Gaming

Elden Ring review: Should you play the hardest game of 2022?

Is the difficulty worth it?

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In 2015, I set myself up for failure. I faced the self-imposed, Sisyphean task of convincing everyone that Bloodborne was the best game of the year. I was like a preacher, doomed from the very start.

At the time, FromSoft, the game’s developer, was only slowly growing out of its cult following of gamers hunting for extremely difficult games. Before Bloodborne, the studio was more notorious for birthing the iconic Dark Souls franchise, a series that casual gamers traipsed evasively. With a controversial history, peddling the developer’s new, equally difficult game was more than a challenge.

Difficult as it is, I managed to convince one person to try it out: my gym instructor. After some cajoling, he bought the game to see how long he would last. Spoiler: he didn’t. After just a week, he sold his copy. He said the game was garbage because it was too hard.

Today, it’s a funny anecdote I tell my friends. Unbeknownst to me at the time, however, it foreshadowed a moment in 2022: when FromSoft and its hardcore fans managed to convince thousands and thousands of unassuming gamers to play its next difficult challenge, Elden Ring.

Though a lot of the initial hype has died down, you might be hearing the same conflicting opinions as I had in 2015 about Bloodborne. While some are glorifying Elden Ring as the best game of 2022, a good number are decrying how misleading the hype was. Fooled into comparisons with Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, or Skyrim, the latter group quickly found out that Elden Ring wasn’t easy.

It was, in fact, torture. Elden Ring is, at its core, a Dark Souls game. Now, with two opposing sides pulling the game apart, it’s time to ask that one question probably lingering in your mind. Should you play Elden Ring?

Image source: FromSoft

Let’s discover together

When the first Dark Souls came out, the meager few who played the game didn’t have a wealth of guides to ease them through the challenging experience. Since social media wasn’t as prominent as it is now, a lot were even communicating through email. I wasn’t part of that lucky group, but I can imagine how surreal it was to discover an unknown world together with nary an idea of what awaits just around the corner.

Now, Elden Ring is in the middle of a similar moment. It’s a fresh canvas for explorers. Plus, being FromSoft’s first open-world game, the map is filled with tantalizing uncertainty. Less than a week since the game’s launch, players are consistently finding new discoveries about the game including ultra-rare loot, bosses that only come out at night, and obscure questlines.

A lot of gamers today aren’t used to this approach. Most open-world games consistently hold the player’s hand throughout the experience. Their maps are giant collect-a-thons filled with objectives. Of course, there is a natural joy in checking off objectives one-by-one, similar to popping bubble wrap or filling in a coloring book.

Then again, there is also an intense awe with discovery, especially since it is an open world. More than 40 hours into the game, I was still finding new enemy types, bosses, and environs to gawk at. FromSoft was never a developer to hold your hand throughout a game. Yet, I never felt lost. Every corner held something new.

Image source: FromSoft

An interactive fantasy book

If all you’ve heard about Elden Ring is its difficulty, then you might have missed the other big name attached to the title: George R. R. Martin. Though it’s still unclear which parts he worked on, the Game of Thrones author had a hand at creating the rich lore for the game.

As expected, Elden Ring plays like an interactive dark fantasy book. Instead of just fighting for victory screens, each boss fight is a clamber for more story. It’s a compelling one, too.

Because it’s a FromSoft game, Elden Ring has similar plot lines to the Dark Souls series. Namely, a higher god-like power (the eponymous Elden Ring) breaks down into smaller pieces taken by a smattering of demigods and lords. You, a lowly human, travels across different worlds to collect these pieces and usurp the throne as the next higher power.

Traditionally, FromSoft hides its more obscure plot elements, refusing to spell out the entire story to the player. Though the overarching story is relatively concise, more detailed elements — who the demigods are, who you are — are hidden behind item descriptions and enigmatic storytelling. As a result, the games have a sub-community dedicated to deciphering its labyrinthine lore.

