With early access to the Elden Ring
Network Test we sent our resident Dark Souls expert to check out From Software
’s latest, Joab Gilroy. Even though the open-world RPG, created in collaboration with Game of Thrones
author George R. R. Martin, is currently one of the most anticipated games on the horizon ol’ Joab was a little sceptical about the transition to a more open... world. He’s basically the Dark Souls
of Dark Souls fans.
It's an open world Dark Souls game, which at first blush might not be that appealing. Dark Souls' level design is a very particular thing, and generally the few times the series has attempted to broaden an area it's seen mixed results. Swamps are the worst thing about every Dark Souls game (except for the Bed of Chaos), and coincidentally they feature the series' broadest level design. There's something about the narrow, focused approach that has always worked for the Souls games.
Our Full Elden Ring Hands-On Preview
So I was sceptical at first, and I immediately noticed its impact. It initially feels, well, overlarge and empty, and I struggled to find anything to fight. After the initial tutorial area — which is completely skippable, by the way, bearing nothing of any use and not enough souls to be worth the time — you're thrust into the main world, given the opportunity to go wherever you want, but instinctively I headed straight ahead. That's a mistake. The giant, horsebound Tree Sentinel Knight will mess you up, and once you sneak past him it can be tough to find a decent fight in his direction.
That's the tricky part of Elden Ring. Souls games are about training your instincts. The series has spent dozens of hours getting you to form a muscle memory, but you need to reject that impulse to find success in ER. You need to draw from a different well — to win at Elden Ring, you need to think like Skyrim.