Elden Ring: A Comprehensive Guide to the Game of the Year Contender

Elden Ring, developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, has been one of the most anticipated video games in recent years. Announced in 2019, this action role-playing game (RPG) has garnered immense attention due to its collaboration with acclaimed fantasy writer George R.R. Martin, known for his A Song of Ice and Fire series, and Hidetaka Miyazaki, the mastermind behind the Dark Souls series. Released in February 2022, Elden Ring combines the best elements of FromSoftware’s previous titles with an expansive open world, creating a unique and challenging experience for players. This article provides a comprehensive guide to Elden Ring, covering its gameplay mechanics, story, world design, character creation, and much more.

Gameplay Mechanics

Core Gameplay

Elden Ring retains the signature gameplay mechanics that FromSoftware games are known for, including challenging combat, intricate level design, and deep lore. Players control a customizable character, known as the Tarnished, who navigates the world of the Lands Between. The core gameplay loop involves exploring the world, battling enemies, and collecting items and equipment to enhance the character’s abilities.

Combat System

The combat system in Elden Ring is a refined version of the mechanics found in the Dark Souls series, incorporating elements from Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Players can choose from a variety of weapons, shields, and magic spells, allowing for diverse playstyles. The game emphasizes timing, positioning, and stamina management, making each encounter a test of skill and strategy.

Open World Exploration

One of the standout features of Elden Ring is its expansive open world, a departure from the interconnected but linear levels of previous FromSoftware titles. The Lands Between is divided into several regions, each with its own unique landscapes, enemies, and secrets. Players can traverse this world on foot or on horseback, with the latter providing faster travel and new combat opportunities.

Dynamic Weather and Day-Night Cycle

Elden Ring features a dynamic weather system and a day-night cycle, which affect gameplay and exploration. Certain enemies and events only appear at specific times or under certain weather conditions, adding an extra layer of depth to the world. Players must adapt their strategies based on these changes, making the game world feel alive and ever-changing.

Multiplayer and Co-op

Multiplayer has always been a significant aspect of FromSoftware games, and Elden Ring is no exception. Players can summon others for cooperative play, engage in PvP (player vs. player) combat, or leave messages and hints for others to discover. The multiplayer system is designed to enhance the sense of community and shared discovery among players.

Story and Lore

The World of the Lands Between

The story of Elden Ring is set in the Lands Between, a fantastical world created by Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin. The Lands Between is a realm governed by the power of the Elden Ring and the Great Runes, which bestow incredible abilities upon their bearers. However, the shattering of the Elden Ring has plunged the world into chaos, leading to the rise of powerful demigods and epic conflicts.

The Tarnished

Players take on the role of the Tarnished, a once-exiled individual called back to the Lands Between by the guidance of the Greater Will. The Tarnished are tasked with collecting the fragments of the Elden Ring, known as Great Runes, and restoring order to the world. Throughout their journey, players will encounter a wide array of characters, each with their own motivations and stories.

Key Characters and Factions

Elden Ring features a rich cast of characters and factions, each contributing to the game’s intricate lore. Some of the key characters include:

  • Queen Marika the Eternal: The former ruler of the Lands Between, whose disappearance and the shattering of the Elden Ring set the events of the game in motion.
  • The Demigods: Powerful beings who have claimed the Great Runes and now vie for control of the Lands Between. Each demigod rules over a specific region and poses a significant challenge to the player.
  • Melina: A mysterious figure who aids the Tarnished by offering guidance and enhancing their abilities.

Themes and Narrative

Elden Ring explores themes of power, ambition, and the cyclical nature of history. The game’s narrative is delivered through environmental storytelling, item descriptions, and character interactions, encouraging players to piece together the lore and uncover the secrets of the Lands Between.

World Design

Regions and Biomes

The Lands Between is a vast and varied world, featuring multiple regions and biomes, each with its own distinct aesthetic and challenges. Some of the notable regions include:

  • Limgrave: The starting area, characterized by lush forests, rolling plains, and ancient ruins.
  • Liurnia of the Lakes: A flooded region with vast lakes, crumbling academies, and eerie, mist-covered landscapes.
  • Caelid: A harsh, crimson wasteland inhabited by monstrous creatures and plagued by a toxic blight.
  • Altus Plateau: A highland region with golden fields, grandiose architecture, and formidable enemies.

Dungeons and Bosses

Elden Ring’s world is dotted with a variety of dungeons, each offering unique challenges and rewards. These range from small caves and catacombs to massive legacy dungeons reminiscent of classic Dark Souls levels. Each dungeon culminates in a boss fight, testing the player’s skills and providing significant progression rewards.

Points of Interest

Exploration in Elden Ring is rewarded with numerous points of interest, including hidden items, secret paths, and lore-rich locations. Players are encouraged to venture off the beaten path to discover these secrets, enhancing their understanding of the world and improving their character’s abilities.

Character Creation and Progression

Customization

Elden Ring offers a robust character creation system, allowing players to customize their Tarnished’s appearance, starting class, and background. This level of customization ensures that each playthrough can feel unique and personal.

Classes

Players can choose from several starting classes, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and starting equipment. Some of the classes include:

  • Warrior: A balanced melee fighter with high strength and dexterity.
  • Mage: A spellcaster specializing in powerful sorceries.
  • Thief: A nimble and agile class focused on speed and stealth.
  • Cleric: A support class with healing miracles and defensive spells.

Leveling and Stats

Character progression in Elden Ring is achieved through leveling up, which is done by collecting Runes (the game’s currency) from defeated enemies and bosses. Players can invest Runes into various stats, such as strength, dexterity, intelligence, and faith, to tailor their character to their preferred playstyle.

Equipment and Upgrades

Elden Ring features a wide array of weapons, armor, and accessories, each with unique attributes and abilities. Players can upgrade their equipment using materials found throughout the world, enhancing their combat effectiveness and allowing for further customization.

Tips for New Players

Embrace the Challenge

Elden Ring, like other FromSoftware games, is known for its difficulty. New players should embrace the challenge and view each death as a learning opportunity. Patience and persistence are key to mastering the game’s mechanics and overcoming its obstacles.

Explore Thoroughly

The Lands Between is filled with hidden secrets and valuable rewards. Thorough exploration is essential for finding powerful equipment, uncovering lore, and gaining an edge in combat. Don’t be afraid to venture off the main path and investigate every nook and cranny.

Learn from Defeats

Each defeat in Elden Ring provides valuable lessons. Pay attention to enemy patterns, environmental clues, and your own mistakes. Analyzing and adapting to these lessons will improve your skills and increase your chances of success.

Use Summons and Co-op

Elden Ring offers various multiplayer options to assist players in their journey. Summoning other players for co-op can make challenging encounters more manageable, while PvP adds an extra layer of excitement. Don’t hesitate to use these features to enhance your experience.

Experiment with Builds

Elden Ring’s character customization and progression systems allow for a wide range of builds. Experimenting with different classes, weapons, and spells can help you find a playstyle that suits you. Don’t be afraid to respec your character if you want to try something new.

Conclusion

Elden Ring is a monumental achievement in the world of video games, blending the best elements of FromSoftware’s previous titles with an expansive and immersive open world. Its challenging gameplay, rich lore, and intricate world design make it a must-play for fans of action RPGs. By understanding the game’s mechanics, exploring the Lands Between, and embracing the challenge, players can experience one of the most rewarding and unforgettable gaming experiences of the year.