(Wow, this ended up a little long; my apologies in advance for that! So odd that a post about Elden Ring turned out to be excessively long, quite idiosyncratic, and reader-hostile…)


Back in 2009, there was a fair amount of discussion in video game blogs about Demon’s Souls. More than enough to get me curious, but also, I couldn’t see how the game would fit into my life? No pause button, a long distance between save points; I get my game play time in spurts, and sometimes I’d need to pay attention to a dog (or, back then, a child). So I need games to work with the rest of my life, instead of assuming that I’m going to devote arbitrary blocks of time to them.

That, plus the length of the game and some other user-unfriendly aspects (other players can just come into to your game and kill you?) made me stay away. But I was still curious; it was apparently a game based on difficulty where people who like to think about games and who aren’t any better at action games than I am were finding it worth their while.

And then Dark Souls came out, and the buzz expanded. And its sequels, and Bloodborne. A lot of people I respect really like these games; and I was more or less convinced that, if they fit into my life, I’d probably get something out of them as well. But I still wasn’t sure that they actually would fit into my life: I continued to get the feeling that they were somewhere between player-indifferent and player-hostile.


The basic sense that I got was that people felt that FromSoftware’s games were hard but fair, in a way that made them good teachers. You had to put in the time, but if you did put in the time, what seemed like impossible obstacles would become manageable, and they’d be manageable as a result of you becoming more skilled. And the other virtue that I saw mentioned repeatedly was the sense of mystery in the world: it wouldn’t explain itself, and it was up to you to notice things and piece information together. (Or, alternatively, to not do that!)

The negatives were still there, though: it sounded like, ultimately, the games didn’t respect players’ time, in ways that felt gratuitously bad to me. (Though a lot of people seemed to actively like the multiplayer: people can come into your world to help you, not just to hurt you. And you could leave each people messages as well?) And also there was this whole “corpse run” mechanic, where, if you died, you’d lose progress unless you could make it back to the spot where you died; I honestly didn’t have a feel as to whether I would find that mechanic valuable or whether it would feel to me like punishment for the sake of punishment.


Then Elden Ring came out. I’d assumed that it would be yet another game generating a huge amount of buzz that I wasn’t going to be playing, but then some of that buzz talked about ways in which the game was more accessible than its predecessors. In particular, this Washington Post article by Gene Park made me think that Elden Ring might be a FromSoftware game that I’d actually enjoy grappling with. Plus, game consoles are good at letting you pause these days, even when games themselves don’t have that functionality built in; the latest Xbox consoles will happily save the full in-memory state of multiple games for you. So I gave it a try.


The good news: Elden Ring was indeed accessible enough that I spent a good amount of time with it, maybe 40 hours or so? But, ultimately, it turned out not to be the game for me. I continued to find the game more or less constantly stressful, and I’m not even sure I’d made it even a third of the way through the game, so I didn’t look forward to the thought of spending months more with it. So Elden Ring turned out to be the rare game that I started but didn’t finish.

In terms of the benefits that I’d had in mind: I can see what people mean by them? But I’m not convinced that Elden Ring is doing anything uniquely good along either the teaching or mystery dimensions; I’ll talk more about that below, but, honestly, one of my main takeaways from playing Elden Ring is that Hollow Knight is a very good game. And the drawbacks that I mentioned above were real; I’m not as afraid of them now as I was before, but it’s also the case that there were a couple of ways in which those drawbacks were worse than I expected.

The main thing that I hadn’t really gotten until I played it is what a weird game Elden Ring is. Yes, you can put the game into the action RPG box if you want, but the way the RPG mechanics play out in Elden Ring (and, I believe, in most other FromSoftware games) is very different than in any other RPG that I’ve played. And so, to me, it feels like the deciding factor as to whether or not somebody would like FromSoftware’s games isn’t so much whether you want to learn and don’t mind being challenged in that process; it’s whether or not this one specific genre appeals to you.


