Elden Ring is a completely different type of open world game

A warrior on horseback stares at a vast landscape with a huge, golden tree.

Screenshot: From Software / Bandai Namco

Software, as you may already know, has a new game coming out early next year. It’s called Elden ring, and after spending a couple of hours on it during the preview last week, I’m here to say it is turning out to be really special.

To set some expectations Kotaku had access to the closed network test but our time was limited to two three hour sessions. While it wasn’t a full look at the open world game, it was definitely enough to get a feel for the overall experience.

Elden ring is a lot. It is From Software’s first major release since 2019 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It is the heir to the throne Dark souls Franchise. It is the company’s first attempt at a transplant Souls-Style gameplay in a real open world. It is Dark Souls IV. It is Dark Souls II 2. It’s the natural culmination of an impressive resume that began in 1994 Koenigsfeld, and as such, it’s also a game that has been in development for nearly 30 years. It’s an experience that From Software can make unique.

But perhaps most importantly Elden ring That’s fun. Oh my god it’s so damn good fun.

I’ve talked about it at length before Elden ring‘S Opening moments (You know, the tutorial area with the hole everyone kept falling into) and My favorite place the restricted demo (accidentally finding your way to an island that I myself was half convinced was inaccessible). These two stories are at opposite ends of the open world spectrum, the former representing the ubiquitous, emerging storytelling of the genre, and the latter a perfect example of how From Software seems poised to reinvent open world games forever.

Elden ringAlthough it gives players a huge sandbox to explore and interact with, it is conscious and intentional. Every part of the world building that contributed to it Dark soulsLegacy can just as easily be found in Elden ring. The only difference is that there are more of them.

One might well expect a modern, open-world game to be a collection of cool landmarks with little noteworthy in between, aside from some lush graphics that make traveling from point A to point B at least aesthetically pleasing. This is not the case with Elden ringalthough I have to say that it is incredibly beautiful. No, From Software’s developers went out of their way to ensure that every moment is a handcrafted experience, though with the studio’s unique flair to bring imaginations to life, they can cover exponentially more areas.

A wooded alley isn’t just a window dressing between waypoints, it’s a standard piece for learning the intricacies of stealth combat.

The entrance to a castle is not only a stunning example of the architecture of the world, but the beginning of a breathless chase.

A random gathering of worshipers in a swampy field is not only a chance for you to mow down a group of enemies on horseback, but also the trigger for a surprising boss fight against a man-eating dragon.

Unless that Elden ring Demo compressed everything cool about the game to 1 / 12th of a square mile to deceive us, honestly I’m worried about the developers. The attention to detail with which this ambitious project has to become a reality is downright herculean. As much as I expect Elden ringAlso arriving on February 25th, I’m more than happy to wait any longer if that means the folks at From Software won’t kill themselves to get it out the door.

Definitely my short time with Elden ring showed me that From Software is perfectly capable of owning the open world video game genre. I don’t know how to get back to huge lots with nothing to see between landmarks other than surrounding details that feel like copied to just fill up space. Even as inveterate Dark souls Fan, I’m blown away by what the developers were able to achieve with this little slice of the full version, and I’m worried about my free time next February.

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