From Software has made recent history with one of the highest recently released games, Elden Ring. Every bit of praise has been deserved with how much this game has to offer, especially given the fact that the developers changed their formula quite a bit, making this souls-like ARPG open world and filled it to the brim with content. While there have been some performance complaints due to the network errors and stutters, most of the issues are minor and hardly game breaking. This game will no doubt make it to GOTY and is one of the best ARPGs to release since Witcher 3.
A Mission Tarnished
Years ago, the Lands Between entered an era of prosperity, brought on by the artifact known as the Elden Ring. This artifact soon caused the creation of a magical tree that sprouted where the artifact rested and was thus called the Erdtree. As time went on the Erdtree would shed some of its golden leaves that would bestow the blessing of Grace upon its people, which in return gave them the power to use incantations that were to be used for healing ailments. However, not all wanted to use this power for good.
The Elden Ring Artifact has been destroyed with its shards scattered across the lands. These shards, otherwise called Great Runes, have been taken up by the offspring of Queen Marika the Eternal and have been corrupted by their power. War broke out as a result, leaving chaos in its wake. The Tarnished one sets off on a mission to repair the Elden Ring, taking back the shards and attempts to become the Elden Lord.
For some background, Tarnished were those who strayed too far from Grace, losing the blessing and being banished from the Lands Between.
Miyazaki has done it again, providing us with a masterpiece of a game and with the help of George R. R. Martin, we have now received a whole new world to explore, filled with lore and discoveries waiting to be uncovered. The Lands Between are filled with Lore like any other souls game, and continues to tell the story through items and NPCs, as well as the overall environment. What this does a bit differently, though, is more cut scenes with actual information and more dialogue through quest lines. This is nice because while they still kept the same formula, we have been given more content than ever.
The Lands Between are Breathtaking
There are no words that can describe how beautiful the Lands Between are, let alone how much content is filled in every nook and cranny. From the beautiful Lake of Liurnia, to the vast plains of the Atlus Plateau and the towering Mountaintops of the Giants, I constantly feel the need to screen capture every moment. Elden Ring is absolutely visually stunning, especially on a 30 series GPU. Not to mention, you never run out of things to do between dungeons, area bosses, hidden items and shacks of merchants, and evergaols around each and every corner. There is always something new to discover between the hours spent roaming each area and I absolutely love it. I would often find myself running into random caves that would ascend to the depths with a boss waiting for me, or even random ruins of a church or building with some much needed loot inside. Nothing feels too obvious to find, and everything becomes more challenging with puzzles and obstacles, or just a purely brutal boss. Each area is also filled with hours worth of quests and discoveries, I mean there are 83 bosses in the entire game. Limgrave alone will take a player around 25 hours to fully complete given the fact that there are 15 dungeons alone.
Evergaols are Brutally Rewarding
Evergaols are a delightful surprise that often end in pain or fun. They are, in layman’s terms, what can be described as everlasting jails, with brutally tough bosses waiting to fight you in an arena that is basically their prison. Some will require a stonesword key to open, and usually those ones are a bit hard than the others. That being said, if you are over leveled, some of these fights can be a cake walk. The nice part about them is the fact that if you die, your souls will be left outside of the ring leaving little to no punishment, but the fights still feel rewarding to take part in. These gaols are scattered throughout the Lands Between with little to no obstacles in the way, and they can be challenged at any time without progression punishment and rewards.
Every boss I have beaten so far has offered me a bit of a challenge due to the fact that everything hits insanely hard, and bosses seem to have less down time than previous souls games. Even if a player is over leveled for the fight, bosses can take a giant chunk of you health bar if you did not dump enough points into vitality, and may even one shot you. As a great example, one of the Evergaols in the beginning, the Stormhill Evergaol, holds the Crucible Knight with ungodly range on his sword and little to no downtime between his thrust attacks and shield breaks. He is notoriously one of the harder ones for players under level fifty.
Classes are Well-Designed and Different from the Traditional Souls Games, but Vitality is Everything
I loved the class choices that were created for this entirely new franchise. There seemed to be such a unique variety to choose from, especially with magic classes and dexterity based classes. For example, rather than having a Pyromancy class, Cleric, and Wizard we were met with a lot of changes. Cleric and Pyromancer seemed to have morphed into the Confessor, which is a faith, dexterity, and strength based class. The Confessor commonly uses pyromancies and incantations which are this game’s version of miracles. One other faith variant made was the Prophet, however this class also has a uniquely high intelligent stat too making it a weird Wizard Cleric hybrid. The Astrologer is generally just the full on Wizard class of the game with no major differences. Tank classes only came in two, which are the Hero and Vagabond. The dexterity class has a lot more fun, especially with the new Samurai class and Prisoner which feels like a dexterity based sorcerer. So while some classes feel very familiar, others seemed to have brought not only more variety but an overall original feeling.
