How much dark souls is there in the open world game?

The “Dark Souls” makers are embarking on a new adventure: But how does “Elden Ring” play and how much “Souls” is in the action adventure that will be released in February 2022?

“Dark Souls” is history, long live “Elden Ring” – at least that’s how it works. From Software dares to build a new Souls-like brand. Chief developer Hidetaka Miyazaki has brought well-known reinforcements on board for “Elden Ring”. George RR Martin, the author of the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, contributes the background story and the characters.

In “Elden Ring” you are drawn as a defiled person to the intermediate land, where you go in search of the Elden Ring. From November 12, 2021, the first demo phase for the ambitious project will start with the closed network test. We had the opportunity to take a look at this version in advance and reveal what makes “Elden Ring” so special.

Careful beginnings

In the Closed Network Test (CNT for short) there are five of the ten classes to choose from: Warrior, Enchanted Warrior, Prophet, Hero and Bloody Wolf. All characters are available in a male and a female version. For our “main pass” we choose the prophet. This strange figure with the wagon wheel around his neck swings a club at a short distance, but also masters arcane talents such as a healing circle and the beast’s claw at a distance.

So we start a fresh adventure with the man with the Prince Iron Heart hairstyle. At the beginning of the demo we find ourselves in a cave and immediately jump one level lower. This is where the tutorial is hidden: Fighting, blocking, countering, sneaking, talents, magic and invocations. We quickly notice that “Elden Ring” and “Dark Souls” come from the same family or by the same developer. Onscreen menus and controls are almost identical. Of course, there is also no selectable level of difficulty or other help functions.

This is exactly why the so-called Holy Ground of the Prophet is particularly practical. With it we regenerate ourselves, but do not have to use any of our valuable bottles of purple tears. As in “Dark Souls” these fill up again by resting in places of grace. Very practical: as an additional “refill” you can fight against groups of opponents who are marauding through the open game world. So we run the risk of another confrontation, but in the event of success we also receive a corresponding reward, which can significantly extend the current cycle.

First steps

A short time later we pry open a gate and find ourselves in the Limgrave. The area in front of us looks very inviting despite the destroyed buildings and ruins. Autumn-colored tree tops soar into the cloudy sky. On the horizon we can see an old fortress, which is located in the middle of a mountain range.

In the remains of the nearby church of Elleh, we not only discover another place of grace, but also meet Kalé. This is reminiscent of Santa Claus with its white and red and lavishly decorated clothes. But in the end, he’s just a dealer where we can sell superfluous goods or buy new items. Our attention here falls on one-time spells like the ashes of the lone wolf, with the help of which we summon three wolf spirits, who then fight by our side.

Right near Kalés we see an anvil with a blacksmith’s hammer. With the help of collected smith fragments we can strengthen weapons and shields by up to +3. In addition, a blacksmith is said to be staying in the intermediate land, who can further strengthen objects.

As we rest again at the place of grace after our work is done, Melina appears. She offers us a pact and support. With her we exchange (similar to “Dark Souls”) runes collected in battles for level upgrades. Above all, we get the spectral pipe from her, which we can use to summon storm winds. With this “horse” we cover greater distances faster, but we can also fight from its back. The handling turns out to be quite intuitive and especially the possibility of quickly escaping groups or strong opponents should be a great pleasure for beginners.

The dangers of the intermediate land

From this point the game world finally opens and actually reminds a little of “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. Due to the greater freedom and the less gloomy setting, “Elden Ring” is far less daunting. The pace of the game is a tad faster, if not as fast as in “Bloodborne”.

In addition, we find countless raw materials such as crystals or berries in the game world, which we will need later for crafting. This aspect is definitely more dominant than in “Dark Souls”. The more extensive area also results in additional approaches. As in “Assassin’s Creed” we sneak through the grass and kill soldiers from ambush. From higher positions we get an overview of the danger situation and can even avoid a convoy, for example.

But of course everything in “Elden Ring” revolves around discovering the world and the dangers associated with it. Even if it’s easier for us to run away, we keep getting lost. For example, we discover a mine where miners dig for valuable raw materials. The men are anything but enthusiastic about the arrival of the tainted man and immediately attack with their pickaxes or use their pit lights as flamethrowers. One thing in particular helps here: Raise your shield and use nimble evasive roles to bring space between you and the attacker

On an open sea level, we first attacked a giant crab and then a kite. There are thousands of ways to death in “Elden Ring” as well. The consequences of this are similar to those in “Dark Souls”: You lose the runes you have collected and restart at the next place of grace or at previously found statues.

Support from another world

The multiplayer and the possibility of summoning NPC comrades provide even more spice. We need crooked finger medicine for both. In this way you can bring in co-op players and, if necessary, you can even secure your session with a password. Duelists can also haunt your game. In our trial rounds, however, the system did not work and we received neither support nor were we attacked. At the time of the test, there were obviously too few press representatives online.

Conjuring up a computer colleague worked much better. Suddenly we had a prophet at our side, who stood by us in the said fortresses against the final boss Margite, the cruel mark. The brave prophet did not cause quite as much damage as we did, but at least distracted the gatekeeper so that we could repeatedly hit the target with the beast’s claw. Namely, talents and other skills have longer loading and execution times. Accordingly, we have to time these attacks well and factor in attacks and distances to our opponents.

How much “Dark Souls” is actually in “Elden Ring” now. The answer: a lot. Even if the adventure is a bit more accessible than its quasi-predecessors, the similarities start with the user interface and the combat system and finally end with the overall mystical mood of the game.

But From Software doesn’t just play down its boot here, it also expands the tried and tested gameplay with a few functions: The open game world including the Stormwind mount are excellent for “Elden Ring” and the many small convenience functions actually make it a little more accessible. The basic recipe is definitely very similar, but the overall result is different.

The closed network test of “Elden Ring” definitely makes you want more. After all, we have only discovered a very small part of the intermediate land.

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