Announced more than two years ago, Elden Ring quickly ended up at the center of the expectations of many gamers, especially for all fans of Souls-Like and From Software titles. After all a title made by Hidetaka Miyazaki, in collaboration with George Raymond Richard Martin (Chronicles of Ice and Fire), could only arouse extreme interest from the entire videogame panorama.
After its presentation, Elden Ring remained in the shadows for a couple of years, until it remonstrated during the Summer Game Fest, receiving numerous acclaim and some doubts regarding its similarity, at times excessive, with the Dark Souls series. A few days after the first official gameplay, 15 minutes, we can finally tell you our experience firsthand.
We have indeed got to play a preview of the Elden Ring Closed Network Test (for about ten hours), being able to approach the first hours of the adventure and explore a small portion of the game world. It is fair to remember that everything you will read represents a mere analysis of a preliminary version of the title and, therefore, far from the final product.
We can, however, already now confirm that Elden Ring is exactly what could be expected following the gameplay presentation, with all its pros and cons. A production that remains faithful to the great quality, the constant inspiration of the artistic sector and the sublime attention to detail to which From Software has accustomed us in the last decade… even if perhaps too anchored to the successes of its historical past.
The new world From Software
From Software, con Elden Ring, try to get away from the beautiful and well-established open map areas of Dark Souls, Sekiro and Bloodborne, to experience something completely new for them, the open world. All while trying to keep the typical characteristics of the Souls-Like intact, enhancing them in a completely different context.
An undoubtedly courageous and complex choice Miyazaki managed to put on extreme boldness, offering us some very good impressions, along with some doubts that we hope will be dispelled in the final version of the game.
Elden Ring immerses us in the Interregnum, an extremely vast and threatening game world, where the aim is to collect the fragments to forge the Elden Ring and become the new Elden Lord. An apparently simple objective (although he remembers too much the plot of Dark Souls) but that will lead our protagonist to walk inside a large number of dungeons adorned with deadly traps, horrifying creatures and fearsome bosses.
From the very first moments of the game, Elden Ring abandons us to our fate within the wonderful game world; no reference point, no fixed route. There is the possibility to face a short tutorial but once we come out of the "Cave of Knowledge" everything is placed in our hands.
We have to admit that the initial impact has been completely different from any type of open world experienced so far, perhaps thanks to the artistic direction of From Software which reveals itself to be incomparable even in a context so different from its “comfort zone”.
Despite an apparently not very dense game world in content, it only takes a few steps to find caves, camps and giant creatures intent on dragging a cart with mysterious contents. Each structure, each visual horizon hides a story; there is never something randomly arranged, everything always has a purpose.
All these small details make the exploratory part work very well, at least in its first hours of play. Elden Ring constantly pushes the player to eagerly search for new things to do in every inch of the game map and, for this reason, some dungeons are hidden in a cunning way, just to not be found easily. A pretty good idea but one that tends to clash with a slight balance problem given by wanting to define the level of monsters based on the areas in which they will be stationed.
While this mechanic could define a game progression, in some ways, guided, on the other hand, the dungeons left behind at first turn out to be extremely simple to complete once the player's level is too high for that area.
Although artistically wonderful, the version of Elden Ring we tested suffered from numerous technical uncertainties, perhaps due to a poor optimization of the Closed Network Test. Don't expect a visual impact comparable to the recent Demon's Souls remake, or even just Sekiro, such a large open world, and above all “Cross-Gen”, must necessarily compromise: less refined textures, sporadic pop-ups and some drop in framerates. All smudges that can be solved in time for the launch of the game.
Visually speaking, Elden Ring seemed to us like an open world version of Dark Souls 3, with greater attention to detail, supported by an artistic system of the highest level and adorned with a galvanizing soundtrack that is well contextualized within the rooms.
Elden Ring o Dark Souls 4?
If structurally Elden Ring is, to all intents and purposes, a new production, as far as gameplay is concerned, we plow through rather well-known lands. The basic mechanics, in fact, have not been distorted compared to the Dark Souls saga, with an almost identical combat system, which leaves even some animations, the HUD, the indicators and other small details unchanged. In short, a rather evident asset recycling that left a bad taste in our mouths towards a title that looks more like a real sequel to Dark Souls 3, written by George RR Martin, compared to a real new intellectual property .
Here, then, that many spells simply undergo a name change, the bonfires become the "Sites of Grace" and the Runes replace the Souls. Before you misunderstand us, if in Sekiro and Bloodborne the recurring game elements were an evident authorial signature capable of defining a genre, in Elden Ring this factor is perceived much less by virtue of numerous graphics that have been carried over, without any changes from the Dark Souls series.