Concretely, some unusual aspects to its RPG system:

  • Classes are only starting points / suggestions for directions to go in, everybody has access to the same set of potential capabilities.
  • Your level goes much higher than in other RPGs that I’m used to, but all that going up a level does is let you raise one stat of your choice by one point.
  • There are lots of secondary stats (e.g. poison resistance) that derive off of your main stats; the game is pleasantly explicit about what secondary stats will be affected by a stat raise.
  • You don’t get a standard drip of weapons that are slightly better than your previous weapon and that you switch to once you find it: instead, you’ll find an abnormally wide range of weapons (many of which are unique) in any region of the map. But you might not be able to use the better ones when you find them, because of the next point.
  • The ability to use a specific weapon is gated by your stats. (Usually dexterity and strength, but occasionally faith or intelligence.)
  • Weapon strength isn’t (just) a number: each weapon also gets stronger based on some of your stats. (Usually dexterity and strength, but sometimes faith or intelligence.) And some weapons scale more strongly than others.
  • Weapons have a leveling path as well, and leveling them up requires a not-super-frequent type of item.
  • You gain the ability to cast spells (of which there are two broad types) by equipping a specific kind of weapon (again, two types, one for each type of spell); the classes that you would expect to cast spells start with an appropriate weapon, but anybody can use one if you want.
  • You learn spells by finding scrolls for them in the world. (And then paying money, but that’s not a big deal.)
  • You gain spell slots by finding / buying a rare item in the world. But also the in-game controls make it a pain to switch spells if you have too many spell slots, so in practice you probably don’t want to have massive numbers of spells assigned to slots! You can change the assignment of spells at save points.
  • If you die, you lose all your experience/money unless you can make it back to the location where you died.

This all gives the game a somewhat unusual feel, especially in the area of weapon usage. You’ll have access to an unusually large number of weapons; but you won’t be able to use most of them (especially if you’re going in the direction of a magic-based build, as I was). So, when chosing a weapon, you’ll have to think about which weapons you either can currently use or will be able to use by upping your stats a reasonable amount in a direction you would naturally want raise your stats; which weapons scale along whatever attribute are most important to you (e.g. I wanted to look for faith-scaled weapons, which are relatively rare); which weapons have secondary characteristics that you’re interested in (e.g. lots of people like inflicting “bleed” on their opponents, which only some weapons can do by default, though there is a mechanism to add that sort of attribute to other weapons); and which weapons have timing attributes and the like that fit your playstyle (do you want to quickly stab people, or take big slow swings, or do distance attacks with a bow).

And then, as you find weapons that are interesting, you want to level them up. And you won’t be able to level up huge numbers of weapons, and in fact I think I only did any leveling at all on four weapons during the time I spent with the game? (My starter melee and spell weapons, and then replacement melee and spell weapons that I switched to maybe 20 hours later.) I could have leveled up more weapons, and at least when starting out, it’s fine to experiment with weapons with them unleveled up, but my understanding is that, later on in the game, it gets to be pretty important to use leveled up weapons.


With that as prologue, how does the game provide these hypothesized learning and mystery benefits? The existence of the above list of characteristics shows one way in which both qualities apply: the game behaves in an unexpected way, and it gives you enough information for you to realize that there’s something unexpected going on, but it’s pretty hard to figure out exactly what is going on.

This is simultaneously a mystery and an invitation to learn. I grappled with these systems, trying to understand how they worked and how I could use them. I came up with hypotheses, and tried them out; sometimes I made progress, other times I felt like I was missing something.

And then I wanted to fill in the gaps. Sometimes, stuff that I’d heard on podcasts or read on Twitter started to make sense, guiding me at least towards good questions to think about and frequently pointing me towards answers. Other times, I’d end up going to the wiki or other articles online; maybe I was looking for explanations of mechanics, or I might be looking for lists of weapons with certain characteristics.

Normally, when a game has me looking at wikis and walkthroughs to understand it, I see that as a sign of the failure of the support of the game for learning: it’s just throwing walls at me. But, for Elden Ring, I don’t feel that way. I (mostly) didn’t go to the wiki because I was banging my head against a wall and wanted somebody to tell me what to do; I went to the wiki because I had a hypothesis about an aspect of the game, and wanted to go deeper into that aspect. Which is really good, pedagogically: sure, there’s something neat about pedagogy where you figure everything out on your own, but you can make it a lot farther a lot more quickly if you first engage with questions enough to have a feel for their contours and a motivation to learn for, and you then get appropriate nudges from people with more expertise than you. And Elden Ring, I think, does well in that vein?


That’s the systems of the game, but the game also tries to teach you how fight. FromSoftware’s games get a lot of commentary about the way that they put you up against bosses that initially seem too tough; but, as you fight them over and over again, you learn their patterns and you learn when to step back and not get greedy. And then, eventually, you win.

