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I think I may need to take a break from Elden Ring. Subtitle: Playing Elden Ring the Slow Way.

 Back in 2012 the brooding world of Dark Souls consumed me for several weeks. I bounced off several other FromSoft games but Elden Ring's more accessible approach has sucked me back into the Souls world once again. I now have now spent over 200 hours in the game and it has become a compulsion. At this stage I am strongly considering taking a break. 

Elden ring has taught me something about myself and about the way I approach games. I play very very slowly. How Long to Beat suggests that the main storyline takes about 55 hours and that 100% completion takes around 130. After 200 hours my level 65 character is less than half way through the game (currently in Redmayne Castle preparing to take down Starscourge Radahn). When I realised how slowly I was progressing compared to others I initially blamed it on my lack of skill however on reflection I think it has more to do with the way I prefer to play. To give an example from yesterday:

I spent four hours overcoming a dragon in Caelid that was entirely optional to the main questline and whose drop was of no use to my build. Most of that time was spent trying to find a way to cheese the boss fight using the summoned spirit archer Latenna . Latenna has very long range and she remains stationary where you summon her so I got it into my head that if I could find a safe spot to put her she could kill the dragon while I kept it distracted. Things are not so easy unfortunately because spirit companions can only be summoned in a zone close to the boss so despite my best efforts the dragon kept finding Latenna and killing her before she could do much damage. I spent many attempts looking for crevices and trees where she might be able to shoot from. One spot behind a bush at the outer edge of her allowable area seemed to offer better protection but eventually the dragon always found her. Sadly I never managed to find a magic safe spot for her and in the end I took down the dragon myself using mounted combat. It took about twenty minutes. Do I regret spending four hours on a combat that should only have taken twenty minutes? No. My only regret is that I didn't manage to pull it off the cheese and I still have a goal of using Latennna to cheese some boss fight if I can find a safe nook to put her on. 

The above instance is fairly typical of how I play the game. I have spent many hours pursuing entirely self made objectives that are not at all central to the game. Even withing the normal game I much prefer a slow methodical approach to things than frenetic pitched battle. I love clearing out dangerous areas one enemy at a time using stealth and tactics. I don't really enjoy major dungeon bosses because you tend to be thrown into the action with little scope for creativity or methodical approaches. Open world bosses tend to be better in that respect although I do like overcoming dungeon bosses because of the rewards they give and the new parts of the game they unlock. 

So I am playing Elden Ring very slowly and I am enjoying it. Is this a bad thing? Not really but this slow methodical approach does become very compulsive. I have spent an enormous amount of time immersed in the game since installing it about seven weeks ago. I think I should probably take a break and come up for air. 


questionsmore said…
Instead than directing you to the next section that makes sense to tackle, the Elden Ring instead points you in the direction of the nearest major boss, which you will almost surely not be able to defeat if you blindly follow this one piece of advice. Even if Grace trails will eventually take you to the appropriate location, you'll need to ignore them and travel off in search of other areas to gain experience and equipment before you can safely follow them. While a couple of the early bosses on the apparently "correct" path are likely to trounce all but the most seasoned Souls veterans on first arrival, you'll quickly learn that there are absolutely loads to see and do off that "main route," and that you'd be wise to take advantage of these opportunities to improve your character before proceeding to the main objectives. It helps that stealth is a thing here; sneaking up on unsuspecting foes to strike a free backstab can make a decent hole in enemies you might not be able to take in a stand-up fight. But, this Assassin's Creed-esque feature does feel a little out of place in a Souls-like game.
mbp said…
I don't think I would have gotten so sucked into the game if it followed the more linear approach of traditional souls games. I played a heck of a lot of Darksouls and I have never been able to drum up much enthusiasm about the sequels because I have already been there and done that. The open world nature of Elden Ring is what makes it special to me. I think it has breathed new life into the formula.

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