I Offer You A (Honda) Accord
It has been almost a month since the release of Elden Ring and my initial first impressions. Three weeks later and I never thought I'd be interested in such a title as I have now. Usually, when I invest in a title for as long as I've had, I'm ready to write my thoughts almost immediately. It has happened with games that I least expected like Cupid Parasite, a game I promise I'll come back to soon.
It has of course happened with Gran Turismo 7, a game I waited for over a decade. Even though the wait has been tarnished by business practices. A part of the reason for the delay in discussing Elden Ring was simply because of my decision to play it at home. Here was a title that was the definitive example of an "open-world" adventure.
The World Is A Giant Oyster
As soon as the player unlocks Torrent, they are literally free to go as they please. Some pivotal locations are locked behind the main story as well as certain character quests, but that only added to Elden Ring's scale. When I thought I finished exploring its world, here comes an entirely new one buried deep underground. The Siofra River is one of the game's most beautiful locations and I wanted to see it under maximum settings. That was the driving force for writing this.
I wanted to see the game in its highest fidelity, graphical settings to the maximum, and frame rates past 60hz. An RTX 3080 compared to a 1660 TI is like comparing an Altima to an NSX. In layman's terms, the possibilities blew my perception of Elden Ring out the water, even while I played it on the PS5. Everything was crisp, the foilage flowed with the wind, and the dynamic shadows stood out. My Carian spells flashed in bright bolts of blues as the enemy's electricity thundered in yellow. It was like an art painting and it confirmed to me that Elden Ring is a very beautiful game.
"Ocelots Are Proud Creatures"
Let me introduce everyone to my Elden Ring character, Ocelot. The soon-to-be-probably Eldenlord may not be the best at what she does, but she gets the job done. Compared to my first time playing on the PS5, I switched from my tanky shield-and-sword user to a somewhat-glass cannon "Red Mage." Ever since Final Fantasy 14 Stormblood I've always loved the concept of using magic from a distance. Only to then use that same magic to enhance my melee attacks should things get up close and personal.
Dual-wielding in Elden Ring leaves to some creative combinations including a mage's staff in my left hand and a rapier on the right. The rapier's light and nimble movements complement the buffs it gets from Scholar's Armament. I have a heavy investment in Intelligence and since SA scales with int, my light attacks deal considerable damage. This also opens the door to many powerful spells, such as the Comet spell I found in Raya Lucaria Academy. Aside from the Meteorite Staff, I found in Caelid early on and a simple rapier, I don't have much. Well, except four tiny swords.
I'm sure I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees that Glintblade Phalanx is a cool spell. Who doesn't want to be Vergil from Devil May Cry? The "Ash of War" version of the Glintblade Phalanx is good for staggering enemies and the less "poise" they have the better. If they end up staggered, then that's a free critical hit for me. The natural critical multiplier of the rapier, the enhancement from Scholar's Armament, and Phalanx all come together to tear health bars apart. There are many other accessories to tie everything together, but I wish I could say I came up with this build on my own. This leads to a very important point about how one should "play" Elden Ring.
Time again I read social media posts (which is already bad) on the "optimal" way to play and I have my rebuttal. You spent the $60, you play it how you want to play. Found a cool build via word of mouth or a YouTube video? Recreate it! That's what I did when I saw the "Spellblade Build" by Fextralife for the first time. I took some liberties based on where I was in the game at the time, but honestly play what you enjoy. If you're stuck and need a boss guide, look it up! Want to know how to continue a character quest? Looking for a bell? A Talisman? A weapon? Spell? Look it up! Information is priceless and knowledge is power.
To Keep Things Short, I'm Lost (And I'm Happy)
This turned into more of a rant about Elden Ring than a concise "review," which was why I felt I wasn't ready. However, I will say that while I'm not certain on where to go to move the plot along, I'm having fun getting lost. Learning about the members of the Roundtable including Rogier and Fia has been interesting. Serving Ranni, saving lives, hearing everyone's stories are also good. The latest Elden Ring patch cleared up many of my criticisms including highlighting where an NPC is on the map. FromSoftware still isn't holding your hand, but it allows the player to find out what works for them.
What works for me is not feeling remorse for these insolent whelps that keep getting one over me. I don't feel bad for using the "cheap spells" or summoning my beloved Jellyfish spirit in a boss fight. Why? Because the boss sure as heck won't give me the same courtesy. If the enemies are pulling cheap tactics like ambushes and powerful abilities, why shouldn't I do the same? There are those who make it a challenge to defeat the toughest bosses at "level 1" and I'll share such a video below. I know well enough that it's not for me. Bring on the cheap stuff, Elden Ring!
Elden Ring is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.