Elden Ring: Is it Truly a Masterpiece?

Joshua Bredel, Staff Writer

It took me 85 hours to beat the Elden Ring, and in that time I had a fantastic experience. The smooth gameplay paired with the creativity of George R.R Martin and director Hidetaka Miyazaki created a grim but stunning atmosphere in every corner of this open-world map. Many, such as IGN, TheGuardian, and GameRant are calling this game a masterpiece, but is this Fantasy RPG released on the 25th of February worth this title?

Elden Ring drops the player in the world of the Lands Between after a quick plot cutscene and tutorial. From here you are given complete control of your next actions, removing the linear constraint that many games have. As you explore around the world with a horse given early on, you pick up on the fact that there is always something to do, even though Elden Ring is an open-world game

Many games classified as open-world tend to have large, empty spaces that drown out gameplay with meaningless traveling. Take for example Fallout 76, an already bad game made worse through its open-world design. You can explore this game’s world for countless hours and not find a single enemy, quest, or event which makes the world feel empty and boring. On the other hand, games like The Witcher 3, Skyrim, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild use this open-world aspect to enhance the player experience. It does this by filling the world to the brim with content that can’t all be played in one playthrough of the game. This is the same for Elden Ring, every corner of this world is filled with bosses, quests, dungeons, enemies, and so much more, always making the game interesting while keeping players attentive. FromSoftware, being the producers of Elden Ring, did a perfect job at making an open-world setting even though this was their first time. 

The most crucial part of any souls-like game is the combat system and enemy difficulty/design, which FromSoftware mastered for Elden Ring. The combat feels incredibly smooth in this game, making every misplay fall onto the player’s skill, rather than the game’s faulty input system. The introduction of guard-counters, being a strong attack after blocking an enemy’s hit, adds another layer of satisfaction to combat. Also, the wide selection of weapon types provided mixes up the player’s style of combat, giving players more choice and more variety. In all, the combat is both smooth and satisfying which is needed for the different enemies and bosses that inhabit the world. 

Elden Ring’s enemies and bosses are masterfully crafted but extremely unforgiving. Most of the difficulty in souls-like games comes from the bosses and enemies, and Elden Ring carries on this trend in full effect. From birds throwing bombs to instant-killing boulders, the enemies and bosses are difficult and challenge the player’s skills, unlike many other games. The combat is smooth, the world design has been mastered, and the enemies/bosses are fantastic, but that doesn’t take away from the apparent problems. 

The main problems of the game don’t affect the core gameplay loop, but rather make it irritating to play at times. I’m referring to the game’s performance and the online servers which both need fixing. The game will stutter in many open areas like at the beginning of the game because it hasn’t been optimized in these areas very well. FromSoftware has thankfully addressed the problem and is currently working to fix it. “We will be constantly working to improve the game so that it can be played comfortably on various PC environments and platforms,” states Elden Ring’s publisher, Bandai Namco. Also, the game’s servers when it comes to online matchmaking sometimes won’t work as intended, constantly booting the player from other worlds. “It rarely works with many players online,” addresses San Pasqual student Justin Welch. 

This game is difficult, like many other souls like games, so I would advise that anyone not prepared for the difficulty curve, not to play this game. This game is unfair at times and frustrating, but if you can look past this and learn from your mistakes, you’ll play an instant classic that will forever be regarded as one of the greatest games of all time.