FromSoftware's highly anticipated action RPG will unlock on Steam tomorrow afternoon in the US, but the embargo on pre-release coverage has already been lifted, leading to a rush of reviews for the game (including from ourselves).
A scan of our peers shows near-universal praise, a somewhat rare event. Reviews from IGN, Game Informer, and Eurogamer speak highly of Elden Ring's open world, comparing it favorably to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Most of these reviewers also praised Elden Ring's more traditional Soulslike levels, nestled in that new open world.
What reviewers say is one thing, but is not the true mark of quality the cold, objective pronouncement of aggregate review scores? Metacritic, the veritable Anubis weighing games' hearts before the underworld, has placed Elden Ring in rarefied company with its tabulated score of 95 based on 36 critic reviews so far. Objectively, indisputably, Elden Ring on PC has a worth to human thought and achievement somewhere between LittleBigPlanet and Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn.
Competing review aggregator OpenCritic has one score for all three platform families of Elden Ring, perhaps helping account for its slightly higher score of 96 from nearly 90 reviews. That combination leaves Elden Ring OpenCritic's highest ranked PC game of all time, as well as the second-highest ranked game on any platform this generation behind Super Mario Odyssey.
There's been a little contention in the pre-release coverage, however. We knew ahead of time that Elden Ring would be capped at 60 fps and have surprisingly steep hardware requirements, but several reviewers, including Siliconera editor Kazuma Hashimoto and our own Tyler Colp, reported significant stuttering and slowdown on high-end PC hardware. Bandai Namco claims the day-one patch will fix this, which we'll see for ourselves tomorrow.
My review for Elden Ring will becoming later this week. This is because PC performance was so poor that partly through my review I had to switch to the PS5 version of the game. And I have a 3080 with 32GB of RAM. So expect a report on performances of both versions of the game.February 23, 2022
Tyler's Elden Ring review also included a bigger-picture critique of the game: its infatuation with the Souls series' past. In his own words, Elden Ring's "devotion to what came before is distracting" and "dulls the impact" of the game's original moments.
Renata Price, writing for Waypoint, took issue with the open world's connective tissue, likening it to Ubisoft-style checklist and map marker gameplay, but obfuscated with a lack of literal checklists and map markers. She wrote: "For every affectless sky, irritating imp, and bland room in the Roundtable Hold—there is a contrasting moment of overwhelming wonder … But also, undeniably, you pay for these moments with long, uneventful transits punctuated by rote encounters."
From the lower end of OpenCritic scores, Giovanni Colantonio over at Digital Trends cited the previously-mentioned PC technical foibles and the persistence of Dark Souls 2-style hitbox frustrations as his biggest gripes in an otherwise mostly-positive write-up: "Memorizing boss patterns is easy; working around unpredictable technical quirks is much harder. That's before getting into frame stutters and game crashes, which create additional stress."
Jae Lee's review for ZTGD also cited the PC port's performance issues. Additionally, Lee said that the game's length and open world could make it feel repetitive at times: "Early to mid game, I was happy to delve into every discovered side dungeon eager to explore every part of the map thoroughly but I started to notice that many of the dungeons and even bosses that were waiting for me in the depths were blending together."
Elden Ring is already proving to be a rich subject of criticism, and the massive game will probably be at the center of gaming discourse for the next couple weeks, or longer. I for one am excited to draw my own conclusions about FromSoftware's latest.