Awaited by an army of fans, FromSoftware’s next title, Elden Ring, gave a handful of lucky guys the chance to wander for several hours in a part of Between-Earth, a world steeped in dark fantasy whose Lore Roots were written by George RR Martin, father of the “A song of Ice and Fire” novels (Games of Thrones). Happy chosen, I was also able to take advantage of the software over several sessions and test the different options available in this first piece of the title. My impressions? We are holding something big, potentially very big.
My sessions took place in 3 times 3 hours of play during which I systematically made a new start and chose different classes among the five archetypes that were offered to us. Note also that, as in Souls, this choice is more like a starter kit than a full class, the evolution of the character is completely free, in the beta in any case. Whether you start as a Warrior, Priest, Enchanted Knight, Blood Wolf or Champion, it doesn’t matter. So I decided to play sometimes a Blood Wolf (a mercenary basically), sometimes an Enchanted Knight (with his heavy armor, a little too good with magic).
An open world larger than life
The beta starts relatively abruptly and swings us directly in the bath at the controls of our avatar, a Without Shattering gone to recover the pieces of the Circle of Elden held by a little angry demigods.
During my first session, I focused on exploring the few regions available and the secrets they hold. The various presentations of the game that we had been able to have had not particularly reassured me on this side. Between the appearance of a map to get your bearings, the light trails to show us the path to follow, a mount that can climb mountains and the extreme generosity of the fall damage, I won’t hide from you having launched Elden Ring not without a certain reserve, and big fears about what makes the productions of FromSoftware salt: their difficulty.
But it only took me a 3 hour session to realize how wrong I was down the line. The first thing that strikes when we have our character in our hands is the immense Dark Souls vibe that takes us to the guts. From the ATH to the atmosphere, through certain animations or even some sounds (performances in particular), FromSoftware’s paw is everywhere. Some will see a special link with their favorite saga, while others will certainly curse by chanting that the studio has rested on its laurels, but they would only be partially right. In Elden ring, our character becomes more flexible, at the crossroads of a Dark Souls III and a Sekiro. Less clumsy, even with heavy armor, our hero moves and fights much more fluidly, always subject to having enough stamina. We can sprint, roll, perform light attacks, heavy or jumped and it is even possible to jump at the touch of a button, far from the jumps at the end of the race to which the other productions of the studio have accustomed us.
A welcome flexibility of movement, which only makes exploration more pleasant. Yes, you know, Elden Ring is an open world that you can explore on foot or on the back of a mount, which will also have the possibility of climbing certain cliffs or can be used as a steed during combat.
The atmosphere is fantastic and the immersion is immediate
The lands stretch as far as the eye can see and the panoramas make you dizzy, especially when you know that once again everything that is visible on the screen is explorable. A world as attractive and artistically successful as it is scarred by death and technically outdated. It’s a fact, Elden Ring will not burst our retina with his technical prowess, the textures are not crazy and the modeling of the environments is sometimes too angular for example, but the artistic work, for its part, commands respect.. FromSoftware still does wonders, from architecture to landscapes, including character design. It’s artistically splendid, and full of ingenuity when it comes to getting us out of cursed filth, colossal knights or gaunt giants. The bosses are not left out and are already reserving their share of nuggets. Needless to say, the OST promises to be dantesque, too, especially since it already offers pieces to give you shivers. In addition, all this harmonizes perfectly and remains consistent on all points. The world of Elden Ring is a real pleasure to explore.
The atmosphere is fantastic and the immersion is immediate. The already vast portion of land that I was able to explore was incredibly rich and the studio is once again doing an excellent job on the level design. Nothing is left to chance. Monsters roam here and there, enough to give us our dose of combat, but just enough to make us feel lonely, lost in the middle of an unknown and dangerous world. And if a map does exist, it will teach you absolutely nothing more than what you already know. The major points of interest will not appear there until you discover them, and by that I mean you’ll stick your nose to them, since spotting a cave entrance in the distance won’t be enough. For the rest, you will have to create your own tags. Also note that the light line showing the path ultimately only offers an orientation, it is not a trail of fireflies that will guide you from point A to point B, and as a bonus, we can do without it .
