Avoiding Spoilers

Elden Ring is FromSoftware’s newest addition to the “Souls” genre, which is notorious for it’s difficulty, unique combat, and is quite possibly the most talked about release in a long time.  This grand adventure is one of the hottest topics I’ve seen across social media and the gaming ecosystem since, it’s often compared, counterpart, Skyrim.  I have to preface anything about to be discussed with a spoiler warning.  I am going to try to be as spoiler free as possible, but everyone’s experience has been so unique that it’s almost impossible to be 100% spoiler free.   So this is your warning Tarnished…

A New Adventure Begins

If you have seen marketing of any kind for Elden Ring you may notice a name prominently displayed by the way of George R.R. Martin (GRRM), who is the creator of the A Song of Ice and Fire series which you may recognize as a little thing called Game of Thrones.  I have never read the books so my experience with the franchise is from the HBO epic that was let’s say… interesting… in the way it ended.  Because of that, I was hesitant at first when hearing of GRRM’s involvement, but what FromSoft and the renowned author were able to create is a rich and fascinating world in which your player avatar, dubbed a “Tarnished,” is a part of a group of people who have been banished from the territory in which our adventure takes called the “Lands Between”, after losing the grace of the Erdtree.  The Erdtree is a HUGE golden tree that can be seen at all times in the overworld to orientate a player in a direction.

The specific tale of my hero is around 50 hours currently, and with any good RPG I get my hands on there is a need to choose a direction in regards to my character.  Do I want to be a weapon master who hot swaps for the best situation? Do I want to be a stealthy poison inflicting nightmare? But the real question was what hairstyle do I want?  Character creators in video games hold a special place in my heart as I am usually the one trying to recreate myself to live out some escapism fantasy.  Meticulously moving any slider until it feels just right hits a level of satisfaction that definitely can be off putting to many.  Elden Ring‘s creator will seem very familiar to those who have embarked on a “Souls” game before as they have remained fairly unchanged since Demon Souls.  I also found my excitement to get started too much to handle that I dialed in a few major features and just chose one of the similar face options.


One downside to this creator, and many in video games, is the severe lack of beard options.  Fuzz, long, and extra long are fine, but what if I really wanted to embrace my braided beard warrior ancestors?

After adjusting the face I tweaked the body until it also matched my totally real, large anime character physique. It was time to choose a class.  With 10 choices it can be a little overwhelming but they cover the full gamut.  You have your big strong weapon fighters, your mages, your quick dexterity users etc.  In Elden Ring, there is multiple types of spells to throw around so that may play a factor if you choose one of the hybrid classes, but at the same time these matter very little in the grand scheme of a “Souls” game since the ability to retailor your stats about half way through becomes available.  My advice would be pick whichever one seems to have the equipment that is most interesting to you!

Myself, I chose Prophet.  This is the faith based casting class that is more akin to a paladin in more standard RPGs.  Really, the only reason was to give large gross looking bosses, and huge dudes in armor, what I like to call the “Righteous Hands” as I choose a fist style weapon and pummel them into a oblivion.  In other “Souls” games this build type has given me an uncontrollable urge to yell “REPENT” as I’m engrossed, headphones on, defeating a boss causing my partner to give me a side eye…

But once you make your selection and choose your starting items you are released into the world where immediately many newcomers will probably skip the tutorial completely.  You are given a choice to fall into the cave where you are taught the mechanics, or proceed through the door and begin.  Headaches are inevitable in Elden Ring, but I encourage everyone to go through the tutorial cave whether you are a “Souls” veteran or not since if nothing else it nets you some runes for leveling up! Whether you choose the cave or not you proceed through a short passage way and are released into the world.

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Choosing Your Method of Bonking

As you explore the world you will find that MANY things rarely go according to plan, and that includes builds.  If I am not throwing around the righteous hands, I typically find the biggest and heaviest sword I can find to pancake anyone who may step up to the challenge.  I knew going into Elden Ring however we were going to be provided with more weapon options than ever before.  Prophet begins with a spear, and polearms being another personal favorite weapon type, I would use that for the first few hours trying every weapon I could find.

