FromSoftware's Elden Ring is delivering what I expected from Amazon's New World. There. I've said it.
Now, before you go “wait those are two completely different genre of games” after reading the title, yes, I am aware that I am comparing an MMO to a Souls-like game.
More accurately, I am comparing the combat system and open world mechanics between these two games, which I believe has no bearing on what kind of genre you categorise both of these games in. This is also my personal opinion and feelings on these two games, so perhaps I may have misplaced my expectations for New World.
I was fortunate enough to play the closed beta of Elden Ring two weeks ago thanks to Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia, and it really left an impression on me, because it felt like it was what New World could have been if it had the polish of Elden Ring.
To the uninitiated, a “Souls-like” game refers to a specific style of action role playing games (ARPG), which started off with FromSoftware’s release of Demon’s Souls in 2009. A Souls-like game generally has hard-hitting mobs and bosses that can kill your character in one to two hits, consequences for death, a combat system that may tie to a stamina bar or a resource bar.
On the surface, these two games are very much alike. In fact, the reason why I picked up New World was because I had the hope and impression that the combat would be very similar to a Souls game, among many other things.
The combat and interface of New World and Elden Ring have a lot of things in common. Both have a stamina bar, interchangeable weapons, different weapon types for different styles of play, a roll/evade as a dodge, consequences for death, a vast open world, among many other things.
Beneath the surface
Things start to differ when you start comparing the polish of these mechanics in both of these games.
I started out as a sword and shield player in New World, and then graduated to Strength and Dexterity melee weapons because that is how I like to play my ARPGs.
Instead of attempting to side step attacks from bosses and mobs and to counter attack with my own skills and weapons, I felt like there was no need to (even with the roll/dodge mechanic present) because the mobs and bosses do so little damage at lower levels, so I can just hack and slash them to death.
At higher levels, the large volume of mobs that can attack and swarm you if you engage them will only mean an instant death if you play solo, so dodging or evading will only get you so far.
Even at higher levels and attempting to take on bosses that are very much on a par with a Souls-like game (yes, they can kill you in one hit), it felt like the game threw in too many mobs to disrupt the flow of combat.
Half the time, I end up relying too much on my tank teammates to draw the attention of the boss so I could clear the mobs before going back in to do combat.
In Elden Ring, the game always allows you to fight the boss in a one-on-one battle.
No mobs, no distractions. Even when you co-op with other players, the boss is the only thing you fight.
Perhaps I have not run into any mob-spawning bosses in the Elden Ring beta, but I am convinced that FromSoftware will know how to balance the experience of a boss battle better than Amazon, based on my past experiences from the other Souls games.
Even battles with mobs felt controlled, and you don’t feel like you are being overwhelmed. You can take mobs down easily by using stealth and using the movement mechanics present in the game.
Elden Ring doesn’t throw an insurmountable amount of mobs at you to handle. If you die while facing these mobs, you know it’s because of your own mistakes, rather than feeling helpless because you were outnumbered.
Let's talk about walking
Another opportunity that New World missed was the implementation of a horse/steed to traverse its vast open world.
Now, I totally understand that it may be a game design choice to show players that you need some effort to traverse the map, but when you are short on time and need to spend some finite resources (that you need to use in crafting, by the way) to travel to your intended location, playing the game becomes a chore.
You will have to spend a good 20 minutes walking from one end of the map to another if you want to save your resources, and who knows if you will meet high level mobs that might chase you down and kill you along the way.
Elden Ring implements the use of a mount perfectly, in my opinion. Torrent, the horse you ride in the game, can be easily used to explore the open world of Elden Ring.
This is on top of being able to fast travel freely, mind you. You are also able to do combat when riding on Torrent, which is amazing, because it doesn’t just act like travelling tool.
There are even mechanics in the game that can kill Torrent and knock you off your horse. It didn’t feel like I was using the mount to easily travel between points, instead making exploring the in-betweens so much more fun and engaging than moving from point A to point B.
If these points were implemented in New World, I believe it would have been a much more enjoyable experience for me. The combat and area traversal are very important parts of the game that would affect the experience of the player.
Coupled with the fact that the game still has a list of bugs that isn’t being addressed, I don’t know how long more I will be around to play the game.
Elden Ring, however, has taken the Souls-like genre to a whole other level. By combining mechanics from the previous FromSoftware Souls-like games, it looks like Elden Ring could be the ultimate Souls game that all of us ARPG fans have been waiting for.
From my time with it, I thoroughly enjoyed the open world resource gathering, the dual-wield weapon combos from Dark Souls, and the insane gigantic boss battles that can be fought in the open world with your mount. It even has dungeons that are similar to the old Souls games in the past.
Did I mention that the game looks extremely pretty too?
I am pretty excited for Elden Ring’s release. The beta has left me wanting more, and I can’t wait to explore the open world even more come 25 February of 2022.
Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy being toxic in VALORANT or watercooling anything he sees, he does some pro wrestling.