What’s more, a large amount of secrets and hidden treasures are scattered all over the world. During my first three hours of intensive exploration, I was able to find several hidden caves (really hidden), find various equipment by looting places guarded by a large number of monsters, recover well-stashed items, and above all meet no less than 6 bosses. Moreover, the latter are rather successful and offer full-bodied combat, but what is especially fascinating is that they can be anywhere: holed up at the bottom of a cave and other catacombs or in the air. free while you take a leisurely stroll. But those aren’t the only threats plaguing the world of Elden Ring, virtually everything that stands up is trying to kill you, and the bestiary promises to be grand once again. We end up feeling insecure, and exploration takes on a whole new dynamic, especially since it is impossible for us to know whether the threats we encounter can be overcome or not, discovery is made the hard way.
Elden Ring is tough and demanding
There are still a lot of Souls in there
After this session focused on exploration, I took advantage of the next two to fight, search and advance in the adventure, and I died. No need that I give you my pedigree on the games of the genre and my liabilities with the titles of Fromsoftware, Elden Ring is tough and demanding, but never frustrating. The mechanics haven’t changed one iota compared to Souls, so fans will be on familiar ground. When you die, you have to return to the place of death to recover the experience accumulated so far (runes in Elden Ring) and if unfortunately you pass away on the way, you lose everything. This XP will be used to level up by exchanging it for stat points with an NPC, but also acts as a currency for almost everything in the world. Whether it’s buying items from merchants, improving your equipment or even crafting, which I haven’t seen much of, but which allows you to craft a whole bunch of items using ingredients to collect in the wild or from monsters.
Nevertheless, the app has nothing of the Stations of the Cross and is in no way punitive, far from it. Aficionados will even tell you that he is a little too generous with the player and that, if he never takes him by the hand, maybe gives him too many tools to get away easily, starting with the magic.
If you found the spells a bit too strong in Dark Souls, wait and see what Elden Ring has to offer.. Always using specific statistical points to be cast, or even sometimes objects, spells are divided into two main categories: magic (pyromania, enchantment, miracle etc.) and invocations. Charms are already familiar to Souls players and still work the same (using scrolls to find and equip) and are powerful, even way too much to be honest. The summons, meanwhile, a little novelty of Elden Ring, allow you to appear at your side specters ready to support you from the moment you find the ashes.. I have personally unearthed two: a group of wandering souls and a pack of wolves, both far too effective especially during boss fights since the latter literally let go of you to hit your new friends. Besides that, if you are not satisfied with the help of AI minions, it will also be possible to play in multiplayer through the system of invocation marks inherent in Souls, with two or three modifications.
Elden Ring looks good, very good even
It will therefore first be necessary to activate effigies scattered here and there in order to be able to call on outside help, in order to subsequently use an object to reveal the marks left on the ground by other players and bring them into his world to explore and defeat bosses. Decrease to the rank of easy mode by a fringe of players who have clearly understood nothing of the interest of such game mechanics, playing with other accomplices will also have the effect of opening the doors of your world to invaders, potentially dangerous (real) adversaries who will only aim to liquidate you. Finally, know thatit is also possible to leave messages for other players, but also to read their bloodstain, symbol of their death, as in Dark Souls.
During my sessions, however, I did not try to play in multiplayer, especially since the only two attempts I made resulted in a connection failure. We will therefore wait for the final version to look into this aspect.
It is therefore only that I was able to defeat a few bosses, not without sweat, and especially that I went to discover the bowels (only part, in fact) of the immense castle which sits on the heights. The “Legacies” dungeons, as the developers call them, are more closed and linear areas than the rest of the game, very close to the construction of Souls.. In this case, after a particularly arduous boss fight, I discovered a polished, labyrinthine and perverse level design, in the old way. FromSoftware doesn’t hesitate to manhandle players by hiding ambushed enemies or traps in the dark. It’s efficient, engaging, and it offers a different and more familiar experience than the rest of the open world.