Elden Ring Network Test Impressions: Is It Worth Pre-Ordering?

Soulslike games have never been something that attracted my attention. I’ve tried Sekiro, Dark Souls 3, and Bloodborne to no avail. The tight spaces combined with hardcore gameplay, never really grabbed me, and after I died, I never felt like wanting to take on the boss again. However, I’m usually a big fan of open world games as I enjoy getting lost and exploring vibrant worlds. While previous FromSoftware games never enticed me, Elden Ring looks set to combine the two genres together and will blow the door wide open for not just me, but plenty of others who are fans of open world games.

After being announced in 2019, Elden Ring has been an interesting premise since the beginning; A stunningly beautiful open world game that is begging to be explored combined with the familiar brutal gameplay that souls fans have grown to cherish. It’s hard not to fall in love, but with a lot of games releasing with problems, the idea seems awfully farfetched. Fortunately, after playing the Closed Network Test, Elden Ring might just be the best game coming out in 2022.

“It’s easy to sit back and marvel at the picturesque world FromSoftware has created.”

The Closed Network Test offered five classes to choose from, with five more arriving in the full release. Each class started at level five, with skill points already allocated into what the class focuses on. The ‘Warrior’ class dual-wields scimitars, focusing on melee (dexterity); The ‘Enchanted Knight’ dabbles in both sorcery and melee; The ‘Prophet’ focuses on casting incantations (or spells); The ‘Champion’ uses both incantations and melee; Finally, the Bloody Wolf is the typical high strength, big weapon class you can expect from other FromSoftware games.

Elden Ring Pre-order Closed Network Test Stunning World
Image Credit – FromSoftware

After picking your class, you are thrust into the world. Initially, you begin in a typical dungeon, but it’s not long before you navigate towards a large set of doors, concealing the outside world. Upon pushing open the doors, Elden Ring introduces you to a beautiful panoramic view that could easily be considered one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s easy to sit back and marvel at the picturesque world FromSoftware has created. Fortunately, it’s also designed to be destroyed.

“Riding on Torrent is the easiest way to travel the world.”

Despite the game’s breathtaking landscapes, combat is also at the forefront of Elden Ring. The boss designs are unique, and the attention to detail is incredible. With every enemy (including yourself) having a hidden stance meter and the ability to jump and attack your opponent, there are plenty of different ways to fight. Although, this might not always work as bosses are as brutal as ever. Fortunately, now, you have a trusty steed named Torrent, who can get you out of open world situation you don’t want to be in. However, riding away and hiding in buildings might not be the best idea. For example, the Tree Sentinel, who will take you on via horseback, isn’t afraid of smashing down the nearby church if you feel like it’s a good place to hide.

Elden Ring Pre-order Closed Network Test Torrent Horse
Image Credit – FromSoftware

Riding on Torrent is the easiest way to travel the world. It’s also arguably the most fun. You can escape from almost any situation you don’t want to be a part of. While on horseback, you can also take down enemies, and as previously mentioned, run into others who are riding horses. You can also double jump on the horse, which makes those hard to reach areas a bit more accessible. For those who don’t enjoy riding around the world, you can fast travel practically anywhere, given that you aren’t in a dangerous situation. You can also sprint as it doesn’t take up any stamina outside of combat. But, be warned as it’s not nearly as fun as riding on Torrent.

“Elden Ring has taken a risk diving into the open world genre.”

Ashes of War and Summons also further Elden Ring’s addictive combat. Ashes of War are unique weapon collectibles that can be interchanged at Sites of Grace — a checkpoint where you level up, heal, and respawn. They are similar to Weapon Art from Dark Souls 3 and use FP (Focus Points), the same resource as sorceries and incantations.

On the other hand, Summons don’t require a Site of Grace to swap, but they still use FP. Summons are modelled after various enemy types encountered in the game and can take aggro away from you while fighting, making them incredibly handy in boss fights. You can’t use these during multiplayer, so they are limited to offline.

Elden Ring Pre-order Closed Network Test Boss Dragon
Image Credit – FromSoftware

Elden Ring has taken a risk diving into the open world genre. Many games are debated whether the vast worlds are big for the sake of being big. Fortunately, there were no moments where I felt there was no purpose in the direction I was heading. In fact, everywhere I went, I ran into enemies that I had never seen before. There are even hidden caves and secrets scattered around the world, begging to be explored. While the world isn’t as big as you could expect from other games, this is to Elden Ring’s advantage.

“The Elden Ring Closed Network Test has been one of my favourite video game experiences this year.”

With an open world game comes a crafting system. You can create various throwables and consumables from various shrubbery and scavenging dead animals. Crafting Kits can be bought with runes (souls), but during the Network Test, I never felt the need to craft. Instead, crafting seemed more like a forced element of open world games, but hopefully, in the full game, this is more fleshed out.

As someone who has never been a souls fan, the Elden Ring Closed Network Test has been one of my favourite video game experiences this year. It’s safe to say that the game will be a strong contender for Game of the year in 2022. As someone who still enjoys pre-ordering games, Elden Ring should unquestionably be on your pre-order list for next year.

Elden Ring is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on February 25, 2022.