This is where the beauty of Elden Ring begins to shine,  Because of the open world nature of the game you often find yourself wandering in a different direction constantly.  You may come across ruins housing a secret chest, or a catacombs with a Sphinx-like cat statue boss that often reward a new piece of equipment.  Weapons do require minimum stats, but FromSoftware knew how much people would be experimenting and adjusted those minimums accordingly it seems.  Many of the weapons you find in the first areas do not require a ton of point investment or grinding to at least try out.  While I started to lean towards a more dexterous style of play, I was still able to wield a few large swords I found.  There really is something for everyone, and everything feels viable at this point of my game. They even seemed to balance bows if you wanted to make Legolus proud.

But to add another layer to your weapon, players have access to what are called Ashes of War.  These are unique skills that not only make you feel extremely powerful, but allow one to truly expand their character to every bit of their imagination.  As a faith focused class, I am not typically able to cast sorceries, however I can with ashes of war.

Ashes of war are classified by types and mirror weapons themselves like sorcery, heavy, faith, blood (yes blood), etc.  Not all of them can be used with every weapon unfortunately, but there is always an options to replace something to get the same job done.  Once I found it, I became partial to an ability called “Bloody Slash” that would do an incredible chunk of damage and also cause a status ailment called Hemorrhaging to build.  If this particular effect builds completely the afflicted loses 18% of their health… no matter what their total health pool is.  This is why “bleed builds” are so popular in the franchise, especially with speed runners as they can melt bosses fairly easily.

The most powerful ability I came across was called Ground Slam, and it evoked so much E. Honda energy that it’s passive ability was asserting dominance over any who were forced to feel it’s butt slamming wrath.

The last major purpose of Ashes of War is their ability to change scaling of the weapon.  If you have say a dagger it is most likely to scale more with dexterity than a greatsword naturally.  Which means you get bonus damage the higher that particular stat is.  But when you equip certain Ashes of war you can change what is usually dex scaling to strength scaling adding even more variety to you preferred style.  I think Ashes of War maybe my favorite mechanic in any Souls series honestly.  Their versatility adds a layer rarely found in other games.

Slinging Spells

Versatility does not end simply with weapons, and extends into spells.  There is 2 major categories called Sorceries and Incantations.  Elden Ring has added so much variety to each that you could choose either and find exactly what you are looking for.   The Prophet I had chosen was more into the realm of Incantations which in older games may have been relegated to a few mediocre offensive spells and some support spells.  Incantations this time however include pyromancy, blood magic, DRAGON MAGIC, lightning magic, and anything else really that does not get covered by Sorcery. 

And that is not to say Incantations have all the fun.   Sorceries have a huge variety as well from casting meteors from the skies to fields of frost building miasmas.  I am not as familiar with what they have to offer since I choose “the other road”, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt you should not sleep on sorceries.

The categories also overlap quite often and in unexpected places.  Incantations from the “Golden Order,” which is your hyperbolized God worshiping cult style of incantations, often require a near equal investment into Intelligence which is the main stat for sorceries.  Within the lore however the Golden Order views this divulging in sorceries to be heinous even though they may be similar roads of study.

Dragon magic is one of the most absurd of the Incantation groupings I have found.  These are a grandiose jojo stand-style summonings of dragon parts that unleash an attack that drains all of your mana (or FP).  I thought these would be too ridiculous in a human character battle until I met an NPC invader that used dragon magic… I continued to be killed instantly every time it was cast for the next hour.

The Unspoken Aspect

All of these features are at a surface level to which I could do multiple articles on picking each apart, but there is one more thing from my experience with Elden Ring that needs to be highlighted.  I haven’t really seen many other people talking about it, but I know it’s happening with everyone.  The theme of adventure and exploration permeates every aspect of this game, and because of that, I alluded earlier, its hard to be completely spoiler free.  But discovering this world together with friends has been by far my favorite thing that has come of this,  I am not talking about multiplayer, which is fun as ever to summon friends to tackle a big bad together though.

There are so many items, mini dungeons, and secrets throughout this insanely massive map that talking to my friends and getting excited over our discoveries has genuinely made me appreciate this game on a level unlike any other Souls game.  Every day since launch, a majority of our conversations consist of “OH DUDE! I found this thing yesterday!” and we proceed to talk about all of the cool and interesting things we’ve found for the next several hours.  That urge to share, that emotional response of the experience is really something that I would say elevates Elden Ring from simply a fantastic video game, but to a work of art. 

This really is something I hope everyone reading this gets to enjoy, and if you have no one else I will happily talk about Elden Ring all day.  This game is amazing.