The near-undecipherable story is a draw for some, for sure. Elden Ring is different. From the get-go, your goal is clear: beat the demigods and become the Elden Lord. For casual gamers, that’s enough. For those who prefer more lore, the game still has that. It’s a best-of-both-worlds approach that won’t alienate one group from the other.

Image source: FromSoft

You died

With that, let’s address the elephant in the room: death, death, and more death. The one thing that’s preventing casual gamers from finishing the game is its immense difficulty. Since the Dark Souls series, FromSoft has prided itself with enemies and hazards that show gamers no mercy. Mistime your attacks? You die. Not looking where you’re going? You die.

It’s unforgiving. Naturally, a lot of people find that unsatisfying. With only 24 hours in a day, who can blame them for ditching Elden Ring for an easier game?

However, the game’s perception as an unforgiving game does little to underline the flip side: Elden Ring’s fairness. Elden Ring isn’t hard for the sake of being hard. Most of the time, a seemingly unbeatable boss wants to teach you something. For example, if spamming the attack button is ineffective against a boss, the game is likely teaching you to balance attacks with rolling and evading. Great game design hinges on learning.

It’s not just about learning, though. While most bosses focus on teaching, all of them, as a whole, have one specific lesson in mind: patience. Dying and loss are important to the game. In fact, the game’s very first enemy, an almost unbeatable behemoth, will force most players into their first deaths already.

The key is not giving up even if you spend hours or days on a single boss. Just like real life.

Though it’s just a game, Elden Ring (and others like it) can teach gamers something critical about life in general. You can spend your time bashing your head on the wall, smashing controllers, or reselling the game, sure, but the true measure of progress is maintaining your composure and tackling the problem head-on.

It’s not an easy lesson to learn. Experience is the harshest teacher. It took me months just to finish Bloodborne. However, I wouldn’t trade those months for an easier game. It taught me that losing is a normal part of life.

I have already died dozens and dozens of times in Elden Ring. Still, I push on. Why? Because the battle is never futile. Nothing compares to the ecstasy of winning after a difficult fight.

Though it might not seem like it, FromSoft wants you to win. That’s what separates Elden Ring from both easy-peasy and hard-for-the-sake-of-being-hard games. The game is difficult but almost always has a fair solution. And the reward? Sweet victory and the irreplaceable virtue of patience.

Image source: FromSoft

Should you play Elden Ring?

Thousands of gamers today are realizing the same truths through Elden Ring. Many are discovering their limits and tolerances. Some have given up. So, should you go through the same experience and play Elden Ring?

Honestly, only you can answer that. As a reviewer, I can definitely say that Elden Ring is one of the best games this year, full stop. Although, as a gamer, I can’t force others into an arduous journey of painful self-discovery. There will be people who don’t have the luxury of time to pore over difficult boss fights, and that’s fine.

However, if you do find yourself in the Lands Between, I have one tip: give it a good try. I promise, it’ll be worth it.

Accessories

Razer introduces two new Ornata V3 keyboards

Slim, clicky, and ergonomic

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Ornata V3

Razer is releasing two new entry-level gaming keyboards in the Ornata V3 and Ornata V3 X, which will both have Razer’s Mecha-membrane switches.

The new keyboards come with all the basics expected of an affordable gaming accessory. That’s everything from their keycaps design, RGB backlight, and more.

The two low-profile gaming keyboards come with smaller footprint and slimline keycap designs. The ABS keycaps are UV-coated for scratch resistance, while the Ornata V3 X’s keycaps are spill-resistant.

The keyboards also feature Razer Chroma RGB with 10 lighting zones. The V3 X has four lighting effects: Breathing, Spectrum Cycling, Static, and Wave.

Aside from these, they have backlit dedicated media keys for more convenient controls such as playing and pausing, skipping, or adjusting brightness or volume.

Adding value to the Ornata V3 and V3 X is their magnetic soft-touch wrists rest. These are not often included for keyboards in their price range.

Pricing, availability

The Razer Ornata V3 and Ornata V3 X keyboards are now available on Razer’s official website, Shopee, Lazada, and through their authorized sellers.

