Elden Ring recently got the main game award – the nomination “Game of the Year” at The Game Awards, as well as many other awards from the gaming press. The game received the recognition of not only journalists but also ordinary players – it currently has a 91% approval rating on Steam among almost 450,000. In total, by November 2022, the game had sold more than 16.5 million copies, ranking among the highest sales among of all games of the year. For a long time, From Software’s games remained a rather niche entertainment, but Elden Ring exceeded all possible expectations. How did it happen?

IMPORTANT: the text and screenshots may contain spoilers.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

You will be born countless times, again and again…

The main feature of the Souls series has long been the flexible customization of the character, both their appearance and their skills and equipment – the creation of builds, so adored by the game community. This time, a lot of effort was put into the appearance editor – a bunch of new parameters appeared that allow you to change even the smallest details, from skin color to facial rashes. In addition, some events in the game now affect the appearance of the character – for example, gaining the power of a dragon in the Church of Dragon Communion makes the character’s eyes look more like those of dragons. However, these effects can be removed by using the mirror located in the Roundtable Hold, the Elden Ring hub location where the main characters, such as the blacksmith and merchants, are located. If you don’t like to spend a lot of time on the character creation screen, several presets are available for you, which allow you to quickly go to the game itself.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

The start of your game will determine the chosen class – they are almost unchanged compared to Dark Souls 3 in their essence, but have undergone many changes externally. So, in addition to the already familiar knight, warrior (who is now called a hero), wizard (astrologer), prisoner, pilgrim, and vagabond, new ones appeared, such as a wanderer or a samurai. The class determines your starting skills and items but does not impose any further restrictions, only the starting conditions. In the future, you will be able to choose any equipment and skills for passing.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

And there is a lot to choose from: 309 weapons, 70 spells, 101 prayers, 559 items of clothing and armor are available to your character in any combination. To use each item (except clothes), you need to have a certain level of the corresponding characteristic: strength, dexterity, intelligence, faith, or charm. You can increase them in two ways – either by upgrading or by using items. Traditionally for the series, the level in Elden Ring is increased by spending runes on Sites of Grace – analogous to bonfires from Souls or idols from Sekiro. Runes simultaneously serve as experience points for leveling up, and currency for trade – items can be bought with them, and sold. All runes are lost upon death but are stored as Lost Grace at the location where you died. You can pick them up until you die again – after that, they are lost forever. Leveling is the key to defeating your opponents and there’s endless room for experimentation to make your Ring of Elden experience truly unique.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

Fallen leaves tell a story…

In addition to the studio’s own screenwriters, the story of the game was written by George Martin, an American writer best known for his cycle A Song of Ice and Fire, a series that needs no introduction, based on which the Game of Thrones was created. According to Martin himself, first of all, he, together with Hidetaka Miyazaki, the creative director of From Software, participated in the creation of the history of the game world – events that took place before the immediate events of the game. First of all, we are talking about the wars of the Schattering.

What happened in the world of Elden’s Ring? The player will have to take on the role of one of the Tarnished – warriors who were once expelled from The Lands Between together with Lord Godfrey. The Tarnished have the goal of stopping the wars between the demigods, the children of Queen Marika, who embodies the Golden Order, the force that sustains life in the world through the Erdtree. To do this, they will have to restore the Ring of Elden – a magical sign that consists of the Great Runes divided between the demigods and restore order to the world. However, by tradition, From Software games have several possible endings, so the player can both return the usual state of affairs to the world, and fundamentally change it. The choice, as always, is yours.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

In fact, the story of Elden Ring is almost limitless, and the player will have to collect it piece by piece from dialogues with characters, descriptions of items and details of the surrounding world. Actually, nothing unusual for fans of Souls games. The main source of the main plot information will be Ser Gideon Ofnir the All-Knowing, one of the Tarnished heroes who rose to save this world. These heroes also include Fia, Deathbed Companion, the wicked Dung Eater, the GoldMask, and the warrior Hoarah Loux. With all these legendary characters, the player will have to meet in the world of Lands Between, and even fight with some of them. All of them (except the last one) will try to sway the player to their side and achieve the restoration of Order in their vision. But they are not the only ones who will want help in achieving their goals. You will be able to join the adventures of other Tarnished such as Nepheli Loux or Diallos Hoslow, join the recusants of Volcano Manor, help the demigoddess Ranni establish the Day of the Moon, and learn many other stories of this boundless world. By the way, about the world.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

Spread the word everywhere…

One of the most stunning innovations of Elden Ring compared to previous games from From Software was the huge open world. At any moment, the player can choose a path to another location if he wishes. The game map is divided into two zones – ground and underground, movement between which takes place with the help of special elevators located at certain points of the map. Other transitions between these parts of the game world appear as you progress through the game after defeating certain bosses.

The land part of the map is divided into seven main regions, each of which has its own subregions, and individual locations that, although attached to the regions, are additionally marked on the map. These include the Raya Lucaria Academy, the Royal Capital of Leyndell, and other similar places. Each of them is hidden from the player until he enters their borders, but even then the map will show only the borders of the region – to learn about interesting places, roads, and other points of interest, you will have to interact with special obelisks on which the maps are stored. Fortunately, this process only needs to be done once for all NG+s, meaning that once you’ve unlocked all the regions on your first playthrough, you won’t have to collect maps again the next time.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

Each of the regions is generously strewn with various interesting places. Their main types include: caves and catacombs – dungeons of various sizes, which differ mainly in the design of the premises and size; towers – sealed buildings that contain various items for sorcerers, the entrance to which opens the solution of the puzzle; tunnels – multi-level dungeons that contain many materials for improving weapons; ruins – destroyed settlements, each of which contains cellars in which treasures are stored, sometimes guarded by minibosses; small Erdtrees – Tree branches, under which there are tears for improving a special flask; as well as other, less common, objects, which, however, often contain no less useful things. There are also Walking Mausoleums, but more on them later.

