I am not a big souls-like player. I never got into Dark Souls. I did enjoy Sekiro.. Somewhat, mostly because of the stealth and setting. I played a number of other Souls-likes, including Nioh, but ultimately.. They were all a pass for me after 2-4 hours of gameplay that caused me serious physical pain.
So, when I say Elden Ring may become my biggest time sink game for 2022, that’s a huge deal.
Elden Ring isn’t necessarily a stealth game, but it does have stealth mechanics not entirely unlike Sekiro, but with less hand-holding.. Well, actually, almost no hand-holding. At best all you get is a little marker giving you a suggestion on a direction to go in order to advance the main story.. That’s it.
It’s also a massive open world that hearkens back to classic Elder Scrolls gameplay in that you’ll figure out your own way to get where you’re going. Hell, you don’t even get a journal to remind you what to do.
Keep a notepad handy.
I am hard pressed to nail down any one singular thing in Elden Ring that makes me enjoy it so much and want to keep playing even when I fail. The sheer amount of planning that can go into any sort of gameplay is a huge bonus, though, and one that I thrive in (yes, I will be creating some guides here for people who aren’t good at souls-likes, like me).
It’s not all wine and roses, however. I encountered numerous bugs, and not just the performance issues (which are ridiculous on my top-of-the-line gaming PC).. One resulted in a death, and another resulted in a guaranteed crash at interaction with objects in an area.. that reloaded right next to a big bear about to maul me. I survived by the skin of my teeth on that one.
Still, I persevered, and when I encountered my first boss, I was feeling.. Sassy.
You see, my methods to ensure I could succeed in Elden Ring involved a mechanic that is classic to all Japanese RPGs: XP (or, in this case, rune) farming.
I played a lot of Final Fantasy 1. Yes, the original. If you wanted to really see the end-game, you pretty much hard to farm these giant centipedes or whatever they were out in a desert. I did that for HOURS.
In Elden Ring, I’m not really doing hours-worth of farming, but I am doing something I haven’t had to do since I last played Final Fantasy 1.
So, I took my Confessor build (Dex/Faith) out to a location I’ll share in later guides and got some new gear and leveled up to about 26 (along side actually playing the game, FYI – only about half those levels were farmed).
I then went back to a catacombs I gave up on.
That’s just.. The fact that I typed that sentence amazes me still.
Anyway, I went back, utilized my extra special gear and power, died a couple times in the regular dungeon portion, and then came to the boss.
I wish I had taken a screenshot. Or video.
I was just so engrossed in what was happening.
I summed up one of my Spirit Ashes, pulled out a bow, and kited the Erdtree Burial Watchdog (that’s that crazy cat statue that spits fire and has a giant sword), letting my summons do some damage alongside me.
Things went well, but as it got closer and closer to death I had to spend less time shooting and more time dodging.. So this insane cat statue (with a cape) went after my summons.
Just a sliver of health left on it, it takes out my summons.. I have 3 arrows left. I fire off just one, and.. MISS!
It turns, flies at me as I draw and release, and..
..Oh my god. I did it. I beat a boss in a From Software game.
ON THE FIRST TRY.
So, my early impressions are.. Elden Ring is the most accessible Souls-like game ever created, aside from the general bugginess, and my girlfriend hates it because I’ve mostly been ignoring her.
I’ll go spend time with her now that I got this turned out.