We all have that one friend that obsesses over Dark Souls. Or, maybe it’s us that obsesses over Dark Souls? Either way, the franchise is notorious for its hard-core fans, most of whom have ridden the ‘git gud’ meme so far into the ground it stopped being funny a decade ago. Then there’s Elden Ring. Seen as the ultimate Dark Souls experience, Elden Ring is referred to as the greatest game ever made. If one game ever warranted following a Platinum Guide, it’s Elden Ring.
We can argue until we’re blue in the face as to whether Elden Ring deserves this praise. Or at least as to whether it’s the best game of all time. But most will agree that Elden Ring is, objectively, a masterpiece of the genre. So what is it that Elden Ring does so well, and how does it transcend what From Software did with the Dark Souls franchise?
The Open World Is Incredible
Let’s look at Farcry 6. The open world is big, to be sure, and it looks great. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything worth seeing after the first hour. Heck, let’s list off recent games right now that have an open world that isn’t just a bland foundation for the same, mundane quests we’ve all seen a thousand times. Ready?
You know what we’re saying, and you also can’t deny that Elden Ring offers an open world that truly is amongst the best in the business. There is no area in Elden Ring, no corner of the map, that isn’t in some way interesting. More to the point, exploring can, in many cases, open up an entirely new, fully fleshed-out area. It’s utterly astounding trying to comprehend how much effort went into the world. Elden Ring doesn’t offer an open world, it offers a seemingly endless playground.
To be fair, From Software has been perfecting Dark Souls combat for a decade. So, that Elden Ring is the best melee combat in existence isn’t surprising. Even still, to not only confidently produce a fighting system this vast and flexible, but also balance it, is a miracle.
There is almost no end to the builds that are viable, begging the question as to how the developers even realistically tested every variation. But, apparently, they did. Who can fathom how?
Is Elden Ring accessible to the average, casual player? Arguably not, especially as you push out into the later areas of the game. But here’s the trick; the open world means that you’re not forced to stay in any area, at any time.
Sure, the game can still be frustratingly difficult, perhaps even so much so that you’ll rage quit and hit up some online pokies instead. But there is never a brick wall, and always an alternative. This is the most accessible the Dark Souls style can be, at least if it wants to keep its reputation.
Unique Boss Encounters
There are 112 bosses in Elden Ring. Not only are there 112 bosses, but the vast majority are more interesting, and more engaging than the majority of other bosses in all other games. It seems impossible but happens to be the truth.
Every boss, no matter how grand or intimidating, is fair, approachable, and reasonable. How From Software pulled this off may be one of the biggest video game mysteries in history.
A Real Video Game
The bottom line is that Elden Ring, through and through, feels like a real video game. What do we mean by this? We mean that every aspect of the game, from top to bottom, feels like the work of developers that truly, deeply care. Nothing feels out of place, nothing feels like it serves to satisfy a specific demographic, and nothing feels half-hearted.
It’s sad that in 2023 so many games feel so bland and mediocre. On the other hand, it’s a relief that From Software is here to show the world how to make games. Of course, Elden Ring isn’t perfect. There are areas that can be improved, especially in the UI and quality of life departments. But really, Elden Ring is without a doubt one of the best games to come out in years.
Is it the best game ever? We’re obviously not going to speculate. That’s a silly, paradoxical question, especially since the answer requires that Elden Ring go head-to-head with Kingdom Hearts, for example. How does that matchup even work?
What we are willing to say is that Elden Ring 100% deserves every accolade it’s got, and that should be enough.