Elden Ring - Xbox One/Series X
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Elden Ring – Xbox One/Series X

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The Golden Order has been broken. Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between. In the Lands Between ruled by Queen Marika the Eternal, the Elden Ring, the source of the Erdtree, has been shattered. Marika’s offspring, demigods all, claimed the shards of the Elden Ring known as the Great Runes, an…
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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • SoulsBorne formula at its refined finest!
  • Amazing combat and exploration.
  • Deep lore and history to discover.
  • Interesting character designs.
  • FREAKING JUMPING.

Might Not Like

  • Player messages everrrrywhere!
  • Tough boss battles and dying in general.
  • No quest markers, log, or anything of the sort. (Which I love).
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Description

The Golden Order has been broken.

Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between.

In the Lands Between ruled by Queen Marika the Eternal, the Elden Ring, the source of the Erdtree, has been shattered.

Marika's offspring, demigods all, claimed the shards of the Elden Ring known as the Great Runes, and the mad taint of their newfound strength triggered a war: The Shattering. A war that meant abandonment by the Greater Will.

And now the guidance of grace will be brought to the Tarnished who were spurned by the grace of gold and exiled from the Lands Between. Ye dead who yet live, your grace long lost, follow the path to the Lands Between beyond the foggy sea to stand before the Elden Ring.

And become the Elden Lord.

Features:
-A New Fantasy World: Journey through the Lands Between, a new fantasy world created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, creator of the influential DARK SOULS video game series, and George R. R. Martin, author of The New York Times best-selling fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Unravel the mysteries of the Elden Ring’s power. Encounter adversaries with profound backgrounds, characters with their own unique motivations for helping or hindering your progress, and fearsome creatures.

-World Exploration in the Lands Between: ELDEN RING features vast fantastical landscapes and shadowy, complex dungeons that are connected seamlessly. Traverse the breath-taking world on foot or on horseback, alone or online with other players, and fully immerse yourself in the grassy plains, suffocating swamps, spiralling mountains, foreboding castles and other sites of grandeur on a scale never seen before in a FromSoftware title.

-Genre-Defining Gameplay: Create your character in FromSoftware's refined action-RPG and define your playstyle by experimenting with a wide variety of weapons, magical abilities, and skills found throughout the world. Charge into battle, pick off enemies one-by-one using stealth, or even call upon allies for aid. Many options are at your disposal as you decide how to approach exploration and combat.

The wait has been long. Very long. At one point, it seemed like it was going to be an endless expanse of eternal repeats of Dark souls 3 to tie me over. The soulsborne itch grew ever stronger after every new trailer and teaser released for Elden Ring. I of course lapped these up like a blood-starved beast. The Demon Souls remake helped appease the gnawing for a while, but even the powers of that masterpiece eventually waned. But it is here, and the disc has not left my console since I was lucky enough to get the game before launch.

It was a bit scary, however. In the past, I have excited myself over games that eventually burned me on release. Whether they were not quite as promised, or simply broken messes, I was fearful that Elden Ring might follow in that stead. It has been my most anticipated game of all time, and so the fear was looming over my shoulder like an unshakable recurring nightmare.

‘Is the game everything we all hoped for and more?’ Is what I would usually tease you all with at this point, you know, to bait you into reading the review. But: YES OMG YES THE GAME IS AMAZING!

Anyway…

Give me a few minutes to compose myself here. I am sure you have all seen by now the amazingly high scores and praise that Elden Ring has been receiving since its release. But you’ve also likely seen all the media slamming that has gone with it. I will come out right now and state that I have not finished the game at the time of writing this review. But I do have close to 100 hours of gameplay. And I have enjoyed every, single, damn, second.

I have been incredibly impressed with everything that I have seen in Elden Ring so far. Even after all this time with it, there are still things I am seeing for the first time. Large new areas to discover, NPC questlines to follow, bosses to fight, caves to explore, and just things to do.

