Elden Ring is just out and I’ve had a quick go of it, getting roughly an hour of playtime in so far. I’ve also watched my sister play a bit as the game was downloading. Just as most people expected, Elden Ring is basically a Souls game with the very deliberate, slow movement; the difficult but fair combat and many recognisable features. The Action RPG is third person, melee, fantasy based and has a vague story that’s set in a world that’s pretty much doomed, and only you can do anything about it. It’s a little annoying that they used a well known author’s name to help the game sell more because it draws people in that may not like the niche game style of a Soulsborne game.
So, my sister got a linear tutorial section when the game hadn’t quite downloaded. The character creation is recognisably Souls-like but a bit complicated for a new starter to understand, I also found it odd that a button needed pressing for class stats to appear. We get the appearance customiser which has never mattered to me but is quite good, then the linear little tutorial started. Tooltips appeared in big, on-screen boxes that was really helpful for new players as ground markers were a weird way of doing things previously. My sister isn’t much of a gamer so like when I was younger and playing the first Dark Souls she found the controls a little odd. She got a scary hard boss early on to intimidate her but the one at the end of the tutorial died after four hits. It seemed good for new players to learn.
My own first go featured the hard boss to start the story but instead of the linear bit, I was just released into a big open field and left to roam about where I’d surely meet my doom. I find the open fields much more intimidating than the fairly straightforward Dark Souls areas, the monsters or undead aren’t as scary as Elden Ring is a lot brighter and more beautiful than the older games but there’s more of an initial feeling of being lost for the player. New features like a map and a stealth button came in really useful to my survival as I tried to find my next Point Of Grace (Bonfire).
As I ventured on I found Santa who was actually a merchant that was sitting near a blacksmith station, this was familiar enough with weapon upgrades and basic items. I kept going, finding plants and rocks which are apparently for crafting but I can’t be sure what exactly that entails yet. Enemy camps with the standard fare, shielded foes, quick guys, ambushes and a monstrous miniboss kept that Dark Souls feel, also giving me a sort of linear route in the openness of it all. Levelling up, resource management and checkpoints all worked in familiar ways but thankfully there’s a fast travel in this game accessed by using the map which makes returning to previous areas less of a task than it was in some of the older games.
An NPC gave me an item to summon a horse so I got to ride a pretty pony, this included horseback combat. The multiplayer seems to work in the same way older games did with invasions, assistance and placeable signs. Stamina doesn’t deplete when sprinting but combat does bring it down. There’s also a button dedicated purely to jumping, that surprised me!
For anyone that needs it, there is a way to make your HUD permanently stay on in the options menu.
Anyway, after making my way to what I think is the first proper boss and having him slap me around a bit with his massive glowing weapons I called it quits before I got annoyed at it. I’m enjoying the game so far and I’m aware that there’s a whole game still ahead of me. Would I recommend so far? Yes, It’s a proper Souls game bigger and possibly better than ever, it also seems to be new player friendly and plays with your sense of curiosity or fear as well as providing challenging combat. Also no, I might advise new players to look at Dark Souls 3 instead as Elden Ring is brand new and it could be a waste of money to buy something you don’t like at full price, Dark Souls 3 feels similar but would be cheaper.