Elden Ring A Final Review of The Game That Fully Justifies Its Ratings
It’s easy to spend more than a hundred hours to complete Elden Ring – this is From Software’s biggest game, which can challenge even veterans of the Souls series. And the point is not only that the game world is huge: at each location, there is always something that will distract you from exploring the area for an hour or two, and those who want to inspect every stone and look into every crack are at risk of dying from exhaustion.
Martin and Miyazaki managed to create a harmonious game
What’s going on in the Interearth, and why did the game need Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin? The plot is as follows: in a state called the Inter-earth, peace, and tranquility reigned, supported by the forces of the Golden Order. The goddess Marika had the Eternal rules in the kingdom, and her strength was based on the power of the Ring of Elden and the huge Tree of Erd, which bestowed grace on the lands around. Grace in the form of golden light descended on everyone, both poor and rich, and any person could see that his interlocutor was as blessed as himself. True, there were also those who lost their grace – such people were called the Extinguished and were expelled from Interearth. However, the destruction of the Ring of Elden changed the world order.
Between the descendants of Marika, demigod heroes, a monstrous war broke out, known as the Sundering. The once peaceful and prosperous lands were devastated, and the heroes themselves, who took possession of the fragments of the Ring, called the Great Runes, went crazy because of their power.
The protagonist of the game is one of the Extinguished people, who, after the Schism, was called to the Interearth by the once lost grace. Feeling the call, the hero returns to his native land to try to get the power of the Ring of Elden and become the lord of the Interearth. It is worth noting that he is not alone on this path – in the country you can find many Extinguished Ones who themselves are looking for an opportunity to take possession of the Great Runes. Someone offers cooperation, someone is looking for only conflict – you can ignore the first and destroy the second at the first opportunity, or you can be more reasonable. Moreover, you can get good rewards for it!
The plot in Elden Ring is served in portions – just like in other games from From. NPCs like to keep it dark, they only say the most important things and hide their true goals until the last moment, and a few cutscenes are usually shown before the battle with one or another boss.
If you were hoping that in Elden Ring the plot would be closer to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, then I have to disappoint you. The story is told in much the same way as in the Souls games, and the only real difference is that here you have a little more specificity.
If an NPC asks you to take the potion to another NPC, he will make sure to give the NPC’s name instead of describing his appearance. If he needs a needle, he will clearly show you where to look for it. Of course, there are enough moments in the game when the characters let in fog and then look for them in some unknown place, but this is already a convention of the genre.
Why does this game need Martin? The honest answer is hard to say. The hand of the writer is felt in the prehistory of the world and a number of bosses, but Hidetaka Miyazaki himself was definitely responsible for the plot. He also brought to mind the biographies of bosses invented by Martin, turning them from legendary heroes into madmen and monsters.
In the story itself, both Martin and Miyazaki’s own ideas and various mythologies, including Scandinavian, are closely intertwined. The influence of the latter on the Interearth is clearly visible: fire giants, on which the gods went to war, and runes, Valkyries flash in the plot (and in the gameplay too). True, calling Elden Ring a game based on the Scandinavian sagas will not come out with all the desire – there are certain details, but no more. But what is more than enough in the game is branded Japanese megalomania and madness – in a good way, of course.
Gigantomastia From Software has reached a new level
The fact that Miyazaki and his team have a craving for huge objects, whether they are creatures or buildings, is already well known to everyone – but in Elden, Ring megalomania has reached an unprecedented level. And now we are not even talking about the scale of the map, but about the locations scattered across it. If the castle – then certainly majestic and immense. If the academy of magic is such that Hogwarts from Harry Potter looks like a poor relative against its background. A huge lift connecting the lowlands and the plateau with the capital of the Inter-earth could take the entire nearby village up at once – and not lightly, but with carts and trunks on their shoulders. And there would still be room.
It all looks amazing. The local landscapes are beautiful, you want to stand and look at them, and it doesn’t matter what you are looking at – at a huge lake covered with fog, at the majestic spires of the capital, or at the mysterious ruins hidden in the depths of the earth. Moreover, the game always finds how to surprise you – at the eightieth hour, I was sure that I had already seen everything, and then open access to two more locations, where I again had to pick up my jaw from the floor.
After beating the game, it becomes clear why, after the announcement, From was silent for two years and did not release promotional materials – they were working on the game. We did everything possible to make the locations memorable so that the players would be interested in exploring them so that they could be discussed. And the authors succeeded: as soon as you turn off the path somewhere into the forest, you will surely notice something interesting nearby, decide to go explore, get stuck there for a while, and then go to a completely new place, completely forgetting that where they originally intended.
