the worst of the great FROM games
I started playing PvP obsessively in Dks1, doing invasions in the woods, duels in the burg. I was pretty bad but I recognized the potential and kept at it.
Dks2 came out and I invested myself fully into PvP became actually good then.
Bloodborne then came out and the netcode and overblown dmage on fully gemmed builds made me disregard PvP entirely exept in occasional gemless fighclubs. But the PvE is the best by far even today.
Dks3 got my game to the highest level in PvP because the community was large, the netcode good, the balancing great even though it took months to achieve.
Sekiro I did not like at all.
now Elden ring came out 3 months ago and according to many, it is already dying.
why? well I may have a few pointers.
First, let's acknowledge that FROM did a great job transferring their formula to an open world and creating a blend of souls and open world. The art direction, the responsiveness of controls are as good as usual (with a minor mention to the fact that sometime inputs disappear, which is a first in 11 years of these games). The addition of the mount Torrent is brilliant and feels so good that this carries most of the pleasure exploring this huge world in the first dozens of hours of the game.
but this is where the good points start to fade. The world is huge and this carries consequences as the first few zones are densely packed with wild life and points of interests and mobs to fight. Limgrave and Liurnia are the best in this respect. But as you progress in the game, the well crafted enemy placement starts to fade, reverting to scarce big annoying monsters to fight that you continually avoid (those crows are no fun to fight for most sane people I would argue). The worst is the mountain of giants that become litterally a vast frozen desert. At this point, what was fun exploration on torrent become a boring travel between point A and point B. You also are tired of figghting reused and reskinned bosses in the eventual catacombs you come across....
the well crafted world of the first 2-3 zones becomes uninteresting.
the zones where you cannot use torrent are usually the best ones, well crafted a la from, more classic: Stromveil, Academy, Leyndell, Haligtree and Azula are all nice "dungeons" because they are more like what FROM is used to produce.
interestingly, the jumping is not as important at all in these mountless regions: the verticality is stil there (mostly to kill you) but while then integrated it more in their level design, the jumping without torrent does not seem as crucial, even very accessory. So the world can be sort of split into mount zones and mountless zones: the mount zones are great for a while, especially the early ones but then they lose their incentive. the mountless are classic FROM regions and those are all great.
When you replay ER, the later mount zones are literally a drag to go through. You feel like it is work. I have played to completion Bloodborne over 150 times with different character over the years, each time with a smile. I have done Dks3 maybe 50 times with more unequal enjoyment.
In ELden ring, I have done 3 characters : RL166, RL125 for meta duels (coming back to this very soon) and RL75.
I will never play this game again with another character. There is no reason to: you can respect ad libidum, you can infuse any weapon with any damage scaling type you want expect for the unique weapon that are essentially all quality weapons. So my RL125 is meant for a quality classic split (30ish strength, 54 dex) that can use any weapon unique or not apart from the funky ones with high faith/int/arcane requirements. My RL166 is for casting...I can respec in any caster build as I want when I want. My RL75 is for plit damage low level weapons and strength build. Done. What am I gonna do apart from a lower level twink to grieve starting players in limgrave?
So when replaying a game is so damn boring in the second half, a lot of the player base for coop just dies off because what maintained a healthy coop pool for summons in previous games was that they were relatively small and dense AND that people liked to replay it a lot on many builds...ER coop is almost gone: 3 months down the track it is hard to find 2 signs at the gate of Godfreey or radagon at sl125! It is easier at much higher level though but high level alienate the main interest of the game for me:
and this is where FROM dropped the ball: PvP sucks so hard that it hurts in ER.
they continued their undermining of invasions that started in Dks3 to ensure most invaders do not face signle hosts but rather ganks. I am not big on invasions but I understand the frustration of invaders in this domain.
I am a duellist. I liked arenas in Dks2 and 3 because that streamlined the type of sport I like. Of course arena is gonna be implemented in ER eventually (at least we all think it is) but until then, summoning signs it is.
problems to fix in ER duelling meta
a duel in ER at meta (125-150) is about surviving 2-3 hit max.
most L2 can even oneshot 2k hitpoints, that is 60 vigor + crimson medallion and erdtree favor...
the damage imbalance is the biggest issue.
But even if this was fixed, there are other issue that need addressing:
2) passive poise
I cannot believe the massive step back that poise has been in ER: dks3 had it finally almost perfectly: you need a weapon with active hyperarmor frame to activate your poise. Makes sense, allows to leave skill and timing a place and makes for interesting use of this feature.
In ER, you just sit there with your massive poise and your dagger and you can spam your hits forever even against a 2 handed greatsword....what the hell is this joke? they should revert to a system giving way less weight to passive poise if they want to keep it and redirect the rest on active hyperarmor.
3) jumping attacks
does more damage, cannot be parried, is further reaching than normal ones and does not cost stamina...jumping in combat should cost stamina then I have no problem with this. In absence of stamina cost, jumping attack with a big weapon (or better, dual wielded big weapons) is OP.
4) toxic ash of war spam
Bloodhound step, honed bolt, and many many more are just plain cancer. whatever is left of the potential fun in a duel is taken away when you opoonent uses those. Some are insanely damaging but can be avoided or parried....others like BHS make the fight entirely pointless.
Elden ring is a great game by general standards. It is just a disappointing game for FROM soft. let's see if the next game they do is following the same trends of increasing accessibility or if they go back to what made their success: no compromise, git gud or move on. this one is clearly trying to please too many people to know what it actually is and it does not work on the long term, despite being nice and flashy for a month or 2.