So about Elden Ring's combat...

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PurpleShyGuy

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#1  Edited By PurpleShyGuy

Like everyone and their dog, I've been playing Elden Ring, and judging by the fact I find it extremely difficult not to play this game whenever I have any free time available, I surmise that I'm really enjoying it. Elden Ring brings back the freedom to pursue a multitude of branching paths, which is something that Fromsoft's last few games have been lacking in. I believe that this new open-world structure has helped a lot of people to get through Elden Ring, since now you can just wander off somewhere else if you are sick of banging your head against a difficult boss.

It's no secret that Fromsoft are known as the developers that make really hard games, but that difficultly was always in service of making a player think about their actions. Both Demon's and Dark Souls punished people for being too cavalier, since getting surrounded by enemies would quickly lead to death as you could only focus on one adversary at a time. You movement was also slow, which made you think about when to attack and when to not. The very combat system Elden Ring uses today was made for this slow and deliberate movement, but the majority of enemies and bosses are anything but.

There has been a focus on quicker action ever since Bloodborne came about, and it's something that I'm not a fan of. Enemy attack patterns are awkwardly paced and sometimes poorly telegraphed, and this isn't helped by the fact that your character still moves like a lethargic brick. Sekiro actually made some good headway in this regard, with cancellable attacks, a quick and reliable dodge, and visual and audio cues for certain dangerous enemy attacks. But Elden Ring seems to have disregarded these changes, and it is back to this cumbersome middle ground. I'm still firmly loving this game, but I just wish that the developers would realise that not every boss needs to a whirling ball of death.

What's everyone else's opinion on this? Is there something I'm missing here? Or do you feel the same way?

This isn't even my final form, or my second from final, or even my third from final.
This isn't even my final form, or my second from final, or even my third from final.
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Efesell

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I feel this a little bit.

There’s a lot of enemies in this game who fight with a sort of… familiarity with how players have adapted to the games. So yeah that means a lot of INCREDIBLY delayed and ridiculous looking slow strikes and a lot of giant enemies being able to react on a dime to you spinning around them.

I don’t dislike this approach on the whole but it does add a pinch of salt every so often.

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Justin258

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#3  Edited By Justin258

The fights with Margit and Godrick have been the worst aspects of this game so far. Delayed attacks (where they start the animation and then hold it until you finish rolling) and those spastic unlimited stamina attacks are not at all fun to deal with. They're also both tanky as fuck, even after upgrading and leveling. I've explored other parts of the game, fought other bosses, and had lots of fun, but I really hope all the main and/or later bosses aren't like this.

Edit: Want to also note, for me Dark Souls 3 is the highlight when it comes to Souls bosses. I think the majority of them are just some of the most satisfying enemies to fight in any video game. I never played much Bloodborne because frame rate and Sekiro railroaded you into a gameplay style that didn't work for me.

EDIT 2: It is also worth noting that I haven't played many games over past three or so years that are controller focused and I haven't gotten way into a Souls game since I last replayed Dark Souls 3 in like... 2018? I think? Anyway, I might just be way out of practice with this kind of game and controllers in general.

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csl316

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#4  Edited By csl316

I like the quicker combat from Bloodborne on, but honestly... the combat is my least favorite part of these games. I always found it serviceable, but kinda clunky and limited. Most of its appeal is learning enemy patterns and seeing your attack numbers increase over the course of the game.

You have a bunch of options to build a certain way, but the moment to moment stuff isn't all that interesting. It's the world design, the art, the intense bosses, the music. That's why these games always go towards the top of my GOTY rankings. Although I liked just about everything when it comes to Sekiro's gameplay.

Also, Quickstep is essential as a weapon art if you like to avoid stuff. I use it constantly.

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Efesell

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I don’t think attacks are poorly telegraphed though. Just very meticulously designed to catch a player dodging early. It’s just a little silly if you think about why something would fight like that.

