Preview of ‘Elden Ring: A Big, Open-World Game that Requires Discipline
We are just two weeks away from Elden Ring’s release. In preparation, Bandai Namco invited GAMINGbible for a brief preview on PC. As a glutton for punishment, my eagerness to explore the Lands Between was fueled by the possibility of a FromSoftware-George R.R. collaboration. Martin has to share.
This is clearly more Dark Souls than Bloodborne and Sekiro. It’s a continuation of Dark Souls 3 with an appealing fantasy aesthetic and heavy combat mechanics. However, it has a greater sense of fluidity and is likely more suitable for many playstyles.
You have a variety of classes that you can choose from to make your Tarnished character. Each class has different stat values, so you can choose the one that suits your style. However, the Prisoner was my choice because it is clearly a Berserk-related character. I play these games mainly because of Hidetaka Miyazaki’s affection for Kentaro Miura’s work.
We begin with a brief tutorial section, and soon we are in Elden Ring’s open world. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful game FromSoftware has ever made. It’s easy to feel both excited and amazed by the feeling of adventure as the translucent, gold Erdtree towers above an expansive horizon.
Players who participated in the beta know that the land opens up once you have your mount. The ethereal creature can carry you to new places quickly and can even jump from designated areas to clear mountains. Although I was far from where I started, the in-game map had many more secrets to reveal.
This sense of adventure is severely impeded by the many deadly enemies that live in the Lands Between. You can be stopped by the many enemies of Elden Ring, who are happy to stop you from exploring. They have all kinds of lethal attack options that will make it difficult to continue your exploration. This is particularly true for the many bosses and sub-bosses who patrol the open world.
Your mount allows you to run away from danger when you see it. While not every battle can be won, it is possible to speed off and avoid the Tarnished-hunting giants that lurk in the distance. This is a mistake.
You will need to be disciplined to excel in Elden Ring. Although the option to escape is welcome, especially when you’re mapping new areas, it doesn’t make you stronger. Killing bosses grant runes (the currency used to level up), but it also teaches you the best way to play the game.
It’s better to take your time exploring and then eliminate as many enemies as possible. These titanic foes can be defeated with great rewards, so get your feet on the ground and go for it. You will need to be able to retreat tactically from time to time, but you must not avoid challenges or suffer the consequences.
You don’t have to fight in Elden Ring. Stormveil Castle is the first legacy dungeon in the game. There are two ways to get into it. The first is to walk through the main gate and say “come at moi” to all the bad guys. You can also take a less visible route and traverse quieter, more enclosed paths.
You will eventually face the same bosses in your area, no matter which option you choose. So, it is possible to argue that these alternative paths are not worth the effort. However, I found it easier to learn an area by fighting smaller numbers.
There is still much Elden Ring to see, and six hours of preview didn’t seem like enough time to get the basics down. I was able to defeat several bosses and meet interesting NPCs. I also died a lot, had questions about my existence, and found many different locations.
Elden Ring is a great example of previous FromSoftware titles’ influence on it. There are also hints of other FromSoftware games, such as a plague-ridden area that reminds me of Bloodborne (which is something I cannot stop thinking about), ending animations that invoke Sekiro Shadows Die Twice, Stormveil Castle, which feels like a miniature Demon’s Souls remake.
This is an indication of Elden Ring’s ambition. Add the 30 hours required to complete the main quest, and you have a game that could dominate your time for most of 2022. It’s hard to decide if I should be happy or scared of this.