Okay, so last week at this time I had only just gotten my feet wet with Elden Ring. I still wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I was more or less enjoying it. I was starting to see the appeal even as I struggled my way up to the first major location of the game. As of today though, I’m 44 hours in and am fully convinced of both Elden Ring and From Software’s greatness. If this had launched last year, it could very well have been the capstone of a generation. As it is now, it’s perhaps the kickoff to a new set of consoles that I’ve seen in a very long time! This is a modern day masterpiece, and I’m so glad I decided to give it a try!
I’ve already talked about why I stayed away from previous Soulsborne games a couple times already, so I won’t get too into that here. Suffice it to say, their fearsome reputations combined with plentiful alternatives pretty much kept me from taking the plunge. I’ve also never liked open-world games all that much, because they almost always wind up being some combination of repetitive, empty and boring. While Elden Ring absolutely has that classic Dark Souls difficulty, it suffers from exactly none of the usual open world pitfalls. This world is so far away from empty and boring that I can’t help but marvel at what From Software has accomplished here. It’s all of the open expanse and freedom of an open world WITH the sort of intentional design that typically makes more linear games so much more fun and memorable. It’s everything we all thought open world games could and should be, and it’s absolutely going to be the standard against which all future entries in the genre are going to be measured. In other words, Elden Ring is a literal game-changer!
Let’s see, I could just gush about this game, but I don’t think that would be very interesting. Instead, let me tell you about my most recent session in the game. So, I log in and immediately got an message from my friend saying that he’d found a cave. “Where’s it at?”, I said. He sent me a screenshot, allowing me to pick my way there, and it wasn’t long until I got summoned into his world for some exploring! In the cave we found the usual tallies of items and enemies, with some member of the latter group being a bit stronger than expected. (My guy got tomahawk-slammed into the ground out of nowhere!). But, there was something special about this dungeon. Someone had left a suspicious message in front of a wall, and low and behold that wall was an illusion! Behind it we found a secret boss which tied into a previously undiscovered side-quest!
After that we were planning on heading to one of the major locations, but he had some things to take care of irl first. So, I just wandered around one of the warp points for a minute, thinking I’d just farm some enemies for some experience. However, I wound up stumbling on another point of interest, which we then had to explore thoroughly before proceeding. This one had interesting stuff going on too, with several hidden walls and a cool gimmick boss!
This pattern kept repeating, and thus it wasn’t until a couple of hours later that we finally got back to our original plan. The majority of my experience with Elden Ring has been like this: constantly finding interesting things to explore while marveling at it all with my buddy. We’re not even close to finished yet either! There’s a whole other region that’s yet to be explored, and I can’t wait! I now understand why people love these games so much, and it’s amazing that From Software managed to adapt its formula to this kind of setting! I wonder if I should go back and try the other games now…
Have you been playing Elden Ring? What kinds of stories have you made as a Tarnished? Care to share them here?
Image from the Elden Ring promotional website