Every new piece of information about Elden Ring made me feel like I was waiting an eternity for you, and my expectations skyrocketed with each new piece of information. As a result, Elden Ring not only met and exceeded those ever-increasing expectations, but it also went above and beyond to become quite possibly the best game FromSoftware has produced since Dark Souls.
Elden Ring can be broadly classified as a “Souls” game because it was developed by FromSoftware, the same company that created the Dark Souls series. While the core of Elden Ring is similar to that of the Dark Souls series that came before it, the game’s scope has expanded significantly beyond that of any previous game in the series. When it comes to combat, Elden Ring builds on and refines the combat seen in Dark Souls 3 and its predecessors. While the core gameplay remains largely unchanged, with a few tweaks to make it more fluid, there are some interesting new mechanics and cheap Elden Ring runes introduced.
You begin your Elden Ring journey as a “Tarnished,” a being guided by grace on your journey to becoming an Elden Lord. As expected, you’ll be able to customize your Tarnished using the same character creation interface that you’ve become accustomed to from games like Dark Souls 3 and Bloodbourne. The options for classes are diverse, but they will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has previously played a Souls game. Some new starter classes have been added to the traditional options available from the previous series, and they are all quite interesting.
The Lands Between is introduced to you by Elden Ring, and the world opens up completely from this point on. The realization that everything beyond the horizon is explorable has always been a part of Dark Souls, but it has always been accompanied by a semi-linear path to get there until now. Elden Ring is not a linear experience; in fact, it is an open-world Souls game, which may seem unbelievable at first glance.
Elden Ring’s exploration represents the pinnacle of open-world exploration. A great feeling comes from riding Torrent through the Lands Between on his horse, Torrent. The controls are responsive, and Torrent has the ability to double jump! Many games have attempted to make horse-based traversal engaging, but none have succeeded in doing so as successfully as XBOX Elden Ring Runes. In a matter of seconds, you can zip across vast landscapes, jump on ancient delipidated ruins, and mow down enemies as you pass them on highways.
Furthermore, the Lands Between is teeming with haunting life, mysterious dungeons, and surprise bosses, making it a must-visit location. One never gets the impression that one has seen everything there is to see. With Sites of Grace (Elden Ring’s bonfires) strategically placed throughout the map, it’s a pleasant experience going back to a location or boss you had intended to visit later. There’s even an entire underground world to explore that’s both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
One of the most memorable aspects of the Souls series was your interactions with non-player characters (NPCs) who either had their own subplot or were directly tied into the story. Could Elden Ring still tell those tight-knit, linear stories in an open world while maintaining his integrity? It performs admirably in this regard. There are a large number of NPCs scattered throughout the Lands Between, and many of them have questlines that will take you to new locations and provide additional information about the world.
Guard Counter is one of the new mechanics, and it happens to be my favorite to introduce to the game. It’s essentially a party that doesn’t require any timing. You have the ability to block an attack and then retaliate with your heavy attack to deal significant stance damage. Every adversary has a stance or posture that can be exploited and defeated. When this occurs, you can respond with a riposte that causes some serious major damage, which is extremely satisfying.
Jumping is yet another new combat/traversal mechanic in the game. Jumping, in contrast to the previous Souls games, is controlled by a dedicated button that does not require a run-up. As well as for exploration and some really clever dungeon puzzles, it can be used in combat situations as well. You can perform some extremely impressive jump attacks that deal a significant amount of stance damage. A viable strategy is to use aerial maneuvers to dodge low-level enemy attacks while simultaneously dealing heavy damage from the sky.
Elden Ring now has the ability to operate in the shadows. While this game is based on the stealth mechanics used in Sekiro, it is not as heavily emphasized as it is in that game. Stealth is extremely useful in getting the better of the AI, which is admittedly nearsighted, and it can result in some devastating backstab damage. Despite the fact that it is not always used, it does not feel tacked on and is in keeping with the way castles and camps are approached and designed.
Spirit summoning is yet another novel, but divisive, a mechanic in the game. While the cheap Elden Ring items retain the ability to summon NPCs and other players to assist you in boss battles, spirits are friendly summons of a variety of NPCs and even enemy units to aid you in battle. These companions fight alongside you against bosses, in dungeons, and in other areas where it is permitted (although it is sometimes restricted in some areas). This does make some bosses’ jobs a little easier, but in my opinion, this is a positive development. It is an accessibility feature for those who require an extra helping hand; however, there is no requirement to use it. Onboarding non-souls players into the experience are made significantly easier as a result of this addition.