Elden Ring Review

FromSoftware released Demon’s Souls in 2009, and the game quickly became a critical and commercial success outside of Japan, resulting in Dark Souls two years later. A new genre was born, with studios inspired to develop their own take on the winning Souls-like formula, and since then gamers have enjoyed a flurry of titles like Salt and Sanctuary, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Nioh. But few games have inspired more anticipation than FromSoftware’s latest, Elden Ring, whose world-building was overseen by A Song of Ice and Fire author George RR Martin. And as the title’s 2022 launch day approaches, eager fans are jokingly worried that they might die before the Elden Ring is released. The game takes place in a realm called the Lands Between, after the titular Elden Ring has been destroyed and its pieces scattered. When the Ring was broken, so was the world. Although many tried, none proved powerful enough to rebuild the land, and so a stalemate existed between the warring inhabitants. The player is Tarnished, a person who has fallen from the favor of the Erdtree and has been banished from the Lands Between. After the Shattering, however, the Tarnished are called to return and find the shards of the Elden Ring. One of them will become the champion who reunites the world and becomes an Elden Lord. elden ring sellia crystal tunnel As expected from a game with a story written by George RR Martin, the lore of the Elden Ring is deep and compelling, presented to players through cryptic item descriptions and fun clues discovered in dialogue. Like the previous Souls games, the often tragic stories form a multi-layered world where the mysteries will drive many to continue playing even when the difficulty of leaving makes them want to stop. Yes, Elden Ring’s combat is almost as unforgiving as FromSoftware’s previous titles and will delight fans of the genre who enjoy a relentless challenge. However, the game is also more accessible to casual players – unintentionally, according to game director Hidetaka Miyazaki – and this has become a sore spot for Souls fans. Small gameplay adjustments make Elden Ring easier and thus reduce the constant feeling of anxiety that many players appreciate. One of these changes is simple: defeating a group of enemies refills flasks. This eliminates the frequency with which players need to rest to replenish health or mana items and therefore reduces the need to fight the same enemies over and over again. This change is understandable, given the open world of the Elden Ring, as it would be tiring to fight over the same vast area multiple times. However, the threat of repeating battles is a gameplay element that has been unique to the Souls games. Weighing the need for flasks versus advancing despite low health increased the sense of risk, and getting to the next area on a gamble added to the sense of achievement. elden ring malina's first encounter The character classes or archetypes of the Elden Ring bring another significant change. In previous Souls titles, players chose a specialization at the start of the game and were then constrained by stats and abilities with little room for experimentation. The Elden Ring allows players to change the effects on their armaments with Ashes of War, and it gives players a chance to adjust their playstyle if they don’t like their current setup. Ash can be freely swapped between weapons, making it easy to customize for specific battles and adding a level of flexibility not available in previous titles. Players can also summon spirits, ghostly forms of opponents, to aid in combat. This can change a seemingly impossible battle in a single move and is particularly useful for solo players who can’t always stand on their own. For example, while magic users are very powerful, they are also very vulnerable in a world that favors melee, heavy armor, and large health bars. Summoning Northern Mercenary spirit to tank and hold aggro allows casters to retreat and deal damage without delay. While there are encounters with passive NPCs in the Elden Ring, it’s safer to assume that everyone and everything is hostile and approaches with a shield up. What looks like a nice guy relaxing by the campfire is likely to be a harrowing encounter with the enemy. Luckily, other players are spreading helpful hints in the Elden Ring’s Lands Between, pointing out potential dangers or good things to look out for. However, this brings another change that Souls fans can talk about: the invasion system. In previous FromSoftware titles, playing online was dangerous because other players could attack at inopportune times, leading to death, frustration, and long journeys to recover fallen souls. elden ring margit the fell omen first boss Again, this is part of what made the games unique. Although unpleasant to some, the threat of invasion is a welcome pleasure to others. Similar to Bloodborne, Elden Ring’s invasions are only possible if the player chooses to use Taunter’s Tongue or join together in co-op mode. While many people have expressed anger about this change from the invasion systems in Dark Souls, it should be noted that it is possible to avoid invasions in those games simply by playing offline. Elden Ring lets people avoid the attacks of unwanted visitors without losing the fun online interactions of notes, bloodstains, and player ghosts. Elden Ring may not dazzle with all the incredible graphical detail like other current-gen games, but the world created by FromSoftware is still beautiful. The Lands Between has a brighter color palette than previous Souls titles and therefore doesn’t feel as jarring or scary as, say, Bloodborne. But the game features a diversity of environments, with stunning vistas that stretch to the horizon and demand exploration, which fans have come to expect from the developer. Windswept fields, occasional showers, and lightning flashes from the sky combine in a day and night cycle to bring the Lands Between to life. elden ring stormhill The soundtrack is a part of the game that seems to have received little attention, and players will spend most of their time listening to minimal ambient noise and silence. Despite this, some sounds in the Elden Ring are incredibly effective. While standing on a cliff near the starting area, players will hear eerie howls and moans in the distance. The source is on the ground below, and the sounds increase the sense of dread when it’s time to explore the area. Eventually, the players discover a dark pit that fades into darkness and realize that hair-raising emanates from its depths. The bloodstains around the pit show that the grunt isn’t enough to stop some players from jumping in to find answers, or maybe it’s what attracts them. People will inevitably compare Elden Ring to other Souls games, and on the surface FromSoftware’s latest creation seems like an open-world, less dark Dark Souls. Despite subtle gameplay tweaks, it feels like a continuation of its predecessor, and even has direct callbacks to characters and items from other games. While it will satisfy most fans, for some players Elden Ring may not replace previous titles for the top spot as it lacks some of the intensity and gothic moodiness that made those games so memorable that. Still, when judged on its own merits, Elden Ring is a wonderful game that fails with very little. It has most of the components fans of the genre are looking for: a stunning aesthetic, a sense of mystery that invites exploration, well-designed and terrifying opponents, and rich gameplay with plenty of replayability thanks to others different classes and builds. Ultimately, Elden Ring is more than just an open-world Dark Souls. It’s powerful in its own right, with tweaks to the classic Souls blueprint creating a refreshingly new experience that still feels familiar. Elden Ring releases for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on February 25, 2022. Today Technology was provided the PS5 code for this review. MORE: FromSoftware Should Make a Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Sequel After Elden Ring

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