FromSoftware Still Struggles to Teach Players How to Play Elden Ring

Teaching players how to best play any given title can be one of the most difficult obstacles for a developer like FromSoftware. ace Elden Ring has quickly proven to be the toughest FromSoftware game to date, a significant amount of difficulty comes from needing to learn the depth of Elden Ring‘s systems.

In a lot of cases, this is where the Soulslike community tends to step in by teaching each other secrets and hidden mechanics they’ve learned through online guides and videos. Utilities like fan wikis, content creators like VaatiVidya or Iron Pineapple, or Elden Ring guides on news websites, can be helpful filling in the gaps left by FromSoftware, but seeing feedback now could help ease that burden in future games.


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FromSoftware’s History of Obtuse Explanations

Several of FromSoftware’s older titles have a history of poorly explaining mechanics, or simply not having proper explanations for critical information. One of the most notable examples is the world tendency system in Demons Souls, which persisted into the recent remake with little in-game explanation. It’s a complex system that rewards players for better play and punishes them for dying, and most playthroughs will likely run into the hardest possible experience without realizing it.

This problem also persists for features as critical as leveling, with a lack of explanation for the utility of stats that can be upgraded like “resistance” in Dark Souls or “adaptability” in Dark Souls 2. The former is essentially useless while the latter is key to making sure dodge rolls have the invincibility frames needed to survive tough encounters. It should be noted that this isn’t a critique of undiscovered secrets or items in a game like Demons Soulsbut instead a lack of teaching for mechanics like dodging in titles like Sekiro, where dodging forward has increased I-frames.

Elden Ring Is More Open Than Ever

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Elden Ring is actually the most open title FromSoftware has made in that regard, with the best explanations of character stats and combat mechanics. That may not be enough, but Elden Ring does give players who investigate more explanations than in any previous title, and that should be commended.

This is done through pop-up tutorials, all of which remain in the info section of the inventory, as well as in-game conveyance through the placement of items and enemies. Additionally, character stats that have at times been obtuse in the past are fully explained, and the explanations sub-menu will give a detailed view of everything from strength to focus. All of this does come together to make Elden Ring the most accessible title FromSoftware has produced yet.

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Elden Ring Mechanics That New Players Might Have Missed

Elden Ring Tree Sentinel Boss Fight

Unfortunately, Elden Ring still doesn’t go deep enough to teach new players the depth required for success. Some mechanics seem smaller, like the forward dodge having more I-frames, but this difference in invincibility can be the difference between surviving a fight or dying quickly. Others go further to hinder progress, such as informing players how to properly build a character and the ways that weapon upgrades in Elden Ring are more important than levels.

Many of these details have already been learned by many who played Dark Souls and Bloodborne. However, with Elden Ring smashing sales records and bringing in tons of new players, there are a lot of people who will have no idea about the differences between light and heavy rolls, or that two-handing a weapon reduces strength requirements. On the opposite end of two-handing is an updated feature in Elden Ring that gives fans a whole new way to approach combat.

Improvements That Longtime Fans Might Have Overlooked

Elden Ring Black Knife Armor Set On

Some features in Elden Ring have always existed in the series, but never felt viable. One of these is the ability to dual-wield weapons. The current version lets players put on two of the same type of weapon in Elden Ring and use specifically dual combos with L1 or LB in place of guarding.

What makes this improvement strange for fans who might have already played Dark Souls titles is that Elden Ring brings together older FromSoftware features, so players might assume that the off-hand is for shields, torches, or staves. In this case of building an entire system to let similar weapons work together, it doesn’t make sense for the developer to not tell players this is a viable option which has been heavily improved from previous games. While it’s true that dual-wielding twinblades isn’t top-tier, players shouldn’t have to find the ability by happenstance or from other players.

Interestingly, FromSoftware already has a couple of tools at its disposal in order to properly convey some deeper mechanics to players. One would be the sections of text that appear the first time a player opens any menu or runs into something new, but there is also another in-game way to show players how to play directly. This would be with the use of NPCs, both invaders and summoned aid, which can equip and utilize the mechanics available to players in ways that Elden Ring‘s monsters and zombies can’t convey.

An invading spirit with dual-wield weapons that don’t look like they are part of a set could inform players that this is an option. Similarly, having the AI ​​dodge forward or be forced to two-hand a weapon could act as a guide for different ways that a build could be implemented. This could help eliminate the need for scrolling text or lengthy tutorials, instead using combat and the ability for NPCs to kill Elden Ring players while showing off the unconventional builds and top strategies that comes from diving into the depths of FromSoftware’s combat.

Elden Ring is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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