“Git Gud” Elden Ring Review: What I Learned as a New Player
I wanted to do something different with my review than I have seen in the reviews that worked to convince me to play this game. As my first review, I will try my best to articulate my points and share with you what it was like playing Elden Ring as someone who has never played a souls game because of their reputation of being ridiculously hard. So, let’s get into this!
I’ve never played a souls game before, though I did try Dark Souls 3 for about an ten min before I got distracted and never picked it back up again. I gave up on the game because I had just got a play station 4 and there were a lot of other games that I wanted to play instead. I didn’t even realize that it was a hard game since I played it just long enough to fight a few enemies. I always meant to return, but never got around to it, but the more I heard about the games difficulty, the less and less I felt like giving it another shot.
Along Came Elden Ring
I remember seeing the trailers for the game, and saw that George R. R. Martin was involved with the story, and was sort of turned off. Since A Song of Ice and Fire hasn’t been finished, I am a little reluctant to support the other projects George has decided to work on instead. But that is a topic for another video. To be honest, after seeing the trailer, I just forgot about it. That is until the day before the game was released and everyone was going crazy, posting how excited or unexcited they were. Two weeks after the game came out, I had seen so many reviews which were extremely positive, I became extremely intrigued. That, mixed with the bitching from other game developers trashing the games design, I knew I had to see for myself what was up. I was well aware the reputation these games and the phrase “Git Gud”, which I will admit, always made me laugh.
It was also impressive when it was announced that after a few weeks of release, they had been very successful and reached 12 million tarnished.
I can say that I was happy to see the game have so much success. Given that a handful of AAA games released several months prior, all of which were in various states of disarray. Wither that be lacking content, being full of bugs, or just completely unfinished. I’m looking at you Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield.
At the very least, I was glad that fans were given what they deserved. Respect and a good product.
I truly wanted to know if I was up to the challenge and if I too could become Elden Lord. Turns out, I was, and it wasn’t as bad as I would have thought. Since I already had the expectation that it was going to be a difficult game, I embraced the challenge head on and didn’t care too much how often I died at the beginning.
After the first ten hours, I had learned enough that I wasn’t getting killed all the time, and I began to take on challenges more aggressively. I’d had time to explore the world, learn what types of weapons I enjoyed, and most importantly, how to build my character so life wasn’t so miserable when I went off to face the many optional bosses in the opening area of Limgrave.
The most important thing I learned is that these games are beatable and you can learn how to play them. It took a much larger investment of time than most games, but there was something about the challenge that made it very compelling. I completely understand that games with such a high learning curve can be a turn off for some people, but I am glad that the game was designed the way it was and didn’t gave to the incessant bitching that they add an easy mode. To be honest, if you are not willing to invest in the game, it’s not for you.
I will go into this topic a little later on in my review, but I think that it is important to note the level of difficulty before I introduce the most important lessons I learned from this game.
So for the most part, Elden Ring was the first FromSoftware game that I’ve actually played.
What I learned from Elden Ring
So what were those lessons, you may be wondering? Well let me enlighten you. Here are the most important things I learned from Elden Ring.
First, I learned that Souls games are hard because they require genuine effort from the player. They require patience and critical thinking.
- You have to learn how enemies move
- Not spam buttons and take your time fighting even the simple mobs.
- Be observant and willing to explore
- To try something new, make mistakes, and often times die as a result
- Learn from those mistakes and move forward.
At the end of the day, you need to GIT GUD
Just embrace the meme and face the fact that in the beginning, you are going to die, a lot. And you are going to keep dyeing, a lot. And then you are going to die some more. But eventually, you will not suck so bad, and not die as often.
On the topic of dyeing, let’s move into the next topic. The first Boss Fight in Elden Ring.
The Margit Problem
Is margit too hard of a boss for the first boss?
Yes. but what I had to learn to beat him fundamentally changed how I began to play the rest of the game.
I also had played almost 10 hours before I found Margit. In part that was because I am stupid, and I just rode around on Torrent, found the maps as I explored all of Limgrave, Caelid, and Lurnia, all the while testing my skill against different mobs. I also got my ass handed to me by a few bosses I stumbled into
However, Margit is also optional. You do have to beat him to defeat Godrick, and he technically is the first story boss you find in the game. But you can move on if you want to. As well, there are a good deal of other, optional bosses in Limgrave that can help you get better at the game and will reward you with new weapons, items, and abilities.
Margit is a wall, but a good one. Since he was such a challenge, I changed my approach drastically and got better at the game as a result. I got better at the game from the time I found Margit and beat him than I had in the 10 or so hours I had already played.
