Elden Ring – Why’s it so Different?
I find myself going through the same cycle when a From Software game comes out.
Am I suddenly better at these games?
Will this one be easier?
It looks really good.
All the outlets I respect are rating it highly.
Then a few minutes or hours in…
I’m still rubbish.
You can’t pause the game.
I don’t have time to play it.
Can I trade it in yet?
Elden Ring, has the potential to be different and so far, it is.
Casual Gamer Me
For a start, at my age and with my situation, I’ve fully accepted the transition from hardcore to average gamer.
Setting off on another trek through the punishing landscape of a Hidetaka Miyazaki game just doesn’t suit my lifestyle.
I’m speaking from my experiences of the recent, admittedly excellent Demon Souls on PS5.
But, it’s happening anyway, and for whatever reason, I’m happy to be in Elden Ring’s world.
From the first moments, Elden Ring lets you have a bit of success. Of course, this is short-lived, but the expanded character classes, look like they could actually do some damage.
Rather than some weakling heading out into the world, classes like Confessor and Samurai, are actual warriors from the off.
So, as my confessor began his journey, several concessions in the game world revealed themselves.
What’s this? Fast travel between checkpoints? A horse? Space to run away from enemies?
This is wonderful, finally, I can be a useless player, and actually make a bit of progress each time I play.
I can sit for twenty minutes, and struggle my way to the next site of grace, this game’s version of bonfires, and be happy with a bit of progress.
There was a lot made of the addition of Game of Throne’s author, George R.R. Martin, to the design process of Elden Ring, and while you will never know for sure, which elements he had a part in, the game feels more mainstream.
So far, so good.
Some Things Never Change
Of course, this game is still rock hard.
The menus seem designed for you to be killed as you are navigating them, the NPC’s who give you quests are as likely to kill you as help you, and I am still rubbish against bosses.
I didn’t even know I could fast travel and didn’t get my stupid horse until I rested at the first site of grace.
Comparing this to the handholding in Horizon Forbidden West, for example, is jarring.
But despite the overriding danger and secrecy in the world, the simple ability to run away and try somewhere else is the magic here.
Approaching an early castle, you get nailed by a siege machine. Just about surviving, you decide to flank them.
You finally have space and freedom to use your tactics and imagination to overcome areas, that I always felt previously just needed you to get better at the game.
If someone asked me, should they get this game, I’d have no problem recommending it over all the rest of the From Software games.
The open-world setting has completely reset the struggle.
I still will die countless times against bosses, but now, I can fast travel away, and try another approach, without severe penalty.
If you ever wanted to get into one of these games, this is the one to go for.