“Elden Ring” Review


During the last two weeks “Elden Ring” has become one of the most highly successful and critically acclaimed games of the year. With this amount of attention, it has allowed many players to note the difficulty of the game as being “not as linear as the previous games.” 

This challenge was intentional because the developers wanted to bring newcomers to the world of the Soulsborne series who wanted to give the games a try. One of the ways they did this was through its use of a vast open world. 

In many of the previous games, players were restricted to following a linear progression to reach the end, with only occasional secret areas to explore. However, in “Elden Ring,” you are allowed to explore freely wherever you want, and the gameplay could end quickly depending on what you do. 

In an interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki, he talked about how he wanted the game to be easier than the others in the series in order to be accessible to newcomers, but not everyone was sold by his thought process of “Elden Ring.” 

I went around Nicholls and asked a few people about their thoughts on the whole matter. The result was students were mostly surprised by his statement, with one person saying, “While the game is open world, that doesn’t make it easy,” claiming also that the first boss was, “the hardest for the beginning portion of the game.” Another person further explained that, “It’s true that the open world aspect of the game does make it somewhat easier than the linear-type gameplay. I wouldn’t call it a good starter for newcomers to the Soulsborne games however, and I would prefer that they start with the original “Dark Souls” instead.”

From these statements it would seem that many players did not find the game to be easier, but rather harder than the previous games. This raises the question: is Miyazaki’s claim false? The short answer is not quite.

While it’s easy to argue otherwise, it was better to look more into his comment. It wasn’t until I read his interview with The New Yorker that I finally understood what he meant by it being easier. In the interview, he talked about how he wanted “as many players to experience the joy that comes from overcoming hardship.” He continued, saying, “I feel apologetic towards anyone who feels there’s just too much to overcome in my games.”

What he wanted to do with “Elden Ring” was not to make it a light-hearted game that took you only a few hours to play. He wanted to take the concepts that he developed in his previous games and expand upon it so that it offers more of a compromise, stating he wants “for people to feel like victory is an attainable feat.”

The best example of this notion is right at the beginning with the Tree Sentinel. This boss is beatable on the first try, however, you might die the first time you fight him. There is a compromise if you think the Tree Sentinel is hard—just not fighting him at all. You can move past him and come back to him later when you’re a lot stronger, making it an easier fight to win against. 

This is what Miyaziki meant by the game being easier and more accessible to newcomers. With a more open world approach to the game, you can explore however you please and obtain items and skills that will be helpful throughout your adventure at any time. If you feel that one path is difficult, simply choose another path. If you feel that a certain boss is too tough to beat, avoid them and go back whenever you’re ready to face them.

Ultimately, “Elden Ring” is a game of choice and compromise that, no matter how you play the game, will always lead you to the same end goal.