Elden Ring
Gameplay 10
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Elden Ring is a souls-like title that takes all the best elements of the genre and wraps it up in a massive open-world setting. Playing as a Tarnished, players venture into the Lands Between on a heroic journey to become an Elden Lord. Unlike many open-world titles, Elden Ring is a joy to explore and features plenty of hidden dungeons, catacombs, and caves to keep players busy. Simply completing the main storyline will take hours, and the addition of different endings, tons of secrets, and lots of optional bosses extend the playtime even further. It’s more accessible than other FromSoftware titles but still offers a challenging experience that should not be missed.

Graphics: The world of Elden Ring is visually distinct and filled with memorable bosses and scenic locations packed with detail.

Gameplay: Elden Ring has so many options for weapons and spells that very few players will end up with the exact same experiences.

Sound: The game’s soundtrack, sound effects, and voice acting are all superb

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Elden Ring

Developer: FromSoftware Inc. | Publisher: FromSoftware Inc., Bandai Namco Entertainment | Release Date: 2022 | Genre: Action / Adventure / RPG | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Welcome to “The Lands Between,” a place of great beauty and incredible danger. Basked in the golden light of the enormous Erdtree, The Lands Between is the setting for the latest FromSoftware epic, Elden Ring. Players step into this world as one of the “Tarnished” individuals who were banished from the Lands Between after losing the grace of the Erdtree. However, with the Elden Ring shattered and demigods squabbling over the broken pieces, the tarnished have returned to repair the ring and become the Elden Lord.

It all sounds very grandiose, but like other FromSoft titles, Elden Ring wastes no time showing players how weak and insignificant they are. After creating their avatar using the rather robust character customization system, players can choose their class and begin their adventures in the Lands Between. For those familiar with previous FromSoftware titles, Elden Ring also marks the developer’s first venturing into an open-world setting. The Dark Souls series is known for sprawling yet interconnected areas where players can lose hours searching for secrets and shortcuts. Elden Ring is split into six main areas, each of which contains a multitude of castles, caves, dungeons, and temples to traverse. 

Initially, it can be pretty overwhelming, especially for newcomers to the genre. Waking up in the Chapel of Anticipation, players are immediately thrown into a boss battle with a Grafted Scion, a hulking monstrosity consisting of entirely too many weapon-wielding limbs. After what will probably be a very short and one-sided battle, players will awaken to the first friendly face in Elden Ring. It’s only after this that players are provided with an optional tutorial on how combat works in the game before being let loose in the area named Limgrave. From there, players are pretty much left to their own devices and can go wherever their skill level allows them to venture. Like the Dark Souls series, Elden Ring will allow players to enter areas they have no business being yet, but since it is an open world, there are even more opportunities for getting into trouble.

Apart from the open-world aspect, Elden Ring doesn’t re-invent the genre and uses the same tropes that have made the Dark Souls series beloved and feared in equal measures. Some elements have new names or skins, but the basics remain unchanged. Killing enemies rewards players with runes, which can be used for everything from purchasing items to upgrading gear and leveling up your character. Sites of Grace dot the landscapes and offer players a brief respite from the action and exploration to do things like rest and level up. These Sites of Grace also serve as fast travel points once discovered. Even better, they provide some hints for players on what direction to go next. Unfortunately, all runes players possess are dropped if they die, and if not retrieved before they die again, they are lost forever. At first, this feels like a harsh penalty, but it also ensures players exercise more caution when entering new areas.     

Elden Ring is not only the largest title by FromSoftware but, in many ways, also the most accessible. While there’s still no way to select an easier difficulty, the open-world setting and fast-travel options mean players can go exploring elsewhere when stuck. Most bosses also have a “stake of Marika” nearby, where players can choose to respawn if they die during the fight. Anyone who has had to trek through monster and trap-filled corridors just to get back to a boss in the Dark Souls series will really appreciate these. In addition, players now have access to a mount named Torrent that makes traversing the vast wilds of the Lands Between a little easier. Your trusty steed even has the ability to double-jump and can be summoned almost anywhere outside of dungeons and caves. This also means that horseback combat is now a thing, which is neat for some of the more giant bosses in the outside areas. Also, making a return is the ability to summon another player to help out during boss battles, although full co-op is still not a thing. Players who prefer giving the multiplayer elements a skip can still summon aid in the form of NPCs and spirits, many of which are pretty powerful, but their spirit ash has to be found first.     

