Possibly my favourite videogame of 2022. Also the first Souls-like game I ever played.
Why the game is fun
It's popular. By far my favourite part of this game is being able to talk about it with friends and colleagues of whom many are playing it.
It's visually stunning. The game is so beautiful it is worthwhile to simply explore even without killing a thing. The elaborate and immense scale of the creatures and structures take much inspiration from Berserk, which in turn is a hauntingly beautiful series with a Bosch-ian art style. The game's art style is well captured in this dialog:
I remember when I was drawing the Undead Dragon, I submitted a design draft that depicted a dragon swarming with maggots and other gross things. Miyazaki handed it back to me saying "This isn't dignified. Don't rely on the gross factor to portray an undead dragon. Can't you instead try to convey the deep sorrow of a magnificent beast doomed to a slow and possibly endless descent into ruin?"
For more, this article is quite fantastic: The Boschian Horror of ‘Elden Ring’
It has one of the best Open worlds, ever. Elden Ring presents options that give every player an entirely unique experience which gives all players something to talk about. The last few years of open world games have been full of excessive handholding and on screen guides that throttle the player's desire to explore. Elden Ring has almost no guides, relying on clever world design that both forces and encourages the player to explore. I haven't felt quite so adventurous since I played Morrowind.
Writing on games made a 10 minute video talking more: Why Exploring in Elden Ring Feels So Good
Rich lore. The visuals of the world and its people are all tied together with some incredible lore and worldbuilding, aided by George R R Martin. This Gamespot article explains it better. If you have the time, the Elden ring lore videos by Vaatividya are so amazing they were reposted on Elden Ring's official channel.
The soundtrack shapes mood perfectly
The soundtrack is not one that wows. It is one that subverts your mind, moulding it to the world of Elden Ring and that is what makes it so incredible.
The entire soundtrack can be listened to and downloaded here
Not so fun things
Despite the lore, the game's story or its characters have been entirely forgettable for me. I had extremely high expectations of the story given its involvement with George R. R. Martin, and could not tell you anything about it despite having 40 hours in the game.
The game balance is terrible. Enemy damage is too high, rune rewards often don't make sense. Videogamedunkey made a video about it.
Enemy attack animations and range can be so fast and unfair it forces one style of play: defensive counterattacks. Quik Reviews made a 16 minute video - and goes on to say Sekiro has better designed bosses. This person made a 12 minute video showing how unfair Malenia is.
I'm playing it on PC, and am aware it runs better on Playstation 5 and looks better on a big TV. PC gamers should note the game is capped at 60FPS.
Fun things outside the game
Stuff I personally enjoyed
Carbot Animations did some hilarious spoofs.
Blaidd voice actor Scott Arthur reads thirst tweets in a 4 minute video
Elden Ring has a built in coop mode that I do not enjoy. It requires the host to and joining player to both assemble ingredients to cast a spell to join each other. This is fine, but the game also allows Enemy players to join your multiplayer session and kill you. This cannot be turned off. I wanted to enjoy Elden Ring together with a friend at the start of the game, and we were quickly slaughtered by a level 70 player. In addition, I'm told that co-op terminates when the area's boss has been defeated, requiring both players to cast the spell again.
For a much more fun experience, those playing on PC can have a more traditional co-op multiplayer mode with the Seamless coop mod. Note that it requires starting a new game. Here's a video of it working!
Stuff I haven't tried or understand
There are two Figuarts Minis for Elden Ring: Raging Wolf and Melina.
Vaatividya made an art book of all Souls games, including Elden Ring, called Soul Arts. Vaatividya also made a 19 minute video walkthrough of the book.
There is a beautiful Tree Sentinel sculpture, for about €1700 from Sword & Wing x Acy Studio
Spiffing Brit found that immortality is possible by dying on purpose to the game's first boss then quitting the game. More in his 24 minute video
This very smart person deconstructed how Elden Ring's graphics works, and in doing so also also dove deep into DirectX12: Behind the Pretty Frames: Elden Ring
Tips for winning
Use a fun and strong build
A build being the combination of stats and equipment you've chosen for your character. I've wasted a lot of time with builds, namely from Fextralife on the Elden Ring wiki, whose builds seem famous but I did not have fun or success with. In particular, his Inquisitor build with the Ghiza's Wheel I really disliked despite it being one of his newest builds, just 9 days old at time of writing. I've since found a player named cRPG Bro who has builds I enjoy a lot more. I have a number of builds I switch between:
- Greatsword and Flame of the Redmanes. Particularly amazing on horseback
- 2× Curved Swords. My preferred weapon most of the time for killing small and fast creatures such as dogs, but does so much damage I can even use this against some bosses.
- Misericorde and Flame of the Redmanes, mostly following this cRPG Bro video
- Shield and Spear, loosely following this cRPG Bro video. Based on theory that a Guard Boost of 100 means you lose no stamina when you block with a shield. It achieves this by upgrading a Greatshield, then casting Scholar's Shield with your right hand. Needs 12 intelligence to use the Scholar's Shield spell which increases Guard Boost by 20–22%.
- Colossus Greatbow, for those annoying situations where I can't hit something up close. I did try Crossbows, but I dislike that they do so little damage.
Some builds I haven't tried but look promising:
cRPG Bro dual hammer Strength build https://youtu.be/65QCwG8dGVg
Vampiric mace build https://youtu.be/VZSNdbyUyHU
Do lots of Critical hits
Enemies have a Stance health bar, and all attacks do some amount of Stance or Poise damage. Do enough Poise damage and the enemy will buckle over, sometimes revealing a glowing golden body part. Move quickly to that golden body part and press R1 to critical hit. Take care to NOT run - you'll do a running attack instead.
|Weapon and attack||Poise damage|
|Misericorde charged R2||24|
|Misericorde jumping R1||6|
|Misericorde jumping R2||16|
|Greatsword charged R2||48|
|Greatsword jumping R1||20|
|Greatsword jumping R2||32|
|Greatsword stamp upward cut||44|
Source: This is how much Poise Damage EVERY SINGLE Weapon does
Learn to dodge and jump
Jumping causes the lower half of your body to become invincible for 25 out of 30 frames. Since it's just the lower half, overhead attacks still hurt you. Zullie the witch explains in this video. Equipment weight also has no effect on jumping, unlike dodging.
Learn to parry
Parrying causes a special kind of stagger which allows enemies to be Critical Hit. This stagger is separate from the Stance Break stagger, meaning you can combine both to inflict many such Critical Hits. A famous Elden Ring player, ONGBAL, demonstrates this here.
Parrying is easier with the buckler than any other shield, because it has the Buckler Parry. It has more frames and a shorter start.
Reddit: I tested parrying frame data, here's everything I know
It's also worth observing how others parry, such as this video of a player defeating a boss without ever getting hit.
I've heard there is a Golden Parry skill which makes parry even easier. Here's a video of where to find it, within the Capital outskirts.
There's so much to talk about, I've moved it all to its own page, Elden Ring bosses.
Interview with George https://youtu.be/xHzJG1hHTdU ↩︎