As soon as I beat Marigit, I thought I was hot shit. I mean, I’d beat the tree sentinel, most of the Limgrave optional bosses, and the two evergoal boss fights. Then, for whatever reason, after almost killing Godrick the first time, it took me almost twenty more tries to beat him. I felt like a noob again and was wondering if I was actually any good at the game. But I didn’t get frustrated. In fact, I just kept betting better.
It was after I beat both of these bosses and started progressing further into the game that I started to actually get good. I wasn’t spamming my attacks, I learned how to use the ash of war, what I should be leveling for my character, and how to use items to my advantage. I had played Elden ring for almost 20 hours at that point and was just barely starting to understand how the game makes it easy for you, if you let it. You just have to take the time to learn how to take advantage of everything the game has to offer.
There are some hardcore gamers who say that if you use a summon, you didn’t really beat the boss. I can see where they are coming from, but the game gives you options for a reason. I decided that I wouldn’t summon actual players to help me, but NPC summons were just fine. By the end of the game, I wasn’t even using those either. I didn’t feel like I needed to.
The great thing about Elden Ring is that there is no right way to do something. You get to choose the character build, weapons, and other tools you want to use. This gives you a tone of variety and I think is the easy mode. It’s hidden in the game design instead of being a button you select in the menu.
Another thing about the difficulty for the Boss fights is that you can decide to leave, then come back later when you are either better at the game, or have found new equipment, spells, or skills that will make the fight easier. From my play through, both ended up being the case. I would get better at the game and the new equipment I would find would also make the fight a little better or less challenging.
By the time I reached the Red Wolf of Radagon, I killed it the first try and it only took me two tries to kill Rennala. I may have been slightly over leveled since I spent quite a few more hours playing the game and finding optional bosses to beat before I even made it to the academy. From there, some bosses took a few tries, others I had a much harder time with. “I’m looking at you Godskin Duo. Damn Bastards!”
At times, as I progressed through the game, I would hit a wall and had to get better. The thing about Elden Ring is that you can’t give up. Anyone can beat this game if they give themselves enough time and are willing to keep learning. This leads me into the next point and perhaps the most important one if you want to beat this game.
Things Are Not Handed to You.
As a player who hasn’t played too many open world games outside of perhaps half of Oblivion, most of Skyrim, and Horizon Zero Dawn, I wasn’t at all ready for what Elden Ring had to offer. For more experienced players of the dark souls games, it would probably be a lot easier to pick up and now that I have finished Elden Ring and have started Dark Souls for the first time, I am finding the challenge much more surmountable because of my experience. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still hard, but I have a greater sense of what the hell I’m doing and that is what makes the difference.
As I mentioned before, the best part about Elden Ring’s boss fights is that if you are having a hard time, you can go somewhere else, get better equipment, level your character, or try another challenge. Then, you can come back and try again.
Bad UX, UI?
There was a tweet from another game developer that criticized Elden Ring for it’s UX, UI design choices. To be honest, I’d heard of these terms and as someone who has build websites, they are terms I should have known a lot better than I did. For those of you who might not understand what these terms mean, here are the quick definitions I pulled from Google.
What is UX?
UX stands for user experience or the interaction and experience users have with a company’s products and services.
What is UI?
UI stands for user interface and is the series of screens, pages, and visual elements–like buttons and icons–that enable a person to interact with a product or service.
Both UX and UI are considered to be important for video games. I would say that there have been major improvements over the years in both UX and UI which has increased the quality of gaming in general. However, when it pertains to Elden Ring, there has been some criticism levied at the game by other developers. Here is an example of the tweets other game developers gave criticizing Elden Ring.
While I think that both Ubisoft and FromSoft are studios with very capable developers and have their own styles in game design that have their own fans, It is poor form for a developer to take a shot at another developer directly because they are more successful than you (or than you wanted them to be.) At the very least, if you are going to bitch about something, you might as well go all in and make a YouTube video about it. That’s what us “real” professionals do anyway.
I think that the different styles of gameplay that exist in other open world games are fun, but so was the game design in Elden Ring. There are a lot of successful open world games that are not at all like Elden Ring and I am glad they exist in contrast to the experience I had. There is a reason different games appeal to me and why I may want to sit down and play Halo or jump into Gears of War, or perhaps even Minecraft. All are different experiences and I enjoy them all for different reasons.
It’s no wonder the internet responded by meming the hell out of these developers. These images of what it would be like of companies like Ubisoft made Elden Ring are spectacular. Things like this are funny because of how true they are.
Criticizing Elden Ring for not having what is more traditional UX/UI or what gamers have come to expect from open world titles just goes to show how out of touch they are when it comes to what gamers want. We want different experiences and if Elden Ring’s success proves anything, it’s that there isn’t just one formula that works. The more minimalist UX/UI of the game has appeal. This game wasn’t trying to be like everything else and good on the developers who didn’t try to force it to be like everything else. Perhaps more traditional designs would make the game easier, but that really wasn’t what the developers wanted, was it?