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mellotronrules

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i actually don't mind the pacing or feel of combat- it's just something i adjust to, for better or worse.

if i can have one pet peeve on the combat side though- it's the enemy animations. i can't tell you how hilarious/deflating it was to spend my first few minutes buzzed on the effusive critical praise and visual presentation- only to hit that first wolf cave and have them animate attacking me like they were being puppet-ed on strings (lots of moonwalking up ramps and zooming to close distance like the wolves were wearing roller skates). maybe it's just the animals, i dunno.

also- the amount of bosses that do the telegraphed MY ARM IS RAISED SO HERE COMES THE BIG ONE only to slam it down and have an area of effect totally disconnected from arm placement can be annoying. i know it's how these games are, and if you see it coming you get the fuck out of dodge...but there's still a lot of BS in terms of being fully behind a boss and still being affected by a front-focused animation.

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Humanity

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It does feel as if the bosses and even mini bosses have become a lot fast and aggressive while the player is still moving at the same pace as always. I don’t mind boss AI evolving but it seems that while bosses have now become a lot more proficient at dealing with player dodges, there hasn’t in turn been a significant overhaul for player movement. It seems like Froms answer to dealing with a lot of these harsher baddies is the summon system but that just breaks combat completely as bosses lethargically switch aggro back and forth. It’s not really a great answer.

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sombre

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Dodge rolling the game

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tartyron

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#9  Edited By tartyron

Godrick had been a particular fucker for me. I’ve managed to get to level 40 and the dude is still spanking me as bad as ever, with or without co-op partners. I’m fairly sure I can murder the entire population of Limgrave bosses included, but Godrick is just fucked and honestly, I’m getting sorta sick of him. And I LIKE difficult bosses, but the whirl of limbs and hard to read attacks is just too chaotic for me to wrap my brain around yet.

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Ares42

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Honestly, I still find it puzzling that everyone favors dodging over blocking in these games. I'm convinced a vast majority of "normal" Souls players would find the games way more enjoyable if they just learned to use shields properly. This game even offers a great new offensive tool for shieldbearers.

I get that the "hardcore elite" Souls players don't wanna use them because it makes the games too easy, and they like the mastery aspect of dodging, but most people would probably have a better time just getting through things with less challenge.

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Efesell

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@ares42: The reason I avoid blocking is that you have to over commit to a heavy build so hard if you want to actually be good at blocking and then still being able to punish. Whereas a dodge is cheap and relatively forgiving while barely using much of your resources.

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Ares42

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@efesell: I don't really wanna belabour the point too much, but I've heard that sentiment a fair amount and it's never really rung true for me. I feel like a lot of people try blocking a bit early on in their first Souls game, with a bad shield and low stamina, and then they get frustrated with it and don't try it again. I've run hard caster builds in all three Souls games that relied on blocking rather than rolling with no issues at all. Just get a good shield, upgrade it, spend 10-15 points in stamina rather than HP early on and you're fine.

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TheRealTurk

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I have mixed feelings on it.

On the one hand, some things series has always struggled with are still terrible in Elden Ring, which is getting tiresome this many games in. The camera is frequently a challenge against bigger enemies like giants where you can't see where you need to attack and what they are doing at the same time. The worst enemies continue to be dogs and rats, whose animation and damage frames are still completely divorced from one another.

On the other hand, I don't think it's quite fair to say that the combat hasn't improved in some ways. I personally detested the system in Sekiro and am glad they mostly moved away from it. This engine has never been good enough performance wise to carry off the frame perfect timing that game demanded, so I think its good they moved back to the more deliberate Souls-style pace.

There are other things that have been added, too. A lot of enemies seem to have animations and move sets specifically designed to counter long-time Souls players. Most of the big slow enemies have at least one AoE that prevents you from just camping near their butt and moving under their attacks. Other enemies have additional follow-up attacks after the point you would normally dodge that are designed to catch you out for being too aggressive.

As far as bosses go, I haven't found any too hard so far. I didn't struggle with Margit nearly as much as everyone else seems to - I beat him first go at level 20 by using the block counter to break his stance repeatedly. And maybe that's the thing. I wonder how many players are actually taking advantage of things like the block counter or jump attacks versus trying to play this like Dark Souls 3.

