First Steps: Elden Ring
Warning: very mild spoilers for the first moments of Elden Ring follow, so if you want to go in blind, play for a bit and then come back to read this.
From Software are known these days for Dark Souls, or the *Souls-like genre of games which are marked by their tough encounters, difficulty, and tricky systems to master. You can learn them, but you won’t master them for a long time. People in my circle, fellow gamers and console nerds gave me some odd looks the other day when I dropped a pre-order for Elden Ring down.
“Are you crazy?” one friend said, “Those games just make you want to smash your controller.”
“See you never,” said another. “Addictive doesn’t describe something like Sekiro, or Dark Souls itself.”
I’d heard all this before, having never had the courage to step into a game like Dark Souls, or Bloodborne, would Elden Ring be all that different? Is it friendly to new players, and still as punishing or as tricky as Dark Souls in general?
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got my hands on this one, so from the opening I went in blind, made a character and just picked the first class out of the list that looked enticing. I’ve always liked dual-wielding, so Warrior it was.
The class appears to be a template, which sets your stats, level, and gives you some basic equipment to start with. I like this, means you aren’t scrimping and saving for gear at the outset and you can get on with the fun of the game.
Character customisation allows you to save a pre-set look for your chosen character, male or female, and that way you can play the same one with a variety of classes which gives you a lot of customisation options and from what I can see, build diversity. Experimentation, here I come.
Cut-scene, exposition, and now I’m in the game proper. Movement seems OK, camera speed needs a bit of adjustment and I’m good to go. Combat appears fluid, not much to learn here as I mess about with the basic and heavy attacks. Game also looks nice, not a graphical power house, but as far as I’m told FS’ games are never about the graphics – they’re about the experience and the gameplay.
First boss, holy shit, dead.
Oh… I see – I’m now in the game proper and there’s a big hole. Some ghost tells me that I should take the plunge, so dutifully, I do. I mean what could possibly go wrong, right?
Tutorial I guess, yep, I’m given hints on how this stuff works and I discover that any enemy with their back to me is dispatched with a sneaky backstab. I can see where I’m going with this, it’s Stabby McRib time!
The tutorial is designed to ease you in, but what it doesn’t tell you is how jaw-dropping the world is when you break out of the area you’re in and get to Limgrave (first open world area) the first time. It has a true sense of wonder, which is tricky to get out of a game these days when we’ve been bombarded with Ubisoft’s penchant for slamming ?’s and BS activities across a giant game-space only to make it as boring as a limp noodle.
There is very little hand-holding, a few pointers here and there, and I’m cast into the wide world to explore and learn its systems. From Site of Grace (I’m told these are like *Souls bonfires) to Site of Grace until I get a magic horse, and learn to level up. It’s here that the game proper kicks off and you’ll have to wait for part two of this newbie’s journey to see how I fared.
Dead again, you bet!
That is half the fun!