We all have different tastes and in the case of Elden Ring, you are going to have a much harsher experience which requires you to fail, and fail a lot. The point I am trying to make is that anyone arguing that Elden Ring isn’t for everyone is a poor argument because no piece of art is or should be made for everyone. If what Elden Ring has to offer as a game isn’t what you want, you don’t have to play it. There are plenty of games that don’t interest me and I’m not bitching on twitter about how terrible it’s UX/UI design is.
I chose to learn from my failure, to get better at this game, because I found immense satisfaction in doing so. I became totally immersed in the Lands Between, was interested in finding as many Side Quests and completing their stories without looking up guides. Trust me, I did my fair share of googling guides and help, but I did so as sparingly as possible. I wanted to beat the game however I could and ended up spending more time playing Elden Ring than I have with any other game in my life.
Previous to my experience with Elden Ring, I rarely spend more than 15 hours playing a game and most of the games I have beaten take less time than that, on average, to beat. But spending over a hundred and twenty hours in a game that has only been out for two months is crazy for me. I even went out and purchased all of the other Souls like games so I could play them afterwards.
I am glad that Miazaki and Fromsoftware stay true to the style of game they have been crafting for more than a decade and I look forward to future titles released from this studio.
Don’t get me wrong, by no means is Elden Ring perfect. I don’t think that any work of art is Perfect, but in my opinion Art doesn’t need to be. I died from so many stupid broken things in the game and on the other side, I cheezed a great deal of bosses in the game. Difficulty was fair and unfair at times. But the experience I had while playing this game was amazing. I had so much fun and it changed the way I look at gaming.
I don’t think that moving forward I will approach games the same way. I will be more attentive, pay closer attention to the mechanics, stop spamming buttons or launching grenades half haphazardly.
The Guidance of Grace
The guiding grace of this game comes when you are patient enough to learn how to play it. At first, it was learning to fight my enemies one on one when I could, to run away from things that were bigger than me, and to explore the beginning areas of the game. While the game is expansive, there are so many small sections with a handful of enemies that are great tools for teaching. By vanquishing foes in a small area or inside a cave, I was able to get better and in the case of fighting smaller bosses, gage my progression on how well I was doing.
When a boss kicked my ass a few times, I had to decide if I needed to practice and level my character some more, or if I wasn’t paying attention to the attacks well enough to time my own. Some cases I knew that I had stumbled upon a boss that was beyond my current character’s stats, but more frequently, it so happened that by paying closer attention to how the boss moved, attacked, and left itself open for retaliation, I was able to vanish it.
I can’t think of another game that has required this level of patience from me and for some strange reason, I found this to be perhaps the most gratifying gaming experience I’ve ever had. Sure, it was awesome to beat the original Halo trilogy on Legendary, but I had beat those games many times before on lower difficulties. It seems that in most games I play, I can put myself on auto-piolet and just get right into the action.
Don’t get me wrong, that is not a criticism of those types of games. In fact, they are often times the best way to relax after a day of work or just a great way to have fun with friends. For me, I bring this up because I can’t think of another game that has really done this for me. It was a new experience that I hadn’t expected to like but ended up falling in love with.
It showed me why there are so many passionate fans of Souls Games and why the community is so passionate about them.
Game Intent Over Everything
Authentic. The studio knows what it is trying to make and doesn’t stray from that. For that reason alone, I decided to give the game a try. There are far more experienced players who have made videos defending Fromsoftware and their right to not include an Easy mode to the game. For the sake of this review, I will defer to their insights and expertise.
Sure, an easy mode may cause more people to try playing the game who may not otherwise, but it seems that when creating entertainment, if you try to compromise and turn away from your core audience to appeal to a wider audience, you end up with neither. Just look at what has happened to Halo Infinite.
I hope that moving forward, Fromsoftware continues to make these challenging games and continues to innovate while keeping the core aspects of difficulty and base gameplay the same. I look forward to the many more hours of Elden Ring I will play, new DLC when it comes, and to my experience going back to tackle the other Souls Like games.
At the end of the day, there is a lot you can praise and a lot you can criticize. No game is perfect, but I’m glad to have experienced Elden Ring and would recommend to people who may be hesitant or have never had interest in this style of game to give it a try. You may be as surprised as I was and find that you love the game as well.
And No, it’s not for everyone, but it can be enjoyed by anyone. That is the final distinction I wanted to make. Anyone can beat this game who wants to, but not everyone will or even try.
Those are my thoughts as a new player and thanks for sticking around this long. If you enjoyed this video and would like to see more content, Like, comment, and Subscribe. Share the video, and I’ll catch you next time.