622: Elden Ring

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622: Elden Ring

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Elden Ring for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by DaMonth »

Elden Ring is one of the few games that doesn't embarrass itself with the open-world moniker. So much so that I ended up starting a second playthrough in the middle of my first. The strongest statement to that is how there's an entire second map of content underneath the first that's entirely optional and missable. Despite everything, it's a game where I gave other phenomenal experiences in 2022 the highest accolade of runner up. And that really is a heavy "despite". I did a run recently and was reminded of a lot. How enemy density is honestly way more obnoxious than DS2. Boss reuse. The fact that you need to waste 40 levels on Vigor to avoid the horrific damage scaling mid-game. Half of the unique level designs functionally able to be ignored with either Torrent or the game warping you right to the boss room and skipping all its content. Stakes of Marika that seem to be missing at the most annoying runbacks. Enemies with egregious moves that basically come outta nowhere (Revenants). The entirety of Elden Beast. Yes, despite everything, it's absolutely worth its reputation. Fingers crossed for the DLC.

( Add this in whenever you mention Malenia: I get that a Malenia needed to happen eventually. FromSoft had to powerscale bosses to keep up with veteran expectation. I originally had this entire rant written out about how she was completely unreasonable but just recently I managed to beat her solo. Now it's a lot easier to see the tells and it was satisfying in a sense but it's still Herculean at worst and a chore at best. Maybe if she healed half as much with every hit and didn't heal through shields. Maybe she didn't need the move where she can kill you instantly almost whenever she wants if you're too close to her, on top of getting two more moves with the same lethality in the second phase that inflict super poison. On the plus side, giving up and summoning is a fun way too see all the wild builds people use to bumrush her with a 50% chance of success. )
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Wesali1996 »

Being a huge fan of Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro I was of course hyped up for this game and had a collectors edition preordered. I was honestly hoping Elden Ring would be a huge, endlessly replayable version of the standard Souls formula.

I became completely obsessed with this game for around 100 hours or so in the first couple of weeks. There's really nothing like exploring a brand new Fromsoftware game, finding all of the dungeons and hidden bosses was an amazing journey.

However in my opinion the game simply does not reach the heights of the previous games, and actually has me worried about the future of Fromsoft design.

Many of the boss fights are poorly designed and can just be summed up as "let's just put 2 of the same boss in the arena, that will make it harder right?" (Looking at you twin gargoyles and godskin duo). These bosses are not designed to work well in this situation, unlike previous bosses such as O&S from DS1. A lot of the bosses also have outrageously long combos and little to no downtime for a counterattack.

An even bigger issue in my opinion is how the majority of rewards from dungeons become worthless on a second playthrough when you would have a specific build in mind. Meaning you're now just running across empty fields to get to the specific items you need.

While these issues were not so clear on the first playthrough, I've since had no desire to return to the lands between. The Dark Souls series, Bloodborne, and Sekiro have much more to offer in terms of replayability and balanced boss fights. I think I'll be in the minority here, but I hope From is planning to go back to the more linear game design in the future.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Seph »

I have a love/hate relationship with Elden Ring. Let's start with the positive: the world design. While this is the first FromSoft game that actually does its best to literally point you in the "right" direction, this is the perfect game for those of us who like to explore and check every corner of the world, just in case there's a little secret. This game rewards he curious, often with a shiny item, but sometimes you get an entire dungeon with a (reskinned) boss. Giving the player a world map actually makes this better as I would zoom in on an area that looked blank and wonder what is there.

This exploration is where the greatest moment of the game happens and easily one of the best reveals in gaming history. At one point I was just walking around a forest and I was attacked by a bear (I think). As I was running away I noticed a small building with a lift inside. So I went down and was plonked in a cave with giant ants. I almost walked away because I had no time for this nonsense, but I pressed on and the cave went down again. And again. Suddenly I'm in this underground world that seems like an entire world map on its own. I played to the end but I noticed the map has more. I try to explore and get nowhere. Later in the game this section is opened up and again you delve deeper and deeper until there's an entire with a sky. And it goes down even further still towards more bosses and big reveals. This section, which I discovered on my own unspoiled, was incredible. The whole Nokron section was incredibly exciting. And then later you find ANOTHER part of this underground world with another big boss. It never stops giving. I want more of this in my games, especially if you're claiming to be open world.