For the Soulsborne Players or New Players?

It is evident that Elden Ring has sold incredibly well. But there are likely a lot of people out there who put off picking the game up, thinking that it is simply a continuation of the famously difficult soulsborne games. And they are, in some ways, justified. But also not so much in other ways. Elden Ring is easily the most accessible of all the games that FromSoftware has produced.

The difficulty is still present with the boss battles and enemies as a whole. However, with the game being an open world, there are ample things that a player can do. If a boss or area is posing a challenge, it is often balanced with a slew of opportunities for exploration that are easier to overcome. With the mostly linear aspect of the previous games, these options were not available  (short of soul farming the same areas on repeat to level up). This mitigates the difficulty, as immersing yourself in other parts of the game often takes hours of your time. When you remember that you were having trouble elsewhere, you have often levelled up enough to take on the area or boss more easily.

So, the game is naturally accommodating to both new players and experienced players. You can easily tailor the challenge depending on how stubborn you are. You may choose to overcome a particular area or boss without hopping elsewhere if it’s proving tough. It also helps that the game is incredibly generous with the number of ways you can adapt your character. There are different builds, each having many choices of weapons, equipment, abilities, and spells available to boon your adventure.

The Lands Between…

(Not to be confused with The Lands Betwixt)

The lore for the land was laid out by fabled writer George R. R. Martin. And with Miyazaki’s incredible world-building, the two collide in a spectacular world of pure wonder and delight. Elden Ring has been set in the most historically rich world that FromSoftware has ever created, and it shows. The locations you visit are vast. There are underground caverns of sunken cities strewn with starry skies. Scarlet, rot-riddled swamps filled with corrupted, ravenous creatures. There are also more traditional SoulsBorne areas to traverse. All with the familiar lifts, shortcuts, weird NPCs, and doors that “do not open from this side”.

Each location holds secrets, bosses, NPCs, and unique topography to further weave the intricate history and lore. In true FromSoftware fashion, lore is not directly told to you as the player. They lay it out for you in a manner that encourages you to explore further, piece together the snippets of history, read item descriptions and exhaust NPC dialogues. All in order to stitch together the delicately woven tapestry that is the world of Elden Ring.

Traversing the world is a delight. The introduction of a noble steed to ride from point to point is both a very welcome addition to the SoulsBorne formula and a necessary one. The world is massive. And that therein lies why so many reviewers (including myself) did not finish the game completely before writing the review. Each area of the game is immense and holds many, many locations to delve into to explore, loot, and inevitably, die in. There are bosses waiting for you at the end of most of the caves and dungeons you’ll find scattered and hidden amongst the landscape. There are even some thrown into the world at random that will take you by surprise -which is an absolute heart-racing delight!

It is always a mix of fear and joy when you are casually slaying minions and a half-decayed, bizarrely proportioned, mutated bird-like creature climbs over a ruined building and shrieks at you. The “oh sh*t! oh sh*t!” moments are what really make these games shine.

Jumping!

This section needs no comments. We can now finally freaking jump in a FromSoftware game!

The Devil in the Details…

And oh boy, is the devil worth worshipping in this regard. (Neither Zatu nor myself are responsible for any uptake in satanism). Elden Ring has all kinds of small details that make you smile. The game doesn’t allow you to fall off ledges during attack animations, for one. It has accurate finger motions when NPCs play musical instruments. Using soap will actually clean you and your clothes. Fire magic does slightly less damage if it is raining, whilst lighting damage does slightly more. So many little details in the game continuously keep you smiling.

Other mechanics in the game are also welcome additions to the established SoulsBorne formula. With the introduction of the open world, there was a need to tweak certain mechanics and build upon them. Along with the loyal steed, there is a beautiful map to view at leisure. The map makes exploration a seamless process, as the amount of detail that went into crafting the map is phenomenal. The ability to place 100 of your own markers (from a range of 10 different symbols) makes it easy if you come across a tough foe you want to return to, or a fog gate you don’t have the items to open yet.

