Elden Ring plays like a FromSoftware greatest hits compilation. This open-globe, action-focused RPG is rooted in grim, Dark Souls-esque fantasy, simply the game incorporates elements from all the Souls games to date, including Bloodborne and Sekiro. The event is a masterful feel that features melee and magic systems with a staggering number of RPG form builds, and horseback exploration that feels smooth, natural, and intuitive—a first for a Souls game. Unfortunately, this $59.99 PC game too suffers from intrusive frame stuttering. This can be a potential deterrent, or even an outright deal breaker. It’s a shame, because were it non for this issue and a few minor quibbles, Elden Ring would exist a must-own championship.
Nighttime Fantasy Souls
Elden Ring is a Souls game, through and through. For the uninitiated, FromSoftware’south Souls games are action-RPGs with simple controls, brutally challenging gainsay, night fantasy story elements and visuals, and a notorious corpse run mechanic that requires you to physically collect the valuable experience y'all lose whenever you die. Elden Ring takes elements from many FromSoftware-adult RPGs, as it features Nighttime Souls' sword and sorcery, Bloodborne'south speedy movement and nightmarish imagery, and Sekiro's defense-heavy mechanics and bound-oriented activeness. It’s the culmination of everything FromSoftware has developed, married to a staggeringly massive open world that'southward dense with secrets, dungeons, and threats.
A Sprawling Fantasy Globe
Every Souls game gets love in Elden Ring, even the black sheep of the series, Dark Souls II. In fact, Elden Ring feels like the realization of everything Dark Souls Two promised information technology would be when it was first revealed. It features a grandiose story, a sprawling and highly detailed world, superb lighting elements, and spectacular visuals and vistas. Dark Souls II had fleeting glimmers of that inspirational vision in places similar the Dragon Aerie and the Shrine of Amana, simply all also oft the game globe felt generic and fifty-fifty nonsensical.
In Elden Ring, every zone has the same spectacular flair and evocative wonderment as the Dragon Aerie in Dark Souls Ii. From the lighting and shadows to the mist hanging over highlands, Elden Ring looks awesome in the most literal sense. Jaw-dropping monuments and fantasy architecture add to the graphical splendor, too. On the whole, Elden Ring is easily the nigh visually impressive game that FromSoftware's produced.
Elden Band's map is a cardinal gameplay facet in a similar way every bit motion and combat. The game's topography is deliberately fractured and varied, giving yous endless elevations to climb and terrain to traverse. Rocky cliffs, poisonous lakes, fossilized wastelands, quaint coastlines, are simply a few of the many environments that you'll encounter—and the world gets wilder and more than nightmarish as y'all progress. Your trusty steed, Torrent, makes exploration even easier. He is fantastically agile, capable of supernatural leaps, double-jumps, and mid-air pivots that would brand Mario and Luigi green with envy. This makes exploration feel natural and highly enjoyable, since Torrent feels like he tin take y'all anywhere.
The environment isn’t limited to just pretty landscapes. The map is pockmarked with Bloodborne-manner dungeons, loot-filled catacombs, monster-haunted dens, and soldier-manned forts. Elden Ring is a big game, and it is also a dense one, filled with things to come across and exercise. Just when the game world seems to have shown you everything information technology has to offer, more zones and points of interest reveal themselves. FromSoftware has a knack for level pattern, but it is surprising to run into this level of thoughtfulness on brandish. Rarely is in that location a moment of respite before you inevitably stumble upon something new, exist it a field boss to fight, a new cave to inspect, or a treasure to find.
The icing on the cake is the destructible environments, a relatively new flourish to the Souls serial that really hammers the monsters' powerful attacks. Certain, a burn down-breathing dragon is intimidating, only watching it raze a woods as it spews flames at you is a sight to behold. The thought of an elephant-sized bear is terrifying enough on its own, simply watching one nail through a stone wall equally information technology barrels towards you lot triggers a country of sheer panic that is shocking and novel, from a Souls series perspective.
Perhaps the most impressive Elden Ring aspect is the optional content. Technically, you don’t need to follow anything other than core story beats, just like Nintendo’s beloved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can explore the world at your ain stride, go stronger, aggregate weapons and skills, and tackle vital story-related sections whenever you choose.
