Elden Ring Gameplay Footage Reaction
Contributed by DJMMT
This is a little late, but since the game is a few months from release I thought it was still relevant to talk about. Let me preface this by saying that I am a Dark Souls fan, but I am not a Dark Souls fanboy. I have played the original Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1 – 3, and Bloodborne. I have Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice but haven’t had time to play it yet. I’ve also played a number of other games in the genre from other studios. My overall assessment is that while FromSoftware invented the genre, they are not the best to have executed it. I continue to buy and enjoy their games and I will buy and presumably enjoy Elden Ring. But I will absolutely not pretend it looks like the greatest game ever made. So here’s what specific points I took from the footage recently released.
It Looks like a Dark Souls Game
This is not a comment on the gameplay mechanics. It’s a comment on the visual style. Personally, I’m over the abomination infused medieval setting of Dark Souls game. It was definitely cool at the start, but now we’re four games into this style plus Bloodborne, which is similar but arguably a bit different. Sekiro was a breath of fresh air simply because it was a new setting. That was one of the reasons I really liked Nioh from the first announcement. It was nice to get a different setting and aesthetic after multiple games set in the same bleak looking castles and dragons art style.
Let me be clearing in saying that I don’t hate this art style. It works. Like the talking pot man is peak FromSoftware. It’s funny and iconically theirs. I’m just tired of seeing it. I know they can do something different and wish they would. Even the little bits of story are classic formula FromSoftware. Someone from “beyond the fog” travels to a cursed land and has to fight some entrenched lords to free/cleanse the land. Do literally anything new please.
Manual Jump Button
Praise the Lord! One of the single worse decisions in this genre is the fact that there’s no manual jump button. Not just in Dark Souls but in pretty much every game in the genre, even from other studios. Who thought it was OK to have no jump button in an action RPG in the mid to late 2000’s? I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten stuck behind a box or rock because you can’t jump in these games without a running start. So glad to see that fixed.
Yes! Navigating these games sucks. It’s the worst. Open world games need direction. Sure you don’t need to follow the guide, but having the guide should be a standard in open world games built around exploration in 2022. I’m glad to see the guiding light and hope it works well. They also finally have a real map. That’s awesome. And it has up to 100 custom map markers! Plus they have beacons that appear in the landscape that you can actually see. Hooray for progress, FromSoftware.
I love everything they showed about that horse. It appears out of thin air like in Immortals Fenyx Rising. It can jump. And not just pointless jumps for fun. It can jump over obstacles and up ledges. This is literally platforming while on a horse. You can fight while on the horse. You can ride air lifts to jump up cliffs while still on the horse. Traversing this open world seems super convenient, as it should be.
I have always been very ambivalent about “stealth” in Dark Souls games, because it’s garbage. It’s not really stealth as much as backstabbing. It works but not the way modern stealth is meant to work. What I saw in this footage seemed more akin to actual stealth, and I liked it. I want the stealth to work like Assassin’s Creed Origins. You can kneel and sneak. You can attack quietly. If the attack gets you a kill, other enemies aren’t alerted. Modern gaming stealth. Not just an opening critical attack before everyone starts attacking you.
Additionally, sneaking seems to be useful for more than just killing. You can apparently sneak past enemies and not alert them. Not just sprint past them and hope you escape their domain before they catch you. If possible, I’d want to stealth a significant portion of the game. But since we know that won’t work out well when it comes to boss fights, the strategy probably won’t be effective as far as character building until you reach NG+.
There have always been certain tools in FromSoftware games but they always seemed a bit useless in my opinion. Because the games weren’t really built around using them. This footage showed a telescope that was used to scout an area and then take a stealth approach. That’s cool, assuming the stealth actually works. Then the telescope becomes really useful. Assuming it works properly and effectively, I’d love to see other similar tools that can help shape your gameplay strategy in meaningful ways.
For an open world RPG, item crafting isn’t particularly surprising or special. But what I did like was that you can craft on your person. No travelling to a camp just to make arrows. Thank the Lords of Cinder! I’m curious to know more about how resources work in the game but I’m confident it will be pretty standard. Here’s hoping arrows and bombs aren’t specialty items that you have to be conservative with because the resources are super rare.
