Death hangs in the air of FromSoftware’s worlds. Decay haunts its castle corridors. Monsters and fiendish booby traps subject your hero to constant grisly setbacks. Yet something always draws series stalwarts back into the fray for one last boss fight or dungeon crawl. That’s how we felt jumping into Elden Ring’s realm of the Lands Between just as our siblings decided we needed to have a discussion with our dad about end-of-life care. It’s obviously an uncomfortable topic, and one we hope to avoid entirely by breaking down every moment of the Elden Ring network test! Let’s dive in!
This Is An Open-World Game Through And Through
Limgrave Tunnels. Stormveil Castle. Murkwater Catacombs. These Elden Ring locations all sound and look right at home in any of FromSoftware’s previous titles. The key here is that for the first time, they are linked up by a massive open world studded with wildlife, stunning vistas, and hidden treasure that we could have only dreamed of when Dark Souls first came out in 2011—a year that our dad was, admittedly, stronger and more vital. He’s struggling much more now and a nursing home might be an option, but this isn’t something we want to deal with right now, so let’s just go onto the next feature.
Spirit Steed Is Your Friend
Remember how we said this is a massive open-world? Well, you’re going to need a horse to get around and Torrent the Spirit Steed is your new best friend. We have a lot of other things going on on in our life, too, that are keeping us from having this talk with Dad. It isn’t just the Elden Ring stuff. We went through a break-up last year. Honestly, we just want to get back on our feet before we open up this whole can of worms with our father, who is probably going to really drag his feet about it.
You Are Going To Die, A Lot
This is a FromSoftware game, after all. So expect to die quite a bit, much as our own father is someday going to die—which, again, we don’t want to talk about. Instead, let’s underline that despite some quality-of-life changes, there are still tons of ways that Hidetaka Miyazaki is going to turn the screws on you: Hidden enemies, nigh-unbeatables bosses, and the ever-looming threat of a stray spike or poison arrow coming out of nowhere. We might not want to even ask our dad about whether or not he would sign a do-not-resuscitate order, but every new environment we explored definitely kept us on our toes!
Bonfires Are Now Sites of Lost Grace
It’s to be expected now: Every new FromSoftware property is going to have a bonfire rebranded with some new title. In Elden Ring we’re given the aptly named Sites of Lost Grace, which sounds like it could be the name of a hospice. Would Dad want to be in a hospice if he was terminal? We don’t know, and there’s way too much to unpack in Elden Ring to talk about this now!
PvP Is Back And Better Than Ever
When our sister called us up and told us it was time to chat with Dad about his end-of-life preferences, we just kept repeating this statement, “PvP is back and better than ever! In Elden Ring! It’s back and it’s better than ever! You can only do it if you’re cooperating, though! But it’s back and better than ever!” Eventually, she quieted down and hung up.
This Is Our Dad
He doesn’t look that old does he? Yes, he forgets things more and he moved to the first-floor bedroom and he had that bad fall back in the spring. He’s also going through a health scare now, which is what dredged all of this up. But it feels like we can just push this conversation down the road a bit, right?
A Classic FromSoftware Narrative
We all know George R.R. Martin chipped in the overarching background narrative for Elden Ring. But the game is still told in classic Miyazaki style through flavor text on your armors and weapons, alongside optional conversations with NPCs. At one point, while we were reading the description of our Crucible Set Armor, we thought about our dad and just burst out crying. We don’t know why. All it said was “Armor of one of sixteen ancient knights who served Godfrey, the first Elden Lord.” But we’re just so thankful that our sister lives a few houses down the street and can care for Dad if something terrible did happen. But it shouldn’t all be on her plate. We tell her we’re busy with all this video game stuff, but at a certain point, we’re going to have to talk about these issues. We know that. Talking about Elden Ring is our way of avoiding the same level of responsibility that she has taken on. Do we need to break down every second of this preview? Probably not. What are we doing here, honestly?
Oh Wait, Did We Mention Elden Ring Has Fast Travel?
Yeah, we totally forgot to mention this! Whenever you aren’t in combat, you can jump to a Site of Lost Grace instantly. It’s a major boost in flexibility for the famously player-hostile developers, and we couldn’t be happier about it. But frankly, all of these new features are just a drop in the bucket of a game that’s already shaping up to be one of the most memorable and expansive open-worlds we’ve ever seen. GOTY 2022, anyone?