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Efesell

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@ares42: I guess. Although this game specifically seems to have a whole lot of things that just say “cute shield” in my experience.

In any event I wouldn’t say it isn’t viable or anything just that I don’t think it’s inherently safer or less frustrating to focus on being good at blocking.

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lapsariangiraff

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I think Sekiro has the best, most responsive combat From has ever developed, so of course I'm a little salty that they went back to the Dark Souls rolls and woefully delayed parry timings. That being said, none of these issues have anything to do with the bosses themselves -- having just beat Radahn, they're just your run of the mill Dark Souls bosses on roids to punish the usual cheesing strategies. And your movement/attacks are more than up to the task of dealing with them.

But man... SEKIRO, THOUGH. A game that controlled like that with this open world structure so people don't just bash their head against Lady Butterfly until their brain's scattered on the pavement... that would be incredible.

Still loving Elden Ring, though.

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Humanity

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#16  Edited By Humanity

@ares42: I tend to ween myself off blocking after the beginning of the game because later bosses will posture break even the toughest shields unless you really deck yourself out in super heavy armor. Even then, in Elden Ring especially, bosses have just such overwhelming attack flurries that you can safely block 1 or 2 hits but then the remaining 5 concurrent strikes will break you.

I was using the shield early on and having a great time, especially for minor mobs because you can do the shield-counter which staggers a lot of enemies. Combined with life-back-on-criticals this is a great technique for topping up your health. Eventually though I found STR based weapons with the new jumping attack really demolish things a lot faster and easier than Dex pokers. So I just committed myself to 2 handing and rolling and personally I've been having a much better time.

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lapsariangiraff

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@ares42: I'm mixed on this. I agree that blocking is viable, and Elden Ring more than earlier Souls games rewards blocking. The Guard Counter is fantastic, (though many later enemies have specific patterns to punish this that, while you can still work around, make you think about whether or not to Counter more,) and lots of boss attacks can be tanked with the shield. There was one fight, the Crucible Knight in the Evergaol before Stormveil, that really taught me this. In the first phase, I could dodge my way through everything, but in his second phase he followed up most of his attacks with a huge tail swipe that literally could not be dodged in time after dodging the first swing, and I was getting frustrated until I remembered blocking was a thing and I could take a small amount of chip damage instead of outright dying, ha.

That being said, dodging is still far more efficient in terms of stamina usage, and works 90% of the time. So I think the takeaway is, as banal as it sounds, "all things in moderation." There are several attacks that will punish people who block too much, and there are attacks that punish dodgers like what I just mentioned. You're encouraged to use both.

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AV_Gamer

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#18  Edited By AV_Gamer

Simply put, the bosses in this game are the hardest they've done in a Souls-like game so far. I believe they did this as a response to all the speed runners completely dissecting their past games, as even many of them are having trouble with the bosses, as the many tricks they've used in the past to cheese bosses depending on the type of boss no longer work. I'm sure in time they will discover some new strats, but it clearly will take sometime. As far as the combat goes, it's the same as its ever been in a From Soft game, the bosses are just punishingly harder.

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PurpleShyGuy

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@efesell: The types of attacks that seem poorly telegraphed to me are the ones that either have the enemy very suddenly fly towards the player with little warning, or the ground slam attacks which have bigger hit-boxes than the particle effects would have you believe.

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Giefcookie

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At about 65hours played now with a dex/int Cold katana dual wield build and I've blocked probably fewer than 10 total attacks during that time. Played most of the game 2-handing a katana, then found another decent one and went full dual wield madness.

The delayed attacks especially mid combo are a pain, but summoning some spirits to create an opening or just completely backing off when you realize what the boss is doing has worked pretty well. The Quickstep and the improved version of that (Hounds something?) are also pretty clutch if you want to be melee without a shield. Being able to dodge quickly away to observe those crazy long attack strings also gives you way more time to actually figure out where the opening is.

Compared to Sekiro I'm having way more fun with it just because of the lower difficulty overall. Could do with less action queueing though, getting hit while trying to dodge and then that dodge coming out good second after the input is still weird.

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Ares42

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That being said, dodging is still far more efficient in terms of stamina usage, and works 90% of the time.

