Elden Ring – just how good is it? (pic: Bandai Namco)
A reader gives his verdict on Elden Ring, after spending 60 hours completing the game, and explains why he doesn’t think it’s one of From’s best.
Well, I know there has been a lot written about Elden Ring, but what is one more to the pile? I’m writing in because I have finally finished Elden Ring. I think I’d summarise it as eight parts absolutely brilliant and two parts thank god I am done with it.
I have mixed feelings about the game, it’s clearly brilliant and will be a strong contender for Game of the Year. The bosses were such a standout for me, I’ll remember a lot of them very fondly. Some for their incredibly interesting designs (Godrick and his arms; Rykard’s bizarre nature is just an incredible feat of imagination, Radahn and his hilariously tiny horse, and the boss fight with all those summons will all be happy memories).
Some I will remember not so fondly, particularly the repeated bosses which I began to resent as just a bit of a waste of my time. The first couple of times you fight one of those wyrm lizard things, fine… by the time you get to the fourth or fifth… I was reaching for the non-existent fast forward button. There is quite a lot of repeated content throughout the game, and I put it to everyone if you have stepped into one cave, you’ve stepped into them all.
Discovering said caves or catacombs is another thing I started to resent. I resented it because the game is massive (too big for my tastes) and I got this torn feeling on discovery. I felt like I should explore, because there might be some great talisman or weapon to be found, but then I also knew it would be the exact thing I’ve done 10 times already in 10 other nigh identical caves. (Where is the factory that made all of those identical sheds you find in the caves by the way? I was sure I was going to stumble upon a B&Q at some point).
The gameplay loop remains as compelling as ever and the flexibility of potential builds is probably more generous than ever, with so many different viable options it seems like there really is something to suit all play styles. I’ve seen videos of people who look and fight so differently to my character it’s hard to believe it is the same game.
FromSoftware games are, for me, the pinnacle of the action genre, and Elden Ring’s horseback action has expanded the formula in a meaningful way, with yet another layer added to the system. It’s great and I took every possible chance to ride and chop away with my Golden Halberd. The moment-to-moment gameplay is great.
The areas where Elden Ring starts to more resemble a Dark Souls game were also a big highlight for me. Stormveil Castle was, I thought at the time, magnificent, but it pales in comparison to the majesty of discovering, exploring, dying and retrying in the Capital – what a wonder that place is.
Walking through the ramparts and seeing the stone dragon wrapped around the architecture of the city – a wow moment if ever there was one. The sprawl of the city and its many nooks and crannies are what I love the most about Souls games. I did miss, throughout the game, the joy of discovering locked doors or shortcuts, but it is in these more traditional Souls areas where that particular aspect of gameplay returned, and I loved it.
That said, as compelling as it is, towards the end of my 60-hour playthrough I was willing for the end to come. I skipped a lot of the late optional areas (I will have to make do with watching videos of the guy with the jug on his head beating Malenia) because I just wanted to finish. With little narrative to keep you compelled to the end, even the best-in-class action started to outstay its welcome 50+ hours in for me.
I know this is personal taste, because I’ve seen plenty of letters saying they spent 50 hours in Limgrave alone. How people find all this time to play games, I can only envy. How they play quite so inefficiently, I do not envy. As for me, it’s consumed my gaming life for six weeks and I am both delighted I played such a brilliantly epic game, and equally delighted to move on.
Finally, I can’t write a letter without touching on everyone’s favourite subjects of difficulty, and where it sits in the From pantheon. As for difficulty, I found it surprisingly forgiving and straightforward – for the most part. There are so many options to help you through each encounter.
I play offline so anytime I struggled I summoned a Spirit Ash and them taking away the focus of the boss allows you to get so much damage in. I feel like most bosses become a doddle if you summon both a Spirit Ash and have a multiplayer character to help you out too, although I have no first-hand experience on that front. [You can’t summon Spirit Ashes while in co-op – GC]
The difficulty only really bit for me on the last few areas, particularly the last few story bosses, which is absolutely as it should be and a welcome wall to butt my head against for an hour or two. Maliketh, in particular, I wasn’t sure whether I would beat or not, but a quick google followed by a respec so I didn’t get one-shotted and I was… well, I was still struggling but I managed it once and that’s all you need, one good run! Maliketh 15-1 Tarnished but, somehow, I am the winner.
This was also, very funnily I thought, how my first attempt went at the final boss:
So finally, is it one of the greatest games ever? For me, it’s not even in the conversation. Not because it isn’t brilliant, it absolutely is. But personally I don’t think it’s even the best game From have made so it wouldn’t make any of my best game ever lists. (Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Bloodborne, and Dark Souls 3 are still my top 3 From games if you’re wondering). But did I love it – yes, I absolutely did. It was a blast and a truly epic game. But did I also hate it… a bit? Yeah, I kinda did.
Score : 9/10
Pros: Compelling action as always, imaginative designs unlike much else in gaming
Cons: Too big. Particularly the repeated bosses and areas
Playtime: 59 hours
By reader Henshin Agogo
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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