Despite being more accessible, Elden Ring can still be brutal to players who refuse to take the time to memorize enemy attack patterns. Messages and bloodstains left behind by other players can offer advice on what to expect, but staying alive in combat requires dodging, blocking, parrying, and timing. As with most souls-like games, keeping an eye on your stamina is also a must unless you want to end up with a character too tired to do anything. Elden Ring adds a dedicated jump button to the mix, which makes some encounters more dynamic. This button also means that many areas of the game have a lot more verticality than what was found in the Dark Souls series. 

Along with a ton of weapons and armor, Elden Ring also allows players to imbue certain weapons with ashes to give them new skills. These skills use up Focus Points, which means even melee players have a reason to level up this stat and keep a few FP flasks ready. Like the Estus flasks that served as restorative items in the Dark Souls series, Elden Ring has Flasks of Crimson and Cerulean Tears. The crimson tears restore health points, while cerulean is for focus points, and players get to choose how many of their flasks are dedicated to each. Thus, melee fighters will probably want to dedicate more to health, while magic users will prefer focus points. Elden Ring adds one more flask to the mix, a Physick one, that can be customized for unique buffs depending on what players put into it. These flasks are all refilled when resting at Sites of Grace, but players must manage their use carefully while fighting bosses or exploring dungeons.

The Dark Souls series mainly consisted of grim and dark environments with the occasional beautiful setting. In contrast, Elden Ring offers way more breathtaking vistas and scenic spots. From grassy plains and snowy peaks to blighted wastelands and cliffs overlooking the ocean, the Lands Between is an eye-catching place even without the looming Erdtree. While exploring, we also made our way through crumbling castles, war-torn battlefields, desolate encampments, and eerie mines. The game is viewed in the third person, and each main area is visually distinct. The addition of a day and night cycle and changing weather conditions also make the world feel more alive, as do the ambient lifeforms inhabiting each area. With the proper hardware, each scene in Elden Ring looked like a fantasy painting, and the visuals made us look forward to seeing where our journey would take us next. The enemies are a varied bunch, too, and along with some familiar-looking ones, there are also plenty of new adversaries. From living jars and giant spider-like hands to dinosaur-like dogs and massive creatures with worm faces, the Lands Between boasts quite the bestiary. Special mention should go to the bosses, though, as there are over a hundred of them, and some are simply massive. 

An epic fantasy game like Elden Ring wouldn’t have been complete without a suitably epic soundtrack, and the game does not disappoint in this regard. As is suitable for an open-world title, there’s plenty of good ambient music while exploring and orchestral scores while battling bosses. FromSoftware also did a great job with the sound effects in this game, and all the characters are fully voiced, making characters such as Ranni and Blaidd even more memorable. We completed Elden Ring using a controller, and apart from the usual camera issues while fighting massive bosses, we had no problems with the controls. The game can also be played with a keyboard and mouse, but the controller’s force feedback makes for a more immersive experience. Having access to items, spells, and abilities at your fingertips using a controller also felt more intuitive than stretching for them on a keyboard.   

While Elden Ring is a fantastic game, it is not flawless, and after spending more than a hundred hours exploring every nook and cranny, we had a few gripes. Because the game is so massive, it is possible to spend ages finishing a certain area only to end up feeling over-leveled for another. As mentioned earlier, some bosses are also so large that fighting them amounts to hacking away at their ankles while trying to wrestle the camera under control. Something that will catch many players off guard is that Elden Ring makes no attempt at keeping a quest log. Unless players take note of what NPCs say to them, they might never finish certain optional quests without a guide. Finally, the game does have a map, but it cannot be opened during combat, and there’s no mini-map. Fortunately, none of these complaints hampered our enjoyment too much, even the annoying final boss fight, which felt like a letdown after the epic quest we had been on. 

From the long list of optional bosses and quests to the crafting system and player versus player aspects, there’s plenty we could still praise about Elden Ring. Suffice it to say it is the culmination of FromSoftware’s expertise in the souls-like genre and does not disappoint. It is by no means a perfect game, but it is definitely one of the best in its genre. Players who have been scared away by the difficulty of the Dark Souls series might find Elden Ring to be a little more welcoming. However, the fact that less than half of players ever reach any of the six different endings means that it is still an insurmountable challenge for many. Behind all the hype of worldbuilding by George R. R. Martin and the massive open world lies a challenging, rewarding, and very entertaining game that should not be missed.      

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: INTEL CORE I5-8400 or AMD RYZEN 3 3300X
  • Memory: 12 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1060 3 GB or AMD RADEON RX 580 4 GB
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 60 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Windows Compatible Audio Device
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10/11
  • Processor: INTEL CORE I7-8700K or AMD RYZEN 5 3600X
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1070 8 GB or AMD RADEON RX VEGA 56 8 GB
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 60 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Windows Compatible Audio Device

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