I feel like that's a pretty drastic over-estimation. Dodging works great when you've already mastered the encounters. Blocking works great from the get-go. That's the big difference. I've been watching two buddies playing the game today and the amount of struggling they go through because they have to learn dodge patterns is just astounding.

With a shield you can confidentally walk into pretty much any fight and just take your time and you'll eventually win. Sure, there's a few encounters here and there where you'll get screwed, but I'd say that's far preferable for people who's finding every encounter to be a struggle.

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lapsariangiraff

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@ares42: Fair. In my experience, even in my first couple of fights with Margit, who everyone says is the antichrist of Elden Ring, the dodges felt pretty self evident. His extra light daggers thrown out are rough when you first encounter them, but he does these HUGE leaping strikes where he hangs in the air forever saying "you should roll now!"

I was talking about this with another friend who's played a lot of Souls, and we agreed that Elden Ring is probably harder for people who have already played a lot of Souls and feel like they've downloaded the timings. All the frame traps and delayed swings and extra attacks are only effective because a fair number of people have learned to play these games on autopilot since Dark Souls. Whereas a new player with no assumptions would just... learn the pattern, the same way we all did in 2011 with Dark Souls.

That being said, the same way your experience makes my "dodging works most of the time" claim seem like an overestimation, I think you are overestimating how effective shields are. When several of the bosses make their haymaker swings, the shield just doesn't have the defense or poise to stop you from getting crushed, unless you're focusing exclusively on a slow tank build. Whereas for my speedy Dex build rolling is the best option.

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Efesell

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@av_gamer: I actually don’t agree with this much at all. Elden Ring has a couple of specific standout bosses that are very difficult but taken in aggregate I would say it trends a little easier than say DS3 or Sekiro.

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Junkerman

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#24  Edited By Junkerman

@ares42: @efesell:

Just thought I'd chime in here - Pretty much a first time Souls player here and I've been finding good success with blocking ~and~ playing as a faith based character.

I'm still using 100% starting gear for the confessor with the addition of the 100% immunity Brass Shield and the block counter has been my go to for the overwhelming majority of the fights since you can typically get a stun in there if you connect with a few.

I'm sure if I had a higher poise from putting on something other then my rags I'd have an even easier time but heavy armor looks bad... but with a few dodges and careful, well timed blocks its been pretty reliable.

I also found this Ashes of War from one of the bosses called Barricade. Its a dope as fuck near instant cast buff to my shield which basically jacks its guard boos up to insane levels for about 10 seconds. Its mana cost is around 5 or 6 or something low so it syncs perfect with my caster build and I can face tank all but the most insane burst attacks. Godrick took me about 8 tries to get down last night but I also got him so low on my first fight that I couldnt see health in his health bar any longer and got greedy thinking I could get that last swing in before his aoe got me. I was pretty rattled after that... one more Vigor point would have saved me 30 minutes!

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noboners

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#25  Edited By noboners

@csl316: quickstep feels like it was put in for people that still wanted to play this like Sekiro. I love it and wish it wasn't only on this crappy weapon I found. I'm literally dual wielding so I can use Quickstep until I can find the Ash of War for it.

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csl316

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@noboners: I got lucky and found the ash, but don't remember where. I immediately put it on my main weapon.

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Efesell

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I cannot imagine sacrificing a weapon skill for a different way of dodging though.

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noboners

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I've found myself not really using the other Ashes. Or at least not finding one worth using. The flail I'm using has a pretty dope spin thing but it's super circumstantial. So if I need to, I just two hand it and do that skill. And I'm guessing the other Ash will help the weapon level up with Dex, which is what I'm focusing on already. And Quickstep fits my playstyle so much better.

I should probably note that I've only played for about 16 hours. I've beaten Margit but not entered the area right after. Instead just pretty much stayed in Limgrave and Weeping Peninsula, so I'm still pretty early and all my opinions could change by the end of the weekend.

