Elden Ring Is the Evolution of Dark Souls Fans Have Waited For

Elden Ring is Dark Souls set in an open world. That's the general elevator pitch that FromSoftware decided to settle on when creating its latest action game. While this might sound like a rather straightforward idea, after playing a couple of hours of Elden Ring, I'm far more excited to see what the studio actually does within this structure. 

As part of the recent Elden Ring Network Test that took place, I was able to check out roughly three hours of what the game will have in store. Those three hours were primarily filled with exploration, dying, and, well, a whole lot more dying. It perhaps goes without saying that Elden Ring is going to again be a challenging venture for many, even those who might be more experienced with the Soulslike subgenre. 

If you do have experience with FromSoftware's previous games, namely Dark Souls, much of those skills should transfer over seamlessly to Elden Ring. While comparing other titles to Dark Souls has become a punchline in recent years, Elden Ring is quite literally modeled after the beloved action franchise in nearly every way. Specifically, almost every combat tactic that was seen in Dark Souls has come back in some form here with Elden Ring, which really cements the idea that this is looking to be FromSoftware's first formal return to the genre since Dark Souls III released in 2016. 

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(Photo: Bandai Namco)

That being said, it's clear that the studio is also looking to implement some of its learnings from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice as well. Comparatively, there isn't a whole lot of Sekiro's DNA that is prominently found within Elden Ring -- at least based on what I have played so far. Despite this, the game does seem to give players a greater focus on traversal and mobility, which was a large aspect of Sekiro. A dedicated jump button in Elden Ring is perhaps the most obvious instance of this, although I admittedly didn't use this mechanic all that much in my own play time. 

Speaking more to mobility, though, since this is an open-world game, Elden Ring includes a mount that allows you to more quickly get around from place to place. This is the one element of the game that feels entirely unique to Elden Ring within FromSoftware's larger catalog of work, and, honestly, I really love how it has been implemented. Jumping on and off of your mount takes less time than any other game I can think of and the added ability to also jump while riding along is quite unique. In fact, during one moment when playing, I came across an area within the world that, at first, I thought I couldn't access whatsoever. When I remembered that my "horse" could jump its way into this locale for me, though, it opened up a whole new dungeon that I wasn't expecting to explore.

By far the most exciting part of my time with Elden Ring came with the handful of bosses that I discovered. I faced off against three bosses in total during my short experience with the game, although not every baddie was equal to each other. Two of the three I found were sequestered away in their own dungeons that I had to intentionally go out of my way to find while the third fell along the demo's main path. The actual big boss, which was called "Margit the Fell Omen," caved my face in more than once, leading to me to eventually turn around to go try to level up a bit more before squaring off again. Conversely, defeating the two bosses I found tucked away gave me items that better improved my overall character. While I didn't need to take on these baddies at all, doing so made the rest of my time in the game that much easier. In all of my time with Elden Ring, this is what really sold the experience for me. 

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Being able to explore this strange, new land to come across numerous one-off dungeons which might contain unique boss fights or items to obtain gave me an idea of why FromSoftware wanted to work in this open-world structure to begin with. While previous games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, or even Sekiro had linear sections where you'd need to continue retrying until you advanced, Elden Ring seems more open to allowing you to take in this world at your own pace. And while every square inch of the world might be covered in danger, the game as a whole feels a bit more accessible since you'll never be stuck in one specific area. 

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Elden Ring was already one of my most anticipated releases of 2022 simply because, well, it's another title from FromSoftware. And while that's all I need at a baseline level to be excited about the game, after seeing more of what FromSoftware is looking to actually accomplish in Elden Ring, my excitement has gone up even more. If you're someone who has adored what the Japan-based studio has done in the past, then Elden Ring seems like it's absolutely going to be another game that you'll need to pick up in only a few short months.

Elden Ring is set to release on February 25, 2022. It will be coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC platforms when it does launch.