Robert Tamayo


Elden Ring is More of a Big Map Game than an Open World Game

I was thinking of writing this post earlier today, and then I stumbled upon an article titled "‘Elden Ring’ Has Without Question The Best Open World In Gaming History" from Forbes. How strange that I would be thinking the exact opposite thought before learning that people are actually thrilled by Elden Ring's "open world"! Before you read this and think that I am criticizing Elden Ring the Game, realize that I'm not. I'm only criticizing Elden Ring the Open World. The rest of the game is great.

Elden Ring is More of a Dark Souls Game with a Big Map

I said before that I've never played the other Souls games. So how can I make this judgment? Well, simply because I've watched people play the other Souls games, and I've been curious about them for a while. I'm familiar with their basic mechanics, the movement patterns of the playable characters, and I've seen people fight a ton of the bosses.

I've also played somewhere between 50 and 100 hours of Elden Ring. I can't recall the exact number, but it's over 50. I've spent a lot of that time simply exploring the gigantic world of the game. I would search far and wide for interesting things to discover. I spent the first 20 hours of the game just trying to go straight to the Erdtree. I found countless enemies and bosses, and countless dungeons and weapons.

But what I didn't find in the Lands Between was the "Best Open World in Gaming History." I hardly found an Open World at all. Instead, it's mainly just a Dark Souls game with an enormous map.

That's Not a Bad Thing

I played at least 50 hours of the game, so I can't have been bored out of my mind because the game wasn't "open world" enough for me. But I did stop playing it weeks ago because I got bored of doing the same thing over and over.

Part of the fun of an open world game is exploration. You go to a high peak, look out in the distance, spot some strange rock formation or crumbling building, and set out on an adventure toward it. You don't know what you will find, but usually there is something special hidden away in the stranger parts of the world.

In Elden Ring, however, you mostly only find bosses. You might find dungeons, but those just lead to a maze with a Boss at the end. If you find a weird building, there's just a Boss there. If you see a bunch of weird glowing eyeball rocks arranged in a circle around a portal, it's just a Boss there.

Everything is a Boss in the Elden Ring open world.

There isn't much of a reward for finding strange areas in the game other than Boss fights. Sure, the Bosses drop new weapons, but it feels more like a 3rd person Hack-n-Slash game with a giant map.

The Lack of Sandbox Elements and Environmental Destruction is Noticeable

Going all the way back to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, destructible environments have been a staple of adventure games. In Elden Ring, you can destroy anything from bookcases to stockades with a roll, and it's somewhat satisfying. But compared to the environmental interactivity in games like Red Dead Redemption and Breath of the Wild, it's just the bare minimum. It's also a staple of the Souls games already, and not something they added as part of the open world.

Breath of the Wild Spoiled Us

Yes, contrary to the Forbes article, Breath of the Wild reigns supreme in the world of Open World games. 

Breath of the Wild introduced us to the concept of a truly open world game, where the game allows you to beat it in any way you want. You don't even have to beat it, technically, because you can have so much fun exploring the world. Unlike Elden Ring's dungeons, which might give a weapon or spell, Breath of the Wild's Shrines carry a much higher reward. Also, the Shrines in Breath of the Wild serve a dual purpose of changing up the gameplay, breaking away from the open world exploration, combat, and adventure gameplay to focus on puzzle-solving. 

In Elden Ring, the dungeons are the same thing as the regular world, just in tighter corridors and a few traps sprinkled in.

Even more, Breath of the Wild brought the Sandbox to the open world. Sandbox gameplay and Open Worlds go very well together, and Breath of the Wild shines because of it.

Even Immortals: Fenyx Rising had a better open world than Elden Ring. Immortals gave players a large variety of things to do in the open world. And if you wanted to, you could go to the top of Mt Olympus before you were "supposed" to by sheer will alone.

Elden Ring is Still a Great Game

As I said earlier, don't mistake my criticism of Elden Ring's open world elements with criticism of the game itself. The game is great. The music is awesome. The art and setting is fantastic. The weird creatures you fight along the way are sometimes pretty creative. 

I liked the game, and I would play a sequel. I just wish the developers would add more variety to the sequel. Elden Ring gets repetitive when all you can do is fight different types of Bosses and Enemies. There is no other reward for finding a new area than getting to fight a new Boss. And it would also be different if the Bosses had more to them than just learning their attack patterns and dodging at the right time.

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