And that’s true, and I think Elden Ring did a pretty good job with that? With the caveat that, as an open world game, there are side dungeon bosses that you’ll encounter at an unpredictable time, so you really might not be able to deal with them when you first encounter them; that’s fine, and even on those I learned something from trying.

There’s also a more subtle way in which the game forced me to learn. Because there wasn’t a constant drip of new weapons and spells (or at least of new weapons that it made sense for me to use), I had to learn to make do with what I had. And that forced me to go deeper into the initial weapons and systems than I normally would; I can’t think of another game where I’ve gone as long with my initial loadout as I did with Elden Ring. Sure, it got frustrating, but I learned from the effort; and right when that frustration was starting to be too much, I came across a couple of new spells and a new weapon that let me broaden up my approaches and take on enemies that I wouldn’t have been able to defeat before then.

Having said that: if Elden Ring really were focused on teaching you the game’s combat systems, it would have made different choices. I’ll talk about that below, but the short version is that the game is player-hostile in ways that work against player learning.

There’s also the question of how the leveling up system affects the game’s approach to learning. Because if you can just grind to make it pass a tricky bit, then you don’t really have to learn; but also different people learn at different rates and reach different points in their learning, so without some sort of release valve, people might give up when otherwise they could have learned and enjoyed the learning process. I think Elden Ring makes reasonable tradeoffs in that regard, but I’m also not convinced that those tradeoffs are exceptionally good in any way.


Turning to mystery; as I said before, I feel like the game does a good job of introducing the mystery of systems. I’m less convinced that it does as good a job of mystery when it comes to mystery of world layout, though.

The plus side is that there are surprises everywhere you go; the down side, though, is that some of those surprises are kind of important. Before I talked about how it’s good to go to a wiki to improve your understanding of a system once you’ve started getting a feel of its importance. What’s less good, though, is going to a wiki to make sure you don’t miss any secrets in a given area because one of those secrets could be a weapon or spell that significantly transforms your play experience.

There’s also the mystery of the world’s lore: who are these mysterious figures you encounter, why are they here, what is their relationship with each other? Honestly, I just did not care about any of that; I bet if I’d made it farther in the game, I would have cared a little more, but not a lot more.

I’m not exactly going to fault the game for that; but the narrative aspect of the game felt to me like what Mass Effect would have been like if it had only had the Codex but not the actual plot? The Mass Effect Codex is impressive in its own way, but I would never say that the game would be more effective in a plot-less Codex-heavy version because somehow that would make me appreciate the mystery more: instead, it would just be a game with a much much worse narrative. And that’s the same way I feel about Elden Ring: if you care about the building of a rich, alive world, then Elden Ring is not the game for you.


Earlier, I said that I’d gotten the impression that FromSoftware’s games are player hostile, but that Elden Ring was less problematic in that regard. And it probably is less problematic than its predecessors, but it’s not great.

Right at the start of the game, there’s a combat tutorial. And it’s an important combat tutorial: the mechanics discussed there are both very important for doing well in the game’s combat and very hard to discover on your own.

But the tutorial is, or at least was, also very easy to miss! I missed it on my first time through; I’m enough of a completionist that, a couple of hours later, I decided to go back to the start of the game just to see if there are any hidden items or something that I hadn’t found, and I realized I missed the single most important tutorial in the entire game. FromSoftware did eventually patch the game to make the tutorial much harder to miss, and I suppose it’s possible that the developers dramatically underestimated how easy it to miss the tutorial, or maybe only a very small percentage of players missed it and I was just one of those? But, to me, it felt to me like the developers were making a joke at the expense of the players who most need help with the game; if that is the case, then ouch.


Or, for another example, take the lack of the pause button. It turns out that you can pause the game; it’s just that, to do so, you have to press the menu button, then select a menu item, then hit the help button, then select “Menu Explanation”. And in that scenario, unlike (I think?) every other scenario when the menu is open, the game will actually be paused?

Which is ridiculous. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is a legitimately subtle UX problem here: I think designing your inerface so the game doesn’t let you swap your loadout while it’s paused is defensible. But the ability to pause a game is very important for people whose lives aren’t devoted 100% of the time to whatever game they’re playing; the solution Elden Ring came up with is a bad one.

