The open world of Elden Ring breathes new life into a great series

Elden Ring, one of the biggest new video games of the yearcan also turn out to be one of the most difficult and one of the best.

Why is this important: It’s part of a multimillion-selling series that has left an outsized mark on gaming over the past decade, spawning a subgenre of challenging, atmospheric experiences.

  • It releases Friday on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Ring of Elden develops a style that Tokyo-based studio From Software honed in its Dark Souls and Bloodborne games.

  • It features mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki’s challenging gameplay, obscure storytelling, deep lore, and striking art direction, and, for the first time, combines them with an open, explorable landscape.
  • The game takes place in the Lands Between, shaded by huge trees and cursed by the bursting of the Elden Ring. You play as a once-exiled hero and hunt down the twisted demigods who control the ring’s remaining fragments.
  • ‘Game of Thrones’ creator George RR Martin helped shape the world, though the details are unclear.

Our impressions: After 35 hours, Elden Ring feels like a true successor to the Dark Souls lineage: a macabre medieval masterpiece.

  • The game is huge. There are intensely arresting landscapes and high-level character design, from giant humanoid crows crouching under blood-red skies to majestically armored wolf knights.
  • Of the big changes, the crafting system impressed me the most. In previous Miyazaki games, useful items like throwing knives and firebombs seemed just rare enough to keep me from using them. Crafting these items and the incremental way you learn their recipes feels fair and very clever.
  • The “skills” system is also an attractive new feature, which adds specific and interchangeable weapon maneuvers to combat.

There are other big changes compared to previous From games.

  • Along with the open world and a robust crafting system, there’s a horse-like courier, horse-like courier combat, and a configurable map.
  • And like every other Miyazaki game, there’s a fresh take on combat tactics, weapon tuning, health buffs, and plenty of miscellaneous game settings to tinker with.

Elden Ring will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has spent time with Souls, Bloodborne or Sekiro games.

  • It still has a lot of the same UI elements, sounds, animations, movesets, mechanics, etc., etc., etc.
  • If you didn’t like previous Souls games and are hoping Elden Ring is a departure, you should probably stay away.

Miyazaki games are celebrated, and criticized, for their difficulty, which requires patience, attention and perhaps a touch of masochism. Elden Ring eases some of that pain.

  • Respawn points (called grace sites) are surprisingly plentiful.
  • And the open world encourages frustrated players to explore when they hit that inevitable brick wall of a boss.

Yes, but there is room for improvement:

  • There’s a lot of empty space in this open world, which is beautiful if a little too sterile.
  • Elden Ring has some great music, but the open-world score can quickly feel repetitive.

My biggest criticism is, at times, Elden Ring sacrifices the tight, handcrafted feel of a linear Souls experience in favor of that open-world experience.

The big picture: While it doesn’t deviate hugely from its Souls roots, Elden Ring thrives on well-thought-out mechanics, incredible art direction, and compelling ways to play that breathe new life into one of the most influential series in the game. last decade. You may need to explore a bit further to get there.

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