FromSoftware’s role-playing action games are a living legend in the gaming world. And when it is often unknown what to expect from other productions, devoted fans of this studio can always count on a top-class gameplay experience. But what happens when proven creators decide to make something different?
After the successful Souls series, Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team decided to design something bigger. And this is how in 2022, we got the Elden Ring – a new action RPG developed in cooperation with George R. R. Martin. As it turns out, despite many similarities, the title introduces quite significant changes to the gameplay known from previous games. But are these changes for the better? And how much soulslike is the Elden Ring? Let’s see! Welcome to the ultimate comparison of two giants from FromSoftware.
Why do we love Dark Souls? The series features a dark fantasy world with knights, dragons, magic, undead, merchants, and massive castles. And there is Patches. But the whole essence of the beauty of this world lies in its unique dark graphics and music aesthetic, revealing ancient ruins, devastated fortresses, bosses, and dungeons full of secrets. This world is on the brink of collapse, and it shows.
But the locations of Dark Souls are divided into separate areas, and players never had the opportunity to feel true freedom in these games. However, Elder Ring introduces this innovative feature. For the first time in history, this studio gives us an open world of the Lands Between, where we can do whatever we desire. In search of mysterious runes, players travel through a vast fantasy realm full of idyllic views, mountain peaks, the ruined castle remains, and golden trees. There are animals and wilderness everywhere. And during free exploration, you can come across random caves, mysterious cellars, or strange inhabitants of this land. And to make it even more realistic, the creators added a daily cycle and changing weather!
It is a crucial difference between Elden Ring and Dark Souls, resulting from unique game worlds. Dark Souls encourages players to explore carefully. During the game, you travel through narrow corridors, dungeons, and mountain paths, where anything can slay you at any moment. And to make things even worse, no title in the series tells where to go. It makes Dark Souls insanely challenging gameplay that can frustrate more impatient players.
But the Elden Ring completely quits this exploration model, introducing new features, especially useful for beginners. The first is Guiding Lights, which subtly suggest the right way. During your journey, you may notice small shiny things and ignore them or not. But you can always be sure they will show the right path if necessary. But the most significant novelty is the introduction of the map. Those who already know Souls probably do not believe this groundbreaking information, but it is true. The map is detailed and allows you to draw markers and calmly plan your further journey. But to use it, you have to collect all its pieces.
Another fantastic addition is a mount called Torrent the Spirit Steed. Unlocking it in gameplay will guarantee exploration opportunities you’ve never dreamed of before. And more! This magnificent horse is perfect not only for fast exploration but also for combat. Learning to ride on its back will help you master completely new moves during the fight and get to places inaccessible to an ordinary person. And his double leap is extremely useful, especially when jumping from enormous heights.
Remember fast travel in Dark Souls? It was only possible after unlocking some achievements and happened through Bonfires. In the Elden Ring, fast travel is achievable through the Sites of Grace, so find as many of them as possible. This form of travel has no consequences, apart from the respawn of defeated enemies in the area.
The Souls series focuses on exploring, fighting, and unraveling the legendary lore of the mysterious world. It’s a very challenging title that has become famous worldwide for its difficulty level. The player designs his character by selecting one of several classes with specific stats. However, the hero development is very elastic, and you can freely create your dream build during the game. The plot is quite a challenge in the titles of this series. To discover the secrets of the magical land, you have to look for any hints or clues on your own. There is no direct explanation of the plot, which deepens the feeling of loneliness in this collapsing world.
Like Souls, the Elden Ring doesn’t present the story immediately, allowing players to explore the entire tale unassisted. In this title, the player also creates a character picking from several classes and sets off on a journey to collect Runes (the currency and the equivalent of Souls in DS) and defeat powerful bosses. The plot is less linear than in any part of Dark Souls. It is due to the open world that allows players to enjoy any playstyle. And there is no need to complete a specific number of boss kills to continue the adventure. Players can design their unique experiences by choosing a chill tour or following the main story path.
Elden Ring introduces even more features to the game that were not available in Dark Souls. Now you can collect materials and craft various priceless items. There are world events and stealth. Yes, the developers took some solutions from the Sekiro game. Introducing them to the Souls series enabled the creation of entirely new strategies of attacks, hunting, or exploration.
The battle pace throughout the following parts of Dark Souls was constantly changing. You can currently enjoy the fastest combat in Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne. Inspired by this fighting style and intuitive controllers, the creators decided to implement it in the Elden Ring. This title is all about combat mechanics from previous FromSoftware games and features almost identical weapons types. You can assign various attacks and equip two weapons of the same class to use them simultaneously with different movesets. You can block attacks, break and counter, dodge, and jump over the enemy, just like in Sekiro. Or construct your bombs, and shoot poisoned arrows.
A mount is an excellent help in battle, allowing spectacular mounted combat. With its incredible speed, you can easily confuse the powerful bosses — even the dragon — and dodge attacks while fighting. Or call for help from spiritual NPCs who will support you in battle or distract your opponent. And if that’s still not enough, use the multiplayer mechanics known from Souls and summon other players to help knock down the boss.
Elden Ring vs Dark Souls – what to choose?
Although it doesn’t show at first, the Elden Ring has flaws. Players on Reddit claim that in Dark Souls 3 vs Elden Ring comparison, this title offers much slower combat. Moreover, the bosses seem repetitive, and NPCs are not as charming as in the FromSoftware trilogy. Some players complain about the lack of PvP duels – a real highlight in the studio’s previous games. However, it is still an epic title allowing you to play like never before. Massive changes do not spoil the good old essence of soulslike games. On the contrary, they bring it to a new level of fun and help players familiarize themselves with the atmosphere of the entire series. Some players even claim the Elder Ring could be called Dark Souls 4 in terms of the classic atmosphere of the crucial locations and the hardcore endgame.
So what to choose? If you have never played Dark Souls and are concerned about the high difficulty level, have fun with the Elden Ring. This title enables non-linear gameplay in whatever style you like. And the omnipresent surprises, bosses, beautiful views, and an open world are just the humble beginning of the epic adventure. However, if you’re ready for pure hardcore, start with Dark Souls. It is a classic in the action RPG genre, with a warm reception, more engaging lore, and challenging bosses. If you prefer careful and thorough exploration, start with the first games in the series. And if fast-paced combat is your dream come true – Dark Souls 3 will meet your expectations.