Elden Ring: Is It Truly Everyone’s Favorite Game?


Elden Ring is everyone’s new favorite game, yet the screams of anguish from every player would make you think otherwise. 

“It’s Dark Souls hard,” is the term used by many players when a game is considered to be beyond challenging. It has been overused, yet still holds true for the most part, even ten years after the first Dark Souls game. But what of the newest installment of challenging and difficult games by Fromsoft? Does it live up to the hype, challenge, and praise? 

Released on February 25th, 2022, Elden Ring was developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The game was directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki as well, who was assisted by fantasy powerhouse novelist George R. R. Martin. It has sold 12 million copies globally as of three weeks past its release. It is the fifth installment in the Dark Souls franchise, behind Dark Souls 1, 2 and 3 and Bloodborne. 

It’s “an overhaul of dark souls that simplifies some things while adding some new shiny things that dark souls very much needed. However, this could’ve been another souls game and there would be no sound difference,” as Anthony Huynh, veteran Dark Souls player, said after playing through the game.

The game has been heralded by many game critics as one of the best games ever made. A majority of gaming reviewers and magazines have nothing but praise for the series.

Elden Ring ratings.

But what about the players? What do the fans of all the other “souls-like” games think of it? This was my first souls-like game as well as many others due to its promise of an “open world”which all four of its predecessors previously lacked. The game had great promise to draw in both new and old fans with its enticing mechanics and bosses.

“Everything’s fun and games until you come across a human-sized boss. Then you’re reminded what game you’re playing,” said Dan Porosoff, an avid fan of Dark Souls. “I would rate the game a solid 9/10, but BloodBorne is in a realm of its own.” 

Dan is one of the few that actually likes the game more than other Dark Soul games. “As a whole, I just love the world of Elden Ring. It’s crafted so well and with so many layers of depth— literally, in some cases—that I’m willing to forgive the game for most of the frustrating moments it dished out to me.”

“An open world I actually enjoy exploring,” said Ian Mcmillan, a newcomer to the Dark Souls genre. Both he and I loved the open world aspect. It gives the player a chance to have a break when they are stuck against a tough area or boss. They can level up or do other quests on the side and come back at a later date.

Other Souls fans have called Elden Ring “the worst Souls Game” and detest the open world aspect. It also encourages solo play over multiplayer due to the introduction of a mount, your pet horse. The horse is disabled in multiplayer play and for some boss fights that take horses into account when balancing, you could find yourself at a rather large deficit if you decide to party up with a friend or two. The horse and your singular summon are your only friends now if you want to have a smoother play-through. 

Time will tell if the fans or the reviewers are right when it comes to how good the game is. Either way, you can say it has indeed made an impression on the gaming world. 

Two major bosses in the game: Malenia, Blade of Miquella and Starscourge Radahn.

While Dark Souls games have been known for their punishing level of difficulty, they aren’t exactly known for their amazing stories. This one follows a similar start of a fallen character who must slay a certain group of enemies, this time, to become the Elden Lord. The Elden Ring has shattered and you have to kill the shard bearers who have its fragments. 

In the world of Elden Ring, everyone lives eternal lives; it’s a world without death. It’s not clearly explained for the most part without doing some background research, but it has enough to grip you either way. You can’t help but want to destroy these epic monsters and tainted people, especially after being called “tarnished” and “maidenless” over and over again. 

The first, yet one of the most difficult bosses of the game: Margit, the Fell Omen.

Elden Ring is the kind of game that forces you to turn to their Wikipedia page because you can’t fully wrap your head around what background and world actually means in the game, yet you are drawn to it like a moth to a flame. You can really feel the presence of Martin in the background, but it’s still not there yet when you compare it to games primarily focused on story telling.  The most unique aspect of its storytelling stems from the descriptions of items, which has done a better job of filling in holes than games who have tried that in the past.e

Maliketh, the Black Blade, a notoriously fast and painful later boss of the game.