I'll also give props to the story for being probably the most coherent one so far, possibly aided by a westerner (GRRM, no less) helping to flesh out the world. The opening cinematic is incredible and I was excited to meet all the characters it mentioned. The only real criticism about the game is that an enormous plot can only be revealed by using a certain magic spell on a specific statue, which is really unfair for melee players. We shouldn't be locked out of story content.

The gameplay is also the usually FromSoft brilliance, with the added jump button and trusty steed giving a lot more variety to the action. Fighting dragons suddenly feels more fun and makes more sense when you're galloping around on a horse. The weapons are also fantastic and it felt a bit Bloodborne in that the starting weapon can continue being useful to the end. I chose samurai, because it looked cool, without realising the starting sword has bleed built in and scales amazingly well. While I did switch out the back up weapons, I never let go of this one.

Now the bad, which will mostly just focus on the boss fights. I get that FromSoft has a rep as this hardcore gamer developer, but not everything has to be stupidly hard for the sake of it. The main problem comes in the form of just adding more of the same bosses, but this time there's two of them. This isn't fun. It took me days to learn the patterns of the Crucible Knight, and then you throw two at me, one of which has a unique weapon. What the hell? The amount of reused bosses in this game is actually embarrassing. If you don't have a cool boss to show me at the end of a dungeon, then maybe don't put one there. The bosses in general are a let down, and I don't think they will stand the test of time. Can FromSoft please stop with the second phase gimmick? It's ok with a big boss, but when it's used for all of them it's boring.

The final boss(es) run is probably the most baffling decision I've ever seen in a top class game. You start with a difficult humanoid boss that hits hard and does this annoying thing where it tracks you and can change direction of its attacks in mid-air. Once you beat this you're then thrown into a massive void and have to chase down a big dinosaur looking thing that can hit you accurately at range and once you finally catch up to it your player character is knackered. It will kill you and you'll have to do the whole thing again. This was so frustrating that I just cheesed the first part, because I was tired of it, and went wildly swinging in the second. I shouldn't have ended this game being annoyed at bad design and wondering what the developers were playing at.

Overall, this is, to me an 8/10 game that should have been 10/10. The ridiculous excesses of FromSoft seemingly catering to online weirdos and streamers who do nothing but play their games left me disappointed. Once I finished the game, I uninstalled it, vowing never to play it again. I'm not sure if I'll check out the DLC, but if it comes out in time for the show and balance has been restored, I'll give it a whirl.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Sage + Onion Knight »

Elden Ring was a huge part of the first few months of 2023 for me. I have a weird relationship with the FromSoft games in that the quite minimalistic and interpretive approach to world-building and narrative is absolutely up my street but I often run into a bit of a wall when it comes to the difficulty. When my gaming time is fairly limited as it is, it's hard to justify spending the time I do have in a week just grinding over and over in the same places while listening to podcasts. Elden Ring was no exception, unfortunately. I loved basking in the atmosphere of this world - I feel that, despite not aligning itself with the horror genre as much as Bloodborne, Elden Ring's vague world of decay and mystery conveys a much stronger feeling of near-constant unease punctuated with moments of strange, unsettling beauty. I actually thought I was close to completing the game but, when I realised I was actually only a quarter of the way through and was just getting mercilessly battered by every boss I encountered, I had to throw in the towel. Nonetheless, I don't regret the time I spent in its poetically bleak world.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by markfm007 »

I was a little hesitant of Elden Ring leading up to release. I’d played a few From Software games and loved them, for the most part. However I was feeling a bit burnt out on them, and uncertain if an open world would offer much to the experience. The reviews ended up swaying me to buy it on release, as they seemed to exceed standard pre-release hype with a ‘no seriously, we really mean it this time’ tone.

Surprise surprise, I ended up loving the game beyond my expectations, even more than the other From Software games I’d played. The moment I got out into Limgrave I felt captivated, running around like a dog off its leash. The openness feels so refreshing in comparison to From’s more careful, trap laden approach. This extends to the world design, the combat, the controls. Everything encourages you to try new things, experiment, see what’s around the corner. But it retains the sense of danger, awe, trepidation and comedy that makes From games so compelling.