On that note, remember above where I said “game consoles are good at letting you pause these days, even when games themselves don’t have that functionality built in; the Xbox Series X will happily save the full in-memory state of multiple games for you”. Yes, game consoles are good at that; but Elden Ring won’t let you use any of that functionality, it’ll kick you back to the load screen if you return to the game after putting your console to sleep, and it’ll even present you with a nag message saying that you should have exited the game yourself instead of using the completely standard functionality to put the console to sleep!

I’m pretty sure that this is caused by the developers’ desire to support multiplayer combat; I personally have zero desire to ever engage in those systems, so given a choice between having certain corner cases in them work well versus having my console’s suspend functionality working, I’d choose the latter every time. I’m not saying the multiplayer features shouldn’t exist, but they really aren’t features for me. And there are definitely better ways of balancing these tradeoffs than what Elden Ring chose.


Then there’s the corpse run mechanic. I’ve been trying to be on the fence about that one, but ultimately, I haven’t been able to come up with a defense of it that works for me.

It does add a sense of tension to the game; that is true, and when writing about Hollow Knight, I talked about how that leads to some of the same feeling that I get from playing horror games; not something I want to feel in most of the games I play, but good to experience every once in a while?

But it was also the case with Hollow Knight that, as I got used to an area, I had a much more pleasant time navigating through that area. Which, I suppose, is kind of true in Elden Ring, but it didn’t feel that way: if I was going through an area that I was familiar with, I was just fast traveling through it to get back to an area that would inolve challenging combat again. Whereas Hollow Knight had different kinds of puzzles in it, so I’d be trying to make sense of an area in ways that didn’t foreground the loss of progress on death.

So, ultimately, I just felt tense almost all the time I was playing Elden Ring. That’s, honestly, what got me to stop playing the game: I’d spent 40 hours playing the game and feeling tense, and I asked myself if I wanted to spend another 100 hours playing the game and feeling tense? And my gut feeling was no, and I couldn’t come up with anything that I’d expect to get out of the next 100 hours that would make up for that problem.


That overemphasis on tenseness is the main issue that I have with corpse runs. But Elden Ring’s corpse runs are also gratuitously punitive in a way that isn’t required by the mechanic. To be specific, if you’re fighting a boss in Elden Ring, then your corpse gets placed inside of a walled-off corpse arena; so, if you want to get it back, you gave to go back to fight the boss again. (Whereas in Hollow Knight, you can always retrieve your corpse without triggering the boss fight.)

My current point of view of that choice is that it brings zero benefits; it’s player-hostile for the sake of player hostility. And it’s a particularly bad choice in an open world game that’s full of dungeons with bosses whose levels might not match your own; I don’t mind bouncing off a challenge that is beyond me right now, but why would I want a game to punish me for taking on that challenge?

That’s especially bad if we look at the game through a learning lens. Because the corpse run encourages a risk-adverse playstyle: every time I feel like there might be a challenge coming up, I have to ask myself whether taking on that challenge is worth the risk of losing progress that I’ve made so far? And Elden Ring, in its corpse run mechanics and in its significant variations in difficulty, pushes you in the direction of not taking on the challenge; but if your goal is to learn, then the other direction is (usually) the right choice.

The upshot is that I’m still open to games with a corpse run mechanic, but I don’t yet see enough active benefits of them to make me think that they’re a particularly good idea; and I do not like the specifics of how Elden Ring implemented that mechanic.


Then there’s the experience I had after defeating Godrick. He drops a Great Rune, and you’re that, to use it, you have to activate it at a certain location. And the game points at where the location should be, at the end of a certain bridge.

Great: I’m playing in this open world, I’ll find the bridge, and go along it and find a tower at the end. The problem is that, when I went back out into the world and looked at the bridge, it turned out that the bridge was broken into pieces: so you can’t walk along it. Which isn’t necessarily a problem, maybe there’s a way to climb up the last bridge pillar or something? But no, that didn’t seem to be the case.

So, instead of being a perhaps pleasant puzzle about understanding the environment, the game is asking me to find a magic teleporter somewhere to get to the place I have to be. And that’s a pretty crappy form of puzzle, because the game could literally put the teleporter anywhere in the world.

Having said that, if the game isn’t going to put the teleporter at a random location, maybe it’ll put it at the start of the bridge? So that meant I went back to Godrick’s castle to try to find where the bridge met it.

