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“Elden Ring” is an open-world action-adventure game created by FromSoftware, with Hidetaka Miyazaki heading the game design. The excitement surrounding the game at launch was immeasurable, as FromSoftware’s game fans were desperate for a game from the beloved studio. The impact this has had on the gaming industry is apparent through the sales figures, as 12 million copies were sold only seventeen days after launch. “Elden Ring” has been a substantial source of enjoyment for those who enjoy an arduous challenge. As with every step you take, you are faced with greater and greater challenges and, therefore, greater and greater rewards. For those who decided to take the dive and enter the world of “Elden Ring”, you will not be disappointed.
Part of what gives weight to each step you take in “Elden Ring’s” massive open world is the story and lore surrounding it. Created in part by famous author George R.R. Martin, “Elden Ring’s” lore is an exceptional combination of the worlds developed by FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin’s love for political warfare. The player finds themselves in a world destroyed by the political greed of it’s inhabitants. Naturally you, the player, are the only one with the potential to mend or destroy it. You are selected as the chosen “tarnished,” a resident of “Elden Ring’s” world that was deemed unworthy but due to the devastated nature of the universe, are blessed, or cursed, with undeath: the ability to persevere after death. With your resurrection, you are bequeathed the quest to mend the Elden Ring, and become the new Elden Lord who will set the rules for the world going into the future.
“Elden Ring” builds upon the greats of the open-world genre, and draws its primary inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. Now, on your quest to rebuild the fallen world you inhabit, you are free to explore the vast expanse. “Elden Ring” contains a wealth of optional content tucked away behind each corner of the world, encouraging you to explore. These hidden areas can range from catacombs to tombs, all containing their own unique and diverse challenge. Each small section of the map has a new special item for you to discover or a summonable ally to aid you in your adventures. You can even find a small rock that chimes “hello” or “thank you”. These discoveries encourage you to explore and leave no stone unturned. I found myself thoroughly exploring every area I came across, as the potential for a new and exciting item was motivation enough to become an amateur cartographer, familiarizing myself with my surroundings and mapping it out inside of my head.
Exploring the intricacies of “Elden Ring’s” world is rife with challenges. Those familiar with FromSoftware’s previous works know that their games are well known for their challenge, and “Elden Ring” does not disappoint in that regard. There is an appropriate threat to tackle for every unique and fascinating item available, which often come with their own frustrations. As a fan of difficult mechanics in video games, these frustrations are part of a journey of self-improvement. The more you play, the more you progress, and the more you improve, and the more you improve the more you can level up your character. For players that find themselves irritated by games on occasion, “Elden Ring” provides a unique solution to challenging boss fights: the ability to leave. If I found myself having difficulty with a tough encounter or boss, I would simply leave the area and return when I had improved my mindset or skill. The non-linearity of the game’s world allowed such freedom, heightening the game’s approach to difficulty. Plus, there’s nothing more rewarding than coming back to defeat a boss that had continually defeated you the night before.
Player expression is exceptional in “Elden Ring.” As you tackle bigger and more difficult challenges, the player receives runes to level up your character in whatever way the player decides. You can be an axe-wielding barbarian, a virtuous paladin, an intellectual sorcerer, a pyromaniac that breathes dragon-fire, and any combination in-between. Through your explorations and boss-slaying, the items you find help strengthen the particular fighting style the player finds themselves identifying with. That agency is something many players seek in gaming: the ability to be something new and powerful outside of the world we find ourselves residing in.
Multiplayer is also another rewarding element available for players within “Elden Ring.” You can summon your friends to assist you in battle against the challenging foes within the world. However, summoning your friends puts you at risk, as other players can now invade your world with not-so-friendly intentions. For some players, the ability to invade player worlds is one of the main draws of “Elden Ring.” For the time I spent doing it, I found the player versus player mechanics to be fun and enjoyable. However, I found the cooperative gameplay to be exceptional. Nothing feels better than helping out a friend, or random person, in need.
Overall, Elden Ring has been an exceptional experience. From the world you explore to the bosses you fight: exemplary artistry is at play. FromSoftware has built upon all of their previous works, and other greats in the medium to create a game that will be culturally relevant to gamers for years to come.
“Elden Ring” is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and Microsoft Windows.