I was able to discover so much in this game that is often dismissed as ‘impossible without a guide’, just by engaging with the world, the hint messages, and thinking about where I could go next. The world itself has a fascinating beauty, strangeness and tragedy to it that I find difficult to explain. The soundtrack is at times heartbreakingly beautiful. The world is gorgeous, particularly the strikingly coloured skies, trees and plains.

People often cite discovering the Siofre River Well as a brilliant moment, but the whole game is moments like that. Too many to count. Discovering the Consecrated Snowfield and the Haligtree, plumbing the depths of Leyndell, and the Ranni questline and everything that happens with it stand out. It showcased Miyazaki’s evil genius reaching its final form - poison swamps that we weren’t forced to cross, but chose to anyway.

The release of this game was also a lot of fun. It was lovely to see this game become a surprise hit. I talked to so many people on and offline who had never played a From game and were giving this a go. I helped friends with bosses, looked for opportunities to summon more, left more messages for others. For once the online chatter was mostly positive, full of people’s surprise and delight in the game, sharing their thoughts, clips and jokes. It was a crossover success in the best way, not compromising on its challenge or weirdness, but offering a more free, open approach that welcomes using everything you want to get the job done.

I am gushing now. The game obviously has flaws, and I don’t expect everyone to be as in love with it it as much as I do. I haven’t even mentioned the mechanical changes - the expanding map, how well Torrent handles, the jump attacks and ashes of war. Or gushed about all of the great new bosses, levels and characters (or the bad ones). I could talk about it all for hours, but I’ve gone on for long enough.

Three Word Review: Dark Souls More
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Brado »

Hi C&R team - long time listener based in NZ, decided to get involved.

I've been a Souls fan since Demon's Souls, playing every major FromSoftware release. Elden Ring is their first entry with an open world - in this case an open map which is largely empty and with points of interest (both major and minor) littered throughout.

This contrasts with the previous titles, which feature tighter maps, funnelling the player to certain corridors or pathways.

This gives Elden Ring a heightened feeling of vast exploration - the scale is massive and the experience from start to end feels like a lengthy journey. The player feels insignificant at first and while your power eventually grows, the world grows along with you, the best examples being the Altus Plateau and the sprawling underground areas. As others have mentioned this creates incredible moments of discovery.

The downside to such scale is that the player can feel utterly lost at times. This exacerbates a major complaint of mine about almost every FromSoftware game - that the sidequests are so hard to follow. I found myself trying in vain to remember details mentioned by sidequest NPCs to satisfy the strict conditions of the quests. Sometimes I was lucky enough to stumble upon the next step, but more often I wasn't. I'm sure the average player would simply not encounter significant portions of the game.

In some ways the experience of Soulsborne games has become entwined with online guides and forums, but I feel Elden Ring is in dire need of some sort of quest tracker, even if this was only a transcript of previous NPC conversations. Perhaps a few lines, e.g. 'A blind woman named Irina asked that I deliver a letter to her father at Castle Morne. She said I could find the castle on the Weeping Peninsula.' Giving this small recap of the conversation would drive more focused exploration with the use of the map and other information gathered in the world, rather than a random approach. This in my view is preferable to no system whatsoever, or simply following a waypoint which has become the convention in the wider industry.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by designermatt »

I'm a long-time FromSoft fan, so of course I was going to pick up Elden Ring. At first though, it didn't grab me in the same way that Dark Souls or Bloodborne, did. I tried it first on my old PS4 Pro, and put a few dozen hours in before drifting away on to other games. In part this was the sheer scale of the open world - it was intimidating to me. Despite being beautiful and full of surprises, it felt so enormous, I didn't feel like I could put in the time to really see it all. The other thing that put me off was the noise coming from my PS4 Pro as it struggled to run the game. The fans sounded like a jet taking off!

Recently, I gave it another go, this time on my shiny new PS5 which is quietly running it without breaking a sweat. This time I've gone much further into the game and am currently enjoying trying to defeat Rennala. By sticking more closely to the main path the game encourages you to follow, I've managed to get rid of that overwhelmed feeling and am enjoying it much more. The secret for me was to try and curate my own game experience that was a bit more linear, like the older FromSoft games I know and love. There's an amazing game in Elden Ring, it just took me a while to find it.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Buskalilly »

I loved Dark Souls and all the sequels and Bloodborne (I've not gone back and played Demon's Souls yet) and was naturally eagerly awaiting Elden Ring.

