Every once in a while a game comes along that will ruin other games for you. Whether it be a gripping story that won’t let you go until the end. Gameplay mechanics that elevate your experience to new levels. Or level designs that make you wonder why every game isn’t built like this.
Elden Ring might have just ruined every other open-world game for me.
Tried and tested
It’s not uncommon for an open-world game to drip-feed you information otherwise you might feel overwhelmed at all the stuff going on. Mission markers, building and crafting materials, characters, points of interest, and more. These are all in most open-world games and are slowly shown to you. Before you know it your map is covered in icons that you’re asked to go and check out. New quest opportunities dot up all over the place. Your UI is speckled with items to pick, objects to interact with. Things to gravitate towards. Stuff, upon stuff, upon stuff.
Often it’s too much and it’s where I lose interest. The information overload on what to do next makes me feel like I don’t want to do any of it. At times you don’t know what’s relevant, or what is going to be worthwhile content. Too often these side activities are just filler. Padding to make the game last longer. There’s a lack of substance to the additional content.
Many AAA titles are guilty of it. They say they’re open-world, but it feels more like a big space with some stuff in it that you’re shoved towards investigating only to find out it wasn’t that interesting. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this approach – clearly many people enjoy it, I can’t help but feel like it’s a bit unnecessary and has gotten tired.
Then along comes Elden Ring a huge adventure that has now set a new bar for me when it comes to open-world games. With a lack of map markers, quest logs, waypoints, or anything else. It feels like a total breath of fresh air. Elden Ring has given new life to the open-world genre.
Your map contains only the bare minimum of information and that’s only after you’ve found a map fragment and a few associated points of interest. Prior to that, it tells you nothing. The only real guide for where to go is the little beam of light from the sites of grace roughly pointing you in the direction you might want to head. However, it goes beyond just the map and waypoints. NPC’s don’t bother you with quest lines. You’re not facing reminders to do things. It’s a solitary expience that you’re free to explore in your own way.
It’s akin to something like DayZ where you have a character, an open-world with an almost sandbox-like environment where you can write your own stories. Follow whichever path takes your fancy. The best part is, is that down almost every path is a worthwhile discovery.
Value for money
The lands between are beautiful and dangerous. Around every corner is something that will kill you if you don’t have your wits about you. Having said that, there is also a sense of calm to exploration. Jumping on the back of Torrent and galloping across open fields taking in the sights is nothing short of a stunning experience. Every inch of the game looks incredible. The scale is like nothing I’ve experienced in an open-world game before. Every zone you enter feels big enough and full of enough content to be a full AAA game all on its own.
Elden Ring might just be the best value for money any game has offered. To add the perfect little cherry on top, there are no microtransactions. No season passes. Nothing else to interfere with your experience (unless you have PVP on). Everything you could ever need from a video game is bundled in one package. It sounds kind of ridiculous to say it. But more often than not, video games will try to sell you something extra. FromSoftware are happy and confident enough to let you go and enjoy yourself at your own leisure.
A new benchmark
When Escape from Tarkov came along it felt like a new level for FPS games to aspire to. Fantastic gunplay, brilliant challenge vs reward, and I believe it’s all-around one of the best FPS games playable today. Elden Ring has done the same for open-world games. ‘Souls-likes’ have been popping up left, right and centre, and there have been some amazing ones but FromSoftware made that genre and they own it.
Now we have a souls-like who’s turned up to take on open-world games and has not only matched them but has set an entirely new bar. “This is how it should be done.” Is what they’ve said, and they’re spot on.