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ajamafalous

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#29  Edited By ajamafalous

Definitely agree; I feel the combat has been actively bad in the Souls games since Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3, and now they've gone even farther in that direction with Elden Ring. I'm sure plenty of people feel exactly the opposite, and that's okay. For context, I have the platinum trophy in all but DS3 (which I beat a couple times but didn't like enough to replay for the platinum; I haven't played Sekiro), so I'd consider myself a 'series veteran' or whatever.

There are too many attack strings that are 4-8 hit combos that you can't have the stamina to block the entire thing (even with a high stability shield and 50+ endurance), so you're forced to dodge, but then some of the attacks follow each other so quickly that you won't even have finished your medium roll to be able to roll the followup and you will get hit. I also hate the design that started with Bloodborne of the bosses all having a million health and flying around the room with big jumping attacks, and everybody having big delayed strikes where they hold their weapon back for like 2.5 seconds and then swing it forward to hit you in like six frames, and every boss doing 360 degree sweeps with every attack and also being able to spin 170 degrees in between every attack to track you and prevent you from finding a safe spot for certain attack strings on their side/back. I also really think this game needs the Monster Hunter system where you can delay your wakeup from a knockdown and you have iframes on the ground until you do so; probably over half of my deaths are me dying without control of my character because one hit clips me and then several rapid followups kill me before I can roll, or one hit knocks me down and then a big followup kills me before I can get up. Why not just kill me with the first attack if you aren't going to let me play the game once I get hit once? So that I can sometimes be saved by the boss's AI not using the followup that was a guaranteed kill? That is not fun to me.

I started as Hero and leveled to 16 str/10 dex for Lordsworn's Greatsword (later 17/11 for Zweihander after Rennala) but other than that I put every level into Vigor until 40 and then every level into Endurance until 50 while wearing the heaviest armor I've found (Banished Knight; still haven't found anything heavier/with more poise 50 hours later), so it's not like my character could've been much tankier than it was already at the start of the game.

I also think it's probably really important for people to kinda outline how far they are in the game when they're giving impressions. I've seen a lot of people posting things like 'I haven't run into any trouble so far!' when I suspect they've probably only done some of Limgrave and/or Liurnia. I've killed some absolutely fucked bosses in later areas (the Fallingstar Beast in the tiny room, the Godskin Apostle in the Divine Tower of Caelid, Starscourge Radahn) that seem to just completely hardcounter the way I typically like to play these games (biggest greatsword, heaviest armor, medium roll, and sometimes a shield (in the earlier games, because they seem to make enemies counter shields more and more as the series goes on)). I had to beat Godskin Apostle strictly by baiting out fireballs, and only punishing fireballs, overhead slams, and the forward spinning attack with the Zweihander rolling attack poke, because even the default 2h R1 was too slow to use without getting hit. Radahn as a melee is almost purely 'hope that he focuses the NPCs long enough that you can kill him and that he doesn't target you with seemingly-undodgeable attacks like the tracking rocks in phase 2 or decide to followup with the oneshot divebomb after he knocks you down' for the average player. I think he's probably replaced Bed of Chaos for me as the most poorly-designed fight in the series. Obviously there are going to be players (and there are probably already videos; I didn't look) that can just stand in front of him and perfectly iframe every attack, but I've been fighting a bunch of bosses and even regular enemies now that have some attacks that are so fast that I literally cannot dodge them on reaction. I only died a handful of times in the Demon's Souls remake last year, rebought DS1, 2, and 3 on PS5 to get the platinums after that (originally played them on PC), and do deathless/hitless Fatalis, Arch Tempered Velkhana, Tempered Furious Rajang, etc. runs in Iceborne all the time, so I don't think it's a 'my reactions aren't what they used to be' thing. I can say that I didn't feel any satisfaction upon beating any of those bosses in Elden Ring; more like 'that was stupid and completely unfun; I had completely solved Godskin Apostle's moveset by the third attempt and it still took me five more because I kept getting unlucky on my dodge iframes and would die to a combo from full health.' In Iceborne, it took me probably 10 or 15 attempts at Fatalis (timing out at 30 minutes each; plenty of deaths mixed in) before I beat him, but I felt like I was actively learning and getting better with each attempt until I beat him, and I haven't lost to him since. That is a fight that feels tough but completely fair; I almost never die on Fatalis to something that I feel like wasn't my fault.

