Voidu Elden Ring PC Review
Is Elden Ring what FromSoftware hoped it to be?
No introduction is needed for Elden Ring, let's be honest – at the moment of release of this article, I am confident in saying it will still be topping the Steam charts and will have gained a few more 9s and 10s from various outlets.
In ways, Elden Ring is intended to innovate and be a departure from the all too well known recipe, that has been at the core of their success since they put themselves on the map for the first time with Demons Souls on the Playstation 3, but it is also to thrust, slash and bludgeon its way back into the (only slightly masochistic) hearts of die-hard fans of this series. All with a sprinkling of George R. R. Martin magic as icing on the cake.
Can the game pull off this crazy feat or is it destined to a fate similar to that of Cyberpunk 2077? Is the departure significant enough to make the experience accessible also to newcomers to the genre of Souls-like PC games as it was intended? What makes Elden Ring unique from other action-RPG games? And is it still as wonderfully brutal as we as Souls-fans like it?
We shall aim to find out in this Voidu Review!
As a quick hot tip, if you would rather like to watch our team review the game check out our VIDEO on Elden Ring!
Aesthetics & Graphics
There is no way of putting this any other way but Elden Ring is gorgeous. Yet, one of the largest points of critique currently, a few days after release, focuses on the graphical fidelity of the game and its performance on PC.
Similar to previous FromSoftware games, with the exception of perhaps the Demon's Souls remake, a Playstation 5 exclusive, Elden Ring’s beauty comes from a fine dance on a razor's edge between the classic, grand, and somber aesthetics the Souls series is known for dialing up to 12 for this one and a graphical performance that can just about facilitate and communicate the absolutely stellar art design and direction.
While the performance is certainly a sort of gamble even with stronger systems and can indeed hamper your enjoyment with the game, overall it is a stunning looking game that requires an above-average system to run properly, and with all this hype, it is certainly understandable that there is a disappointment. On top of that, the game is also plagued by occasional stuttering, mainly in the overworld region, that we speculate is down to assets loading in. Currently, the expectation is that these issues will be addressed between game and graphics driver patches soon to come.
Nevertheless, its art direction saves this FromSoftware game yet again.
As a lowly tarnished you awaken in the Lands Between, a place, ravaged by war after the shattering of the Elden Ring and you must journey as one of many to claim the shards of the Elden Ring and become the Elden Lord.
The Elden Ring story and lore is reminiscent of the vast majority of FromSoftware titles in how it is presented to you: Fed in only small chunks at a time, with frequent lore hooks that become clear only at a much later time and seemingly infinitely deep and well thought out.
Albeit having the cooperation between George R. R. Martin and Hidetaka Miyazaki in building this fantastic world the general approach to the character role as one of many tarnished that are to find their destiny also feels very similar to your roles as undead for example. Yet that is also very much an element of what makes your accomplishments grand.
Venturing out from their comfort zone is certainly nothing new for FromSoftware, they did it already very successfully with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019), a much larger departure from the original recipe than Elden Ring is now.
The gameplay and the mechanics used here are much more in line with Dark Souls and Bloodborne. The basis of the game rests on the classic interplay between light and heavy attacks, dodging, blocking, parrying, and ranged attacks with bows and magic. But what makes Elden Rings' gameplay loop so enticing is in large part how the old, established, and well-loved mechanics play with all the many new ones that have been added, and the more open and free structure of the game itself.
Let's look at some of our favorite new mechanics and what we think are the most impactful ones in making Elden Ring unique.
Day & Night Cycle
Similar to most other modern open-world games, Elden Ring features a full day and night cycle that will have an influence on how you interact with the environment. Stealthing (taken from Sekiro) is easier during the night because enemy visibility is lower, and for most areas the pattern of enemies or their presence even changes, some only come out at night, for example. This we have not seen in FromSoftware games to date.
Mounted Overworld Traversal
Torrent, a stag-like mount you can use in combat and for exploration, is probably one of Elden Ring's biggest new features. You can Summon him beneath you basically anywhere outside of the large legacy dungeons and use him to quickly traverse the overworld map. It is frankly impressive, the many areas where he can be called. The combat from his back also integrates fluently with traditional Dark Souls combat.
As mentioned, most of Elden Ring's core playstyle and mechanics are similar to the Dark Souls series, but here and there the game is also taking inspiration from Sekiro. For example by including stealth. In Elden Ring you have the ability to crouch down and make yourself harder to see or hear, you can hide behind objects or within the strategically placed tall grass. This is useful because you can easily get a good backstab off reliably on an unsuspecting enemy. It is a rudimentary mechanic but a powerful one.
It's not that you could never jump in FromSoftware games, we had had it since Demon's Souls (2009), but a running start was always a requirement. And even then, players were only able to jump in the direction they were running, you would gain distance rather than height and the entire process was a clunky mess, limiting the usefulness of the mechanic.