The Ornata V3 will retail for PhP 2,590 while the Ornata V3 X is priced at PhP 4,199.

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Accessories

SteelSeries unveils Arctis Nova Pro series

The almighty future of audio

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Arctis Nova Pro

SteelSeries has released the Arctis Nova Pro series. It’s latest and most advanced gaming and esports headsets yet from the company.

The series has two variants — the Arctis Nova Pro and Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The new series is enhanced by SteelSeries’ Sonar Audio Software Suite. It helps deliver the ultimate sound quality and clarity.

The software is the first in-gaming Pro-grade Parametric EQ which gives gamers even more control over sound across games, team chat, and the microphone and allows them to adjust individual frequencies on the fly seamlessly.

Both variants come with immersive 360° Spatial Audio which is fully compatible with Tempest 3D audio for PS5 or Microsoft Spatial Sound.

They also feature Multi-System Connect which allows users to switch between platforms easily. Complementing the next-level sound experience is an AI-powered noise cancelling and broadcast-quality bidirectional microphone.

Price and availability

The Arctis Nova Pro will retail for US$ 279.99 for both the PC/PlayStation and Xbox options, while the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is priced at US$ 379.99.

In Singapore, pricing are as follows:

  • Arctis Nova Pro – SG$ 439
  • Arctis Nova Pro (Xbox) – SG$ 449 (available in Sep 2022)
  • Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – SG$ 599 (available in Sep 2022)
  • Arctis Nova Pro Wireless (Xbox) – SG $620

There are also booster packs for users to be able to customize the headsets with headbands and metallic color speaker plates of their choice.

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Gaming

Final Fantasy XVI producer reveals game details in interview

Things just got more exciting

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Final Fantasy XVI

Ever since the announcement of Final Fantasy XVI a few years back, enthusiasts have been on the edge of their seats in anticipation how exactly the latest installment in the popular video game franchise would look like.

Now, no less than producer Naoki Yoshida is teasing us all with even more details for what is there to expect before FFXVI releases officially in the summer of 2023 exclusively on PS5.

Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights of his latest interview regarding FFXVI.

FFXVI won’t be traditional open world

Unlike previous iterations of Final Fantasy, the upcoming video game is going in a different direction as it will not be open world, surprisingly.

Instead, it will be an “independent area-based game design”. Still, Yoshida did give away that it will take a lot of inspiration from “triple-A open world RPGs” to allow players to experience the game on a “global scale”.

Clive’s got company — making battles more interesting

Prior to Yoshida’s interviews, players have been expecting FFXVI’s protagonist, Clive, to be a solo fighter which meant that the game would have been a single-player type for the first time.

But apparently, Clive’s got company — other characters who will fight alongside him but will be AI-controlled, according to Yoshida.

Something that will also resonate uniquely with players will be the Eikon-versus-Eikon battles. Players will be able to control an Eikon in real-time and engage with another Eikon.

Yoshida recalled the original Final Fantasy in making XVI

Citing the importance of making each of Final Fantasy’s releases true to its essence, Yoshida mentioned that he went to as far as thinking about the original Final Fantasy and remembering how it felt like while playing the lead role.

He said that he “wanted to recapture that feeling in XVI”, plus the advancements in technology and modern game design.

This is something Yoshida hopes could turn into reality for people to look forward to.

The game is almost ready as of the moment

Yoshida also mentioned that in terms of progress, the game is “fully playable from start to finish” already. 

As it stands, it looks like voice-overs in different languages are currently the focus as of the moment, as well as finetuning to make sure there are no bugs or glitches.

Since FFXVI is full of action, it is only natural for the developers to have it undergo several tests to ensure smooth gameplay.

A third trailer will drop later in 2022

Lastly, a third trailer that will succeed the “Dominance” trailer released a month ago will drop this fall.

That will surely excite players even more as they get closer and closer to Final Fantasy XVI’s launch next year.

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