A few months back, I was working on an article that was to be a little love letter to FromSoftware Souls games. As I was writing, it clearly began to take a turn into starry-eyed fanboyism drowning in flowery praise for the genre, and its creator, the OTHER Miyazaki, Hidetaka. I shelved it, hoping to return at a time when I wasn’t in the middle of emotionally deep play thru number 197, and by the time I got back around to it, Miyazaki and company wrote a love letter to the fans. It’s Elden Ring. Elden Ring is that love. It also hates us and wants us to be better. I love it. Tone. Setting. Here we go.
To the uninitiated, Elden Ring is a large-scale, open-world game from FromSoftware (lol). It is a spiritual successor to the Dark Souls series, which is a spiritual successor to a game called Demon’s Souls, which…goes on. Anyway, the series has been known for its brütal but fair (mostly) combat and exploration, genius-level design (mostly), and deep character customization (most certainly!). The storytelling has a signature brand of its own, with tidbits of lore pieced together through visual clues, item descriptions, and the off NPC conversation. The story is open to interpretation. Miyazaki stated that he was influenced by western fantasy books but would let his imagination fill in the blanks for the parts he couldn’t read. He has used this as inspiration to create a unique user-interpreted narrative style. We fill in the gaps with our own logic.
After much, much, muuuuuch waiting, Elden Ring is finally here. I honestly believe that in ten or fifteen years, they’ll be talking about this one the way they talk about Zelda 64. This is the bar-raising. This is (pun) the new Golden Standard. It’s the first game in a while I think about coming home and playing with that old anticipation, mentally plotting out places I want to go when I play next.
Yes, some parts are Dark Souls hard. Some are harder. Some are classic Souls bullshit. But it’s all captivating. Just when you slow your mount, out of ideas of where to go next, you look, and points of interest appear everywhere you look. It has that quality that people loved about Breath of the Wild. Look around, and you’ll find something worth checking out. There were moments where a fork in a cave or dungeon took me to places that literally dropped my jaw. But, oh, the places you’ll go.
Not to mention, these places look great. FromSoftware doesn’t put out games that graphically capture realism like Ghosts of Tsushima. Instead, they’ve always had a unique graphical style that they use effectively. Armors are engraved with intricate detail, metal shines realistically, the glow of a torch illuminating the dark, the creepy and grotesque faces of enemies…it all looks great and captures the feeling and setting. You can take a screenshot of almost anywhere you are, and it looks like a page out of a tabletop Dungeon Master book.
The gameplay is responsive, and the combat feels as solid and impactful as ever. Taking a little from what they learned with past titles, the gameplay is like a best-of event. You get stealth and a jump button a-la Sekiro, combat pacing from Bloodborne, and the multi-build strategies of the Souls games. Co-op is easy, and hostile players can only invade you during co-op. No more getting ganked by three invaders during your PVE time. Weapons and spells control in various unique ways, and the collection is vast, with many still undiscovered as of this writing. It really is a massive and mysterious world with meaningful discoveries around every corner.
I could get into the equipable weapon arts or the field bosses, or any of the really cool stuff, but I really don’t want to spoil this experience for anyone. Expect the unexpected, and Elden Ring will not let you down. The mount is great. I must say, goat/horse hybrid (Goarse!) is amazing for traversing the Lands Between. His name is Torrent. I love him.
I’ve yet to recommend any game as much as I do with Elden Ring, dear nerds. It is beautiful, and violent, and magnificent, and terrifying, and totally worth your time. So if you like fantasy action, please do yourself a favor and give this one a shot. FromSoftware has created one for the ages.
Screenshots taken via PS5.
Banner image is a screenshot taken via PS5
ELDEN RING, DARK SOULS, BLOODBORNE, AND DEMON’S SOULS are property of Namco Bandai, FromSoftware, and BandaiNamco USA.