LifeisXbox’s Elden Ring preview | The name Elden Ring has been around for a while. First announced at E3 in 2019, Elden Ring looked very much like Dark Souls. We were definitely excited about the idea of Elden Ring, but the news around From Software and Bandai Namco’s creation quickly died down. A few months ago, in June of this year, we finally got some more news about Elden Ring. A trailer was released, showing a promising game. Since then, the release has been delayed from January 21st, 2022 to February 25th, 2022, but the excitement around the game definitely grew.
The last few days the Elden Ring network test took place, so many gamers, including me, had one fantastic weekend. Between November 12th and November 15th, a few 3-hour time slots were made available to try out the upcoming fantasy action RPG. With the Dark Souls’ successor renewed attention over the past few months, I think we can all agree that Elden Ring will without a doubt be one of our favorite games of 2022.
What is Elden Ring
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock lately, let me recap what Elden Ring is about. Elden Ring is the successor to From Software’s popular Dark Souls series. Together with George RR Martin (known from Song of Ice and Fire a.k.a. Game of Thrones), the Elden Ring team created their newest third-person open-world action RPG where freedom and exploration are key. In a vast world with a dark fantasy setting, we follow the story around the Elden Ring. According to legend, this ring holds infinite power but has been shattered. You play as one of the Tarnished who were banished from the Lands Between. You set out on a quest for glory in the aftermath of a great war, and the gods of old actively decaying all around you. A variety of weapons, classes, bosses, magic, and enemies are promised to sweep you off your feet. It all sounds very promising, but was the network test able to convince us already of all of this? Let’s continue.
Choose your fighter
The beta version of Elder Ring offered a first on-hand look into some of the classes. While the full game will have more options, we were presented with five classes in the network test. The Warrior is a Dexterity-based character that uses agile and acrobatic attacks to deal with enemies at close range. The Enchanted Knight has embraced the power of Glintstone, facing enemies in melee combat while simultaneously casting spells. They often seek out and destroy those who use magic for nefarious purposes. The Prophet is a holy warrior equipped with the ability to use Incantations to face foes, or to protect allies. Faith is the weapon of the Prophet, and they wield it with prejudice. The Champion can burn foes from a distance or take them head-on in melee combat. And lastly, the Bloody Wolf is cunning, steadfast, and deadly. These warriors have no fear and face down death with unmatched vigor and pride.
Personally, I started with the Blood Wolf, simply because I liked the name and look of this class. The beta handed you pre-made characters, but the final game will allow you to customize your character according to your own taste. If you enjoy handling a sword and blocking your way through battles, the Bloody Wolf is an excellent choice. The Champion also proved to be very strong in melee battles, as did the Warrior. If you want to go for powerful incantations, the Prophet was definitely the go-to class. A mix between melee and magic could be found in the Enchanted Knight, who wielded both a spear and a staff.
I am truly excited to see what other classes will be added in the final build of Elden Ring. I’m hoping for a ranger, as that’s usually my go-to class aside from your basic melee class. Either way, it was really great to get a taste of what the different classes felt like and how they played. Magic was definitely the smarter choice, as enemies are quite strong and I was often overpowered and outnumbered, meaning I died more than I care to admit with my Bloody Wolf.
A beautiful open world with plenty to do
Starting in a pitch-black dungeon/cave, I immediately had to adjust brightness in order to see anything. I swiftly went through the very clear and instructional tutorial and made my way to Limgrave, the first accessible region in Elden Ring. I was immediately amazed by what I stumbled upon, which was a beautiful environment that sucked me in right away. Grass, trees, ruins, a mysterious sky, and a big glowing tree welcome you to the Lands Between. Now, let me walk you through what you can expect to find here.
First of all, there are the Sites of Grace, which are very important. These are basically saving and resting points. Here you can restore your HP and FP, as well as heal status ailments. Your sacred flasks (like potions restoring HP and FP points) will be replenished, but enemies you’ve slaughtered will be revived after you’ve rested here. So you know, almost all positives. The Sites of Grace are actually quite helpful as activating them allows you to travel to a Site of Grace easily, avoiding long walks or horseback rides (unless you’re in a dungeon because you can’t fast travel in some dungeons). Anyway, a Site of Grace has a few other possibilities as well. You see, this is where you level up, pass time, distribute flask charges, memorize spells, sort your chest, and so on. There are plenty of Sites of Graces, which were very welcome thanks to the strong enemies. In Limgrave alone, there are over ten Sites of Grace to discover. Oh, and sometimes a light emerges from such a site, hinting at where you might want to go next. So helpful! When you die, you can either respawn at the last Site of Grace you rested at, or there is a second possibility. If you die near a Stake of Marika, you will get the option of reviving there. Again, quite helpful.