That has also changed in Elden Ring with another mechanical addition from Sekiro. Just like there, you are able to perform a short hop whenever you like to jump over small objects, traverse platforms, attack enemies while jumping with dedicated attacks or avoid enemy attacks.
Elden Ring gives you the opportunity to collect materials from both the open world and defeated enemies and then craft useful items like potions, arrows, and more. Many of the game's more powerful items will require players to explore specific areas or hunt down specific types of enemies for the right materials, so don't expect crafting to be an easy process.
To many Souls fans, one of the most beloved mechanics from Dark Souls III is back. Many weapons, shields, and other pieces of equipment in Elden Ring have abilities or special moves with which you can mix up your attack patterns or perform some unique moves. However, unlike Dark Souls III, Elden Ring allows players to swap these abilities with a resource called Ashes of War that can be found in the world.
So is all this ultimately the enhancement of the formula that FromSoftware was working towards? Is Elden Ring actually an easier game to get into for newcomers to the series while keeping its appeal to its core fanbase without becoming too easy?
We certainly think so and here are some reasons why:
Almost no more “boss rush”
Classically dying in a Souls game means that all enemies and the world itself (except for key elements) reset and respawn, this usually meant you had to travel back to the boss arena before starting a rematch when you died to them. The way back to fight a boss was traditionally packed with resource-draining enemies and the very real chance of dying again due to becoming careless and thus frustrated with the entire endeavor.
In Elden Ring, there are save sites or at least the new addition of checkpoints right before a boss encounter in almost every case, meaning you are almost invited to try again immediately should you fail. Finding that the enemy is too tough or that you’re just not in the mood for this boss right now? There’s always the option to just walk away and do something else for a bit. Then, once you are stronger or just down to try again, you fast travel to one of the sites of lost grace or a checkpoint and can try again without having to wait but a minute!
This does not mean that souls – or runes as they are called here – are safe from being lost to dying and not picking them up though!
Almost no more getting stuck
Players were often dealing with linear paths, in previous Souls-like games. The structure of Elden Ring, on the other hand, feels a lot freer and more liberated. Many reviewers and players liken it to the opening hours of Breath of the Wild, where all you are given is a vague task and the world to explore and find your own way.
Did you just run into an obstacle giving you a hard time or into a challenging area? The breadth of options and the aforementioned save and checkpoint system make it easy to simply disengage from that activity, be it dungeon or enemy, and move on to something more manageable. This game’s world is so large and dense there is always something else for you to do.
Almost always the chance for help
In the Souls games, you were almost always given the opportunity to “summon” help for boss fights. Whether in the form of an online co-op partner or an AI companion. While this was always helpful, sometimes useful, it was always seen as the easy way out by many fans.
There is still co-op and it is more extensive than ever - you can complete almost the entire game with a friend after all. But the more structural and less cheap seeming method of getting help are the new “spirit summons” AI-controlled creatures that assist you and that are summoned via found7earned abilities that cost FP (your magic recourse). This makes them more of a core mechanic than a tacked-on multiplayer option.
The danger of a Souls genre boss is greatly minimized by one simple trick: They end up paying attention to whatever is helping you.
There is another mechanic that we didn't get into yet that we think has a huge impact on the difficulty. Parrying in Souls combat has always been difficult for many players because it usually requires split-second reactions and if you mucked it up you were left wide open. But with the new “guard counters” you (almost) get the best of both defending and countering. When blocking, after an enemy lands a hit you can activate a guard counter to instantly attack. It is no parry that staggers the enemy but does a good chunk of damage.
This mechanic boosts shield playstyles by quite a bit.
But is Elden Ring actually too easy now because of all of these changes and what do we think after a combined 61 hours in the game overall?
Elden Ring brings a lot of new things to an old and established formula, which FromSoftware has very much perfected over the years. An old formula it is nonetheless though, and that may be for the best. Despite all of the additions and changes to its approach the game still feels like a Souls title at heart. And it has certainly shown us this over the course of us playing the game.
Our combined death counter proudly sits somewhere around 95.
The game is still very difficult, from mobs of smaller enemies to the impressive unique bosses there is plenty here that most hardcore souls players will grind their teeth at.
There is of course then the performance that might actually get in the way of doing that if you do not have a high-performing PC setup or also if you are just a bit unlucky, at least with the current patch that we were playing on. We are confident that the stuttering and general performance issues will be addressed soon, but FromSoftware has extensive experience with releases on PC now and it would have been nice to have had an unplagued launch.
But in the end few other titles rival FromSoftware games in its consistent creation of fantastically gripping and tense situations with a sort of dream-like quality that lodges itself in your brain, immersing you and keeping you transfixed.
We like the game.
If you would like to know more about Elden Ring, make sure you check out our Blog posts here;