Elden Ring

Cover Art - Elden Ring
Elden Ring is a collaboration between FromSoftware and George R. R. Martin. If there was ever a game that should be subtitled Prepare to Die, this is the one!

Explore the world of the Lands Between on your quest to find the shards of the shattered Elden Ring. Survive in a hostile world ruled by Tarnished, keepers of the shards that have been corrupted by the ring's power.

Can you combine all of the shards, repair the Elden Ring and become the Elden Lord?
Platforms PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One S/X, Xbox Series S/X, Windows
Developer FromSoftware
Publisher Bandai Namco
Player Count 1, can play online up to 4
HomePage https://en.bandainamcoent.eu/elden-ring/elden-ring

Game Review

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Journal Entries

March 28th, 2022

So I took the plunge, and earlier this week I jumped into the world of Elden Ring. The first big patch had dropped, so I figured the timing would be right.

The world of Elden Ring is gorgeous, and I am playing on PC. At only an hour in, everything is running well. I do wish there was ultrawide resolution support, but that’s not an uncommon gripe.

I was laughing at myself when I first started though, to the point I almost wished I streamed my initial foray. See, I have been playing Sifu recently, with square as the primary attack and R2 as a dodge.

So picture this as a game opening. I walk up to the first enemy of the game, I try to guzzle health potions, then stood my ground winding up a heavy attack! Not quite the epic opening battle I was hoping for! My muscle memory is set to the wrong game, becoming my first true enemy in Elden Ring.

20220328 - Elden Ring - You cant beat this boss but still
The first boss is designed for you to lose, but I could have handled myself better

I played for about an hour, with about 40 minutes of what I would call actual ‘gameplay’. The game’s systems have confused me for the moment, but I am pretty sure I will get there. The biggest issue is that I haven’t been reading anything that has come up on the screen.

For a class (if you can call it that in Elden Ring), I went with the Bandit. I thought the quick rogue with some ranged weapons would help. Once I have a handle on the controls, the Jack of All Trades approach is my plan.

Exploring the world, the Tree Sentinel tried to use me as a golf ball, but I knew that was coming. I took off more to the left and got splatted by a huge tree looking enemy. I wasn’t holding up so well!

So I snuck around the coastline and found a dark cave and found a mini gang of bosses. Surely Elden Ring will give me a path soon?

20220328 - Elden Ring - Summoning Old Knight Istvan definitely helped here
Yes I lost again, but summoning Old Knight Istvan definitely helped me not die immediately

I am happy to say I held my own but didn’t quite win the fight. The fault was all mine, and I still wrestled with muscle memory. But I overcame it enough to make some serious dents in the pair!

That’s the draw of FromSoftware games. Yes, the difficulty curve can be described as a wall rather than a curve. But once you scale that wall, the feeling of accomplishment is amazing. And while scaling that wall, you can feel the progress and see what you did ‘wrong’ to earn the You Died screen again.

I am going to give Elden Ring a break for a few days, and when rested I will give it a go again. And again. I need a few palette cleanser rounds to get my eye and muscle memory back in, then I can take it on properly. I will still get thumped, but at least that will be because of enemies rather than my bad inputs!

20220328 - Elden Ring - I can do this
OK world, I will be back

My only hesitation with this plan is I want to jump into Ghostwire: Tokyo a try at the end of the week. I am hoping the more FPS style controls won’t mess with my Elden Ring control training.

Only one way to find out!

April 4th, 2022

So many games I want to play, but Elden Ring has a slight priority at the moment. It’s not because of spoilers or anything like that. I need to develop the muscle memory for Elden Ring, pure and simple.

I already described how my Sifu Platinum run had caused me a few issues to start with. It’s not Elden Ring’s fault – I keep hitting the wrong buttons. Well, for the first 2 to 3 hours, I kept hitting the wrong buttons.

This week I played for another couple of hours, coming up to the 5-hour mark. And that last couple of hours made a huge difference!

20220404 - Elden Ring - I am no longer fleeing this big guy
The first few times I met this guy, I got bonked. I finally beat him though!

There is no way I have mastered Elden Ring. That takes far more than 5 hours. I have gone from getting my butt handed to me all the time to dispensing some pain!

I don’t know if I am doing things the ‘right’ way, but I am having fun. There is the first big opponent – the Tree Sentinal – to deal with. I haven’t even tried yet. But I have begun exploring a few areas and even took out the double bosses I blundered into during my first game.

There was an island that I thought I would have to wait until later to explore. Well, the coastal cavern actually leads to this island! That was a nice surprise and a gentle guide from Elden Ring that the world is truly interconnected.