For example, almost at the very beginning of the game, you can get into locations where even well-pumped players will have a hard time: you, of course, can run away and try your luck sometime later … or you can take a chance and try to explore these places in the hope that you can enjoy something useful. Software skillfully manipulates the feelings of the players – their curiosity, greed, and self-confidence, and does it in a way that has never been done before.
Battles make you give your best
Elden Ring is based on two pillars – an exploration of locations that make you forget about sleep, food, and work; and battles that require total dedication. Even if we are talking about ordinary opponents.
The battles are very reminiscent of Dark Souls: the enemies are strong and able to kill you with a few hits, so you always need to be on your guard. Fortunately, in Elden Ring, you have much more opportunities to survive in battle. In addition to the usual blocks, parries, and dodges, the authors have added jumps with which you can quickly get into previously inaccessible areas, as well as the ability to counterattack after a block – useful for those players who do not parry well and prefer to play with a shield. And the authors also introduced stealth straight from Sekrio into the game – your hero can sneak, which makes it harder to detect. Helps!
It would be useful to recall a number of other features: for example, we now have only two schools of magic, miracles, and spells. Pyromancy is “inscribed” into miracles here, wizards have access to gravity magic – lovers of playing from ranged combat will have something to look at.
The ability to change skills in weapons adds variety: a mechanic called “Ashes of War” was shown in a network test, and it works very simply. You pick up your sword, choose a skill you’re interested in, then decide whether it’s a regular sword, focusing on the hero’s strength or agility, dealing holy damage, or causing bleeding, and save the item. There are, however, nuances – one skill can only be installed in one weapon (but skills can be cloned!), And in special weapons, like items from bosses, a new skill cannot be installed at all. However, even with such limitations, there are a lot of opportunities for customization.
When it comes to head-to-head collisions, From Software has tweaked a familiar formula a bit. For example, hitboxes are no longer the size of a five-story building, and if a spear passes a couple of centimeters from your face, then it most likely will not cause damage. It is a pleasure to watch how, after a somersault from a special attack, the hero lands in such a way as to dodge a sweeping enemy blow.
The open world provides additional opportunities – in addition to the ability to quietly bypass enemy patrols, you have the option to run away to hell if you smell fried. Your steed Potok makes such maneuvers even easier – whistled, jumped up, galloped away.
But ordinary monsters, of course, are not the most interesting. Bosses are what many people generally launch From games for, and here the developers did not let us down. There are not so many plot opponents in Interearth, but almost all of them are unique, deadly, and interesting.
Some of the bosses turned out to be extremely unusual: for example, the battle with one of these, General Radan, takes place on a huge beach dotted with broken armor and rusty weapons. The peculiarity of the fight is that you can call up to six NPCs to it – and even if they fall, you can call them again! I will not tell you what Radan himself does, but I assure you that you will not be disappointed.
The approach to bosses in Elden Ring, by the way, is reminiscent of some jRPGs (Japanese RPGs) – the game has several optional bosses, the complexity of which is many times greater than that of story opponents. Meeting with each such is an event (they are all hidden in secluded corners of the world), and I assure you that not a single such enemy will leave you indifferent. While fighting one of these bosses, I even began to think that in my personal list of the most difficult opponents in Souls games, it is worth making a small rearrangement, moving all existing positions down.
Verdict: A delightful Souls-like game that constantly surprises
One hundred hours later, we can safely say that Elden Ring is the highest point in the development of Souls-like games, competently mixing a formula familiar for ten years and a world open for exploration, in which it is easy to get lost. It turned out not without rough edges, of course: some moments could be done a little better, and the reuse of bosses is frankly frustrating. But all the key aspects of the game are made at a level to which all other representatives of the genre will grow for a long time.
Elden Ring does not hesitate to challenge players, both in terms of battles and in terms of puzzles – there are a lot of them scattered across the Interearth, and trying to solve them all will keep you busy for a long time. After the network test, one could assume that the game would be simpler than other From Software projects, but in fact, nothing like that: in places it makes you grind your teeth in a way that no other part of Dark Souls did.
Elden Ring is From Software’s magnum opus, their biggest and best game ever. And this is true: I can’t imagine how difficult after Elden Ring it will be to adapt to the gameplay of the Dark Souls series, how difficult it will be to get used to the fact that the world around is linear and consists of corridors. If you are a fan of the Souls-like game genre, then Elden Ring should not be missed in any case.
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