I’m now about 30 hours into my first playthrough of Elden Ring and only now feel like I’m in a position to start giving my opinions on the game. I’ve learned a lot during my travels through The Lands Between including countless ways to die. Yet, despite all of the knowledge I’ve gained, I’m still discovering core systems that open up even more options to tinker with.
I’m a Dark Souls veteran, I’ve played all of them plus Sekiro and I love all of them so Elden Ring has some seriously big shoes to fill. The good news is that Elden Ring manages to fill them and then some, this is already my favourite game that FromSoft has made. It’s also important to point out that this is a Dark Souls game. I know that it’s set in a different world with entirely new lore but for intents and purposes, it’s a big Dark Souls.
As you may expect, Elden Ring doesn’t hold your hand in any way, shape or form. After a brief tutorial, you are thrust into the world with only a vague direction to head in. You are literally left to your own devices, you could choose to follow the directions you’ve been given or simply head out into the world.
The open world is vast and full of surprises to discover including hidden caves, random bosses and legacy dungeons to name but a few. This open-world can be both a blessing and a curse. To begin with, I found the open world intimidating and didn’t really know what to do or where to go. It took me hours to get over this feeling but now I find this freedom liberating and actually it helps with the pacing of the game. It’s nice to be able to simply ride around the world collecting resources in relative safety although I’ve still died plenty of times whilst doing this.
Navigating around the world has been made much easier in Elden Ring. Not only do you get access to your mount, Torrent, very early on but the placement of sites of grace, think bonfires, is also very generous. You can fast travel between any grace sites you’ve discovered as long as you’re not in combat and make it very easy to travel vast distances very quickly. You can also level up, charge your flasks and loads of other stuff at these sites.
Combat is hard, as you would expect, but also very rewarding. The game has a habit of making you feel invincible at times as you carve your way through weaker enemies only to put you on your arse as their stronger friend turns up out of the blue. It’s worth trying to kill everything in the game as you never know what they might drop. I’ve also found that special enemy types can be found masquerading as normal mobs.
The choices for playstyle and character customisation are also vast. Broadly speaking you can play as either a caster, a heavy armour/weapon specialist or a light armour/weapon specialist. The reality is vastly different and you can combine any and all of these basic traits to create your own unique playstyle. As I’ve progressed I’ve found my loadout and preferred style changing greatly as I unlock new weapons or pieces of gear.
For those of you who like to get into the lore and mystery of these games, you are also well catered for. There are numerous vague questlines to follow, hidden areas to discover and of course, the mysterious chatter of NPCs is alive and well here helping to flesh out the back story.
So far, so good but I’m afraid there are some downsides too. I’m playing on PC and I’ve been running into multiple issues. Firstly is that the game often won’t launch resulting in multiple reboots in order to get it running. I’ve also found that the game won’t run if anything else is running at the same time which means I haven’t been able to record anything. I’ve also experienced the game freezing on several occasions plus several crashes. My PC is well above the recommended spec so I don’t think it’s an issue with my hardware. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there are fixes in the work for these issues.
Despite these issues I still love the game and encourage anyone who is a fan of the Dark Souls games to give this a try.