When it arrived, it didn't disappoint. It drew me into its world as much as any of its predecessors, and was also the first game since Breath of the Wild to reignite that game's sense of discovery.

I don't think the game will ever replace Dark Souls in my heart because it's just too big and features a little repetition, so I can't really imagine running through it multiple times. That said, if From just wants to do another of these every couple of years, I'll keep playing them until my thumbs can't keep up.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Caligulas Horse »

This was the first game in a very long time that I bought day one. I didn't initially intend to, but the FOMO kicked in when I saw my flatmate playing with a few of our mates online. I'm glad it did, as it was so much fun making my way through the game at the same time as my friends, helping each other out with bosses, as well as swapping jokes, hints, and commiserations from our many deaths. Ditto for the messages and bloodstains left by other players online, some of which were genuinely helpful and many others of which led me directly into a trap. It made this otherwise lonely and bleak world just a little more vibrant, and I think knowing thousands of others were going through the same trials and tribulations helped to keep my frustration at bay when stuck on some of the more difficult enemies. I know some aren't as keen on the trolling and puerile jokes you find in some of these messages, but I was glad for a touch of levity every now and then. Plus, I had my life saved a few times when players praised one of my own puerile jokes.

There is a lot more I could say about this game, but most of it has been covered by other posters and I wanted to focus on the communal aspect, as it really enhanced the experience for me and is big part of why this has been my favourite FromSoftware game yet.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Tolkientaters »

I love Elden Ring and it's right up with Bloodborne in my all time favorite games. The most immediately striking feature are the visuals which are fantastic across the board and incredibly varied; more so than any other open world game I can think of. So much of it looks ripped from an 80s fantasy novel cover in the best way possible, there's a lot of bold color all over the place with the striking imagery From is known for. On a purely technical level, it's not exactly stellar, but the art design certainly is.

I also appreciate how it's just extremely over the top in terms of enemies and abilities right from the beginning. Even compared to previous games, the variety of extremely powerful attacks that the enemies especially bosses can dish out are wild, and in some cases they're just straight up unfair. But this is countered with the variety of overpowered attacks, abilities, and builds you can create. To aid this weapon degradation is eliminated and relatively early on your given an in game way to completely change your build. The ashes of war eliminate the need to completely specialize a weapon to try a new build. It's all Been streamlined (compared to their other games) to let you experiment with the system to create your own extremely overpowered god killer. I really like this approach and it led to me experimenting a lot more than in previous FromSoft games.

I get that this game made some big changes to the formula that not everyone enjoyed, but I love the variety in FromSoft's output. They made a more linear action game built around one central mechanic, then pivoted to the most open game they've ever made, and followed that up with a revitalized return to what used to be their biggest franchise. I love this studio and I can't wait to see what they make next.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Taz »

It’s difficult to be concise about a game as vast as Elden Ring, but I’ll try.

I love From Software for the same reason that I love Frictional Games; they’re committed to a particular vision and a set of values, and with each new release they continue to iterate on and refine that vision, and you either get it or you don’t. In an industry where every other developer understandably wants as broad an appeal as possible, From Software know who they are making these games for and are committed to doing things for that audience. You could call them one trick ponies, but it’s a good trick and nobody else does it better.

To say that this game lived up to the hype I had built up for it would be a gross understatement. I think Elden Ring is an astonishing achievement. Its worlds are vast, yet dense, and always feel handcrafted. The game consistently rewards your curiosity. I think this is the best open world game I’ve ever played. Most open world games give you a list of side-quests to tick off, or icons on a map to visit, and they are exactly that – side quests. They are distractions from the main quest, they are supplementary. In Elden Ring, if you don’t engage with the side content, the first boss will pulverise you unless you’re some sort of SoulsBorne wunderkind. The side content in Elden Ring is where you level up and find better gear, and from conversations with friends around release it became apparent that how difficult we each found the game’s first main story boss, Margit The Fell Omen, depended on how thorough we’d been in our exploration of the game’s starting areas. Considering From Software’s legacy of making very hard games, it’s fascinating to me that in Elden Ring you can kinda choose how difficult the game is in this manner. I found Elden Ring to be the easiest game From have made because they offer the player so many ways to mitigate the game’s difficulty.

