Video Game Review: Elden Ring


Credit: Credit: Courtesy of Bandai Namco

Following the rush and hype of the newly released souls game Elden Ring, join sophomore reporter Ari Zukerman in his review of the game taking the world by storm.

“Elden Ring” is the most hyped up game since the start of the pandemic, winning multiple awards before the game was released. While this made some people skeptical, for hardcore fans of the “Dark Souls” series, the game completely delivered.

“Elden Ring” is built upon Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware’s critically acclaimed game formula which was used for the “Dark Souls” franchise, and has a story written by George R. R. Martin, creator of the fantasy novels behind the “Game of Thrones” TV series. The plot is somewhat generic, consisting of the player collecting pieces of a macguffin known as the Elden Ring, from a group of corrupted demigods. However, “Elden Ring” mixes the story into its free world with completely optional visits to various NPCs, each giving a slice of the vast lore.

“Elden Ring” gives you lots of freedom with how you approach the game and the narrative within. It changes the timings of when you want to approach a certain boss fight or explore to find a new region to even changing the story based off of certain NPCs you talk to, creating an environment similar to the “Dark Souls” games mixed with the freedom of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” or “Genshin Impact.” However, there are no quest markers for you to follow an NPC with.

Alongside all that, the content and expanse of the playable area of the newest FromSoftware title is far beyond the open world of many other games and is definitely the largest of any souls-like. The game revolves more around exploration of open terrain compared to the linear approach of the “Dark Souls” series and adds many new features to better the larger experience, such as a mount known as Torrent the Spirit Steed, additionally adding to combat by creating epic horse-on-horse combat scenarios.. The Sites of Grace, however, still remain similar to bonfires from “Dark Souls 3”, allowing you to reset the map as well as your character’s health/flask of crimson tears (health potions). However, unlike Dark Souls, you can now level up at any Site of Grace across the map.

The arsenal and class system feel like a clone of what “Dark Souls 3” had, albeit with a few changes. The 10 total classes stay in “Elden Ring”, some feeling closer to complete copy-pastes from “Dark Souls 3” whereas others are more unique. The weapon choice keeps items that could be considered staples across the combat RPG genre such as different swords, longswords, and bows as well as adding weapons unique to the “Elden Ring” universe; however FromSoftware removed a few staples from their previous classics.

The biggest new feature in terms of items and consumables is probably the crafting system. Once you purchase the crafting kit, you can create many vital items, from items that can heal your steed to items that can charge your sword with lightning anywhere across the game.

The defining feature of any souls-like game is the combat, which is FromSoftware’s entire legacy. “Elden Ring,” in this respect, is built upon its predecessors with combat based on precise combinations of moves, no matter how menial the enemy may initially seem. Beating a boss first try is extremely difficult and learning their move-sets and attack patterns is an arduous task. The formula has both some positives and drawbacks, depending on how you play the game and your mindset approaching it.

For one, combat can be extremely satisfying when you complete a fight correctly. Completing a bossfight after trying it for hours on end is one of the greatest feelings in a video game (beating the first boss in “Dark Souls 3” is one of my favorite moments across all the games I’ve played), and so is learning the combat system.

However, that also means that the combat can sometimes be frustrating beyond belief, especially if you don’t know what you’re signing up for when you play it. The game never holds your hand nor gives you a real tutorial and instead throws you into the vast world with a boss at the start that is near impossible for those who never played a “Dark Souls” game before. Spamming will be punished heavily because if you press the quick attack button six times, you are forced to attack six times and stay vulnerable for the time it takes to do that. The stamina system, too, restricts your actions, making the game increasingly difficult..

Despite how similar the combat in “Elden Ring” is to the FromSoftware souls-like formula, it still has many aspects that change the game compared to its predecessors. Compared to previous Souls games, the weapons have larger move sets due to greater freedom within stancing, as well as running strong attacks. Weapons now also have longer combos to string together, as well as horseback combat and jumping changing the game.

With the supplementary aspects, such as the soundtrack and graphics, opinions vary heavily from person to person. The soundtrack follows an intense, classical tune, with the boss fights adding extra layers in order to create a chaotic sound. The graphics are beautiful, with unique creatures and environment design. However, playing this game on high settings is not for those with a weak computer or a console, as the game is poorly optimized and does not run well at all.

“Elden Ring” is not for everyone, but if you like games that depend on mechanical difficulty, then the game is extremely enjoyable. The world’s great expanse of unique bosses and challenges expands on everything it’s predecessors had in the past with extra quality-of-life changes to fit the larger world. I’d give the game a 9 out of 10 due to its great gameplay and vast environment.