I finished Elden Ring yesterday, which came as quite a surprise to me. I’ve tried several other souls games but always quit in frustration shortly after or before the first boss. But this time, after seeing everyone else talking about it I decided to give it a try, and it clicked. I surprisingly had a great time playing it and was still enjoying it after ~65 hours.
My usual issue with the Souls games is that I get stressed out from dying and losing my runes. But this time I largely avoided it. You could generally tell when a boss was coming, and when it was spend your “golden runes” to level up and leave yourself with near zero to lose when you fought the boss. Probably this was a thing in the other games too but I just didn’t understand it. I also notably cared less about dying the longer I played— in the start I would cautiously sneak through everywhere, reading messages and checking for enemies. By the time I got to the last dungeon I would just run past everything and rush to the next grace point.
There were a few balance issues. I got to Radahn and he just owned me over and over again. So I looked up strategies and found this cheap way to make him fall off a cliff. I don’t feel too bad since apparently they made him easier shortly after I beat him. Then I did all these underground areas. By the time I got to Atlus Plateau, Volcano Manor and Leyndell, I must have been super overleveled because I just slaughtered everything. But once I got to the snowfield a bit of the challenge returned. Malenia was especially awful. But I respec’ed as someone who gave bleed and it was really easy… (like, defeated in a minute or two?) Then I didn’t have much trouble until the final boss. But I switched back to my sorcerer build and it was fairly trivial with ranged attacks.
I really liked how you could respec yourself to experiment with different styles of play without much consequence. It also felt like there was enough variety in the enemies and options that the gameplay didn’t get stale.
In general I hate “open-world” games. They always get old and repetitive. Probably the best I ever played before Elden Ring was Zelda Breath of the Wild but even that got tiresome after a while and I never finished the game. More typical for me has been the Skyrim experience where the world is open and huge, but on a closer inspection it quickly turns out to be boring and repetitive. Elden Ring was not like that. Every area was completely different with new challenges and felt like it was very carefully made. The closest part to being repetitive were the mini dungeons, but each of those also had a unique design which always tended to surprise me. And of course a different boss at the end of each one. Even by the time I finished the game it still felt like there was more to explore, if I wanted to.
In previous souls games (although I never got very far) I would get stuck on a boss and then get mad and quit. In Elden Ring I could just be “oh, I’ll just do something else and come back later once I level”. This is a much better feeling. I also never had to grind at all.
I couldn’t entirely follow the plot but whatever, that’s probably part of the appeal. (Of course I went for the four-armed waifu ending.)
I am kind of a wuss and it was a bit of a scary game compared to what I usually play, but I loved it. It never felt like the game was giving you body horror just for shits and giggles and to scare you. It all felt very elegant. None of the main bosses felt like monsters although they had some weird bodies— they all had so much pathos.
I highly recommend the game, even if like me you’ve never successfully managed to complete a prior Souls game. Now back to your regularly scheduled anime blogging.