It’s the seamless integration of the side content into the main quest that cements this as the best open world I’ve ever played. At times when I’d seemingly wondered off the beaten track and stumbled into a new, vast uncharted area I didn’t know if I was still on the main path or not. In my opinion, something as simple as not including a quest log in the menu immerses the player even further; it really felt like I was discovering something new or going somewhere that I wasn’t supposed to be. Having a quest log or an icon on a map would have let my brain know that a designer has made this for me to find. I know that seems silly. But From’s approach to world building, whether you love it or loathe it, seems to be putting the player’s immersion first and is doing all it can to hide the fact that this is a videogame created by videogame designers.

There are side effects to having so much player freedom. For the first half of the game I was concerned with fighting bosses at the “correct” level. Friends had regaled me with stories of how they’d felled Margit in one go because they’d gotten so over-levelled and I didn’t want to make a mockery of the bosses in this way, I wanted to fight them at such a level to present a reasonable challenge. By the second half of the game I mostly gave up worrying about this. The designers simply cannot account for players going through the side content and story content in the order they discover it, and so I embraced it as a part of the experience. This means that I tore through the game’s last handful of story bosses with ease, because I’d levelled myself to such a point to be able to beat Malenia - an optional boss who is far and away the toughest boss I fought in the game - and I didn’t know if I’d be able to fight her after the credits had rolled. I had exactly the same problem with Bloodborne; if you engage with the optional content and get strong enough to beat it, this steals the thunder from the games actual ending, turning the final confrontation into a damp squib.

In the same way that Dark Souls became a genre in its own right and spawned a slew of copycats, I imagine Elden Ring will have a similar impact on the genre moving forward – I predict we’ll see a whole bunch of AAA games that attempt to replicate this magic with varying degrees of success. What’s interesting is that I don’t think Elden Ring is doing anything particularly new here. I’d bet money that the original pitch documents had ‘Dark Souls meets Breath of the Wild’ written all over them. It’s the confidence and vision of the developer that pulls this off. It’s difficult to imagine any ways in which this game could be improved, excluding the technical issues that PC players had to put up with (I played on console which was fine).
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Alex79 »

I'll preface this by saying I loved Elden Ring. It was the first game I bought day one and the first game I bought full price in several years. I have probably played about 100 hours of it and feel like I am still ages away from the end. And herein lies my only criticism of the game. I think it suffers from its size and the sheer amount of content it gives us. I've played and completed every modern From game apart from Sekiro and loved them all. I'm honestly not sure I'll ever finish Elden Ring.

There are moments, many, many moments of pure magic. Riding the lift down to the underworld for the first time. The epic boss battles and the vast expanse of world to explore. But knowing how much more there is left to do is just daunting. However, the counterargument is that not an inch of that world feels spare, like it doesn't need to be there. The game is an incredible achievement in world building and it's a world I have, and probably will continue to explore for years. It's just....too big. A masterpiece. But too big.
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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Nicktendo »

Despite so much praise heaped onto Fromsoft games, I kept away for the fear of not being good enough. There's nothing more frustrating in gaming than really liking a game and never being able to complete it because of inability or lack of skill. But this time, I wanted to get in on the ground floor as the most anticipated game of year launched and purchased a copy for the PS5.

Starting out I wasn't overly impressed, it seemed like a standard action RPG. The first boss killed me which is what the game intended and I arrived in Limgrave. Took a left and a giant smashed me to bits. Huh..."okay I'll go the other way" I thought to myself and from there the magic of the game took over. Getting better. Dying. Going further. Dying. Going the other way. Dying. Smiling.

I was swept away by the lands between from it's characters to it's lore to it's precise and enjoyable combat, it is a remarkable achievement in game design and a touchpoint for gaming as a whole. This combined with BotW has taken open-world gaming forward not only in scope, but in it's world building and mechanics.