Souls games have always been known for their mechanics. They are very rewarding when practiced and for the most part, Elden Ring is no different. It has the same roll and block skills from the previous games but also an actual jumping mechanic which could only be invoked during a run in past games. The weapons feel cool to use, especially the ones crafted by the souls of the bosses, but I do wish they had more of them to choose from. There are a total of 20 boss weapons you can acquire in the game (19 if you take away the one that is just an item). There were 30 in Dark Souls 3, 55 in Dark Souls 2, 17 in Dark Souls 1, while Bloodborne has a different type of weapon set entirely. Another new addition is the aforementioned open world which is a new expedition that FromSoft has taken on. It is truly a double-edged sword. 

The boss weapon of one of the early bosses, the Tree Sentinel, using its signature ability.

The stunning visuals of meadows, forest, caves, and swamps are great for eye candy, but it lacks something all the other games have. When you were stuck on a boss in the other games, you would be forced to change your strategy and work hard to defeat a boss. In Elden Ring, there are only a few bosses that are required to finish the story, while a majority are optional.

The problem lies in its open world; you are free to explore and grind levels in a way that can overwhelm the boss with your superior stats. “Most of the bosses would just get wrecked within ten hits,” said Montgomery Fish, a war-torn veteran Souls player of ten years. 

Popular streamer and youtuber, MoistCr1tikal, facing off against my favorite boss of the game, Starscourge Radahn.

It feels a lot less satisfying than the other games because of it and makes the game feel a lot easier than it should be with the sheer power and damage that each boss cradles. As a new player, myself, I enjoyed the open world because I was often under-leveled due to my lack of understanding of the genre which had me getting folded like cardboard by each and every boss. Being able to come back at a later date with better gear indeed felt better for new players, but it actually ruins some of the challenge even if it was still a struggle. After all, if any veterans did this, the game would become way too easy. 

The Erdtree, the focal point of the game.

Something no one has complained about has to be the stunning visuals of the Elden Ring world. The game has a Massive Erdtree that you can see at every part of the game and menacing bosses and mobs that nearly crash your computer with how much pressure they are putting on your graphics card. The forests are lush, green, and drop wolves out of trees, while the crypts are dark, gloomy, and full of creatures that force you to watch your back. A majority of the boss arenas were made just solely for their fight like Starscourge Radahn and his massive blood-soaked dunes of fallen friends and foes alike, all done in by his madness. The location that left me most in awe was the underground city of Nokron. The sky above it was illuminated by a web of magnificent stars, causing you to forget that you are deep underground. There are crypt-like buildings and a sacred beasts’ forest, all within this underground eternal city. The majority of Elden Ring simply looks magnificent. I just hope your computer will live to tell the tale.

Nokron, the Eternal City.

Another glaring weakness has to do with some of the actual tools you have access to in the game. While the other Souls games only had poison and a long-time damaging status affliction, Elden Ring brings a new type to the table, leaving poison in the dust. Its name? Scarlet Rot. While poison lasted for a while on both enemies and the player, it did small amounts of damage over time to compensate for its long-term lingering effect. Bleed is on the other end of the spectrum, bringing high amounts of damage immediately, but not lasting nearly as long as poison.  

The strongest scarlet rot ability, Ekzykes’s breath.

But Scarlet Rot has the best of both worlds. Not only does it front load massive amounts of damage to normal and boss enemies alike, it also lasts as long as the time it takes to finish a 80 page psychology paper. While there are only three “spells” or incantations as they are called in the game, two of them require little more than asking for a higher leveled friend to help kill a dragon or two, setting you up for the rest of the game. 

“It’s like poison and bleeding had a baby,” explained Montgomery Fish, who believes that Scarlet Rot is a pushed mechanic that ”cheeses” the game. I’m guilty of that, myself. I got help slaying a dragon that used the best version of Scarlet Rot and used it as my trump card constantly against each and every boss. I called myself the Lord of Rot for how much joy I got out of using it and how often I did throughout my playthrough. 

Decaying Ekzykes, the scarlet rot dragon hoarding the best scarlet rot incantation in the game.