Clearly there is no shortage of news, some of which are quite important. Let's start with the jump, a mechanic introduced in Sekiro and which offers more dynamism to the clashes, also allowing you to explore the game world in a much more fluid way than in the past. Some stealth mechanics have been introduced to allow you to face certain groups of enemies without having to immediately start with open-face melee clashes and therefore offer different approaches to the player.
There is no open world without a mount e Torrente is the perfect means of transport for the Interregnum. It is a cross between a horse and a goat, fast and capable of exploiting the updrafts to climb high passes. Torrente, however, is not only a means of transport but also a very important element for clashes with enemies in the game world, consider that we defeated a huge dragon simply by sitting in the saddle.
Our faithful steed can be recalled whenever we wish thanks to a ring that will be given to us by Melina, the girl with no left eye we will meet in the early stages of the adventure. The girl who since the first reveal has always had a central part in the iconography of Elden Ring, proves to be a cornerstone of the dynamics of the game. It will be possible, in fact, to recall it at each Site of Grace to talk to it or, more importantly, to level up by consuming the Runes in our possession.
The Runes, as per tradition, can also be used to buy items from some mysterious merchants or to upgrade weapons (complete with Weapons Arts) and equipment. The iconic "Ashes" also return, a material that can be found in secret places or, trivially, by defeating the bosses of the dungeons, which will allow you to enchant weapons by giving them elemental power. Finally, the Runes, as in any self-respecting Souls-Like, in the event of the death of our character, will lie on the verge of his demise and will be lost forever if you die before collecting them again.
Elden Ring it does not differ much from the "difficulties" already experienced in the Souls-Like of the From Software house. You must always be alert to avoid any traps, know how to read the attack patterns of the enemies (which after all these years begin to repeat themselves slavishly iteration after iteration), evaluate well the equipment available, and increase the correct statistics for our class (which by the way, in the Network Test there were only five: Bloody Wolf, Champion, Enchanted Knight, Prophet and Warrior).
However, From Software, he tried to introduce a series of elements to simplify the experience, such as the possibility of summoning Spirits who can fight alongside us, or being able to play cooperatively with three other friends and face the entire adventure together, interacting with specific totems scattered throughout the map. Of course there is still the likelihood of being overrun by other players, prompting you to pay extra attention as you explore the immense gameplay.
Also interesting slight differences in the use of flasks, divided, as per tradition, into those to recover life and those to recover focus (mana). Interchangeable, and refillable, in the Sites of Grace whenever we feel the need, in Elden ring these flasks can also be refilled during the exploratory phases, eliminating small larvae around the game world that bring to mind the iconic lizards seen. in the previous four Souls by from Software.
If we die, which will happen often, we could decide whether be reborn at the nearest Site of Grace or at the Marika Statues, placed almost everywhere in the Interregnum. A compass positioned at the top of the HUD also works to help us orient ourselves during exploration, as well as show us where the runes lost during the last fight lie.
Finally, the map is freely available but apart from cataloging the activated Sites of Grace, (which will be really many), it does not try to provide other information, limiting itself to playing the role of a world map in which it is possible to apply numerous indicators to remind us of the places where we should return afterwards. Undoubtedly a nice way to stimulate exploration, make it less guided and more immersive.
Elden Ring is undoubtedly the most ambitious title ever made by From Software, it can be seen from the first moments spent within the Interregnum. The care placed in every single object, enemy, structure and play area is at impeccable levels but it must be emphasized that, at least in the expectations that we had created, we were hoping for a much more detached production from Dark Souls. Something more original, capable of enchanting and surprising us, as Bloodborne and Sekiro did in the past. Instead, Elden Ring, at least in these first hours of play, proves to be a beautiful work, very funny but too derivative.
In its ability to kidnap us inside the Interregnum, Elden Ring seemed to us a love letter to flatter the most avid fans of From Software's historical past, rather than a production that, like Sekiro, wants to place itself with a very precise and, above all, unprecedented identity. We want to remind you, once again, that all these impressions arise from the few hours of gameplay experienced firsthand and that there is still a lot to discover, and to fight, in the Interregnum which, already in the few areas explored during this test, showcases an artistically superb, well-kept, vast world, sprinkled with secrets and gruesome enemies.
If From Software were to manage to maintain the same quality in the contents for the duration of the game, Elden Ring could become a real daydream for any lover of Souls-Like and Action-RPG, as well as one of the most significant productions of next year.