In just over a decade, From Software has changed the entire gaming landscape. First niche reserved for PGMs only, today, Demon’s Souls and Returnal are very beautiful spearheads of a PS5 in need of exclusives. What do you want, you have to believe that difficulty has become fashionable.
But then, Elden Ring, with its promises of accessibility and its open world, will it be yet another game that will animate the debates on the non-simplicity of games on our usual social networks, or on the contrary, will it manage to put all the world okay? This is what we will see in this TEST!
One ring to rule them all!
Elden Ring you count the story of a lackluster (you) who will revolutionize and turn a whole world upside down, between the two lands. If the pitch therefore fits in a little more than one line, make no mistake, the universe creates for Elden Ring has a rich and complex history. But, as usual in From Software productions, its narration will be cryptic and will require effort on your part, reading almost everything available in menus and objects, to shed light on all these events. Which have, for the most part, already happened before the start of the game. Elden is nevertheless a little more talkative than the usual From Software productions. The intervention of the famous Georges RR Martin in the creative process should have something to do with it. In any case, when you hear an NPC ranting for long seconds about the fate of one of the families from between two worlds that you are hearing about for the first time, you think without squirming of the famous Heroic Fantasy saga of the writer and his multiple intrigues with drawers.
A unique work?
In truth, the story counted in Elden Ring is so cryptic that it could very well be seen by some as a Spin Off of Dark Souls! Then, anyway, if your thing is to hit monsters without calculating too much what is being done next, the game can very well work like this: many tables more epic and beautiful than the others. And if the general design is breathtaking, the sound environment will not be outdone: in addition to the masterful main theme laid down for the occasion, Elden Ring is not stingy with the music. Even if it is less present than in most games in general, there is here a little more than usual than in the rest of the From Software games. Note that if the texts are in French, the voices, they, only in English. Demon’s Souls PS5 and its VF got us used to a little too much comfort… In short, if in terms of design, we stay on something very similar, we still find some very specific inspirations specific to this Elden Ring, which make it a unique work! But rest assured: without reaching the level of fan service of Anor Londo in Dark Souls III, the references to the studio’s previous productions are legion!
We do not change a formula that wins. At best, we make it evolve. This is what happened with the Dark Souls saga, but also Bloodborne, and to a much lesser extent, Sekiro. Elden Ring will therefore take up almost everything that makes the salt of a Souls: Loss of experience on death with only one chance to recover it, dark and vast world where you don’t really know where you have to go or what you have to do, campfires that serve as a save point and reset the world and its enemies, complex RPG components that allow ultra different builds of heroes… It’s all there! There are even some assets from old games, such as certain 3D models of enemies or animations, as if the game were a synthesis of the previous ones. The white ghosts, the messages on the ground, very often trolesque (some players ofElden Ring talkative seem to have a “special” link with the “posterior”), and cooperative components – which may well simplify your adventure – or competitive.
Joystick in hand, the feeling is identical to that of a Souls, and the controls are also almost the same! We obviously start the adventure with the creation of his hero, and if we note that efforts have been made since Dark Souls III, the editor of Elden Ring suffers terribly from the comparison with that of the remake of Demon’s Souls, with a clearly inferior technique, and the impossibility of creating a “beautiful” hero. He will necessarily be a little ugly, and not very well modeled… Several classes are available, and you can opt for a knight, a mage or a wizard, but in truth, it doesn’t matter, because you can evolve your hero as you see fit. . Special mentions to the samurai, with his armor and his katana, and to the prisoner, who seems straight out of the Berserk manga.
