How Elden Ring Guides Light the Way to Victory Through Maps of a Tough World

Struggle and strategy are part-and-parcel to the macro-level of Elden Ring’s open world. It’s about exploring and overcoming these fears, and guides can assist with meeting those challenges and more. As we shift our focus to the game’s vast and diverse landscapes, we find players overwhelmed with obstacles but also energised by overcoming them. In this way, Hidetaka Miyazaki’s thoughts on design inform our understanding of the overlapping struggles and strategies between game and game visitor in the open world of Elden Ring.

Embracing the Elden Ring Challenge with a Little Help

Starting an adventure in Elden Ring is not for the weak of heart. You might find a small waypoint a couple of steps ahead, but you don’t know if you should follow it. That might plunge you into an inconvenient swamp of poison, starving to death before you can return to where you came from. Alternatively, you might come across a massive cave that will eventually lead you to some extraordinary treasure, but you couldn’t have known that. All you know for sure is that Forge-Lords wouldn’t be described as giant, raging hunks of red-hot metal for nothing. Within this world lies the story of your avatar, and it never follows a linear path. All you can do is explore, fail, learn, and eventually win. But what if the path is unclear?

The Elden Ring Phenomenon: Triumph Through Trial

Elden Ring – made by the developers behind the Dark Souls series – forces players into hard work like few other games do, and dying and retrying becomes not an obstacle between you and the game’s embrace but a central aspect of it, and a source of pride, here and in the surrounding discussion. This is a game of the age of plenty in gaming, designed to be exceptionally beautiful and engaging and gripping, but also open-ended enough to keep players coming back for two – and, as it’s slowly becoming clear, perhaps much longer than two – years after its launch. A lot of that has to do with the huge player community and this game’s seemingly bottomless world.

To Guide or Not to Guide?

Photo courtesy of Frosnapple/PixabayMuch undue drama has been built around this distinction in Elden Ring, with some players pushing for a purer, unguided experience – a game where true mastery is earned solely through raw player skill and the bliss of discovery. But that’s not how Hidetaka Miyazaki looks at things. Nor is it how his latest masterpiece reflects on how to most fully engage with it. It’s a point Miyazaki was eager to make in an interview with me. His perspective about guides, particularly the point I’m about to share, highlights his respect for how patience is rewarded. What does that say about those of us who actually need the patience of a saint when it comes to Elden Ring? ‘If players are using a guide, that’s my fault,’ he says. ‘I’m making the game hard, so players get feedback from the game, and then take the guide to advance further in the game to discover more of the game’s secrets.’ The challenge of a game like Elden Ring is that once you learn all the tricks of the trade – especially the block button – it becomes nearly impossible to return to that state of mind of ‘uguisu no shiro’ from before you knew any better. Let the Record Show: The magnanimity of Miyazaki is just one of the reasons Elden Ring is such a meaningful and provisional work of art.

Miyazaki’s View: A Guide-Friendly Interpretation

And Miyazaki’s response to it is commendably sympathetic, which speaks to a crucial aspect of contemporary game engagement: the proliferation of co-operative community practices. The ways in which Elden Ring’s esoteric lore and extensive mechanics are veiled invites players to share information and assistance with each other; guides for uncovering hard-to-reach items or devising strategies to defeat difficult bosses make for richer, more engrossing play, while not undermining the sense of achievement.

Elden Ring and the Guide Paradox

Relying on a guide for Elden Ring isn’t about avoiding challenge; it’s about traversing the dense, complex environment with complete certainty FromSoftware treats each of these components with love and care, without ever making any exceptions for the players who use guides (or, at least, without acknowledging that those players exist). But they’re also taking note of the guides that are in the game’s ecosystem and how those guides can make the process of discovery that much more organic.

The Future of Elden Ring: Expansion and Exploration

The studio’s commitment to the game’s persistence and its players’ activities stretches to Elden Ring’s first expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree, which adds new monsters and magic, and further obscured horizons for returners and new players alike, with guides ready to light their way.

The Automated Spell of Community Support

Parkour can also be found throughout the Elden Ring community, a living ecosystem in itself. Some guides are made for the hapless: many refuges have no choice but to read the room carefully and consult others. The Elden Ring community’s inherent challenge and shared triumphs are mirrored in the spirit of the guides: they’re citadels of light flashed amid the darkness of the game’s deepest environs. Miyazaki’s message is profound: whether in the form of automated magic systems or guides constructed by the shared labour of a community, the rune-studded ‘cultural landscape’ of the Elden Ring is ultimately yours to shape, its pathways yours to navigate, with all the tools at your disposal.

In Conclusion: Elden Ring - A Journey Aided, Not Defined by Guides

Armed not just with swords and magic but also with a library of guides, Elden Ring players gamble on an experience that is as rewarding as it is frustrating. In a world where every rock that remains undisturbed contains the ingredients of success, guides are a necessary aid, offering the players the edge towards victory without robbing the gamer of the fact that the game – and life – remains a challenge. Elden Ring offers players a chance to journey in a world of magic and majesty where strength comes not just from power but from stamina, strategy and, yes – sometimes – the right book.

Understanding Elden Ring: Beyond the Guide

At its core, Elden Ring is a celebration of difficult gameplay, of gorgeous storytelling, and of the bond among its player community who, together, embark on the adventure of a lifetime: one that any playthrough of this unforgettable video game shows is best done together, whether that’s with strategies hammered out on Discord or a shared copy of a gamewalkthrough. We anxiously await ‘Shadow of the Erdtree’, but in the interim, Elden Ring is a reminder that the journey is indeed the reward.

Elden Ring promises an open-ended experience where the extremity of the challenge is balanced by the collective support of the community – so that every Tarnished is equipped to walk the long path to the top, defeat Melina, and claim the Elden Ring.

Jun 14, 2024
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