Elden Ring

To date, I have played all of 30 minutes of Dark Souls and probably only 10 minutes of Bloodborne. In the case of Dark Souls, I picked it up cheap back in the day with no real knowledge of FromSoftware’s gaming ethos or pedigree, mainly because I was hot off the heels of Skyrim and was looking for something similar. Dark Souls had been out for a while by the time I stumbled upon it, so I bit. Little did I know exactly how hard it would bite back.

As for Bloodborne, it was a free PSN title one month, so I downloaded it (as I do with every free game), fired it up, and decided fairly quickly it either wasn’t for me, or I wasn’t in the correct head space at that moment for a game like that. I never went back to either, and I haven’t really thought much about doing so. 

I am just not a fan of FromSoftware’s library, and that’s okay. I am aware of them. I enjoy the arguments about difficulty, because I love when people lose their minds over trivial matters and then double down to defend those opinions to the bitter end. But even more than that, I love seeing that there is something for everyone in the gaming space, even if that something isn’t always for me.

So with the years long leadup to the reveal of FromSoftware’s next game, Elden Ring, which is in partnership with George R. R. Martin (an author whose output I haven’t read — I also haven’t watched a second of Game of Thrones), I was surprised to find that I was actually kind of intrigued by the Elden Ring trailer that debuted at this year’s E3.

Elden Ring

I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is about Elden Ring that’s piqued my interest. It still looks like a FromSoftware game at its core, and I assume will still be punishingly difficult, opaque, and even a little tedious at times. But something is there, urging me to get more and more excited to check out Elden Ring when it launches in January of 2022.

Maybe my tastes have just changed enough that the macabre visuals are speaking to me in a way they never did before. Perhaps it’s the combat shown off in the recent gameplay trailer, which looks visceral and epic. I do like the idea of seeing what a more open FromSoftware game world would look like; I’m curious what one will see just over the horizon, which is usually the appeal of game worlds such as these.

Admittedly, I am not looking forward to punishing combat (as one can expect from FromSoftware), mostly because I don’t have the response dexterity to properly parry, block, and dodge consistently enough to master the “get gud” mantra of these types of games. But with a more open-ended approach to combat, I’m hopeful there will be more room to run away and lick my wounds when things get out of control, with more breathing room to consider what isn’t working and what might be a better approach.

I think this slower, more methodical approach to a medieval RPG will speak to my penchant to want to inhabit these worlds on a deeper level. Getting to a campfire (or whatever the current approximation might be) has always seemed like a cool way to take a breather, and I am looking forward to finally experiencing that aspect of the Soulslike genre, as small as those moments may be.

Further, in my older age, playing more challenging games seems somehow more rewarding than the power-fantasy-style games where you can feel like an unmitigated badass after only a few levels, give or take. I have also begun focusing more on min/maxing lately, and this specific style of RPG seems ripe for exploration and trial and error in that department.

Elden Ring

And yes, the visuals are interesting — and in some instances disturbing — enough that Elden Ring looks like nothing I’ve played before. Since these visuals are mixed with elements that do speak to me, this only compounds my interest. 

I’m not all in yet, though. There is still much that needs to be revealed before I go one way or the other, but there is enough that I’m leaning closer to the I’m-playing-EldenRing-dammit side of the fence. Whether or not I’ll go full Red Rover remains to be seen, but as of right now, I am starting to get more and more excited by the prospect of playing Elden Ring.

Whether or not I’ll git gud, I guess only time will tell.

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