Dan Porosoff, on the other hand, disagrees. “While I think Scarlet Rot is definitely really, really good, I don’t think it’s anything really new to a Fromsoft game,” Porosoff said. “They’ve always had ways of killing the bad guys in fashions that speed up the process tenfold, this is just the newest way to do so.”

Nevertheless, the introduction of this busted mechanic made killing most bosses a game of hide and seek, especially those where you could ride around on your horse to get away and have your summon draw their attention. 

Speaking of summons, there has been one in this game that wipes the floor with any other—the mimic tear. The mimic tear creates a copy of your current self with all your weapons, incantations, spells, and potions. The only difference from you besides its stats that increases as you level it up with material is that it uses no mana for its incantations and spells. You know what’s better than using what Scarlet Rot attack, two of course! With your double doing the heavy work, while using no mana as well as drawing the ire of the boss, you get the easy time of assaulting it from behind until it dies, jugging the aggro every now and then. The mimic tear is just that good and you only need to kill the first four mandatory bosses to reach it. 

The mimic tear in all his glory.

One of the constant mechanics in each souls game is the punishment of help. In older games, you could summon up to three players to aid you, but with each one, the bosses health bar would increase as well. The same is in Elden Ring, but with the introduction of your doppelgänger, the bosses health bar would remain as if you were fighting it solo. They said you can only count on yourself and it never rings more true than with the mimic tear. This creates no chances of your partner instantly dying and leaving you with a jacked-up boss or them disconnecting out of nowhere due to server issues. The mimic tear is there for your every need and only at the expense of some of your HP! Take one chug from a health pot and you are good to go.

“Souls-like” games are notoriously known for their hard and intense fights that become fun once you figure out their mechanics. How do the bosses of Elden Ring hold up in this regard?  

Malenia, Blade of Miquella, debatably the hardest boss in the game due to her scarlet rot attacks and life steal—the latter never seen before by any previous souls-game boss.

When longtime fan, infamously known for calling Dark Souls games ‘easy’ was asked what he thought about the game, he had a lot to say. “The scaling in this game is so crap. If anyone has actually played a Dark Souls type game from From Software, you would know that bosses used to be hard because the game’s mechanics were hard. If you mastered the mechanics, then the game became easy. This game opted for the “everything hits like a truck and at light speed” for difficulty instead. No amount of skill is gonna stop me from getting one-shot,” said Montgomery Fish.  

A later boss of the game, Godfrey, First Elden Lord.

Fish had an especially hard time later in the game, getting killed over and over by boss attacks that he understood, but could do little to get around them unlike in previous Souls Games. He has been asking other Souls players about how they feel about this game and most say the same thing: its a downgrade from the others and the open world is stupid and makes the game “unsouls-like.” 

The boss arena of Starscourge Radahn.

“The game holds your hand at every step of the way by putting bonfires (respawn/save locations) everywhere,” Fish also said. “It doesn’t get you prepared for the real Souls games.”

One of the many dragon bosses throughout the game, usually combated while on a mount—exclusive to Elden Ring.

Just like Fish predicted, I became annoyed when every now and then, the spawn points wouldn’t be by the boss as they were in the past. Sometimes I would have to run through a courtyard, jumping up a ruined staircase, while dodging an Indiana Jones boulder before running past a jacked-up knight, taking an elevator before finally being able to reach the boss. Having an unexpected experience like this on repeat resulted in me shoving my face with Price Chopper Market 32 discount chips as I muttered to myself, “one more run,” as it was nearly 3 am. It was at that point that my roommate asked, “Want me to just help you beat it?” I believe scenes like these are the true Elden Ring experience. 

My character, Kulu, sits happily upon the Elden Throne after completing the simplest ending of the game.

In the end, it all comes down to preference. Most of the veterans don’t plan on starting a New Game+ run which is essentially a reset of the world, but allows you to keep your level, stats, items, etc. People like Fish and Porosoff played through the other games multiple times, enjoying each and every playthrough, but the same can’t be said for Elden Ring.