As frequenters of this blog may know, I wasn’t really a fan of the Soulsborne series until very recently. I’d tried a couple of the games before, but I just didn’t get hooked for whatever reason. After playing through Elden Ring though, that’s changed. Rather than looking at the series passively without much interest, I now find myself ready to dive head-first into From Software’s infamous series. I think I know why that is, too: it’s because Elden Ring is an excellent introduction to these games and what they’re all about.
Of course like all games in this series, Elden Ring can be quite difficult. It could even be called “brutal” when it comes to certain bosses and locations. One has to work in order to make their way forward in The Lands Between just as much as they would in Yharnam or Lordran. There is a key difference here though: one doesn’t have to keep hitting their head against the same wall over and over. If you want to, you can go find a different wall to fight, and I think that makes all the difference.
In previous games like Bloodborne or Dark Souls III, the only choice a player had was to keep running around the same small area in order to level up and hopefully beat that boss that’s been frustrating their efforts. There was no choice but to “git gud” one area and boss at a time. That’s certainly satisfying enough for a lot of people, but it can be (and was for me) quite frustrating.
Even if you start figuring out the boss’ patterns and make progress in the fight, it’s still tiring to keep running through the same area over and over as the losses mount. In other words, the game can become an annoying mix of frustration and boredom, and some people (myself included) aren’t going to stick around for that when there’re so many other games to play.
In Elden Ring, this isn’t the case thanks to the game’s much more open-ended nature. Yes, you still need to “git gud” and beat the boss eventually, but you’re not confined to running through the same small section of map fighting the same groups of enemies. You’re not even necessarily confined to the same equipment. You can go elsewhere; you can find new gear; you can level-up; you can try out new moves and/or tactics, or you can get a new summon or something. In Elden Ring, you can approach the challenge in almost any way you want, and that’s what makes the difference.
Because you can do this, because you can go new places, try new things and constantly progress in some way, that sense of boredom and frustration doesn’t really get a chance to take hold. You’re more willing to keep playing and keep trying, and that in turn enable you to learn how to fight and approach the sorts of challenges Soulsborne games like to throw at their players.
It’s a much more intuitive way to learn how to play these games, and that’s why the likes of Bloodborne and Dark Souls II become much more palatable after playing Elden Ring. They’re a bit more dated in terms of design to be sure, but that addicting challenge is still there, and you no longer have to deal with that steep learning curve. You’ve already learned how to play these games thanks to Elden Ring, so now it’s just a matter of learning each of the other games’ quirks.
If you’re at all considering trying out the Soulsborne series, do yourself a favor an start with Elden Ring if you can. Yeah, it might feel weird to start with the newest game, but it really is the best option for new players. You can learn how it all works with much less frustration and difficulty than you would in all of the other games, which in turn will allow to enjoy these games in a way that helps them to live up to the hype! When you do play Elden Ring though, make sure to level up your Vigor stat, you’re probably going to need it.
Is Elden Ring your first Soulsborne game? Have you tried the others yet? Do you think they feel better to play after playing this one?
Image from the Elden Ring website