Ring Elden | Tarnishing game design [Review] – G-Style Magazine
The Souls genre is pretty much baked into the gaming industry as one of the most prolific things you can experience – a dauntingly difficult game with a tangible balance that rewards players’ time based on their ability. overcome. The core tenets of this genre, such as constructing constructs, challenging boss encounters, exploring layered linear paths riddled with secrets, have all held true for over 10 years; even if the multiplayer was unnecessarily convoluted. The promise with Elden Ring is to give the same experience but with an open world environment filled with tangible content; Pair that with co-op and it should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, right? Luckily, it does – but with some incredibly dodgy caveats that leave me as a gamer dull.
The world enters
Much like its predecessors, the goal of Elden Ring is to have the player explore its world to unlock its secrets as it progresses. The NPCs you encounter will leave subtle clues to the overall plot and keep you guessing whether or not to help them. The dialogue and acting are very familiar to previous Souls games with its shallow tone of disparity; even though it is written by George RR Martin, the plot of Elden Ring bears no resemblance to his writing, like at all; I’m okay with that, I just played the game assuming it just did the world-building aspect of the lore, rather than the pacing. It feels like a Miyazaki game through and through.
You will explore The Land’s Between, a place that faced a catastrophic event where the Elden Ring was destroyed by something or someone – the main source of energy that can “control the stars”; basically, having divine possessions. As Terni, you’re tasked with balancing the world by taking on unimaginable creatures of all scales – it’s a straightforward plot that suits interesting characters well – who are portrayed in entirely ominous ways.
But, as with all Souls games, the plot is hidden through carefully placed dialogue, NPCs and choices, bosses and hidden areas – which, just as the game is designed, aren’t entirely easy to follow. . You’ll roam the land and notice many ancient-looking structures, caverns, and caves with environmental stories – mixed in with gargantuan creatures of all types roaming the world. They are all ready to kill you – because the main precipice of these Souls games is to survive against all. It’s a structure I’ve been all about and comfortable with since the dawn of the genre, but it’s not entirely intuitive for most gamers and feels entirely closed off for those who are keen by gender.
Building craftsmanship at its core
Finally a Souls game where it’s open-world and cooperative! As you explore, you will admire its vast landscapes of decay and wonder. All sorts of enemies roam the fields ready to take your runes – a currency similar to souls. The Lands Between is huge, filled with wonders and items to loot. This time around, crafting plays a huge role in creating consumables, throwables, grease, and more. – you will have to buy or find recipes to craft new things. There are also a ton of materials to gather to forge your weapons, which benefits your game if you want to survive in this world.
Naturally, there are merchants selling region specific items and of course, caverns, caves, temples and ruins to loot for secret weapons, armor sets, magic etc. All of these areas are guarded by mini-bosses, hordes of enemies, or giant mobile structures. And that’s about all Elden Ring needs when it comes to exploration. For the most part, the environment is beautiful to look at, but if nothing really interesting happens, for me, it becomes completely stale, quickly. You find a ruin that leads deep into a cave – expertly crafted by the team, but all you do there is walk a linear path to a boss room and fight a boss, kill it, and to take an object to use. Rinse and repeat 30 more times and you’re done exploring all Lands Between.
In the end, it’s not so bad if you build crafts and play with friends – not all open-world games need to be fancy with environmental puzzles to solve or elements that change the world, but it becomes a problem when cooperation does not. operate in its basic fundamentals; how am i supposed to explore a world with friends where i have to constantly disconnect from my friends instance because every 15 steps there is a wall of fog? Why do we have to redo a dungeon for each of us, to count as a completion for all? Why is this interesting temple far away, blocked by fog and we can’t just walk in? Why do we have to log out, find the location in our world, then be summoned again only to have to start again in 20 minutes? It’s a constant disruption to the experience and one that I will never put up with.
I don’t mind gathering materials to summon people to my world – I wouldn’t mind redoing instances for us all to count towards completion – but blocking us from almost EVERY world element within short distances is equivalent to having 20 midges swarm into your nostrils. It’s frustrating and an uncomfortable experience.
Despite those big gripes, Elden Ring plays like a dream, even adding a mount to explore and a jump button! Except that sometimes it doesn’t play out like a dream. Death is something I came to terms with a long time ago; I’ve been playing Souls games since dawn, getting Platinum trophies on all of them. So when I say that some things are not working, there are fundamental issues that I believe need to be addressed in depth; tracking is much stronger in Elden Ring than any other Souls game – perhaps this is to dampen the freedom to roam past most enemies in the wild, but it gets incredibly frustrating when you know the pattern attack from a boss and you’re ready for it, dodges perfectly but then mid-attack (or lunge) corrects itself to follow you, beautifully – wipes you out in one fell swoop.
Additionally, the speed and grace periods are unnecessarily brutal to the point where enemies don’t stop. The game is already overbearing with its attack patterns and damage, you need to give players a grace period to learn the encounter – otherwise it’s just monotonous, pointless kills for the death count.
Elden Ring follows all the principles of its predecessors; build your character with a base class and go wild with it. You can become a hybrid of them all, or a focus on just one and that’s really the beauty of the genre. However, if you’re focusing on a build, say like Faith for example – all the Faith skills you need to learn are hidden deep in the world. Which forces players to become a force until you find the skills, then you have to respec – which requires a whole host of other bosses to kill and locations to unlock, then get another set of items to then start a respec. Difficult, very time-consuming and unanimously OK by the community.
Despite the game being at its best – there are some major issues that I think need to be ironed out to refine the experience. I simply cannot, in good conscience, agree that Elden Ring is flawless; I shouldn’t have to accept these flawed mechanisms as a “git gud” thing – we shouldn’t fight limitations to overcome obstacles that, if refined, would still be difficult to overcome – but in a functional way.
Often I die because I decided to bask in the beauty of The Lands Between. There are very beautiful landscapes to admire and one that I strongly encourage to explore. The character models are also well done, with quite deep character customization. All monsters and bosses are incredibly rich in design with imagination that FromSoftware should be proud to achieve, even though the mechanics of most of the 80+ bosses are revamped attack patterns – the character designers there need a significant increase.
The interior structures and layouts are equally impressive – it’s fierce fantasy with rich detail that should leave players in awe. I often take a second to look around and marvel at the world design, and I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been jumped into the game for it. It’s brutal, but worth the risk.
The scope is similar to games like The Witcher 3 where it is dense with details like foliage, debris, etc. The problem is that at least on the PS5, game settings would sporadically dip between the 30s and 50s, usually exclusive to open-world exploration – but for the most part stable against a boss.
Elden Ring shines in building crafting preparation for players who dare to take on multiple challenges across The Lands Between; rich in mysterious lore, over 80 monsters to battle, and disturbingly interesting NPCs riddled with secrets, you’ll have plenty to play for a long time. FromSoftware’s shortcomings with its co-op infrastructure, minor performance issues, and a shallow world are a major disappointment and I hope this will be fixed in the future.
REVIEW SCORE: 8.5/10
For more on Elden Ring and more, follow me on Twitter and other social media here.