I didn’t have much hype for Elden Ring until a few weeks ago when I finally managed to grab a PlayStation 5 and a copy of the Demon’s Souls remake. Demon’s Souls was my introduction to the From Software Soulsborne experience back on PS3, and have played every game since (I hated Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice). I was casually playing Demon’s Souls here and there (as casually as you can play a Soulsborne game), and stopped because I wanted to save the punishment for Elden Ring.

Welcome to the Elden Ring Diaries Part 1

Elden Ring Video Diaries – Part 1

Elden Ring has been quite the experience, thus far. I had planned on each entry in this series taking place after 10 hours of gameplay, but I just can’t put this game down. At the time of this writing, I clocked in at 14 and a half hours and level 35.

I spent nearly an hour on class selection, as I want to experience Elden Ring without too many spoilers or walkthroughs (although YouTube loves to suggest weapon and armor location videos to me), but I did want to make the correct class selection for my preferred playstyle, so I looked up some guides.

I wound up choosing a prisoner, as it seemed the best base for a hybrid caster/melee build. In Dark Souls, I always play the same type of character: heavy armor, sword, shield, and pyromancy. In Elden Ring, I wanted to make sure I experienced more of the game than shield turtling. Art Vandelay will be built with Intelligence and Dexterity, so I can use magic and still dish out weapon damage.

Early Hours of Elden Ring

The early hours of Elden Ring were not what I was expecting. I was overwhelmed by the open world of the Lands Between. The night before Elden Ring’s release, I loaded up the Demon’s Souls remake and actually put in a few hours, making legitimate progress; learning the layout of the Tunnel City (2-2), and memorizing the shortcuts. I longed for this structure in Elden Ring during my early hours with the game. Yes, you do get this structure with Elden Ring’s “Legacy Dungeons” but I had trouble at the gates of Stormveil Castle; entering the castle this early was out of the question. A giant and slew of knights pushed me to explore the map, as I was way too weak to advance past them.

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Art Vandelay and his trusty horse, Torrent.

Once I started unlocking sections of the world map (via map fragments), my experience began to shift. I started to explore Limgrave. This opening area is no joke, as I was: invaded on the river (and even helped by a summoned NPC, Yura), nighttime brought haunting screams of agony (from either underground or men on crucifixes). running around cliffs unveiled a merchant, and a short ride away, a tomb to explore.

This has all been an amazing experience. I am only 14 hours in, but Elden Ring is already shaping up to be the best open-world game I have ever experienced. There is something new to legitimately find around every corner of Elden Ring.

The Lands Between is not a barren wasteland; you never are a minute or two away from finding a new boss to battle, a hidden crypt to explore, or an NPC to converse with. The ability to fast travel to any Site of Grace was an amazing design choice, as the world truly feels completely open. There have been many times I ran out of flasks deep in a dungeon and just decided to come back later after I leveled up a bit. Why struggle for hours when I can easily travel across the map, choose a direction, and see where I end up? Nearly every time, I find something fascinating.

Scattered notes of other players around the world (a staple of From Software’s games) help dramatically; pointing out an object of interest, or boss is just around the corner. I had grown used to messages at every treasure chest containing mentions of “trap”. As with every Dark Souls game since my first encounter with a Mimic — I hit the chest with my weapon before opening it, as you can never be too sure. You could imagine, when to my surprise, one chest opened to reveal black smoke, a teleportation trap that sent me across the world (an area I was way too under-leveled for). I laughed out loud.

Elden Ring is a special game.

It’s also ridiculous, at times.

When I get bored with one area, I just continue my aforementioned process. For example, after leveling up a few times in one area, I decided to test my luck again against the Tree Sentinel (for probably the 30th time). I finally felled him!

Another example — I was getting a bit creeped out by the environment I was exploring, so I traveled back to Stormveil Castle, and managed to unlock the next site of grace, all while more easily defeating the enemies along the way.

I’m really interested to see how I keep up with Elden Ring. I find it very easy to get overwhelmed with these Soulsborne games; I am not someone who shy’s away from breaks when this feeling sets in. I’ll take a day or two off from the challenge until I feel the desire to load the game up. Even after spending over 100 hours in the first Dark Souls, the end game was too much for me; my last break was my final break.

Will Elden Ring’s ease of exploration allow me to keep playing for days, weeks, or months at a time, without the need for breaks?

You’ll have to check in for The Elden Ring Diaries Part 2. Instead of every 10 hours, I will just add a new entry every week.

More Elden Ring content – Did you know Elden Ring has an easy mode?