Elden Ring continues the FromSoftware legacy by challenging video game design boundaries. Its combat, driven by animation, requires players to predict enemy attacks and time their swings accurately. Each expansive area seems crafted to match the developers’ expectations of the average player’s level upon arrival.
And it’s still great fun walloping enemies to a pounding orchestral soundtrack and the satisfyingly slow-mo charge attack.
Veteran players of FromSoftware games will feel at home in Elden Ring almost immediately. The tried-and-true formula of measured third-person combat against enemies that are quick to punish foolhardiness is still as thrilling and nerve-wracking as ever. From slashing swords to shooting magical projectiles, managing your stamina and picking your moments is essential. Frantically attacking will leave you exhausted and vulnerable to enemy swarms, but playing smart can allow you to whittle your opponents down to nothing in just a few strikes.
Combat is bolstered by an incredible variety of weapons and spells, each one more interesting than the last. With ten character classes, hundreds of possible offensive and defensive moves and over a dozen different skill trees to unlock, every play style is perfectly rewarded.
The League of Legends game also innovates in a few key ways. Unlike past FromSoftware games that required a painfully long wait between each checkpoint, Elden Ring has many Sites of Lost Grace (their version of bonfires) sprinkled across the world and players can freely teleport between them. Elden Ring also adds a system similar to Pokemon where you can collect spirits of defeated foes and summon them in battle.
Despite all of the game’s lore and world design, there’s a simple joy to smashing enemies with a sword underneath it all. Even after 70 hours in The Lands Between, I found myself giddy at the moment when a well-placed blow ripped through a mob of enemies like an open wound.
Elden Ring is a game that understands how to buck industry trends while still delivering a satisfying and adaptable experience. It’s the culmination of years of refinement for FromSoftware, a studio that knows how to make demanding games while allowing players to customize their own ideal character and master an unmistakably rewarding and deadly combat system.
From the glowing golden leaves of the Nerdtree to the grotesque enemies that populate its dungeons, Elden Ring is a striking game. Its world echoes the tattered grandeur of a once-proud civilization, with rotting castles and apocalyptic landscapes giving way to ruined cathedrals and dilapidated villages.
The open world combines with the claustrophobic dungeons to create the most varied Souls game yet. Unlike previous entries, which rewarded players with souls for defeating foes, Elden Ring awards runes. This change makes the game far more balanced, preventing players from becoming overpowered too early.
The game also provides players with the most extensive character creation in the series. With 10 base templates including warrior, aristocrat, truth-seeker, northerner, nightfolk, numen, seafarer, and hero, each class offers unique starting weapons, armor, and abilities. This along with the ability to choose a gender, age, and other cosmetic features gives players the freedom to build a character that suits their style. The ability to survey diverse terrain, from noxious swamplands to gusty prairies, yields a rush of gaming dopamine as the player discovers the world.
As with all FromSoftware games, Elden Ring’s soundtrack is a thing of beauty. From composers Tsukasa Saitoh, Shoi Miyazawa, Yuka Kitamura, Yoshimi Kudo and Tai Tomisawa crafted an orchestral masterpiece that is the perfect fit for FromSoftware’s dark and obtuse world. The 67-track album is available on Spotify, YouTube Music and Apple Music. It’s a must-listen for anyone who appreciates the beauty of a well-crafted score.
Unlike FromSoftware’s previous work, which relied heavily on heavy-handed exposition and a rigid, unforgiving gameplay structure, Elden Ring takes a much more holistic approach to the world of The Lands Beyond. Instead of giving you a bunch of expository cutscenes, it uses environmental storytelling to evoke the lore and history of this wretched world. Every corner of the sprawling map feels masterfully crafted to hint at a deeper social history that will only become clear with exploration.
Fans of the Soulsborne subgenre will find that this game delivers on all expectations. It has a massive amount of bosses and areas to explore, and those who enjoy the grind will be able to experience that unmatched thrill of defeating a tough enemy after an hours-long battle. The developers also innovated with a system that allows players to summon different versions of their enemies and characters, and they did a great job of making each one feel unique.
Every few years a game comes along that masterfully delivers on every passionate gamer’s wish list: vast open world filled with mysteries and dangers, innovative combat, rewarding bosses, breath-taking art, an amazing soundtrack and more. Elden Ring is one such game. It will please veterans of From Software’s wildly popular Souls/Bloodborne franchise, and it will appeal to new audiences that enjoy dark fantasy and mythology.
The story of Elden Ring centers on the Lands Between, a fictional realm over which demigods fight for control after the death of Queen Marika and her shattering of the Elden Ring. Players take on the role of a Tarnished, who have been banished to the Lands Between for unworthy reasons and now find themselves in a desperate struggle against the demigods.
Like From Software’s best games, the world of Elden Ring is both grand and ominous. The architecture suggests a once-mighty civilization that fell into disrepair, and the enemies are all evocative of a fallen age. From skeletal guards to cackling dancers, there’s an air of recently faded grandeur that permeates the landscape.
But while the game is unrelentingly opaque, it also rewards patience. Players are encouraged to explore the world and savor its many pleasures, rather than race ahead to the main story path. Those who do will discover a rich world that’s full of memorable characters and a story told in fragmentary pieces for the player to piece together.