“Elden Ring” dazzles its way into the future of gaming

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Bandai Namco

A player overlooks Liurnia of the Lakes in FromSoftware’s “Elden Ring.” The game is now available on Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

By Noah Sparkman, Rutherford B. Hayes High School

A new benchmark has been set.
“Elden Ring” is the newest game from acclaimed developer FromSoftware, and was directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. The game is now available on Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.
“Elden Ring” hails from a lineage of acclaimed titles produced by FromSoftware, often referred to as the “Souls” series. These games were praised for their challenging combat, including extraordinary boss fights, duels against one formidable enemy that are sprinkled throughout each game.
With the “Souls” series completed, FromSoftware chose to take on a new project, looking to incorporate new ideas into their well-established and beloved format.
The most publicized addition to the game was the contribution of “A Song of Ice and Fire” writer George R. R. Martin, who developed some of the game’s lore and characters.
This is frequently felt as you delve through different quest lines throughout the game, as the tragedy and intrigue written into each of them truly feels as though it comes from a seasoned writer like Martin being behind them.
The second major new addition is the game’s expansive open world. Whereas almost all of FromSoftware’s titles were previously linear, “Elden Ring” throws you into The Lands Between, a massive open-world.
The Lands Between are absolutely stuffed with intrigue and danger. Behind every corner lies a new discovery for players, whether it be an ever-descending elevator or a ruin with unknown treasure guarded by an army of skeletons.
However, The Lands Between isn’t just a backdrop for the game as a whole; it is the title’s greatest strength.
To explain why, I have to get one thing out of the way: “Elden Ring” is difficult.
The good news is that it is not insurmountably or unfairly difficult. Enemies have very distinct attack patterns, and once you can memorize all of them, you will begin to master the game’s combat.
The well-designed levels and enemies provide a challenge that can be frustrating at times, but can be conquered with skill and character improvements made over time in the game.
This is nowhere more evident than in the game’s boss design. “Elden Ring” is jam-packed with boss fights, whether they be Demi-Gods that need to be slain for the story to progress, or Great Enemies that you can encounter in the field.
Each fight provides a uniquely challenging experience where almost no two bosses are the same.
The feeling of dying over and over to the same enemy, learning its patterns, and eventually “felling” a boss provides a rush of euphoria that is almost unparalleled in gaming.
The reality, though, is that not all of these bosses can be defeated immediately, and many require you to put time and effort into preparation.
This is where the beauty of The Lands Between shows itself. In previous “Souls” games, there was no recourse besides trying again if you could not beat certain bosses.
In “Elden Ring,” though, if a boss is giving you trouble, you can just walk away.
In such a lush, elegantly designed world, this decision to leave doesn’t feel like punishment, but rather the next step in your grand journey.
As you slay enemies and collect runes that will allow you to increase your character’s stats, it just feels like the continuation of your protagonist’s tale. Building out those stats, which allow you access to new weapons and skills, as well as conquering areas throughout the game really make it feel like you are becoming the Elden Lord that the game has prophesied.

No matter what your fantasy is, “Elden Ring” can accommodate it and make it even more thrilling than you might have hoped.”

This process can take hours upon hours, and likely even multiple playthroughs to discover everything that is waiting in the sprawling world set before players.
The important thing to remember is that all of these things take time. If one wishes to truly take in everything that The Lands Between have to offer, they will be forced to pump the brakes on the story in favor of exploration and grind.
Ultimately, the biggest innovation “Elden Ring” offers is choice. You can take your time and do everything I just described, or you can go simply area to area and complete the story.
You can be a duel katana-wielding madman who takes the fight to enemies, or you can hold back and cast spells to take down your enemies. Some have even found that you can beat the game without even attacking.
No matter what your fantasy is, “Elden Ring” can accommodate it and make it even more thrilling than you might have hoped.
In an era where many role-playing-games are insistent on holding your hand with quest logs, waypoints and a HUD, “Elden Ring” is a next-step in the way that it just lets the player be free.
Now that gamers have been exposed to this type of freedom, it will be hard not to clamor for it going forward.

This story was originally published on Hayes Talisman on April 15, 2022.