That’s a Big Map!
The footage shows a Breath of the Wild style landscape shot with the player standing on a high point. It looks awesome with a big map to go along with it. But my question is was that an authentic representation of the game world? Can I actually walk/ride to all those places, like in BotW, or was a lot of that just decorative and inaccessible? Hard to say right now but I’d love to have that confirmed before release. Along with this, I really liked seeing the open world map traversal with no loading screens when entering new areas. I wonder if this will be a PS4/XBO feature or strictly available on next gen and PC.
Additionally, the map seemed to be scattered with cool stuff to stumble upon. Hidden optional dungeons, that aren’t paid DLC. Traveling caravans that you can steal valuable items from. It was really cool to see a boss just running around the open world. No fancy introduction. No epic speech that doesn’t really seem to matter to the plot. Just a fight. I had hoped the entire game would work like this, where you could just randomly fall into every boss fight. But then they showed the classic boss door fog and my hopes were crushed. In general though, it looks like a living world rather than a waiting world like Dark Souls always is.
The ability to make choices in an open world RPG seem like standard fare, but I’m curious to know to what extent they actually affect the game’s narrative and overall experience. In the footage, we saw the character choose to take the main gate instead of a back entrance to a fortress. But then they ultimately took the back entrance to the fortress in the long run. This essentially showed that the ability to make that choice was moot and mostly just an Easter egg to have FromSoftware shit on the player, as is tradition. I’d love to see some actual choices that matter in the game that amount to more than just an NPC going to a base or giving you a special item later.
What I really liked seeing was that dungeons seemed to have multiple paths forward. Not just multiple approaches to the combat but actual choices on which direction to take to obtain the treasure at the end of the dungeon.
They didn’t show the gameplay HUD during the footage, so I’m assuming it will be the standard HP, stamina, MP bars. But part of me would love to see them do away with stamina altogether. Yes, I know that for many people that’s what makes these games, and that’s fine. But I don’t see how that standard gameplay system can be fluid when you have to deal with stamina while fighting a dragon whilst riding a horse.
Dual wielding weapons looked cool and appeared to work smoothly, but does it really? I never dual wield in Dark Souls, because it’s really not smooth, in my opinion. The stamina system makes dual wielding unruly until you play NG+ and get massive amounts of stamina. I’d love to play the whole first playthrough in stealth dual wield, but I won’t hold my breath.
The magic looks awesome. Not just not trash, which would have been enough to make me happy after five games of mostly garbage magic spells. But this magic actually looks good and useful. I hope it’s easy to use and not super inaccurate and ineffective. I’d love to do a mage build for once in a FromSoftware game.
I have spent years complaining about online multiplayer in Dark Souls. The system is complete trash and needs a massive overhaul. Just make the online coop work like it does in literally any other modern game. No stupid dead or alive mechanics. No level matching limitations. No annoying bells. No kicking people out after the boss dies. Just let people join each other’s lobbies and play cooperative until they want to stop. Though I personally have no interest in it, I’m glad and not at all surprised to see PVP, but screw invasions. I don’t know how they’ll work but in a full open world game, that sounds like a terrible idea. Imagine travelling across half the map without saving, getting invaded, and then losing all your progress. They better have some options to set invasion limits or turn it off without losing coop play in the process.
Just kidding. But not really. You can collect and summon spirits to fight for you. You can even use them in boss fights. They have HP and can take multiple hits before disappearing. I really like what they showed of this system and hope it works as well as it seems. It would be cool to be able to capture and summon past bosses, but I doubt they allow such OP summons. I just hope capturing spirits to summon isn’t built around some RNG bullshit where you have to keep fighting the same enemy over and over again until you get lucky enough for a summoning spirit drop. Hope I’m not giving FromSoftware any bad ideas to implement.
Overall, I really liked what I saw in this footage. I was not super excited about Elden Ring going into the footage. It was just another Dark Souls game that I was eventually going to play. Now I’m actually interested on more than just surface level. I’m not sold on it being GOTY next year. But I do want to play it. I also really appreciated that the footage ended with the player losing the boss fight. That’s classic FromSoftware.
What did you think of the Elden Ring footage?