Overview Elden Ring – The culmination of the From Software formula?

Elden Ring, oh Elden Ring… Crystallizing all the expectations of From Software fans for over two years, while intriguing a wider audience thanks to his ambitions, Elden Ring marks a turning point in the heirs of Souls-like. More open, more ambitious, richer, the game aims to renew the formula without disturbing the studio’s game fans too much. What qualifies it as Dark Souls 4 that doesn’t say its name? Almost, if we want to make easy shortcuts, but Elden Ring shows us that the devil is in the details and this first look shows that we are far from being a simple sequel.

Preview conditions: We played the closed beta of the game for 12 hours, on four of the five slot machines, and on PS5, mainly in Performance mode.

Freedom that changes everything

Elden Ring is first and foremost a gamble. That of being able to turn a well-established formula, with a generally well-divided level design, into a much richer open world, offering a freedom that makes controlling situations much more difficult for the studio to handle. A bet that necessarily evokes that of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which obviously influenced this project that is Elden Ring. This can be seen at first glance when our Sans-Eclat opens a heavy door that reveals the vastness of the open world that hides behind.

However, after having traveled a few hours through Entre-Terre, the sensation of the From Software games immediately takes hold, and the comparison with the Nintendo game ends there. Truth be told, the comparison to Shadow of The Colossus is just as easy and eye-catching in the way we see this world, with our character lost in these settings where gigantism is everywhere, with fortress rubble strewn across the plains.

And a bit like the game of Fumito Ueda, this loneliness of our person is broken with the animals that roam this world, something quite unusual in a Souls. Therefore, we feel that the whole is much more alive than usual, or less regretful, and that changes a bit the approach that we can have of the universe.

What changes everything is obviously the open world, which brings a totally different level design than what From Software had us used to. Between a jump button (free), the ability to call a horse, completely evade groups of enemies, and come on, the experience changes completely.

Hard to see all the possibilities of this world with this beta alone, given the walls that the latter put in our way. But despite this small part of the map that they have given us a look, we can see that the study already masters the codes of the open world, with many secrets to discover here and there that will facilitate the progression, be it through a cave, an area full of enemies, mysterious ruins, etc. And, of course, new challenges are presented to us every time.

A balance always very well found

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Also, since we are talking about defiance, keep in mind that the opening of the Elden Ring is not only concerned with your world, but also with the audience you are targeting. If we find everything that the salt of a Souls does, with ruthless enemies, life bars that visibly melt and the need to dominate the right moment in each boss, we have to admit that this title seemed the most accessible of all. . From Software games, at least when we walk through the open areas. With so much space, we are far from the claustrophobia of the Souls, and therefore, the range of action offered is wider to get out of a situation.

Let’s take for example a guard camp located at the beginning of the beta, which was packed with soldiers. With the ability to hide in the foliage and lure them out of the camp to pit them one on one, decimating them became a piece of cake. Also, during the toughest bosses, we were able to help different spirits that made a wonderful decoy, while also delivering significant additional damage, as if playing cooperatively.

In addition, the world is full of small dungeons called “Legacy”, where From Software’s “old-fashioned” level design reappears, with mini-bosses at the end. These dungeons are short, as are the mini-boss fights, and the sense of accomplishment is more immediate, thus offering a real sense of progress for those facing the big bosses.

Fans of difficulty can rest assured, the challenge is still there, with very tough enemies that make us sweat, Margit the Fallen leading the way. But at a time when everyone is ignoring the problem of difficulty in games from the studio (and in general), it’s nice to see From Software trying to meet everyone’s needs by trying to strike a balance. May I satisfy everyone, even if they have. The miracle formula has not yet been found.

Beyond these questions, the formula wins especially in ergonomics. Given the immensity that is offered to us, it is sometimes difficult to locate the sites of grace (bonfires 2.0), and a light will help us to guide us towards them to avoid looking for them in circles. In addition, the fact of being able to move almost at any time to one of these sites clearly facilitates progress, and unnecessary round trips are avoided.

The culmination of all study knowledge

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Apart from that, Elden Ring takes more or less the same Souls codes with a gameplay thought as an evolution of Dark Souls 3, where we also find the specific abilities of each weapon. Skills that can be customized using war ashes, that can be collected everywhere (like against mini-bosses), and that allow, for example, to launch magical attacks such as lightning or tornadoes, even for the most warrior characters. A significant advantage that makes different constructions more flexible and provides even more possibilities.

Magic seems to have benefited from a particular care in the game, with impressive effects and a fairly varied number of spells, although we were only able to scratch the surface of what the title will have to offer us. For those who like to hide in the shadows, we can see that the title takes advantage of Sekiro’s legacy, and planting enemies in chains without being noticed is a pleasure, while varying the approaches a bit.

The gameplay n’a donc pas droit à une révolution (après tout, il n’en n’avait pas besoin), but on notera also the presence of combats sur le dos de notre cheval, qui s’avèrent être un peu en deçà the rest. Very imprecise when fighting enemies who have their feet on the ground, they become a little more interesting against horsemen, or even against the famous dragon that we saw in the last video.

Other than that, the horse is still a joy to handle, as the latter can also run and double jump, not to mention the shortcuts it can take in some places on the map to climb a cliff with a hoof kick. Therefore, we love to gallop in this open world, although it does not offer us a technical slap.

Ambitions still limited by technology

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We must admit that Elden Ring is not the most successful visually. If we really want to blame everything on the beta, which shows us a game that is not yet finished, the observation is still quite tepid. Between the clipping and old-fashioned textures, we know ahead of time that the game will suffer in this regard, which isn’t very surprising given its cross-generational gaming status and the studio’s first attempt in an open world. Since we are talking about the technical part, we specify that once again we have noticed some AI problems, with unintelligent enemies, which is definitely recurring in the studio games.

That said, we can easily console ourselves with the artistic slap that Entre-Terre offers, where its giant tree gives a sacred stamp to the landscapes we travel. On PS5, we are also entitled to beautiful lighting and contrast effects, offering stunning atmospheres and panoramas that are sometimes impressive, almost on the level of the Gates of Bolétaria in the Demon’s Souls remake. We can also admire these landscapes in different ways thanks to the dynamic day-night cycle, which sometimes modifies the enemies that we will encounter in the world (for example, large bats chase us at night).

Finally, to finish with the artistic direction of the title, how can we not say a word about the music of the game, which perfectly accompanies the experience. Even if they remain for the most part fairly low-key, the game’s main theme still resonates with us several hours after these sessions, and we can’t wait to discover the soundtrack in its entirety.

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