Underneath my yellow skin

Living a post-Elden Ring life

It’s been a few days since I got the plat, and I’m still playing Elden Ring on the daily. But much less time every day than before, which is allowing me more time to think about it.

First, a note. I am really tired in a way I haven’t been since…that night. Or rather, that’s what I immediately thought of. It’s not the same kind of tired (it’s not a body exhaustion as it had been that night–it’s more I struggle to keep my eyes open even though I had plenty of sleep last night). I’m much more aware of being tired since that night, but it’s hardly been an issue. I have my phone on the coffee table right by me.

Anyway, it’s much more enjoyable in Elden Ring now that I’m done with the plat. That fifteen hours of the third playthrough was exhilarating because I had a laser-like focus on my goal for once. My first playthrough was magical because I just did what I wanted, when I wanted, for as long as I wanted. I didn’t even get to Stormveil Castle (the first legacy dungeon) for ten hours. There is so much to do in Limgrave, that you can just wonder around forever. Plus, it’s not intuitive how to actually get into the castle, so there’s that as well.

I still am not exactly sure how you got to the Roundtable in the first place, but the wikis seem to think it has to do with Margit? I had a good laugh at watching several videos state confidently how to get to the Roundtable Hold when I knew they were wrong. The first playthrough I didn’t get to the Roundtable Hold until I faced Margit for the first time. And, as I mentioned, I did not even reach Stormveil Castle until ten hours in, that was a problem.

Why? Because I started as the Confessor, which is faith-based. It starts with two defensive incantations–one that muffles your footsteps a little and one a small heal. The latter was useful, the former–not so much. I did not have any offensive spell for the first ten hours of the game–which made it agony. I did buy a bow from one of the Nomadic Merchants, but that’s not my preferred distance attack.

The faith teacher was in the Roundtable Hold. Once I got there, I was able to buy a few Pyro incantations that made life much easier. But, another issue was that if you did not start as an Astrologer or Prisoner, you could not buy a staff/wand for casting spells very easily. I even Googled it and could not find where to buy one. I had to go fight a certain enemy to get a staff, and she wasn’t easy to get to. later, I did find out from my wanderings that there is one Nomadic Merchant at least who sells the Astrologer’s Staff, but I did not know that at the time. Plus, you still have to go into a certain area that is not the beginning area to find him.

So, for everyone saying magicks is so much better in Elden Ring, it wasn’t that way at the start. I was miserable for that first ten hours until I was able to get my Pyromancies for offensive magicks. Yes, it was a perfect storm that made it so hard on me in the beginning, but it’s not unreasonable that someone would do what I did. If From wanted me to go to Stormveil first, they should have made it more obvious. I will never do the main story first–never. Not if I have the ability to do just about anything else else.

I get why people have given Elden Ring a 10. I get it, but I don’t agree. It’s not perfect and there are several things, many of them endemic to From games, that keep it from being without flaw in my eyes. I’m not even talking about little annoying things that I could forgive; I mean big, honking issues that really need to be fixed.

One is the platforming. This is something that has been constant in all the From games. Their platforming sucks. It’s imprecise, but the success hinges on being ultra-precise. It’s even worse in this game because of Torrent. Don’t get me wrong. Torrent is best boy and a welcome addition to the formula–he makes traveling long distances fairly painless.

But. Trying to platform on Torrent is an exercise in frustration, and it makes me cuss out my computer long and hard every time I have to do it. It’s nearly impossible to turn on a dime on top of Torrent, and that’s what you have to do to jump down those godawful tombstones dotted all over the map. Plus, with my depth perception issues, it’s nearly impossible for me to gauge where I actually have to land.

Speaking of Torrent, horseback combat is ineffectual at best and actively harmful at worse. It’s good when you have to race to and from a horrible enemy, but the actual combat feels oddly weightless. That wouldn’t be such a big deal in a game with fast combat. But the whole FromSoft brand is to have meaty combat in which every swing is measured and meaningful. To have your sword swing feel like nothing in a From game is weird.

In addition, and this may just be me, you can’t cast a spell over your shoulder when you are on horseback. You have to be facing whatever you’re spelling, which defeats the purpose. Even if you’re targeted onto an enemy, if you have your back to them while on horseback, your cast will go awry.

I have to take a minute to gush about the map. I was so worried about the inclusion because From games don’t have maps (obligatory mention of the joke map in Sekiro), and I was afraid it would ruin the exploration aspect. But, the way they did it was perfection. You have to find the map fragment in the world in order to see the area surrounding you. That map fragment is usually on a pillar or stele in the beginning of the new area. Not the very beginning, though, but a bit in.

And, this is the little detail that just is perfection, if you’re in an area that you don’t have the map fragment for, you can see faint outlines of things in the area. And the stele with the map fragment will be faintly….I want to say orange. Not sure of the color, but it’s distinct from everything else. So you can see where you need to go to get the map fragment to open that part of the world.

This is so brilliant, and it’s just a toss-away detail. It’s not mentioned anywhere, and you have to figure it out on your own. Maybe it’s hidden somewhere in the map, but it’s not hard to figure it out by yourself. And it makes like 100% easier when it comes to navigation.

I’m still giving the game a 9.5. I’m still pondering if it’s just ahead or just behind my love for Dark Souls III (my previous favorite game of all time). I’m still thinking about what it means to me and where it falls in the pantheon of From games.

I can’t tell you exactly how I feel about it, but I can say it’s a fantastic game that I’m glad caught the imagination of people beyond the From fanbase. May it continue to shine.

Leave a reply