Thanks Elden Ring Exploration

Thank You, Elden Ring, For Being a Proper Open-World Game

This Thanksgiving, GameRevolution and its sister site PlayStation LifeStyle are saying “thanks” to their favorite games, consoles, and developers.

Elden Ring let me explore and reconnect with what makes a game great to me. It takes me back to a time when games were a mystery put in front of you to uncover. I started gaming in the early 90s, and frequently you were on your own to figure out what to do. Elden Ring is a time capsule that transported me back to that era, putting many modern games to shame in the process.

Exploration in Elden Ring feels organic in a way most modern games don’t

Elden Ring Flying Horse

Games like The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind frequently gave you the name of a location and a person and sent you on your way with no waypoint. So you had to explore to find your objective. Looking at signs and asking questions were how you found your way around. It felt great to get that sense of wonderment again with Elden Ring.

I loved seeking out all those scenic vistas on my own instead of being forced into a cutscene where the camera dramatically swept over a preset course. The excitement of being told some vague tidbit I must decipher or following some faint sparkly gold dust toward what could be my doom made me realize how tedious modern gaming has become.

For example, God of War Ragnarok is a great game, but everything is pointed out to you. Especially near the end, you’re just dashing toward the next quest marker or waypoint so you can find the item, enemies, or people you need to deal with to get to the next step. You’re not given a chance to get lost or the need to learn the geography or a location to find your way around.

It’s immersion-breaking for Kratos to know the exact way to almost every place you need to go. Even the few times when you don’t have a precise dot on the map, you’re not left to your own devices. Instead, there’s always an NPC firing off clues or dogs barking when you’re near.

elden ring max weapon level cap

I know I might be in the minority on this. I understand a lot of people hate to be stumped in a game. One of the most common criticisms Elden Ring received was that it doesn’t have a quest log, and when I went through the game for review, it didn’t even have the tags to show the locations of NPCs on the map. But I took notes. I made my own quest log, and it made me more involved in the game than I would have been otherwise.

We’ve seen so much effort made to make games more accessible for the average player, but barely anything to cater to those who want the opposite. I would have loved to be able to disable NPC puzzle clues in God of War Ragnarok completely, but that option doesn’t exist. Difficulty settings have gotten increasingly granular, but they typically only affect things like how many resources you get or how strong your goes are. I hope we’ll see more games add the ability to finetune the puzzle-solving and exploration difficulty.