Which could be a pleasant puzzle, but again, not in Elden Ring. Because the geometry of the castle is such that, at least to me, it was pretty hard to relate what I could see outside the castle to specific locations inside the castle; and the castle is swarming with enemies, so I can’t exactly move from place to place while staring at the environment to try to figure it out. Also, I thought I’d gone through all of the obvious passages except for one that seemed too hard for me; but the castle has lots of random roofs that you can jump down on, so maybe one of those was the magic path to take me to where I wanted to go?

Figuring out whether either of those was the case would have taken me more hours than I wanted to spend on this puzzle, so I looked it up in a walkthrough. And, actually, both answers were correct. The hard path did in fact lead to the teleporter; and I tried it repeatedly, and I failed repeatedly, because it’s the single most unfair combat encounter I experienced in the entire game. There are long-range enemies that attack you from both the front and back; you can’t take out the enemies, but you also can’t jump out of the way when they attack you because it’s impossible to see both of them at the same time. And while I could survive being hit once, I couldn’t survive a second hit.

A different walkthrough pointed me at a path over the roofs; I tried it a few times, but it seemed complicated, and the enemies there happened to be a type that I wasn’t great at. I could have made it through that path, but the walkthrough didn’t make it completely clear whether that would actually lead me to the teleporter without dying, and by this point I’d reached my tolerance for that castle and that puzzle; something to return to later in the game after I’d taken a breather and leveled up more.

I’m not going to say this specific puzzle was anything horrible. But I’m also not going to say that it was a good puzzle, or that it was tough but fair: it was an unispired puzzle even if I hadn’t had trouble with it, and it also felt unfairly tough in a way that the boss fight with Godrick and the path through the castle getting to Godrick didn’t feel to me.

Or at least it was unfairly tough for me; maybe the real lesson there was that I should have been putting more of my upgrades into increasing my hit points, because, for all I know, if I could have survived two of those long distance attacks, I would have made it through that gauntlet relatively easily? I dunno; if so, it points at how the game’s lack of guiderails while leveling up can cause problems.


Returning yet another time to the learning and mystery benefits that I hypothesized at the start of this post: yes, they are something that Elden Ring is doing enough to be real benefits of the game. But also, I feel like other games do that better.

For example, I’ve mentioned Hollow Knight a couple of times; and, from my point of view, Hollow Knight does at least as well on those criteria as Elden Ring? It has a similarly mysterious ruined world; you certainly get atmospheric benefits from that, and I imagine that, if you’re the sort of person who likes to piece together lore from clues, you’ll find stuff in that game to sink your teeth into. And, in terms of guiding you along your learning of how to interact with the game’s world and systems, I learned a lot more effectively from Hollow Knight than I learned from Elden Ring. Both games were challenging, but Hollow Knight did a significantly better way of structuring those challenges in a way that helped me learn.

Or, to go in a different direction, after playing Elden Ring, I’m also more impressed with The Witness. Again, similar levels of mystery that I didn’t feel like grappling with. But, in terms of learning, The Witness does an honestly kind of amazing job of presenting you with initially impenetrable puzzles, and taking you though the thought processes necessary to interpret and then solve them. I’m not sure I can think of a game that does a better job of teaching via encounter instruction.

Of course, I’m sure that there are tons of people out there that would bounce off of The Witness quite a bit faster than I bounced off of Elden Ring. Which is kind of my point: I think what’s really distinctive about Elden Ring and about FromSoftware’s games in general is their genre. And if that genre clicks for you, then probably the games are amazing. But if that genre is one that you’re at odds with, then enjoying the games is an uphill battle. The genre isn’t one I’m inherently actively against, I’ve enjoyed enough other action RPGs that I could imagine enjoying this sort of odd variant of it, but that oddity is something of a barrier, and the player hostility is quite a bit more of one.


Before I started Elden Ring, I’d been playing Forza Horizon 5. Which is a quite open-ended game, so it’s hard to know when to stop playing it; honestly, at the time, I felt like I would normally probably play it for a week longer, but I felt like jumping into Elden Ring? But when I finished Elden Ring, I didn’t quite know what to do next, so I went back to Forza Horizon 5.

I’d already gone through all of the different races and story events once in Forza Horizon 5. But I felt like I hadn’t spent as much time with the game’s systems as I’d like: to put it bluntly, I just was not very good at making it around tight corners, and that kind of bothered me.

