Underneath my yellow skin

Elden Ring is close to perfection–but not quite

When Elden Ring was released, there was a lot of talk about whether it was perfect or not. It got a bunch of 10s and has been called the GOAT (it’s taken for granted it’ll win GOTY). Ian and I have talked about it and he makes a compelling case for why it deserves a 10. I, on the other hand, will never give it a perfect score because of the usual From idiosyncrasies that get on my nerves. Yes, you can argue that they are incidental, but to me, perfection means no flaws. The irritants of Elden Ring add up to at least .3 if not up to .5. It’s still neck-and-neck with Dark Souls III as my favorite game of all time, but I don’t consider it perfect.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think anything is perfect. How can it be? There’s no such thing¬† as perfect. So I can understand why people label something perfect even with flaws. I’m not like that, though. To me, perfection means it doesn’t have any big flaws, but this game does. Or rather, persistent flaws. And I need to get it off my chest. Also, I show love by criticizing. It’s in my blood and what I do. I am not one to gloss over the negatives. Indeed, I concentrate on them too much sometimes. But to me, it’s part of my love–the negatives. Or rather, that’s part of what makes the game what it is.

So. Here are the things that annoy the FUCK out of me in this game. Again, I consider this a 9.5 or so game. I want to put that out there so it doesn’t sound like I’m completely trashing it. It’s the best game of the year BY far and maybe the best game of all time. I want to state that up front so you know that I’m doing this out of love.

First and foremost, the platforming. I’ve ranted about this before, but non-platforming games should not include platforming because it uniformly sucks. Platforming is very precise and platforming games are designed by people who specifically understand the intricacies of platforming. In non-platforming games, it’s usually just thrown in for a laugh. Miyazaki loves him some platforming and it’s in every From game. And it uniformly sucks. Except in Sekiro because there is a grappling hook.

It’s even worse in Elden Ring because of Torrent. I love Torrent. He’s my buddy and he makes traveling so much easier. I love riding around on him, just exploring the hell out of the map. But. He’s no good for platforming. He doesn’t land where you want him to and he wanders a bit when you try to turn him around. He cannot stop on a dime, which is problematic in platforming. There is no precision on Torrent, which is frustrating as hell.

I was trying to get into the Divine Tower of Caelid, which involves a bunch of jumping on Torrent. Not just jumping, but turning tight corners and immediately jumping. I can’t tell you how many times I fucked up trying to accomplish this. I know the games are meant to be difficult. It’s one of the things I appreciate about them–but there’s a difference between difficult but fair and flat-out unfair. The jumping is often unfair. I don’t think it’s on purpose, but it’s just not coding the jumping to be precise. I can’t tell you how many times I messed up trying to get into the Divine Tower of Caelid because of shitty platforming.

The second thing is more a me-thing, but related to the first point. I have spatial issues and the game is very much up-and-down as well as side-to-side. What I mean is that the path to get somewhere is oftentimes arduous and not a straight line. I have no compunctions about using a video to get somewhere–and speaking of which, let’s talk about that as well. One of my biggest gripes about location videos is NOT SHOWING WHERE THE FUCK YOU ARE ON THE MAP. You would think this was a no-brainer, but so many of these videos start media res as it were. The logical thing would be to open your goddamn map and show people where you are on the map in addition to showing the closest Site of Grace. Five seconds of showing the map without any context doesn’t help. This is such a common thing, though, that I wonder if it’s just me who has difficulty immediately pinpointing where the person is.

Anyway, back to my frustrations. The second one is not being able to get to a point on the map. Look. I don’t mind having to use my brain a bit, but I am not good at 3D navigating. I had this problem in Borderlands as well. There would be a checkmark on the map and it would take me half an hour to get to that point because there would be walls and cutoffs where I wasn’t expecting them. There was a cave in The Witcher III near the end that was mandatory and I could not find my way out of it for hours. I was maybe five hours from the end and I seriously considered quitting because I was so frustrated.

It’s the same in Elden Ring. There is one place, the Sellia Evergaol,¬† that I cannot get to every time I try to access it. I’ve watched videos. I’ve tried several different ways to get there. Every goddamn time it takes at least a half hour to find it. You have to go in a very circuitous route while avoiding rock hard enemies, then jumping over a chasm before finally reaching the destination point. It’s annoying when it’s one time. It’s frustrating fuck when it constantly happens.

Mobs. I could just leave it at that, but let me elaborate. I don’t mind mobs when you can pick off one at a time or peel off one enemy at a time. I HATE mobs when either you can’t see the whole mob from the start or there are several in the mob with no way to split them up. It’s one reason I hate the Leyndell Royal Capital so much. You cannot avoid mobs no matter where you go and the regular soldiers of the area can one-shot me.

Side Note: Pump up your Vigor. I keep skimping on it, much to my detriment. When I was fighting Astel, I would get one-shot if they caught me in their grab. In the video I included, Ash has 40 Vigor so she had no problem surviving a grab by Astel. Get your Vigor up. Just do it. You’ll thank me in the morning.

Horse combat is crap. I’m sorry, but it has to be said. I love Torrent as a means to galloping across the map and getting from Point A to Point B. However, I hate the horse combat and avoid it whenever I can. With spells and incantations, even if you lock on to an enemy, you won’t zap them unless you’re facing them. So if I’m running away from an enemy with lock-on on and try to hit them, I’ll miss. It’s infuriating because if I’m locked onto them, I should be able to hit them. As for melee, it feels weightless and ineffectual. Plus, I keep forgetting that you can hit them on the left side, so I keep circling to get the enemy on my right.

None of these are gamebreakers, obviously. I adore this game and will be playing it for the rest of the year and beyond. But I can’t ignore the things that irritate me, many of them carryovers from the other games. I suppose FromSoft considers them features and not bugs.

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