Video Game Reviews

Elden Ring Review – A New Age

Please Note: This site uses affiliate marketing. This means that if you click one of the links on our site and make a purchase, we may—at no additional cost to you—receive a portion of the proceeds. Thank you for supporting MediaVore.

Elden Ring is an open-world action RPG developed by From Software — creators of Dark Souls, Sekiro, and Bloodborne — and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.

You play as a Tarnished of no renown, who has been tasked with reforging the legendary Elden Ring — which was shattered sometime prior to the start of the game — and becoming the Elden Lord. Unfortunately for you, the shards of the Elden Ring are all held by petty, vindictive — and often insane — demi-gods.

Now, being a From Software game, there are some things you know you’re going to run into. So, let’s just go through that checklist now:

  • Tough-as-nails, high commitment combat
  • Obtuse sidequests and storylines
  • Enemies that one shot you, no matter your build
  • Bonfire equivalents
  • Souls equivalents
Oh… and lots of dying

There. With that out of the way we can move on, and talk about what makes Elden Ring different from its predecessors in a big way. That being…

A Whole New Open World

The open-world is far and away the most outstanding feature of Elden Ring.

In order to convey a lot of information in a succinct way, I’m going to say something that’s a bit reductionist: Elden Ring’s open world is what you would get if Dark Souls and Breath of the Wild had a baby. The combat, movement, and general game elements are ripped almost directly from the Dark Souls franchise, and the design of the world itself is heavily reminiscent of Breath of the Wild

This combination is powerful for a few reasons. 

The first is that the BOTW style of open-world puts you in charge of your adventure. There were very few quest markers, almost no flashing icons, and you didn’t really have to do anything you didn’t want to do in order to beat the game.

This works so well for Elden Ring, because that’s how From Software games have always been. They give you the gameplay up front, but keeping track of the story and quests is up to you. 

Results may vary

The second reason the open world works so well is that it makes Elden Ring more accessible to new players. Usually, in a From Software title, you are given a couple of paths, and you can follow those paths until you run into a boss that is actively stopping you from going any further.

In Elden Ring, if you run into a boss that’s kicking your ass, you can just pack it up and move on to something else and tackle the ass-kicking boss when you’re ready. You can literally explore four of the game’s five main regions without beating any of the mandatory bosses. Sure, it takes a little bit of looking around, and finding the right items, but it can be done. 

The only real shortcoming to this particular design is that the different regions of The Lands Between (where the game takes place) are clearly made for characters of a certain level. While you can muscle your way through almost any enemy with sheer will and a little pluck, it means you can end up in an area where almost any hit will kill you instantly.

Choose Your Character

Now, as with other From Software titles, the only thing that truly defines your character is the stats. 

Unless you’re playing Sekiro, in which case it’s about your sweet-ass prosthetic limb.

If you choose the “Warrior” at the beginning of the game, that’s just picking your starting stats and equipment. What really matters is how you choose to build your character after that initial decision — and boy howdy does Elden Ring offer a veritable cornucopia of choices.

There are five basic stats on which to build your character:

  • Strength
  • Dexterity
  • Intelligence
  • Faith
  • Arcane

Of course, you can mix and match these to make your character whatever you want, but for most character builds, at least one of these is going to be your main stat. 

What I found during my playthroughs is that I had no clue what I really wanted to build until a specific weapon fell into my lap. For my first playthrough, it was “Bloodhounds Fang,” a curved greatsword. I liked the way it felt, I liked its move-set, and I’d already sunk a bunch of points into Dexterity, so all I needed were a couple of points of strength to get me started.

The problem is that there are sooooooo many cool weapons and spells in this game, but most have requirements so specific that building your character to wield one in particular will leave you unable to use eighty percent of the other items in the game. I was on my third full playthrough when I realized that the cycle would never end, because there were just too many cool builds I wanted to try.

I mean, you can re-spec your character with a specific item — after beating a specific boss — but I like to build my characters from the ground up, so re-specing wasn’t really an option in my case.

A Sense of Scale

One aspect of Elden Ring that continued to impress me, even into my second playthrough, was its sense of scale.

Everything in this game is huge and beautiful and terrifying. Just walking into the open world for the first time will have you staring at the grand Stormveil castle — one of the game’s amazing legacy dungeons — and the Erdtree — a world tree so large that you can literally see it from almost anywhere in the game. And that’s just within the first few minutes of gameplay.

There are castles mired in poison swamps, magical schools atop towering plateaus, and shining golden cities.

In any game in the Dark Souls series, it would be impressive just to see these things. What makes Elden Ring so much more impressive is that if you see a cool location, you can go there. Hell, not only can you go there, but you get to explore, basically, the entire thing.

This sense of scale pairs perfectly with the open world.

I spent most of my first playthrough trying to figure out exactly how to get into all the cool places I could see. Some of them were harder to get into than others…

…looking at you, Volcano Manor.

Copy and Paste

One of my big gripes with Elden Ring was the alarming amount of assets that were reused. 

While playing through this game, you’ll see the same shack ad nauseum. You’ll see the same dungeons, with the same walls, and the same clutter over and over and over again. You’ll see the same enemies and bosses – albeit with slight differences to make them harder. Basically…

I know it’s a big game… Insurmountably huge is probably more accurate… but I really hate when developers reuse assets so heavily.

It didn’t really ruin any part of my playthroughs, but it did start to get a little stale from time to time. 

The only upside to this is that it made the legacy dungeons and unique bosses all the more memorable when put up against the relentless sameness of some of the minor crypts and caverns. 

Not-So-Jolly Cooperation

The absolute worst part of Elden Ring is its obtuse-ass multiplayer.

It is literally garbage. 

I understand that From Software has always had very restrictive multiplayer, but for fuck’s sake, couldn’t they have made it even a little bit easier?

You see, in order to play this game with a friend, first, you both have to have online play activated. Then, the person you want to play with has to put a symbol on the ground in their game (or send the symbol to a summoning pool)…

Oh, you also have to activate the multiplayer statues for the area where you’ll be playing.

Then, once the symbol is on the ground, you have to use a specific item so that you can see your friend’s summoning symbol. Then you can summon them into the game. 

But wait!

If you didn’t set up your multiplayer password in the multiplayer menu, you can see every summoning symbol placed in the area, and anyone else can summon your friend inadvertently. So, make sure you both put on your multiplayer passwords. 

Then you can play together… until you beat an area boss. After, your friend will be de-summoned, and you’ll have to summon them again using this whole insane process.

Oh, did I mention that you can’t rest while your friend is summoned? So no restocking your healing items.

You also can’t ride your horse, so you and your buddy will be on foot the whole way.

Hope you brought your coconuts

 Also, your friend can only accompany you near where you summoned them. So if you want to explore somewhere else together, you have to de-summon them, and then summon them again in the next area. 

To add insult to injury, anyone who is summoned to another player’s game only gets half of their healing items rounded down. So if you have three healing flasks, that means you only get one when you’re helping a friend.

I would like to say, however, that the only reason I’m throwing this much shade at Elden Ring’s multiplayer is that they marketed the game as being “Multiplayer.”

I don’t know how many ads I saw before the game came out, and some that came out after, that implied that I could play co-op with two of my buddies throughout the entire game.

Getting started, and finding out that the multiplayer was this unwieldy mess of items and restrictions, was a huge disappointment.

A Horse of a Different Color

This is just a quick shout-out to my new favorite horse in video games: Torrent. 

He is, hands-down, the best horse in video games.

I’ve heard a lot of people hating on this magnificent beast, and I’m not sure why. Especially since he has so many great qualities. 

  • He can sprint
  • He can double jump
  • You can summon him damn near anywhere with a single button press
  • You can de-summon him just as easily
  • He can tank hits for you (it’s best not to rely on this, but when it happens, it’s great.)
Let’s see Epona do that

Rise Ye Tarnished

Overall, Elden Ring is a truly magnificent game. It combines the endless wonder of Breath of the Wild with the crushingly difficult, yet rewarding, gameplay that From Software is known for. Sure, the multiplayer is the usual mess, the PVP is constantly being rebalanced (at least currently), and the game was so big that most of the assets were reused to the point of frustration, but none of that could take away from how genuinely fun it is to play. I mean, I’ve played through two full times, and could seriously go for a third or fourth if I didn’t have other games to play (and, you know, a job, a wife, and a kid). 

The bottom line is that this game is great for the old guard of souls fanatics, and the open-world gives some leeway for anyone who’s looking for a way into the world of From Software’s games, but doesn’t want to be forced to “git gud” by bashing their head against the same boss for several hours at a time. 

I’m giving Elden Ring a shattering 9.5/10… I know it has its issues, but it still manages to be worthy of this rating despite those shortcomings.

I’ll tell you what though, almost the entire .5 comes off of the score for the literal hours I wasted trying to figure out how the multiplayer works. In fact, I think my summon symbol is still down somewhere. 

[You are being summoned to another world]

Well Fuc….

Video Game Reviews

One Piece: World Seeker – More Like Half Piece

Please Note: This site uses affiliate marketing. This means that if you click one of the links on our site and make a purchase, we may—at no additional cost to you—receive a portion of the proceeds. Thank you for supporting MediaVore. 

One Piece: World Seeker is an open world, action RPG that was developed by Ganbarion and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.

I bought this game for one very simple reason: I love One Piece. I love the characters. I love the world. And I love the story. 

WE ARE!!!

I was going to give a little description about what One Piece actually is, but It’s sort of irrelevant. If you don’t know what One Piece is, you probably won’t buy this game. If you have a passing knowledge of One Piece… I can’t really recommend this game to you. If you love One Piece… Well, I’m about to let you know if this game is really worth it.

One Piece Film: Prison Island

One Piece: World Seeker is basically one of the One Piece films, only it’s a game. This means that it is definitely not canon. Aside from the fact that it clearly takes place after the “Whole Cake Island” arc, there is no logical place it could fit into the actual story of the show. This is much like the Film Z and Film Gold that take place post-timeskip. So, you can essentially enjoy some One Piece goodness without having to think about it too hard. 

World Seeker takes place on Prison Island (formerly Jewel Island), which has been taken over by the World Government and is controlled by the Marines. Rumors of a legendary treasure being held on the island have circulated throughout the world, and the Straw Hat Pirates are hell-bent on getting it for themselves. 

Unfortunately, so is every other pirate crew on the Grand Line. 

The main focus of the story is actually on the struggle of the Islanders themselves, who live under the thumb of the Marines and in fear of the ever-increasing number of pirates. 

Jeanne, the young woman who leads the island’s Anti-Navy faction, and her brother Issac, the warden of Prison Island, are the only two characters worth caring about. Every other original character is forgettable and basically not worth your time. So much so that, other than the actual One Piece Characters, I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the other characters in the game.

Except maybe Fred… He came up a couple of times.

Good for you, Fred

Anyway, Jeanne wants the Pro-Navy and Anti-Navy factions to work together, but tensions are reaching a boiling point. This is when she meets Monkey D. Luffy and the game starts.

A Pirate’s Life

Playing as Luffy is definitely the highlight of this game. I want to say that it was pure joy, but that would be an embellishment. It was, however, incredibly fun. Using the power of Luffy’s Gomu-Gomu No Mi was immensely satisfying for the majority of the game. Sure, the combat was a little clunky… and sometimes irritatingly repetitive, and the means of locomotion was hackneyed at best, but… 

LUFFY!!!

Unfortunately, that’s really the summary of the gameplay. Without the One Piece name and characters, this would have been an abysmal game. 

It’s the kind of gameplay that would have been celebrated at the end of the PS2 era, and maybe the beginning of the PS3, but seeing it today is really kind of laughable. It reminds me of playing the original Infamous game, but with clunkier mechanics. 

I will say that the animations for the special attacks and the general feeling of the combat was spot on. Using Luffy’s Elephant Gatling was amazing every time. However, once you were out of combat the gameplay was… lacking in every aspect of the word. 

A Deserted Island 

Prison Island seems interesting as long as you don’t look at anything too closely. The environments are bright and shiny, but ultimately, they lack the polish of games of the current generation. This manifests itself in some glaringly obvious ways. 

  • The islanders rarely move from their designated positions, and hardly speak unless spoken to
  • There are only about twelve character models used throughout the island, and they are only differentiated by slight wardrobe changes
  • Items you find are just blue shiny things that dot the landscape, instead of looking like part of the terrain 
  • The few towns on the island are woefully underpopulated with only a few people to the dozens and dozens of houses
  • Everything feels a little sterile, or barren, as the majority of the island is mostly trees with very little undergrowth
  • While everything generally matches the aesthetic set up by the show, it looks and feels off when seen in 3D

Any single one of these would have been hard to swallow, but having them all together makes for an experience that is devoid of the wonder that today’s open world games generally instill in me. 

A Cavalcade of Cameos

The whole game seems like it was basically a vehicle for One Piece cameos. While it was entertaining near the beginning of the game, once you run into basically every single character from the show, it starts to feel a little contrived. I mean running into literally every known Admiral on a single island is not only insane, but should have resulted in some of the greatest fights in One Piece history.

What makes these Cameos so frustrating is that they are very, very, very, VERY clearly cameos. Most of them show up, attack you, and then… they just leave… for almost no reason. These are some of the most powerful people in the entirety of the show, and they just give up because they got a phone call. What’s worse is they always leave with a “I’ll leave you alone for now, but next time… just you wait”. 

After the third time I was like…

No Stakes

The hardest part about playing World Seeker, to me, was the lack of stakes. 

To Luffy, it was the lack of steaks

I was often told what the stakes were, but I never actually got to see them. 

Jeanne would explain to Luffy that the Island was in turmoil, but when I went to each town, everyone was still just kind of hanging out, telling me the things they always told me. In fact, most of them were still smiling ear to ear in true One Piece fashion. I have to say that it really put a damper on the main story beats. 

Toward the end of the game, when the excitement was supposed to be ramping up, it really just felt like more of the same. I never once felt like things were getting dire. I really, really, wanted to feel like the whole island was about to be destroyed, but I never got that feeling. 

Of course, the show spoiled me for this particular aspect. I mean, the entire Island of Dressrosa, in the show’s canon, was completely destroyed except for a few city blocks near the palace. So, having someone explain to me that things are getting bad without actually seeing it isn’t exactly thrilling.

Not Really that WANTED

Overall, One Piece: World Seeker was completely underwhelming. I really wanted to like it because it’s One Piece, but I just couldn’t do it. The majority of the game was terrible side quest after terrible side quest that amounted to little more than “Go to this place and fight some guys.” 

I will say that the last twenty minutes of the game were spectacular. The climactic final fight and the ending sequence felt like what the rest of the game should have been. If that much effort had been put into the rest of the game, it would probably have been worth the time that I put into it. 

As it stands, One Piece: World Seeker is a mediocre game that is entirely propped up by the franchise it’s based on. 

I’m giving it an unapologetic 4.5/10, and it only gets the extra point five for giving me the opportunity to send a Hawk Rifle into Akainu’s face. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and watch some actual One Piece where the stakes matter and every character is lovingly crafted. 

Boomer's Take, Video Game Reviews

Dark Souls III, a Boomer’s Take — the Light and Dark of the Soulsborne Genre

Dark Souls III is a third-person action RPG developed by From Software and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The Soulsborne genre gleaned its name, in part, from the Dark Souls games, and like others in the genre, Dark Souls III was built to be gruelingly difficult. 

The game takes place in the Kingdom of Lothric, which has been led, up until now, by Prince Lothric…

Clearly, South Park rules apply.

The Age of Fire is coming to an end and the Age of Dark is taking over, bringing with it a horde of undead. Prince Lothric and the other Great Lords are supposed to prolong the Age of Fire by sacrificing themselves, but they have abandoned their duty. 

Your job as the main character is to bring the Lords together. At that point, you can choose whether you want to prolong the Age of Fire or welcome the Age of Dark, and your actions throughout the game determine which one of four potential endings you’ll see. 

Dipping a Toe in the Soulsborne Genre

I’m relatively new to soulsborne games, and it’s been an interesting adjustment. It’s been a while since I’ve screamed at my TV in frustration over a game.  

If you’re also new to the Soulsborne genre, or thinking about trying one, please don’t get caught up in the hype of how difficult the games are.  The thing is, at least with the few I’ve played, the games are very playable. They’re just set up differently and have an acute sense of rewards and consequences.  And, there’s not much in the way of hand holding…

So, a couple more general comments on the genre.  They don’t have maps, at all!  I used to bitch when a game had a poor map system, but after a few souls games, I’d pay extra for them to include a basic map that would give me some idea of how the areas tie together. 

Me, every time I boot up the game.

Another thing to know about Soulsborne games is that when you die, you generally lose whatever currency you’ve looted or earned to that point.  Your loot is generally at the location where you died, so if you can get back there without getting killed, you can regain it. 

The thing that makes this frustrating is that the currency in a souls game is what you use to level up.  In other words, you purchase stat boosts with the currency, and those stat boosts are equivalent to levels.  

There are other quirks to this type of game, but if you’re willing to learn a new strategy of gaming, and you have some experience and skill with shooters and RPGs, you might enjoy the challenge of a souls game. 

It Starts with You

The choice of starting stats, character traits, and skills is important.  It’s best if you understand what your own playstyle is when making this initial choice.  Sure, it may be fun to try a magic user, but if your playstyle is to get in there and hack and slash, magic might not be the best thing to focus on. 

Narwhal Blast will not get you far in this game.

On my first character in DSIII, I chose a character who literally had a loin cloth and club.  My thinking was that I’d get to build the character from the ground up.  

That seemed like a good idea until I was almost immediately faced with a boss.  I mean, I was pretty proud of myself when I managed to beat that first boss barefoot with a club. But I still ended up re-rolling for an initial build that was more my style.

Watch and Learn

As mentioned, DSIII virtually starts with a boss fight.  There are a few enemies before you get to the first boss, but not many.  

Fortunately, the first boss is beatable with a club and no armor, but it still may take a few tries.  If you have trouble with the first boss, try not to get frustrated.  Easier said than done, I know, but since it’s the beginning of the game and there’s not much to lose, when you go back into the arena…

Eventually, the boss will reveal his moves, and you’ll be able to determine the best way to beat him… or her… or it.

I always like to be strong enough to do a stand up fight with a boss or enemy, but my usual tank-and-DPS approach had to be adjusted to make significant progress in a souls game.  So be willing to adjust your play style to meet the needs of the boss you’re playing.

Resting and Progressing

Once you get to your safe haven—the place where you can make upgrades and buy and sell things—you’ll have a save point.  

Keep in mind that every time you rest at, or use, a save/fast travel point, nearly every enemy is respawned. 

Always do a perimeter check.

Bosses and special enemies don’t come back, however, and found loot (as opposed to dropped loot) will not respawn. 

Now, here’s a hint for anyone, like me, who doesn’t pick up on some of the subtle hints the game drops on you:  In DSIII, there is no way to leave the starting area except by the fast travel point.  

Usually, you can’t travel to somewhere you haven’t been, but in this case, you simply rest at the fire and choose to travel to the first location. 

I know, right?  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to leave the safe haven and finally looked it up.

Boomer’s Take

The bottom line on DSIII is that it’s very playable. And although it’s touted as being among the harder games, if you think of yourself as being a decent gamer with reasonable skills and abilities, you would probably enjoy this game.  

Expect to die.  Expect to learn.  And accept that you’ll probably have to look some things up to get through a tough area or boss.  

You might even decide not to finish the game.  I’m still playing, but I’ve been tempted to quit a couple of times.  Oddly, if I were to quit playing DSIII, I still feel pretty satisfied with my experience. It almost feels honorable to tip my hat and say, “you got me, this time, but I’ll be back when I get a bit more experience, and I’ll build a slightly different character and we’ll do this dance again.” 

I think I’m close to the end though, so I’m not quite ready to quit.  

On the Boomer Scale, it’s an 8.5/10.  It’s a challenging game with a lot of secrets to unlock, and it’s  a game you’ll want to brag about playing.