Elden Ring is a great game with some majestical world building, I just wish I was better at playing it so I could see it all.
If there is one thing that has people divided about Elden Ring it’s the difficulty level, or rather lack of it. The game has that same punishing, torturous mentality of character death that you see in most “From Software” titles like Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice but in this case, it is softened by the open-world environment meaning you can run away from enemies that are giving you grief, and you will, a lot.
That’s why it’s no surprise that “From Software” have teamed up with another world-class “killer of main characters you love”, George R. R. Martin, the man behind the Game of Thrones novels that inspired the worldwide phenomenon television series that set a new bar in entertainment. Just when we think we have forgiven him for Ned Stark and the Red Wedding he’s back in another fantasy franchise to kill our hope and dreams in the best possible way.
Martin provided material for the game setting and it really shows as he is obviously a Tolkein fan which you will see shades of the “Lord of Rings” throughout his work and it’s on display in Elden Ring from the get-go.
The game takes place in “a realm of lands between”, sometime after the destruction and scattering of shards of the “Elden Ring”. The realm is now ruled by a demigod.
IF YOU LOVE IT, BETTER PUT AN ELDEN RING ON IT!
You are one of the Tarnished called to the realm in the hope of repairing the ring and becoming an Elden Lord, assisted along the way by wonderfully designed characters like Melina who stands as “Finger Maiden” offering guidance and a link to power.
The gameplay follows fairly typical action role-playing elements that we’ve seen in other titles and at times I draw back on memories of Zelda: Breath of the Wild but in a much less kid-friendly Saturday morning cartoon setting. If you’ve played a “Souls” game before you will be able to jump right in and play immediately. If you haven’t the learning curve is steep but with a great tutorial level at the beginning and some good immediate lessons upon entering the world you’ll get the hang of it as long as you understand that you will get knocked down, you will get back up again and just get back in there and continue tubthumping.
The levelling up and equipment is far more advanced than we’ve seen in a “From Software” game and although the game rarely holds your hand in the learning process each item and skill has an explanation in the help, even though sometimes it can be really vague.
Choosing your character at the beginning will have a fair bit of impact on how you play the game initially, but once you start going up levels you can evolve in many directions. Once again, the character descriptions are vague but if you’ve read or played any type of fantasy you’ll be able to work out quickly what each one does and pay close attention to the stats. I played through as a Confessor which is a good all-around magic user and fighter with healing ability, all the classes are great, but avoid the virtually nude “wretch” unless you have a death wish or are a really experienced player.
Elden Ring is about discovery. They don’t give you much in the way of information or help and it can be brutal. But it’s designed that way on purpose. So that you go out and explore. You go to the areas of the map that catch your eye and pique your interest. When you get there you might find something that will absolutely blow your mind, or you might not, that is the magic of it. It’s a beautiful game that is stylish and addictive. It wouldn’t give it justice to say it’s the love child of Zelda, Skyrim and Dark Souls, it’s so much more than that and will keep you coming back for more.
My final thoughts are on the decision not to have a difficulty level setting. While I understand that it’s the developer’s choice and that they have an artistic vision I firmly believe that games are for everyone and I want to see anyone and everyone be able to play them. So while a decision to omit a feature like that is fine, I often think of the casual gamers that want to experience the beautiful world they have created or to the players with disabilities who love games but playing them can be difficult.
If you google Elden Ring you’ll see the common question, “Is Elden Ring hard?”, the answer put simply is yes, but its also probably the best game you’ll play this year and if you spend the time levelling up and grinding at the beginning, the pay off will be magical. There’s no doubt this will be on most people’s “Game of the Year” lists and we’ll be seeing elements from this title inspiring other games in the future.
Elden Ring was reviewed on an Xbox Series X and Scores a 9 out of 10