While every class has their unique stat priorities like any souls game or RPG in general, due to the sheer damage every enemy seems to cause, Vitality is one of the most important stats for every class. It is highly recommended to get this specific stat to at least 20, and even then most players have changed the spec even higher. Almost all magic using classes have become glass cannons as well as dexterity classes. Many bosses have a move that can one hit any player with 20 dumped into vitality which is insane. It should also be noted that soft and hard caps have completely changed for each stat. Every stat hard caps at 99, but now there are around three tiers of soft caps that are completely different for each class. A prime example would be that stats like Faith and Intelligence soft cap at 20, 80, and 90, while Endurance has four soft caps at 12, 18, 32, and 50. This in turn creates a whole new ball park for PVP, which we will have to wait and see where the meta turns.
Another odd characteristic of the game that many classes can utilize is Bleed damage, which is basically the new poise or blood tinge of this game. Bleed seems to decimate most bosses and enemies, and can be found on a lot of weapons that many classes can use. As an example, I am running a faith build utilizing the Winged Scythe that is a faith based weapon with bleed oddly enough.
Mounted Combat Changes Fights Entirely
One added bonus to From Software’s first open world souls game is the spectral steed Torrent. Torrent is a life saver due to how massive the world is, but also changes fights entirely. I love the fact that you can fight with a weapon or use spells while mounted, but also sometimes choose not to due to the fact that you can fight area bosses mounted and it makes it way less challenging. Dragons are a prime example of this, because even though they can most likely one shot you, you can complete a lot of the fight without getting hit if you use Torrent. Convenient or not, it does take away from the impact and fun of the fight a lot of the time. However, Torrent is great if you want to grind for souls and quickly take out enemies.
Crafting is a Must
Crafting is essential for this game, and the kit should be picked up immediately by all players. This can give you usable items for fights and multiplayer, and saves you the time from farming item drops. The best part is that a lot of the needed items are flowers which are spread throughout the game, such as Erdleaf Flowers to create the Furlcalling Finger Remedy to summon other players. These items that can be crafted can range from anything for healing Torrent, pots to throw at enemies for damage like the Holy Water Pot, or items to add effects to your weapon or heal a status effect like poison. Crafting is fun, easier, and time saving. All that is needed is locating various crafting books to unlock more options, and these are known as Cookbooks.
Materials, as previously mentioned, are a lot easier to come by. This also goes for blacksmith materials which are farmable in mines. Mines are the best thing to happen to souls games due to the fact that the smithing stones are gatherable, even the rare somber ones rather than relying on chests and drop rates. This in turn creates way less pressure for finding the right weapon the first time or waiting for NG+ to get that rare weapon maxed out. On the other hand, due to the length of the game weapons that are normal now go to +25 and special weapons go to +10 which is a whole new ball park.
Open World Meets Souls is a New Formula that is Never Overwhelming
Elden Ring has received a lot of praises and a lot of complaints due to the fact that there are minor performance issues. However, the game deserves the perfect and near perfect scores it has received for a lot of reasons. The performance issues are very minor to start, and they are mostly consisting of multiplayer issues with signs not appearing, connection errors, and stutters. These are very common with new game releases, and I am honestly surprised that the game is performing as well as it is given the amount of players that have picked it up. This title has so much to offer in terms if gameplay, graphics, dungeon design, boss design, content, and even the music. However, what the game does best that many new open world RPGs can learn from is the consistency, organization, and atmosphere. Nothing feels overwhelming aside from brutal boss fights, and oddly enough for a souls game it is easy to go and do something else to give you a break. Everything is laid out in a way that keeps the player invested in discovery and travel, and the dungeons offer more than just death which keeps players from hesitating to dive in. Players can be summoned at any grace point since the game is open world, which adds a lot more fun to the adventure since you can share it with someone rather than waiting and hoping they can beat the area to catch up.
Overall, Elden Ring has slowly become one of my favorite games of all time, and is one of the top open world ARPGs to release this generation. While there can be some balancing changes, as well as some performance fixes that will come with time anyway, this game is almost perfect in story, side content, and gameplay all around.
Vibe Score: 9.5/10
Veteran gamer, tech nerd, comic addict, anime lover, and just your average introverted weeb.