Of grade, the non-optional sections are equally impressive, easily on par with some of the best zones in earlier Souls games. You are guided to specific dungeons or landmarks to make progress, though every bit mentioned, you don’t need to practise them right away. Like the world map, these dungeons are shockingly massive. They are intricately designed areas that are packed with secrets, besides as optional enemies and bosses of their ain.
The first major dungeon, Stormveil Castle, is strongly reminiscent of Boletaria Castle from Demon’s Souls, and it's almost as big as that massive zone's three sections. These key dungeons are likewise some of the best in the Souls series, with all the ambushes, traps, and shortcuts you would wait from the zones of old. Better all the same, because yous can command your jumping like in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, every dungeon has a shocking amount of verticality. FromSoftware makes every stony balcony and rampart you can leap to worth a visit by stuffing them with secrets and treasures.
All Nigh the Activity
Elden Ring takes plenty of inspiration from older Souls titles, simply reworks the classic mechanics to make them experience fresh or more intuitive. For case, Weapon Artes and the Focus estimate (mana) return from Night Souls III, jumping and posture-breaking make the spring from Sekiro, and even the dual-wielding ability stance from Dark Souls II makes a comeback. The overhauled magic systems give you a wealth of attack spells, buffs, back up abilities, and minion summons, with pretty much any build you choose. Even the most brutish of strength-based builds tin make use of some magical offense.
Elden Ring has fairly unconventional starting classes compared to other RPGs, but they share the aforementioned functions as classes in earlier FromSoftware games. The tanky Vagabond, for example, has high strength and low magic stats, similar to the Knight class of one-time. The Samurai class is a dexterity-focused class with stats aimed at utilizing speedy weapons, much like the Wanderer class in Nighttime Souls. Regardless of what yous choose, you'll eventually gain admission to everything that the other classes enjoy, so in that location's enough of flexibility as you lot build your character across the starting stats and gear.
The almost tangible combat changes come from the Sekiro-like posture organization. You lot can stagger enemies with heavy attacks and aerial blows that get out them open to receive a meaty finishing motility. The 2nd, related alter is the counter system that now exists independently of the series’ tried and truthful shield parry. In Elden Band, you can riposte after a successful cake. This flashy new follow-upwards attack deals massive posture damage, and can hands stagger basic enemies. The counter and the stagger systems can be used confronting boss enemies, though yous must piece of work harder to trigger them. You'll need multiple ripostes or aerial attacks to daze a boss for the death blow.
Elden Ring has a stunning enemy variety. Sure, many of these foes utilize the same basic and rigs from earlier Souls games, and then the iconic Asylum Demon, knights, and behemothic crabs from Nighttime Souls make their appearance here, too. But with fresh models and modified move sets to match Elden Rings’ aesthetic, these old fiends can still catch you off guard. The game also has an impressive amount of new enemies to battle, including bat demons, man-faced harpies, bract-limbed panthers, dinosaur-dogs, magma-spewing lizards, explosive volition-o-wisps, and horse-mounted warriors. The game simply gets more varied in this respect, only it also never overwhelms you. You lot bounce between familiar foes and alien ones just enough to keep the combat fresh throughout the massive, hundred-hour-long adventure.
Elden Band is likewise more approachable due to its open-world nature, likewise as its tutorial-heavy introduction. Taking another leaf out of Sekiro’s book, Elden Ring repeatedly injects tutorial windows during the game's first few hours. Many gameplay elements, including healing flasks, baby-sit-counter attacks, horse summoning and dismissal, and the checkpoint arrangement, are covered in tutorial windows that intermission up the action. Information technology feels as though FromSoftware wanted newcomers to understand the gameplay basics, only at the cost of some autonomy in the RPG's earliest moments. Information technology'south a minor gripe, admittedly.
