Elden Ring Review - Page 4

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Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2022-02-25
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On the other end of this, the combat system is a joy to behold. While on the surface, it's the same old Souls combat, there are enough meaningful changes here to make things more exciting. First, you now have a dedicated jump button, and a slightly different control scheme because of that. Jumping isn't just useful to get around some obstacles in the world, it's also a combat tool that allows you to perform jump attacks unique to each weapon type and also avoid a variety of ground-based attacks, which can serve as an alternative to the dodge roll.

If you prefer using a shield, you can now weather an attack and then perform a guard counter move that can be very useful. You also have these so-called Ashes of War that are essentially active skills you can add to your weapons. Not only do they allow you to make your sword be unlike any other sword in the game, they also let you adjust its attribute scaling, making it so you can use certain weapons with a build that otherwise wouldn't support them.

What I also like is that no combat style seems to be the ultimate answer now. Sure, you may have a shield that blocks just about anything, but certain weapons can go around it, while some special attacks ignore it completely. Also, while you can parry a lot of the game's bosses, you need to parry some of them several times in a row before you can go for a riposte. Even dodging is not a complete invulnerability button, with certain attacks being best avoided by jumping over them.

The game's enemies also got an upgrade. Gone are the times when you were mostly fighting skeletons clearly telegraphing their attacks. Elden Ring's enemies oftentimes delay their attacks to catch you off-guard, they press their advantage when they see you retreating, or they launch some devastating attack when you lock yourself into a healing animation. All of this makes the game's combat significantly more fun and engaging.

And even though the game is positively overflowing with mechanics, it's easily the most approachable FromSoftware title to date. For starters, the tutorial is pretty good now at actually explaining what's going on and how things work. Sure, it might not cover the advanced stuff, like what partial parries are, how generous backstab windows can be, or that you can actually slide down ladders instead of going one rung at a time, but it goes over enough of the basics to prepare a newer player for what's ahead.

You also, for the first time in a game of this type, now have a map. Not only can you leave markers on it, it also points you in the general direction of your main quest, which is a huge improvement over some giggling guy who mumbles something about some bells at you.

Finally, to end this section, I'd like to mention a couple of changes in how the game works compared to its predecessors.

When it comes to attributes, for the most part, everything works the same, but Attunement is gone completely. Instead, you now have memory slots for your spells. You gain them by finding special items in the game's world. Rings are now called talismans, and while you initially can only equip one, beating certain bosses will grant you more talisman slots.

Poise still exists as a secondary attribute, but much like in Dark Souls 3, it doesn't really work. In fact, it doesn't work even more than it didn't in Dark Souls 3. Basically, Poise is the attribute that allows you to continue attacking while taking damage, which is really useful when you have a slow heavy weapon.

In Elden Ring, while wearing heavy armor (one tier below the heaviest) and wielding a big sword, just about anything will still stagger you, making charged attacks more or less unusable. Pretty much the only thing granting you any noticeable amount of Poise, from my experience, is the Wild Strikes skill that allows you to withstand a hit or two before you get staggered.

The Elden Lord of the Rings

With the game's structure and mechanics out of the way, let's take a look at what it can offer in the story department.

The first thing to mention here is that while Elden Ring was developed in Japan, it's very much not a JRPG. And while true, some of the armor designs and cutscenes here are closer to that kind of game than ever before in a Souls title, this is still a very much Western-flavored project and your character runs upright instead of at a 45-degree angle.