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Elden Ring makes a fantastic first impression in its closed network test

FromSoftware’s open world adventure Elden Ring could be one of nest years biggest releases

FromSoftware has a huge reputation for creating notoriously challenging action RPG titles that focus on tough but satisfying combat.

Their famed Souls series even ended up creating a new sub-genre, the Soulslike, with many other titles such as Sekiro and Nioh following its general principles.

It’s been a few years since FromSoftware’s last title Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was released and after receiving universal acclaim, it was always going to be interesting as to what FromSoftware would do next.

Luckily that wait is almost over as the love child from Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki and fantasy novelist George R. R. Martin, Elden Ring is almost here.

We were invited by publishers Bandai Namco to take part in a closed network test that would also be open to selected members of the public.



Elden Ring is the next game from Dark Souls developers FromSoftware
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Image:

FromSoftware Inc. / Bandai Namco)




The closed network test began by giving me a choice of five different classes to pick from.

Enchanted Knight and Bloody Wolf seem like the obvious choices, as they were giving off Dark Souls vibes, but I went with Champion as he looked the most reliable.

The actual game starts off in a dark and dingy dungeon that felt very like Dark Souls, but once I battled my way through the mini-tutorials and arrived in Limgrave I began to grasp the magnitude of Elden Ring.





Limgrave is a sight to behold, filled with lush greenery, huge mountains, derelict buildings and more.

The sheer size of Limgrave is incredible, and even though the network test was cut off from the rest of the game, it looked endless.

But it’s not till you start exploring that you realise the size of Limgrave and what’s hidden within it.



The open world is filled with tough enemies to slay
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Image:

FromSoftware Inc. / Bandai Namco)




As soon as you leave the cave you are free to go wherever you want and there is so much to see, I was able to explore.

I could opt to follow the main story by following the Guidance of Grace which can be found at a Site of Grace or just do my own thing.

Every location I explored offered something new, whether that was areas battered by extreme weather conditions or a hidden NPC, I was really impressed with how much was put into this closed network test.





Limgrave is also home to several dungeons that are scattered around. They all vary in design and difficulty with some even having mini-boss battles at the end.

But these pale in comparison to the Legacy dungeons which are fortresses and areas where players will need to access to challenge the main bosses.

I ventured into Stormveil Castle which is huge, filled with multiple paths and fierce enemies.



Elden Ring feels very much like an Dark Souls game
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Image:

FromSoftware Inc. / Bandai Namco)




Limgrave also has its share of enemies and it features spectacular bosses who are just roaming around waiting for a challenger.

There didn’t seem to be a huge difficulty spike between the enemies littered around the map, however, the bosses are a different story.

As soon as you enter Limgrave you can face the Tree Sentinel and for a first encounter, it’s really tough and sets the tone for other bosses that are around.





Combat requires a very meticulous approach, this isn’t a game where you can afford to waste attacks, especially when facing large groups of enemies.

There is a new move called a Guard counter, that lets you perform a devastating counter-attack after blocking with your shield.

Ashes of War are the new weapon and gear enhancements that players can affix to their equipment to unlock new skills or gain powers and abilities.



There are loads of bosses scatter across the open world
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Image:

FromSoftware Inc. / Bandai Namco)




Elden Ring also brings back the split Estus Flask system from Dark Souls 3 where players could choose to focus on healing health or mana.

I found there was some great quality of life features that helped to ease the overall experience. Your character won’t burn through any stamina during exploration, allowing you to save it for battle.

Also, enemies retain their damage if you run away meaning that when things got too heated I was able to find somewhere to regroup then continue where I left off.

Remarkably fall damage is either non-existent or has been heavily reduced because I was able to jump from really high cliffs and didn’t suffer at all.







From what I experienced during the closed network test, Elden Ring feels very much like a Souls game with major nods to Dark Souls 3 that could be seen from the interface, art directions, character progression and more.

The open world is amazing and only being able to access a small portion of it has only piqued my interest.

Obviously, we will have to wait for the full game to find out how big Elden Ring really is but from what I’ve experienced I am very impressed with how the game is shaping up.

Elden Ring is out on 25 February for Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and PC




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