Elden Ring appears to be being played by everyone, including those who don’t generally like FromSoftware games. It’s presently the fifth most popular game on Steam in terms of continuous players, and it has a Metacritic score of 97, putting it on track to be the highest-rated game of the year.
And, while I’ve enjoyed the Elden Ring segments I’ve played so far, I’m not quite ready to join the rest of my Tarnished colleagues in the Lands Between. I’m going to wait for the guide authors, speedrunners, and wiki editors to catch up, because I know that in order to properly appreciate Elden Ring, I’m going to need a lot of aid that doesn’t exist yet, based on my previous experiences with FromSoftware games.
The game Elden Ring is designed to be mysterious. The real thrill comes not just from overcoming the difficult bosses, but also from the surprise of accidental discovery. So I see why employing guides and explainers could seem counterintuitive to how Elden Ring should be experienced.
However, I don’t want to be caught off guard at Elden Ring. Surprises frequently result in instant death in these games, and instant death in FromSoftware titles also results in a loss of progress. Hours of precise rune collection abruptly wiped out by something I wasn’t expecting, such as a teleporting treasure chest or a surprise bear-skeleton?
I understand why some people adore that type of troll, but that’s the kind of thing that causes me to abandon a game and never return to it. Having a guide helps smooth out all the less glamorous aspects of the game that may change Elden Ring from a fun experience to one that makes me despise my existence. I also don’t feel that coming into a game well prepared, with all the information I can gather, will detract from the game’s allure. Despite watching countless hours of speedruns and Let’s Plays before attempting Bloodborne on my own, I still felt a strangely satisfying mix of fear, shock, and dread when I was first snatched by a snatcher.
Because a guide can’t beat a boss for me, it wouldn’t truly ruin my experience. Having a tutorial for FromSoftware’s previous game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, on hand has made my battle with the Guardian Ape much more bearable. I knew where to get XP and what to buy to get ready for the fight. And, despite the fact that that hairy monster has been giving me the (poop-smeared) runaround, I’ve been having a blast tracking my progress in real-time. While having a guide can ruin some aspects of Elden Ring, it cannot diminish the sense of success.
I’m also a fan of having a fast reference guide on hand. I’m aware that playing Elden Ring almost necessitates maintaining a log of where everything is, and I’m always impressed when my friends share their illustrated notes on social media. But, once again, no. If I have a question, I expect it to be answered right away. I don’t want to waste time trying to figure it out for myself, or hoping that a previous version of myself found the solution before I even understood what the question was. That doesn’t appeal to me at all. That’s not to say I’ll go to a wiki every time I have a problem in the game, but I’d want to have the option. Throughout my Sekiro voyage, I’ve been accompanied by an open laptop, and I’m having the time of my life.
I like how, as the actual wiki for Elden Ring grows in the days after its release, social media has become the de facto wiki for it. People are contributing helpful builds and strategies, as well as tips and tricks. Despite the fact that they play havoc on my FOMO, I’m confident that in the months ahead, I’ll refer to these postings and tweets as much as any formal guidance.
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