I got the platinum trophy after 60 or so hours and despite my early trepidation enjoyed every second. 10/10.
To quote J. R. R. Tolkien: "It's a dangerous business... going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to"

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Re: 622: Elden Ring

Post by Hyperdeath84 »

Elden Ring was a game that engrossed me immediately and encouraged my curiosity at every turn, to the point where it has negatively impacted my enjoyment of other open world games, particularly Horizon: Forbidden West which released very close to Elden Ring. The game is a testament to trusting players to forge their own path and define the journey for themselves, rather than leading them by the nose and drowning them in objective markers. There are hours upon hours of content in this game that players can miss entirely, and I have to respect Miyazaki and his team for having the confidence to allow that to happen at all. The design philosophy is the same as the Soulslike formula FromSoftware popularised over a decade ago, now extrapolated onto a much larger canvas. Whereas in a Soulslike game you timidly walk around castles and dungeons with a constant eye out for danger and new discoveries, here you are encouraged to bound around a gigantic fantasy world on your faithful steed Torrent while maintaining that same degree of vigilance. I loved that the game wants you to investigate it on your own terms. Looking at the map and trying to discern what those dark patches might be, or how to find a route up that mountain is refreshing in this genre - the game tells you none of this stuff, and it makes you immerse yourself in the world in order to enjoy it. The scale of the game is genuinely breathtaking, I had at least two occasions where I thought the map couldn't possibly expand any more, and was then proven wrong by a huge new are being revealed, especially the amazing underground areas which were really something to behold.

The game also exemplifies the benefits of art design over graphical fidelity. I don't wish to lay into Horizon too much, but the proximity of their releases invites comparison. I would say Horizon: FW has better graphics but Elden Ring is a better looking game. The vistas presented to you in Elden Ring are so bold and striking that nothing in Forbidden West can even touch them, even though that game is clearly more detailed. The purple skies and jutting rock formations of Liurnia, the crimson malevolence of Caelid and the impossible starlight of Siofria River are among some of the most memorable gaming locales in recent years. In this way Elden Ring hypnotised me and beckoned me to explore every nook and cranny of its world.

Gameplay is much the same as one might expect from this developer with some important adjustments. Like Sekiro, the Tarnished can jump, and while they may not have the manoeuvrability of that titular shinobi, this does afford the player greater freedom of movement which fits with the gargantuan world they have to explore. Combat is similar to the Souls series with some animations borrowed from Bloodborne and Sekiro to help fill out its impressive list of weapons and weapon skills. But for me the major gameplay addition was Torrent, and it is a fantastic one. Torrent goes down as easily one of the best mounts in gaming for me. Torrent is fast, responsive and has a very useful double jump that helped me navigate the world and get out of many sticky situations. The mounted combat with Torrent is simple yet very effective, the fact that you can engage in several open world boss fights with Torrent is a big plus. In fact, Torrent is so useful and enjoyable that not being able to use him during multiplayer is a genuine incentive for me not to engage in that aspect of the game - sure, I could fight this dragon with a friend, or I could just mount up and do it with my trusty horse-goat-thing instead. The feeling of riding alongside a giant monster and slashing at its flanks was genuinely thrilling and something I hope other open world fantasy games try to replicate. Torrent, as a spirit steed, is immortal but not invulnerable, so being aware of how much damage he's taken and feeding him restorative berries is another thing the player has to consider, and another way of connecting us to this creature - Torrent will take care of you as long as you take care of him. I also enjoyed the spirit ashes as an additional option, with the Mimic Tear being an obvious standout for its versatility.

If I had to pick some negatives I'd say some of the game's balancing is off, requiring whatever build you have to dump lots of points into Vigor as many bosses in this game can one shot you if you don't. Even with buffs and the Wondrous Physick, the bosses can feel like their damage output is bordering on unfair, though not insurmountable. As someone who has Platinumed Sekiro, I still think I would have found bosses like Malenia impossible without looking up her weaknesses and using my spirt ashes. I'm also unsure as to how well it'll hold up on a second play through - the sense of exploration won't be nearly as potent when you know where most of the important stuff is. I'll wait until the DLC is released to test this with a new character. Even if it's a one and done game, the over 250 hours I spent with it more than justifies its purchase. Nevertheless, Elden Ring is an incredible achievement and deserving of all its accolades. Between this game and Tears of the Kingdom, it feels like the gauntlet for open world games has been well and truly thrown down, and other developers had better take note if they don't want to be left behind.

Three word review: raises the bar
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