With the world so open for you to explore, another incredibly welcome feature is having the chance to refill your flasks. After defeating a group of enemies, there is a chance it will trigger the refill of a combination of health and/or magic flasks (depending on the enemy type). This can be the burst of encouragement you need after taking down a tough group. Encouraging you to go on, delve further, and explore more without retreating.

Multiplayer…

I am not a multiplayer gamer. That might be evident in the history of games that I have chosen to review. But I have to admit, the best part about playing online in games, is roaming around the world with a friend and messing stuff up! Elden Ring does this really well, as some areas feel really satisfying to take out in a two-pronged attack. Your summoned friends will stay around indefinitely until you slay a boss together. One of the downsides to this is that you can’t trounce around on your horses together. It makes sense from technical, gameplay, and lore perspectives. The other downside is that you can’t cross between the wider areas together. This does not make as much sense as you can disconnect from each other, walk 2 feet, and summon again in the new area.

Invasions have mostly remained the same, other than you can not invade someone who does not already have summoned aid. This is a massive improvement over previous games as there is no humanity/hollow/ember/whatever system in Elden Ring to worry about. You don’t need humanity to summon aid, you simply craft an item that needs 2 flowers to make. And these flowers are everywhere! The other feature worth mentioning (whilst not technically a multiplayer one), is that you also have the ability to collect and summon in-game spirits to help you with bosses and tougher areas. These spirits come in the form of enemies that you fight during the game. These are a great little boon if you are not so inclined to summon people to help you. It will also be incredibly beneficial in years to come when the servers start to thin out and the available online help dwindles.

Covenants have taken a much-needed back seat in this game. There are items you can purchase that essentially mimic the dynamics of The Way of the Blue and Blue Sentinels covenants from Dark Souls 2 & 3. Other than that, the only time you will be invading is for the behest of certain NPC questlines or on your own accord. This has helped streamline the online experience considerably, for the better.

Things That Don’t Quite Work

I heard that sharp gasp! I know, I know! This is the most amazing game released in recent memory. But of course, every burning star casts a shadow somewhere. But the stars that are above us the highest, um, cast smaller shadows? *cough* terrible bit *cough* just go with it.

Some of the smaller dungeon boss battles are simply revised and tweaked versions of previous boss battles. The crafting can feel a little overwhelming at times with the sheer staggering number of things available to craft. The UI can be hard to get used to for new players. Um, um, the incessant notes left by other players littered everywhere that simply say “Fort, night” or “illusionary wall ahead” (there is never an illusionary wall ahead)… That is pretty much all I can think of. Any smaller, niggly things will likely be patched out shortly. Such as some framerate issues in one area, or not knowing what the status symbols mean.

Credit Roll

Elden Ring is an amalgamation of everything that works in previous FromSoftware titles, other open-world RPGs, and improvements to everything that doesn’t work in those same games. It is a seamless adventure that will take you to elevated heights and on an adrenaline-fuelled journey. I was fearful at first that the game wouldn’t hold up to the expectations of either the masses or myself. But oh boy, does it deliver in troves! There is so much to love about this game that I could genuinely keep writing about the game for pages and pages more. But, if I waffled on for longer then I would start to take away from the magic of playing the game for yourself. In case you are somehow in any denial: I 100% recommend Elden Ring. It is easily the most enjoyable game that I have played on the last few generations of gaming consoles. I only hope that my few short words of praise here have done it even a fraction of the justice that it deserves.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • SoulsBorne formula at its refined finest!
  • Amazing combat and exploration.
  • Deep lore and history to discover.
  • Interesting character designs.
  • FREAKING JUMPING.

Might not like

  • Player messages everrrrywhere!
  • Tough boss battles and dying in general.
  • No quest markers, log, or anything of the sort. (Which I love).