The world of Elden Ring is open and enormous. While part of me absolutely loves this, another part of me was left confused. As I was walking and riding through the lands, I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing a lot because of the ‘lack of guidance’. It could be that I felt pressured because I knew I had only a few hours in this game, and when the full version releases, I’ll have plenty of time to tackle every part of the map on my own terms. I did pick up a lot of ingredients, as these are plentiful in the environment.
Pretty early on in the game, you unlock the Spectral Steed, which is a horse that you can summon. Just as combat, the steed is very easy to control and navigate. Even when jumping, it performed splendidly. I preferred engaging in combat without the steed, but I think that’s just personal taste. Runes, obtained by defeating enemies or using items, will also be important as they help you level up your character, but can also be used to buy items or strengthen weapons and armor.
Dungeons and bosses
You’ll have a great time traveling through the Lands Between. I know I did in this beta already, and there is still so much more to come! When you’re walking around, you’ll quickly find some dungeons you can go through. Some are definitely easier to go through than others, but all in all, I had a real good time trying to fight my way through various dungeons. These caves don’t take too long to finish, which was nice, although I hope the final build will include some longer dungeons as well. Or maybe I just didn’t find all dungeons yet!
When entering Limgrave, I ran into my first real boss fight right away as it was just a few meters away from the exit of the tutorial dungeon. Truth be told: that boss killed me big time. But I did not give up, of course! Luckily, various enemies are scattered all around the world so you can practice and grow stronger. The network test offered so many different bosses. I will not soon forget the freaking dragon that I, for some weird reason, did not see at first. I was just walking around, minding my own business, trying to avoid a big crab, when I got attacked by a goddamn dragon out of nowhere. I was dead in no time, of course. It was quite fun to battle against the various bosses, even if I got my ass kicked A LOT. Combat was so very smooth, I felt fully in control. With some very responsive and fast action, battles that I lost never really felt like I lost but more like I learned more. Spamming that attack button will not work and strategy is advised, especially when it came to bosses. Thanks to all kinds of attacks, even including an extra damaging jump attack, you have plenty of time and opportunities to practice and slay those enemies.
Talking about enemies, I’ve encountered multiple enemies that I really dug. All over Limgrave, I encountered basic sheep, deer, and boars. These usually ran away from me and besides, I did not have the heart to kill them. However, when I ran into big-ass crabs, giant bats, and (giant) land octopuses, I sure as hell made sure they were dead as fast as possible. I’ve enjoyed the enemies I’ve seen so far and I am very excited to see what enemies the other regions will have to offer.
For those of you who played the Dark Souls games, skills are going to be quite familiar as they were a huge feature in those games. Skills are a combat and character progression feature that comes in the shape of weapon and shield moves. These allow the player to execute unique offensive attacks with their currently equipped weapon or shield. An important difference with the skills from the Dark Souls series is that we get more freedom in Elden Ring. You can freely interchange skills between weapons, meaning it’s up to you to mix and match however you see fit. Depending on the equipment you’re wearing, you’ll be able to add different skills. Some weapons have default skills, while others require an Ash of War. Skills can be changed when vising a Site of Grace, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to play around with these very useful skills. I only saw the tip of the skill iceberg in the network test, so I will definitely dive into this a lot more once I get the chance.
A lot to offer
Elden Ring offers a lot of content. Not only will the map be gigantic, but there will also be plenty of classes to choose from, many enemies/bosses to defeat, and let’s not forget about leveling, crafting, skills, and so on. I honestly can’t wait until February and make my way through the rest of Limgrave and the other regions the Lands Between have to offer. Elden Ring will definitely be one of the most critically and publically acclaimed games of 2022 and it has certainly made its way to the top of my list for next year!
Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