First look: Elden Ring is looking to be the best game of the year

For video role-playing game (RPG) aficionados, Elden Ring is probably the game you have been waiting for. I have been lucky enough to have take part in its closed network test last Nov and a sneak preview last week, thanks to Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia.

In case you have been living under a rock, Elden Ring is the latest RPG from FromSoftware – famed for its ultra-difficult Dark Souls franchise. Elden Ring is a collaboration between FromSoftware and fantasy writer George R.R. Martin. Yes, the dude who wrote Game of Thrones. As such, you can expect an immersive RPG with great lore as well as the propensity to die very often.

The mesmerising world of Elden Ring. (Photo: FromSoftware)

While the closed network test was about bringing some beef-up characters into dungeon crawls, the preview last week was about exploring the vast open world of Elden Ring.

Like any other RPG, you start off by creating your character from a selection of classes. In Elden Ring, there are 10 classes to choose from – Astrologer, Bandit, Confessor, Hero, Prophet, Prisoner, Samurai, Warrior, Wretch and Vagabond.

Hmm, where am I? (Photo: FromSoftware)

As you might expect, each class will bring different advantages with different attributes and stats. It all depends on what kind of gameplay you prefer.

However, you can always up the attributes you prefer in the game later to mould the character you want it to be. If you are undecided, the Confessor is actually a good class to start as it has a pretty good spread of attributes over 10 with good melee and magical skills to boot.

Either way, you will soon be out in the Lands Between – the game world of Elden Ring. And as expected of a FromSoftware game, you will meet your first boss almost immediately and die quickly.

You really don’t want to mess with this guy. (Photo: FromSoftware)

Fret not, you will awake again and be out there again to explore the new vast world. Graphics are breathtakingly gorgeous. You will probably stop and marvel at the beautiful world you are traversing, even if it kills you often.

Furthermore, you can really explore every crevice of this land, put your feet anywhere, smash up anything, collect any pickable items and kill any living creature you see (if they don’t kill you first).

Just another place for you to explore in Elden Ring. (Photo: FromSoftware)

There will be weapons to upgrade, magic spells to learn, NPCs to talk to and places to rest known as Site of Lost Grace. And if you die, you will wake up at a Stake of Marika.

It is a clear sign that FromSoftware is making things easier for gamers this time, as I found a Stake of Marika nearby a spot where a hard-to-defeat boss was. Needless to say, I woke up several times on that Stake of Marika.

In addition, exploration is made easier with the introduction of a mount, a first in a FromSoftware game. After receiving a summoning whistle, you will soon be able to summon a spectral steed called Torrent.

This spectral steed will greatly help you in moving from place to place. But yet, you do not need to worry about feeding it and you can summon anytime you need.

The Torrent will be your friend in Elden Ring. (Photo: FromSoftware)

You can even bring it into combat. I tried fighting enemies while riding Torrent, and I found that you can actually toggle attacking the enemy on your right or left. It makes for new combat strategy when fighting your enemies.

Of course, there will be times when stealth is needed. And you have to give up riding the Torrent. Again, you can opt for stealth when killing off guards and go in all swords and shields blazing.

Either way, prepare to die a lot. But yet, I am so looking forward to Elden Ring. It feels so much accessible compared to Dark Souls or Demon Souls, and its vast open world and the freedom to do anything will make any RPG lovers like myself drool in anticipation. Yes, in essence, Eldren is like the offspring of Dark Souls and Skyrim.

It might be early days, but I think Elden Ring is looking like the best game of the year. Elden Ring will launch on Feb 25 in PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC.