Elden Ring shows that even non-Rockstars can make great open-world games

Elden Ring” reigns as the new mainstay of open-world games; what makes its world stand out amongst the massive maps?

Elden Ring” is more than just a great open-world game; it heralds a renaissance in the genre. For decades, developers’ approach to the genre has been to add details to create the perfect universe for players to explore wherever they want. This “more is more” approach has been successful to varying degrees.

The “Grand Theft Auto” cities full of missions, stores, golf courses, and bowling alleys. The “Elder Scrolls” regions full of dungeons, are bland interpretations of real-world locations that get the details right but end up creating a boring, bloated impression.


Of course, the most obvious example would be the recent open-world games from Ubisoft. Since “Assassin’s Creed” is set in a real historical location, it makes sense that almost all of its games would be open-world. But Ubisoft has used open worlds (or very large maps) in many of its other series, with mixed results. Far Cry, Watch Dogs, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon all have huge islands and cities to explore. But not much more than millions of meaningless collectibles that ultimately give you an achievement.

Even Ubi’s most successful open world, the post-reboot “Assassin’s Creed,” has been accused by some of being an imitation of Rockstar’s greatest work, as is often the case with Ubisoft games. Still, thankfully the developer has taken a step forward from that.

So while Ubisoft’s new open-world adventure didn’t compare in 2022, plenty of other developers were up to the challenge. “Elden Ring” received high praise, but the same could not be said for the “Saints Row” reboot. The ” The same could not be said for “Gotham Knights,” which was released later that year. The developers tried to create one of the largest open worlds but ended up with a boring city with little to do. Even though “Sonic Frontier” was the first to get a complete open world for the blue hedgehog to explore, it was a little better. But it sometimes felt like a characterless space filled with collectables.

Eldenring is a landmark exception. FromSoftware has taken a game like “Dark Souls” and enhanced the open-world genre in a truly new way. It shines a light on an approach other than maximalism that only Rockstar has been able to truly demonstrate. Of course, it helps that “Eldenring” is an inherently difficult game and that it takes a long time to explore the “Narrow Lands.” But there are other reasons why it could have been one of the genre’s best without trying to follow Rockstar’s playbook.

Multi-platform games

The biggest lesson we can take from “Elden Ring” is that quality experiences require a long time in the oven. As we can see from “Cyberpunk 2077,” games are often rushed to market to satisfy shareholders. But the best examples of the genre are those where the developer gets enough time to perfect it all.

Multi-platform games, in particular, often take considerable time to complete. As studios perform countless hardware optimizations for PCs and various generations of consoles. Getting a large map of such complexity to run correctly on each device is a Herculean task for the QA team. But Elden Ring runs flawlessly on the Steam Deck with a capped frame rate.

The true feat of Elden Ring is that it overcomes the challenges of successfully blending the game’s unique storyline. Such as battles and bosses like those in Souls, with an open-world setting. This was arguably the biggest hurdle That Software faced. Many games explain everything in expository terms rather than letting players discover the world themselves. In the new set of an open world

Elden Ring" is more than just a great open-world game; it heralds a renaissance in the genre...
(Image Credit: Eldin Ring)

Software methods, such as item descriptions for powerful reliquaries. Also increase the joy of discovering a reliquary buried in an inconspicuous part of the map. Eggman’s Journal contains elements that would be rewarding to discover if found with other major upgrades on the island. But “Sonic Frontier” unfortunately misses this trick. Instead, it is exchanged for fish earned in a fishing mini-game, which is nowhere near as exciting as it could be.


An odd benefit of Elden Ring’s open-world design is that while repeated boss fights are a common complaint in regular Souls games. The best showcase in Elden Ring is the same type of rematch with a familiar boss. The game adds regular enemies and pairs them up with different bosses. For example, the Godskin Duo.

The Godskin Apostle and the Godskin Noble have already fought each other, and each is a formidable opponent on their own. However, because of their unusually high physical strength, they must be defeated repeatedly. While not the most formidable of the Eldenring bosses, this tweak makes it one of the most memorable encounters and a talking point when someone asks about your progress.

Repurposed assets can be game-enhancing if you know how to use them correctly. In Elden Ring, it’s not just bosses, but tombs with grotesque kobold-like creatures waiting to ambush you. Holes filled with poisonous water, pressure plates that shoot arrows from the wall when stepped on, and many other The layout is not a perfect copy-and-paste. The layout is not a perfect copy-and-paste, but it comes close. On the other hand, many of the locations and missions in “Saints Row” feel repetitive in design and layout, which contributes to the boring effect.

Elden Ring” is buggy and without flaws

It’s hard to give everything a purpose, so doing this in the open-world genre. Which by its very definition is better suited to be inclusive than focused, should be nearly impossible. “Elden Ring” is buggy and without flaws, but its design is very good. It should be an essential reference for anyone trying to build a meaningful experience in this often serpentine genre.

Rockstar may be the only developer on the planet with the limitless resources. Attention to detail needed to make sense of both the macro and micro scales of a vast open world. However, most others in the genre have followed their playbook. The results have been predictable, and with the exception of “The Witcher 3” and (with a few tweaks). “Cyberpunk,” no one has been able to stand on their toes; we’ve needed a game like “Elden Ring” to show us a new path for years.

I hope that over the next five years or so, a monumental open-world game like “Elder Ring” will emerge and that it will be better in every way because we all know how good it is. Realistically, it will take that long for someone to pull “The Elderring” down from its lofty perch.

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