A new coating for an old pan
There are of course some new features. Among the most notable, the ability to crouch and play it ninja Sekiro style, a jump button, which will open the way for hazardous platforming phases and jump attacks, runes for your weapons which unlock special moves, others for your hero… Note also that the fall damage is more permissive than ever (we thought we died a lot of times!), and that the lock is completely broken, and allows you to spot its enemies from an unprecedented and significant distance. Also, in our TEST of Demon’s Souls, we railed against having to farm your potions. Here, it’s just the opposite, since they recharge themselves after certain clashes! A real time saver and practicality, since in an old Souls, you would be ironed by the campfire no matter what…
And if we can always play the adventure like a PGM, low level, or try a speedrun, the most cowardly players, including yours truly, will be able to cheat galore by exploiting the various flaws in the game, like an enemy too big to pass a door or who doesn’t want to leave “his” area, or even create an improbable magician tank or call on other players to finally defeat these tough bosses! Whichever way you win, and Elden Ring offers several, the intense joy and satisfaction of having triumphed over the machine are still part of this recipe that makes From Software games terrible addictions. And if it’s generally more accessible, it’s still easier…
The garden of elden?
But it must be said, the main innovation brought by Elden Ring to the Dark Souls recipe, it’s open-world architecture with no visible load times. Exit the corridors of Demon’s Souls, exit the vertically tangled worlds of BloodBorne and Dark Souls, exit the vast successive levels of Dark Souls III. Here, what is impressive is the extent of the map. You can go almost anywhere from the start. And if in the end the progression is rather linear, your choices are not, and some fights are required to advance, we take a real pleasure to walk in the in-between lands. The variety of scenery is surprising, and the activities offered, out of the road bandits, are all exciting, epic, impressive. We are always shown a large tower, a mountain or a castle in the distance, and later we will visit this building. Also, we feel that games like Zelda Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter have been there, and that the From Software teams have played there: the world is full of life. Clashes can be approached in many ways, resources abound here and there and many contextual actions have been greatly simplified. You don’t lose stamina outside of combat, for example! We even have a horse on whose back we can cover large areas, but also fight! Traps, ambushes and giant mobs are everywhere, the bestiary very varied, the secret areas numerous.
A very useful map
The map is made up of multiple areas, and even some underground, and you don’t suspect its extent until you have seen it in full! More classic dungeons are on the program, and it is in them that we will find a more classic level design with Dark Souls sauce, with entanglement, verticality, elevators and shortcuts, in a more expansive modest of course. The day-night cycle brings its share of variety in the design and the monsters present on the map, and if it is easy to miss a campfire (there are so many!), the boss is not never very far, unlike Demon’s Souls… The map available in the menu is clear and concise – except for the dungeons – and its use is quite pleasant. Finally, be aware that it will take you some time to see everything and try 100%: more than a hundred hours for a first complete classic run, a duration which has been more or less the norm since Dark Souls.
Without mastering the power is nothing
On the other hand, and it’s a big black spot that will occupy a good fifth of the body of this test (note: we take away a fifth of the note?): the technique is clearly perfectible. On PC, players have been grumbling – with good reason – since the release. On consoles, it’s not great either: we played it on PS5 and PS4, one of the first models. If the insane design obviously makes up for any technical shortcomings, they are indeed there and we will have to detail them. Let’s start with what works: loading, barely 5-6 seconds with an SSD in his machine. On PS4, it is also very reasonable since they do not exceed 25 seconds. Often, when taking a large central “Firelink Sanctuary” type elevator, it is faster to teleport from the map than to wait for the end of the ascent! On the other hand, we are used to it with From Software, if everything remains beautiful artistically, we are on technical standards lower than those of other AAA productions.
A fallible technique
On PS5, the “graphics” mode offers a 12 FPS experience, even worse than that of a PS4 FAT… On Sony’s old console, which offers no settings, it’s not unplayable, but we think that you will still sometimes rage against certain frames of actions that made you miss a specific timing! With the performance mode, everything becomes more fluid, but the falls are still numerous, and we are clearly not at 60 FPS, but rather a coughing 30. Item popping far and near, textures and lighting is a classic of messing games, and there’s a ragdoll that’s amusing at best, as well as a foamy AI that forgets about you when you’re playing the game. infiltration and gets stuck in a door when she chases you. Finally, be aware that if there is no cross play. You will be able to continue your game indiscriminately on Xbox One or Series but you will not be able to switch from a PS4 version to a PS5 copy at Sony. So, if you, like yours truly, started on PS5, you can play the game a little later on PS4 and unlock the trophies again!