20220404 - Elden Ring - Coming out the other side of the cavern was awesome
After exploring in darkness, coming out on another island to this site was amazing

This feeling of accomplishment is what FromSoftware has nailed in their games. Yes, the games have a steep learning curve. It’s also true that they are not for everyone, in every sense. But if you stick with the games, the rush of defeating that first big enemy sets you on a path of completion.

I decided to call it a day because a) my arms were hurting (bad chair) and b) some huge bear was handing me my butt. I thought I was clearing out some base with zombies (I haven’t looked at the lore yet) and assumed I was doing OK.

Well, I beat what I thought was a standard enemy, and all of a sudden it turns into this huge bear! Elden Ring was taking the mickey, surely!

20220404 - Elden Ring - Nope Nope Nope Nope
Appearing out of nowhere and lunging like crazy – Nope Nope Nope

So the cycle is set for Elden Ring. I was celebrating my progress, and Elden Ring looks at me with that little smile and pounds me to the ground. But I am on the path to defeating the bear. I already started making progress on when to dodge at the correct times.

See how we go later next week after my new comfy chair arrives!

April 11th, 2022

Saturday morning I got to put in a pretty good two-hour session with Elden Ring. I say pretty good – I got to play distraction-free and straight after a sleep. There were mistakes made gameplay-wise. That wasn’t as good!

I was getting slightly worried that at 5 hours I hadn’t unlocked any achievements. The first couple of hours, I didn’t make too much progress. The second couple of hours were starting to explore the game. Looking at it this way, I haven’t started ‘playing’ Elden Ring yet.

While I haven’t looked up any guides, I have seen some gameplay on YouTube and Twitch. I know the first ‘proper’ boss to beat is Margit, The Fell Omen. The Tree Sentinal has whomped me a few times, and I got flattened by a dragon pretty quick. Anyone following Elden Ring will know about the lake campfire party.

I started making my way south from where you begin. There were some challenging groups, but I could see I was working my way towards a castle of some kind. I thought I was on the right track when I saw an arrow the size of a spear almost hit me!

20220211 - Elden Ring - Yay glowing weak points
Years of video games have helped me identify the weak points of this huge archer

Surprisingly, I took out the archer doorman (there is most likely a proper name, I haven’t looked it up) on my first try. This made me feel pretty good. I must be getting the hang of Elden Ring. New area, not stomped out of existence immediately – I must be getting there. Things are coming together.

No. What I did do was fall headfirst into the FromSoftware trap. “Come here adventurer” whispers Elden Ring. “See what treasures we have in store for you. You can beat the enemies here. See how far you have come!”.

And then Elden Ring sits back in its chair, smiles, fingers steepled. That classic DM pose we all love to watch when we aren’t playing. But it’s too late.

20220211 - Elden Ring - It was at that moment he knew
Calling inner Morgan Freeman: “It was at that point he knew, he messed up”

So what do you do in Elden Ring when you hit a wall? Keep running into it headfirst of course! I tried to clear that area about 15 times. I would get close once or twice, then get flattened immediately other times.

But you don’t give up in Elden Ring. Can’t beat this area? Go explore somewhere else! There are plenty of secrets to explore and enemies to beat. You can always grind up some levels to make life easier. There can also be items and equipment just around an unexplored corner.

So I took off North, and I did come across Margit. I have met the first story boss!

20220211 - Elden Ring - Hello Margit
You know a boss is important when they have a cut scene

I didn’t do well against the first story boss, but I have started. In the first fight, I got splatted. The second fight, I got him down to about 1/4 health? I called it quits on the third fight. I got him down to about 2/3 health, but I knew I had begun making impatient mistakes.

Again, I am not a fan of the description Soulsborne. I can’t deny that as a description it is a good one when used correctly. Elden Ring is the latest Soulsborne type of game, with all the pros and cons that go with it.

FromSoftware has a great balance of making games incredibly challenging, but not impossible. The gameplay is fair. People say that, but until you experience it yourself it can be hard to get your head around.

20220211 - Elden Ring - Best decision is to just stand here
Roll away? Why? I will start drinking a health potion I think

That last fight with Margit. I wasn’t beaten because the boss is ‘cheap’ or Elden Ring is ‘broken’. There are elements of truth to both statements, but neither is why I was losing. I knew without a shadow of a doubt I mistimed almost every dodge and potion swig, making me easy prey.

It’s this ability to know instantly that you got hit/died because of something you could have avoided. Even my first joking picture where I am dying due to overwhelming odds. I know why I died, and to combat it I will come back later when better prepared.

I am looking forward on my break to a good chance of Elden Ring in the mornings, and Skywalker Saga in the evenings. A nice way to balance game days!