats that help to help boost that style of play, however, players are not locked into that one class. If they instead want to diversify their stats, or change play styles completely they are able to. The only thing they would have to do is grind for the runes to level up their stats. With there being no lockout for stats or levels, this is achievable as long as players are willing to put in the time.
Now as for combat, this has to be one of the most forgiving, fluid, and rewarding the series has been ever. Let me clarify with examples; in the original Dark Souls to get a backstab critical players would have to walk slowly to an enemy and be squarely behind their back. If they were off by even the slightest centimeter or frame it would work as a simple attack and initiate combat.
However, in Elden Ring, they brought another feature from Sekiro, the crouch. You may think this one mechanic is dumb but it truly is game-changing. Being able to sneak up on enemies and hide in grass or further distances to get behind enemies or bypass combat altogether. As well as the fact that backstabs are significantly more forgiving. So now, as long as you are behind an enemy, not attacking, and close enough to them you will perform a backstab.
Elden Ring Is A Mesh Of Its Predecessors
Furthermore, even parrying is significantly more forgiving. The frames where parrying will trigger last a few seconds longer, especially with special abilities on the shields helping. This makes it easier for new players and even for Veterans to be able to be aggressively defensive.
As well as they brought back the fluid combat from Dark Souls 3 with more weapons and types. As well as more unique skills and abilities, from two handing single weapons or two. The way each weapon feels responsive and the diversity makes it worthwhile.
Along with all these inclusions, came the addition of ash summons. These are spirits based on enemies that players encounter in the game. Allowing players to have help by calling forth support. This is also available quite frequently. As they can be used outside in some areas, not just Boss fights. And that’s on top of being able to summon an NPC co-op Summon.
Add this all on top of the vastly different abilities thanks to the inclusions of the ashes of war. Abilities that can be added to a non-boss weapon, that give it a unique skill. It allows you to also change its elements to refine its damage scaling based on your stats as well as any unique properties. Such as poison, blood, or rot build-up, as well as if it does magic damage, fire, frost, holy, or any other attribute.
There is so much more freedom and customizability in Elden Ring; that it really felt like this was the perfect culmination of everything that FromSoft has been working towards. None of the systems feel out of place for returning players, but also feel very easy to grasp for newer players. For this gameplay gets a 10
Elden Ring is truly a great experience for fans new and old to enjoy, and that is no small feat. While many may have praised the game, its learning and difficulty curve pushed many people away. Preferring to watch others play the soul-crushing (pun intended) gameplay than partake themselves. After more than a decade later FromSoft finally took their series and subgenre and really brought it to the masses.
This game was the one that truly helped to shine a light on their skill and earn them the recognition they deserve. Along with the fact that the game has been estimated to have close to 10 million sales on steam alone! Plus with an astonishing record-breaking peak concurrent players of almost 954,000 people. That means it had almost a Million concurrent players at one time.
Hidetaka Miyazaki has come out to say that he is sorry the game can be so difficult. He just wants players to feel a sense of pride by overcoming a hard challenge. It is safe to say that he and his team have finally accomplished that. Elden Ring is absolutely a must-play game for those who are curious about this style of game. Even if you try it and it still is not your style that is perfectly ok. Even with its more open approachability, the game may still not be for everyone, but, if you’ve ever been curious now, is the time to try.
Souls Style Games Are Something Special
I’ve been a fan of Souls-style games for well over a decade since I first played Dark Souls 1 on the 360. From doing the hard grinding and having to learn on my own. As well as seen when the mechanics were rough and annoying. I’ve also seen the improvements in each game. Adding newer mechanics, refining old ones, and making more quality of life changes improved the game overall. Also now it is at the point where it really can appeal to the masses. I’m glad to have seen this transformation for the series. So, I really hope that is understood in our Elden Ring Review.
If you are interested in some of the other games we’ve played, you can view all our reviews on the site.
Hey everyone hope you enjoyed my thoughts and breakdowns in the article above. You can keep up with my thoughts & shenanigans by following me on all my social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, & Youtube.