The Underworld consists of a relatively small number of locations that have no direct connection between them. None of them are mandatory to complete the game, but often there are really unique opponents, such as Lichdragon Fortissax, and truly amazing beauty of places like the Eternal City of Nokstella.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

The game definitely pushes you to explore the Lands Betweenn. In almost every, even the smallest cave, you can find something interesting or useful for one or another build. And in some, you can find the absolute must-have like the Moonveil Katana, which is one of the strongest in the game. You can also find a quest or story items, such as Margit’s Shackle. And, of course, at the end of each location, the reason why many players start the From games in the first place awaits us – unbeatable bosses!

Congratulations to the champions on the holy war!

I give the developers a standing ovation. I still don’t remember such pretentious, multi-level and epic bosses in past games. The work on each of them, starting from the very first Margit to the final one… It doesn’t matter who, it’s been done colossally. Almost every boss has some interesting quirks and vulnerabilities that will help the Tarnished deal with them. Remember the shackles? Well, that’s it – using this item against the boss Margit, the Fell Omen, allows you to completely immobilize him for a few seconds, three times per battle. And you will need them in another battle, much later in the game.

As always, each boss also has vulnerabilities and resistances to certain damage modifiers, the constants for the Souls series are frost, lightning, flame, poison, bleed, holy damage, and magic. There are, however, new ones – the Formless Mother’s blood flame, which deals both fire and flame damage at the same time, and Scarlet Rot – the power of Malenia, Blade of Miquella, which replaced the usual toxin effect. It deals more damage than regular poison and lasts much longer.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

There are a LOT of bosses in the game. Basically, they are divided into three types: World Bosses, Big Enemy Bosses, and Legends. Only 30 bosses belong to the last two categories, all others belong to world bosses. For each unique boss, you will receive a Remembrance, a special item that can be exchanged from the Two Fingers maid in the Roundtable Hold for a unique weapon or spell, usually the same as the opponent used. These Remembrances can be duplicated in Walking Mausoleums – special tombs that wander the world within a certain region. To access them, you need to break the growths in the form of skulls, which are located either on the legs of the creature or on the top, around the building itself. But be careful – the mausoleums are not defenseless and can crush you with a bad step or a powerful jump. In most locations, they are also protected by various enemies.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

It is very difficult to talk about the bosses without spoilers, because apart from the owners of the Great Runes shown in the opening video, you won’t know about any of them until you meet them in battle. And there is reason to be surprised there – from huge dragons charged with lightning to ancient cosmic entities, ten times larger than the main character. In order to defeat each of them, you will have to make maximum efforts and skillfully manage your arsenal.

All I know is a sword

I am very glad that From Software never stands still and tries to experiment with the formula of their games. Elden Ring probably has most of this. First, the ability to sneak silently to avoid fights or backstab tasks, as well as jumping, was fully transferred from Sekiro.

However, now the jump kick is a full-fledged combat technique that deals quite serious damage, and with the right items is generally capable of killing the strongest opponents in one hit. Also, the “weapon arts” system from Dark Souls 3 has undergone significant changes – now most of them are not tied to a specific weapon (except for legendary ones, such as General Radahn’s swords or axe of Godrick), but can be transferred from one weapon to another, with certain restrictions. Also, Ashes of War can be copied using a special item that allows you to give the same skill to different weapons.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

They also worked on charms. Soul magic, traditional for the Souls series, has been replaced by shining stones – the crystallized power of the stars, which is the source of magic in this world. Accordingly, the effects have also changed – instead of blue translucent streams, most of the spells are actually stones in various forms. To the classic projectiles of various shapes and powers, both interesting support spells were added, like Terra Magica, which strengthens all other spells used by the player, and absolutely stunning “primary” spells like Comet Azur. It is difficult to describe both their external luxury and the power they have – it is better to check it yourself. I was also pleased with the large number of weapons that improve with the level of intelligence, which allows for flexible combo builds with a combination of magic and brute force.

Instead of miracles, there are now conjurations – mostly Golden Order-related spells that deal holy damage, strike lightning, or heal. However, there are enough “heretical” spells, such as the black flame of the Gloam-Eyed Queen or dragon spells, which can be exchanged for the hearts of slain dragons. As in the case of spells, the player has a wide selection of not only spells, but also weapons that go well with them.

Elden Ring – rise, the Tarnished

An absolute novelty was the magic bell, which is able to summon spirits – the player’s allies, which will help in the fight with bosses. You need to spend focus points to summon them, so you will have to invest in the mind parameter for effective use. Some of them are completely worthless, and some are capable of single-handedly defeating the most difficult bosses in the game. Just like weapons, spirits can be leveled up with ghost flowers.

Long story short, it won’t be boring, and everyone will find a build for themselves, and maybe not even for one playthrough (which I sincerely recommend).