Elden Ring Review: 6 Reasons to Buy

Elden Ring's roundtable hold is a minor shelter against the game's grueling challenges.

Elden Ring Review: 6 Reasons to Buy

FromSoftware’s Elden Ring is truly a once in a lifetime game. The open world RPG made huge waves when it released in 2022, and maintains a dedicated fanbase to this day. The game casts the player as a Tarnished warrior, roaming the Lands Between to restore order to the land. Terrifying monsters and titanic bosses stand in their way. The game’s nonlinear design, coupled with its plentiful customization options, means that no two playthroughs will be the same.

Elden Ring is available now for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. Here are a few reasons for you to delve into the Lands Between for yourself.

The Open World of Elden Ring

An image of the player character and Melina resting at a site of grace in Elden Ring
A site of grace in Elden Ring.

FromSoftware, developer of Elden Ring, has built an impressive pedigree through games like its legendary Dark Souls series and Bloodborne. These RPGs boast intense combat, gruesome and engaging enemy design, and epic, cinematic boss fights. Elden Ring continues many of the traditions that made those games so beloved, but with one major twist in the form of an expansive open world setting.

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The region of the Lands Between is one of the most impressive video game open worlds in recent memory. Elden Ring’s massive map features countless details, secrets, and dungeons. In addition to Elden Ring’s many crypts and caves, there are overworld bosses ready to pounce on any unwary traveler who takes a wrong turn. The long, empty expanses of featureless terrain that plague other open world games are all but nonexistent in Elden Ring. Even beyond the sprawling overworld, players can discover vast underground regions, each of which feels large enough to host an entire game.

Intricate Design

A priest in Elden Ring casting an incantation
An incantation in Elden Ring.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Elden Ring’s open world is that each region feels fully detailed and fleshed out. Every location, enemy, and treasure chest feels like it was designed and placed with the greatest possible care. And while Elden Ring doesn’t exactly go above and beyond in terms of graphical fidelity, the game’s design more than makes up for it by offering phenomenally beautiful landscapes at every turn.

The monsters and bosses that prowl Elden Ring’s many halls also help bring it to life. When they’re not busy attacking the player, they constantly add to the immersion of their surroundings in several ways, be it kneeling in despair, frantically digging for buried relics, or even dancing with mad abandon. This level of detail shines throughout the entire game.

Intense Combat and Bosses

A player fighting a dragon in Elden Ring
Fighting a dragon in Elden Ring.

Of course, Elden Ring’s enemies do a lot more than add to the scenery. The game boasts an immense bestiary of foes, including the fallen knights and soldiers that have been a mainstay of FromSoft since Dark Souls. Players encounter outlandish creatures like giant crawling hands, squamous land octopi, and even massive, unreasonably muscular bears. Each enemy employs different tactics in combat, and even the lowliest zombie can be deadly. The game’s rewarding, visceral combat system makes every creature a joy to fight once you’ve learned their attack patterns and developed adequate strategies against them.

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While even the most basic enemy soldiers can provide a thrilling challenge under the right circumstances, Elden Ring’s combat truly shines in its boss fights. Much like its predecessors in the Dark Souls franchise, Elden Ring has a broad array of deeply memorable and extremely challenging bosses. Legendary warriors like Starscourge Radahn, Malenia, the Blade of Miquella, and Margit the Fell Omen are notoriously difficult, but they represent just a small fraction of the game’s foes. While not every boss is quite so overpowering, each one offers a unique challenge and a deeply cinematic confrontation. Players will fight massive dragons, towering tree spirits, otherworldly insectile monsters, and living statues, among many, many others.

Lowering FromSoftware’s Difficulty Curve

The Erdtree from Elden Ring
Elden Ring’s Erdtree.

FromSoftware’s RPGs have a well-earned reputation for extreme difficulty, and Elden Ring is certainly no exception to this philosophy. First-time players may not want to tangle with Elden Ring’s demanding gameplay. But this title takes many strides to ease the player into FromSoft’s harsh style, and there are plenty of ways to make your experience a little smoother, at least when starting out. One of Elden Ring’s defining mechanics is the use of Spirit Ashes. These items, located throughout the Lands Between, can summon spectral allies in combat, each of which takes the form of a different enemy or group. You can even unlock some prominent NPCs and minibosses to fight by your side. Spirit Ashes are an absolute boon to struggling players, as they let you bring some of the game’s most ferocious enemies to bear against difficult bosses.

The game’s open-world design is another way to increase accessibility for players who are struggling. Elden Ring’s bosses can absolutely decimate a player, but the good news is you’re never locked into fighting someone you can’t handle. You can always leave and explore a different part of the map entirely, and there will always be something new for you to encounter. Then, after you’ve trained up on some weaker enemies, leveled up your character, and obtained some better gear, you can come back and challenge the boss that gave you trouble all over again.

Character Customization

A prisoner in Elden Ring attacking a guard with a flail.
An Elden Ring character with a flail.

Elden Ring has a wealth of options available to allow almost any sort of playstyle you can think of, from a stalwart warrior to a dextrous assassin to a crafty mage. There are powerful weapons and pieces of armor that can support any strategy. While it might be disappointing to fight through a treacherous dungeon as a spell-slinging master of Glinstone Sorceries only to be rewarded with a massive greatsword, it’s fairly easy to reassign your character’s attributes, giving you ample opportunity to experiment with different playstyles.

This customization shines in the game’s PvP mode, which lets you invade another player’s world and attempt to slay them. Elden Ring’s PvP is a great chance not only to show off your gear but to see how other players have built their own characters and possibly take notes from them.

Masterful Narrative

An image of Melina from Elden Ring
Melina from Elden Ring.

Not every player is interested in story, and Elden Ring’s narrative is easy to miss if all you’re after is epic boss fights and powerful loot. But detail-oriented players who are interested in uncovering the secrets behind every ruin and the backstory of every boss will be deeply rewarded by Elden Ring. Renowned fantasy author George R. R. Martin contributed to the world-building of the Lands Between, and his skill at weaving a setting shines through in every detail of the world.

Almost every item description carries a fragment of the story of the Lands Between, and you can feel the aftermath of the cataclysmic conflict that devastated the region in every corner. NPCs offer sidequests that can grant powerful items and spirit ashes. Their true reward however is the glimpse they offer into the rich history and lore of the world. Elden Ring does not communicate its story through straightforward codex entries and lengthy exposition like most other RPGs, but the lore is no less deep and complex for its obscurity. In the harsh world of the Lands Between, uncovering the story is a challenge in and of itself, but it’s absolutely a rewarding one.

Elden Ring is a game that people will be talking about for years to come, and with a mysterious new DLC expansion on the distant horizon, it is an excellent time to dive into the immersive world of the Lands Between. This tremendous game might be a daunting one to get started with, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

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