Exploration, Death and Vengeance in Elden Ring

Last week, I talked a bit about having mostly missed out on the Soulsborne games and how I was thinking about rectifying that with Elden Ring. Well, I decided to go forward with it and picked up Elden Ring over the weekend. So far, it’s been an interesting experience, much more so than I was expecting. I’m actually enjoying the open-world exploration aspect of it, another surprise considering that I really don’t like that sort of game usually. Perhaps it’s the fact that there’re actually interesting things to find in this world, or maybe it’s that the famous Soulsborne difficulty actually adds something that’s sorely missing from other games employing this format. There’s actual stakes to wandering The Lands Between, and it when one miscalculates that things get the most interesting.

So far, think I’ve only put in around two or three hours into the game, almost nothing compared to several of my friends. Seriously, it seems like everyone I know has been binging this game nonstop since it came out. I guess you could say it’s a testament to how good Elden Ring is, and I kind of wish that I was still capable of doing the same. Even so, I’ve certainly enjoyed my three hours even though most of it was was spent plotting sweet revenge against a certain annoying knight and a giant troll-like monster. See, I had a mind to mostly stick to the “main” path in the beginning. I wanted to learn the ropes of this game, and I figured that the challenges would be scaled appropriately. That assumption was, somehow, both correct and incorrect.

See, the enemies standing between me and the next location were fairly easy to contend with so long as they didn’t group up. After dying a couple of time to group attacks, I learned that stealth was my friend and started approaching the first problem encampment with a mind toward picking each enemy off one or two at a time. This worked for the most part, but then I tried taking out the leader, and that went poorly. The leader was a class above the others and couldn’t be dispatched by a single backstab. So, I’d try to fight ’em, get killed, see the camp reset and then would have to go about picking it apart over and over again. I actually got pretty darn efficient at dealing with all of the underlings. Taking out that leader just wasn’t happening though.

So, after trying direct confrontation several times and getting angrier with each successive failure, I changed tactics. I cleared out the camp like before, snuck in for a backstab, then bolted away on the horse and hid. I then set-up another backstab and then a third and finally took the jerk out after something like eight attempts. It felt so good to finally deal with this strong enemy that I immediately proceeded through a nearby castle gate thinking that I could finally move closer to the next objective. That turned out to be a mistake: upon entering the gate, I got shot by several archers and crushed by a giant troll wielding a massive sword. Needless to say, I had a new target to direct my ire at, and the cycle began again.

I eventually took out the troll, the archers, and all their buddies waiting in ambush too. I had learned from my experience with that one enemy camp, and I was now able to deal with this kind of challenge. I had grown in the game, and I was able to actually see it. Perhaps this is the real appeal of Elden Ring and the other Soulsborne games: the satisfaction of actually “gitting gud.” Well, I guess I’m down for it now. I’m also liking this feeling of having to conquer my way across the open map rather than just wander. It’s like I actually have to put something in in order to do it, and I’m actually getting rewarded for the effort. The locations being actually interesting and worth visiting definitely helps too. Needless to say, I’m certainly going to be putting more time into this one.

Have you played Elden Ring yet? How do you feel about it? Got any interesting stories to share? Let me know below!

Image from the Elden Ring promotional website

One Comment

  1. Matt says:

    Yeah, tackling two or more enemies at once in Souls games is a recipe for death! It’s almost always necessary to pick them out one by one.

    I am glad you are having fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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