So I decided to spend some time working on that. Concretely, I’d pick a three-lap road race, I’d go through it a few times at a difficulty level that felt comfortably challenging to me so I could get a feel for the lap and to make sure that I could beat it on that level, and then I’d up the difficulty level.

And sometimes I would end up going through the same track at a given difficulty level for two hours and still not be able to beat it. But that didn’t bother me: I was getting more familiar with how the track worked, I’d learn which corners my instincts worked well on, which corners I just was not very good at, and which corners I’d feel like I should be able to do well at but something about them would repeatedly surprise me. And I’d use that to manage my focus through the track, I’d note down what worked well and what didn’t (often saying out loud how I felt about each corner), and I’d try to match up my gut feeling with objective markers (my lap time, or how the distance to the car ahead of me had changed after the corner compared to before it). Occasionally on a really tough corner I’d even rewind over and over again (Forza lets you go back in time if you want to undo a crash or a bad turn or something), trying out different approaches until I came up with something that worked.


My experience with Forza sounds exactly like what I’d said above:

The basic sense that I got was that people felt that FromSoftware’s games were hard but fair, in a way that made them good teachers. You had to put in the time, but if you did put in the time, what seemed like impossible obstacles would become manageable, and they’d be manageable as a result of you becoming more skilled.

But Forza does this process significantly better than Elden Ring does. For a given challenge, Forza has better tools for allowing you to isolate and practice individual components of that challenge, and better tools for enabling you to scale the challenge to match (and let you expand) your curent skill threshold. And Forza also, I think, does better in this regard than Hollow Knight, though I think you could make a case that The Witness does a comparably good job to Forza at helping the player learn.

Also, note that some of the tools that Forza Horizon 5 provided to me to help me learn (difficulty levels, the ability to rewind) can be used for other reasons, and in fact can be used for the opposite reason: if you don’t care about learning and just want a pleasant time driving and winning races, then you can bump down the difficulty and rewind whenever you get into a pickle and you’ll be able to sail smoothly through the game.


A few weeks back, I ran into a Twitter thread by C Thi Nguyen about a section of a philosophy class that he teaches called “Are Grades Bullshit?”. And, partway down the thread, he talks about the effects of removing grades from his classes, with this result:

Which, I think, is part of what’s going on with Elden Ring? It’s not so much that FromSoftware games do an exceptional job of teaching you to play; it’s more that, like classes with high-stakes grades, FromSoftware games do a decent job of teaching you how to play and then tell you that they won’t let you interact with the game at all unless you do it under their terms. Whereas Forza Horizon 5 takes more of the ungraded class approach: you have access to even more powerful learning tools, but it’s up to the player to choose how to engage with those learning tools; and not seriously engaging at all is one option (and as option that Forza actively supports).

This is actually kind of personal to me, because it’s directly related to one of the reasons why I was quite happy to leave academia. I was teaching intro math classes to groups of students that included large numbers of pre-meds who were only taking the course because of degree requirements. It wasn’t at all clear to me that they needed to learn what I was teaching at all; and, if there was something useful for them in the material, I’m positive that I wasn’t doing the best job of bringing out what would be useful to them and they weren’t doing the best job of approaching the material in that way.

So, from my point of view, it would have been entirely reasonable for most of those students to have chosen not to be in those courses; and, for the people who remained, the nature of the course probably would have changed significantly. But we were all working in a context where that was basically impossible.

And, actually, I think this analogy paints Elden Ring in a somewhat unfair light. Because, ultimately, I could choose whether or not to engage with FromSoftware’s games! Earlier, I chose by not engaging at all, whereas with Elden Ring, I chose by starting to engage, deciding it wasn’t my thing, and then stopping. I still wish the game had been doing something a little different in various ways; but there’s also something to be said for a teacher who says “I’m teaching this specific thing in this specific ways; if that’s what you want, then great, whereas if that’s not what you want, then that’s also great”. It’s just that, if you’re the second kind of teacher, please think hard about what restrictions you are putting in place for what reason.


I guess I’ve rambled my way to this conclusion: learning is good, and Elden Ring has some pretty interesting systems to poke at and learn about, if those systems are of interest to you. But also: respecting learners is good, and respecting players is good; Elden Ring definitely has room for improvement on that front. And my current belief is that the main good thing that FromSoftware is doing is that they’re working within an unusual system that’s rich enough to lead to interesting surprises as you interact with it.

Post Revisions: