Unlike other games From Software released before it, Elden Ring takes an open-world approach to how it presents its story and gameplay. The Lands Between is full of locations to explore, enemies to fight, and mysteries to solve. Players who want to experience everything Elden Ring has to offer will find it difficult to do so in a reasonable amount of time, and they may lose themselves in the process.
But, as with all games, Elden Ring has a limited amount of content for players. Once the main story is completed, the main bosses are defeated, and most locations are explored and cleared of loot, players will be looking for something else. This is where the New Game Plus begins. By dropping all the world achievements, Elden Ring allows players to experience the same thing over and over again, only this time with most of their weapons and equipment from the previous playthrough. But while some may enjoy going through everything from the beginning, others may find that the Elden Ring design doesn’t offer much in terms of replayability.
The Elden Ring spectacle is almost ready
The Lands Between offers some of the best places for video games in recent times. The vast battlefield under Redmayne Castle, the Academy of Paradise Lucaria, the royal capital of Leindell — all places in the Elden Ring are unique and offer some element of gameplay or narrative. Moreover, these locations are filled with characters and objects that help to concretize the world and those in it. Jar-Burn in Jarbag is just as important as the Haligtri medallion pieces found in the Albinavrik Village and Sol Castle. Both provide exposure to the world, and both are integral to completing some game quests.
Unfortunately, all these elements can only be re-tested for the first time. Launching New Game Plus in Elden Ring does not change the location of objects or enemies, which means that everything will be in the same place where players found it the first time. Some elements are related to specific branched quest lines (for example, getting a Fingerblade for Princess Ranny or deciding to help Fiya, a companion on her deathbed), but there are not as many of them as players might hope.
The open world of Elden Ring compared to the classic, more compact FromSoftware design
That’s where Elden Ring’s open-world design fails. Other critically acclaimed open-world games, such as Red Dead Redemption 2, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Grand Theft Auto 5, are scattered across the maps to surprise players. These random encounters add something new to the player’s experience, whether they are insignificant or not. When a cougar suddenly jumps on a Red Dead Redemption 2 player in the wilderness, it may be unpleasant, but it creates an element unique to that person.
There aren’t many such random moments in the Elden Ring. Each enemy, item, and scenario has its own predefined place in the game that players will experience no matter what. The aforementioned parts of the Halligtree medallion will always be in the same place, just as the Flying Dragon Agil will always appear when passing by Lake Aghil. The few random moments that Elden Ring has usually relate to weak enemies, such as wolves, who attack players on their journey to fight something more frightening. Although they somewhat dilute the monotony, these meetings are hardly as memorable as the rest of the game content.
Also, it’s hard to ignore how FromSoftware encourages over-playing in other Souls games by offering tense, engaging and dangerous level designs. Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne and other games are so unique that they seem to be completely created by hand, forcing players to walk through terrifying alleys. With the New Game Plus in Elden Ring, some of this overall design influence is lost, further exacerbating the above problems.
Elden Ring is by no means a bad game, but its New Game Plus mode is a little lacking. It seems that taking a break from the game to forget about it and let From Software add more content is the best way for players to get the most out of the mode. Without an incentive in the form of new items and experiences, in addition to alternative paths of their previous choice, players will have little motivation to explore the vast open world that they have already experienced before.
Elden Ring is already available for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.