Elden Band's open-globe nature means you lot won’t get stuck in a tough battle as yous may have done in previous FromSoftware games. Nighttime Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro all featured large areas, but fairly linear progression. Aside from a few optional detours, at that place weren't many branching paths, and you'd have to complete most zones to terminate the game. This meant that, if y'all got stuck on a boss, yous were well and truly stuck until you lot could beat it. This is not the case in Elden Ring, considering you tin get nearly anywhere. Yous can explore caves and ruins you observe along the way, or visit dissimilar zones whenever you lot wish. There are cardinal dungeons and bosses that need to be cleared, merely there's nothing stopping you from hunting for better gear or experience elsewhere, and dealing with that thorn in your side at a later time.
Of course, this comes at the expense of some claiming. Because of Elden Rings' laissez-faire approach to progression, you lot can accidentally make the game too easy for yourself past gearing upward besides much as you explore, or by finding a clandestine dungeon or dominate much afterward than intended. That is office and package for an open-world game, and a relatively small gripe in whatsoever case. Elden Ring is still plenty hard.
Can Your PC Run Elden Band?
To run Elden Band, your PC needs at least an AMD Ryzen three 3300X or Intel I5-8400 CPU, AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU or Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 GPU, 12GB of RAM, 60GB of storage space, and the Windows ten operating arrangement. To run the game at recommended specs, your PC needs an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X or Intel I7-8700K CPU, AMD Radeon RX VEGA 56 or Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 GPU.
Elden Ring has serviceable PC settings. Y'all can remap most keyboard, mouse, or gamepad functions. At that place are a scattering of avant-garde graphical settings to tweak for improve operation, such equally Shadow Quality, Lighting Quality, Effects, Volumetrics, Reflections, Shaders, Global Illumination, Antialiasing, and Texture Quality.
I reviewed Elden Band on a desktop PC with an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, and 16GB of RAM. I played at 1440p resolution and lx frames per second. The game is capped at 60fps, and mostly ran well. If you desire to uncap the frame rate, take a wait at these tips to become better Elden Ring performance.
Regrettably, Elden Ring suffers from stuttering on PC. This ranges from micro-stutters that appear as you lot move the camera or engage enemies to major chugging when too much activity occurs. 1 particularly egregious incident occurred while fighting a field boss in the Dragonbarrow zone. The stuttering got so bad that my character seemed to teleport, as the game lurched to catch upwardly with the activity. Equally of this writing, publisher Bandai Namco announced that it's enlightened of the problem and are working towards fixing information technology. The online community has been troubleshooting the trouble, and there are various potential solutions, such as setting the Shader cache size to unlimited or choosing “Loftier Functioning” in your Windows Graphics settings bill of fare.
Unfortunately, these did non piece of work for me. The game runs well, until of a sudden it doesn’t, and so it does again. It’due south frustrating that the game suffers from this issue, and I understand the PC gamers who are holding off on buying until a ready is available.
Interestingly, Valve’s graphics team has been working on optimizing Elden Ring for the Steam Deck. The game is listed equally Deck Verified on its Steam page, and fixes are in the works via Proton to optimize and mitigate the stuttering via commuter layers. This fix is expected to get public soon, so if you’re lucky enough to have snagged a Steam Deck, you lot may end up with a smoother experience than your Windows-based PC compatriots until a proper patch appears.
Why You lot Should Game on a PC
Amazing, With Some Caveats
Elden Ring is 1 of those captivating games that I fantasize about when I have gratis time, wondering what builds I might try upon replay, or places I may accept missed my commencement fourth dimension through. It’s a wonderfully nostalgic feeling, and I am impressed with Elden Ring'south size and scope. Information technology'due south unfortunate that the game launched with annoying frame rate bug, every bit they can be a deal breaker for people who don't want the trouble. Were information technology not for the game's obnoxious stuttering, Elden Ring would easily score much college; it's an otherwise stellar game. Hopefully, programmer FromSoftware will shortly release a patch that lets Elden Ring polish every bit it should.
For more PC game reviews and previews, cheque out PCMag's Steam Curator page(Opens in a new window). And for in-depth video game talk, visit PCMag'southward Pop-Off(Opens in a new window)
The Lesser Line
Elden Band is a wonderful action-RPG that features thrilling combat, an amazing open world, and tons of replay value. Unfortunately, its PC operation needs work.
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