To start off, I saw Kssio_Aug's
criticism thread a while back. He just compared Elden Ring to prior Fromsoft games and said he felt it was overrated.
I'm not going to criticize Elden Ring in terms of other Fromsoft games, since I don't feel people set enough standards for Fromsoft.
I'm looking at this from the viewpoint of what a critically acclaimed open-world game IN 2022 should be like.
The game was a technical mess on release (don't know the situation now), with all the stuttering and lags, on next-gen and PC. But what makes me even more critical is that the game doesn't really have anything computational that's weighing it down. What the hell is intensive in Elden Ring that was making it stutter on a PS5? With all it's power? I wonder
. With what I have seen so far, if it was even remotely optimized well, a PS3 would be able to run it. No joke.
I do not know what whoever at Fromsoft set the stock keyboard input layout for PC was thinking. Who the hell presses G to open a map? F to run? For all the crap games like RDR2 received for convoluted controls, this takes the cake.
Exploration is just looking for loot or bosses to kill. With all the acclaim for being an inventive open world, I thought they would have nailed the element of surprise. Like creeping slowly to get some loot, only to get captured by a plant monster with vine ropes, from which you would have to break free quickly or you die.
The world is terribly static to say the least. Using a telescope you could see enemies afar off just rotating around the same territory, back and forth. Ghosts and any NPCs only exist to mutter one or two lines of dialogue and nothing else. The rest of the world only exists to attack you. The world seems like it waits for you to act. You can wait at a spot for hours and nothing will happen, as long as you're not fighting.
The game has a God-tier art style and brilliant boss designs, but even those are brought down to earth by the PS3 level graphics and average character models. I have a fair tolerance for things like pop-in and all that graphical jargon, but that and artifacts on distant objects in this game are honestly terrible.
The game's enemy AI and gameplay is dated: the enemies have always had the same purpose. Attack the character with the same, one or two janky animations until he's down. But how about bringing a new enemy mechanic, instead of the old parrying and slashing? Instead implementing new gameplay features like using magic spell to make enemies attack themselves, or having the ability to take possession of an enemy and attack the others. You should be able to use a potion to masquerade as an enemy once, so you can move past without combat. Bosses should have had the ability to change fighting tactics to keep the game more challenging, with you having the ability to find a weak spot to strike, like in Sekiro.This isn't hard for crying out loud. I played some DS3 back in the day, and I kid you not, I was seeing similar if not same animations. It kinda reinforces my point that they did not care to update their engine to add new animations.
You cannot swim. In 2022. Swimming is a standard feature of open world games (at least of ER's scale). The last open world game I know that had this issue was RDR from 2010. If you guys want to bring up the issue of relevance of swimming, then why did they add water to the game? FS could have even added running on water as a mechanic to reach further places like islands. Now THAT is a new mechanic.
I will never dispute the fact that anyone can have fun with the game despite it's barrage of issues. Fun is subjective. But what I do not understand is how ppl can ignore glaring game design problems and overhype it as some innovative open world, when in reality it's just a repetition of FS's prior games.
Look at Horizon Forbidden West. I cant speak for story and mechanics as I haven't played it, and honestly I'm not so into it, but it is a genuine technical masterpiece as it was able to maintain the best graphics on the PS4 and run smoothly on it, while being cross-gen with the PS5, and adding great character details. Instead of highlighting that achievement, reviews were only bordered on "lack of innovation", which I feel is more apt to Elden Ring by the way.
I would have way more respect for Miyazaki if he actually had the balls to take risks and actually push to innovate on the established souls formula after 11 years of the nearly the same game, bar Sekiro.
As a matter of fact, I feel Sekiro is by far Fromsoft's best game, at least innovation wise. Fromsoft at least innovated on it. It goes in new territory, added new stealth combos kills and attacks, and some of the mechanics were genuinely graceful. The story was good, and the some of the characters were charismatic.
Its a bit frustrating that we are in an age of gaming where AAA developers should be placing priority on advancing gaming with innovation in AI, game mechanics and upscaling their tech to take advantage of faster console and PC hardware... And then an AAA game like this comes around and gets critically acclaimed for mediocre tech and average game design.
I don't know what to term this on Fromsoft's part. It's not like FromSoft are Indie. They have been making successful games. They could have used their manpower to overhaul their game engine. They could have made use of brilliant game designers to prescribe new mechanics and features to add.
So why didn't they?
Any other developer would have been heavily criticized with the barrage of technical issues the game has, and would have even gotten torn to shreds over the fact that they did not substantially innovate with their formulae.
Is adding a horse, (to a series that should have had it since the beginning, by the way) really an evolution?
Is adding the ability to jump a mind-blowing, inventive game mechanic?
Look. Elden Ring doesnt have to completely overhaul open worlds, but I don't see what brilliant new features or improved mechanics it brought to advance open world gaming, warranting all the praise.
I feel if Fromsoft are criticized for issues they'll drastically improve and innovate in their next games.