I just never felt so railroaded by bosses in the earlier Souls games as I did in Bloodborne and now Elden Ring, where it really feels like I'm being punished for my build choice. I never got anywhere in Bloodborne while I was trying to use the Greatsword and 2h Hammer and only progressed after I restarted with the fastest cleaver starting weapon. I guess it feels like the difficulty spectrum between builds was much tighter in older games than in the newer ones. The effectiveness highs in Elden Ring are much higher ('lol I am literally just stunlocking this boss to death with Zweihander R1,' or 'lol I just rode around on my horse and shot lightning at the boss until it died without it ever getting near me,' etc.) and the lows are much lower ('lol I literally cannot use an attack other than rolling R1 because every other attack is too slow'). I feel like at some point in the series, the boss design changed from being able to avoid damage by getting out of the way to being required to avoid damage by dodging perfectly; from 'you can avoid damage from 2/3 of the attacks by being in the right spot or dodging to the correct side for each attack' to 'hope you time your iframes right for all of these attack chains.'

Anyway, long rant of complaints, and I want to stop before I write another several pages. I just really like the early games in this series and feel like, other than liking DS1 more than DeS, they've gotten farther away from what I originally liked about them with every iteration. There are a few parts of Elden Ring that I like (the castles really feel like Souls levels, which I didn't think they could pull off, and I think being able to poise break an enemy so that you can crit them is a neat addition), but most of it feels somewhere between middling (the budget, repeated caves that are just Chalice Dungeon-equivalents) and actively bad (the lack of interesting things in the open world, and how you don't know what camps/ruins are actually worth clearing for their rewards, so 90% of the time you go out of your way just to get something irrelevant to your build, and how the horse seems to be force-dismounted/killed after 1-2 attacks by most of the later enemies and seems to have no poise at all or a dodge with iframes to avoid attacks) to me. Again, I'm sure people will completely disagree with that, and that's fine. I'll still finish the game (I would guess I'm like 60ish% done, maybe?), but I don't see myself making another character and having to go through it all again, even though some other builds seem interesting.

I'll see how my final impressions are once I'm done with it, but as of right now, this game is definitely the worst one in the series for me.

P.S.: The fact that you get instant invaded and chain invaded (cooldown seems to be five minutes) when you just want to run around in the open world with a friend is fucked, and it's even more fucked that people can just sprint away in one direction for ten minutes when they get in trouble and you have no way to catch them. Invasions should only be in the dungeons.

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Nodima

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I enjoy the basic push and pull of minor mob combat in these games and always have because when you fuck, you fuck and when you get fucked, you get fucked. It also feels great that encounters begin and end in nearly the same breath a lot of times.

While I enjoy the catharsis that comes from defeating a sticky wicket boss, they've never been the main appeal of these games for me. I "famously" loved Sekiro until I was beset on all sides by bosses I simply couldn't conquer. I "famously" spent 7 hours trying to clear Central Yharnam of every enemy before I was finally good enough at that section that I made it to a boss and realized that was what was gatekeeping me from leveling up and I didn't think that sucked at all.

But I've honestly never loved the boss fight design. My favorite bits from these games were the various A.I. hunters laid out across the world of Bloodborne because those felt like equal challenges, but for that same reason I feel like these games' boss battles peaked with Father Gascoigne and Lady Maria and are mostly some variation of nonsense otherwise.

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Humanity

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@ajamafalous: Largely agree with the boss criticism. The movesets designed to counter every attack the player can throw at the AI really means that you end up having to wait out very sparse openings and poking enemies rather than engaging in actual combat.

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Efesell

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@humanity: I do feel like this is offset a bit by giving most bosses surprisingly low Poise. You can force a lot of openings if you aggressively go in for those heavy hits.

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LegalBagel

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I feel like they've compensated for that by how much stamina you have now. I can viscerally recall when I had finally upgraded my endurance in Dark Souls 1 enough that I could now swing my sword four times instead of three before I ran out of stamina.

In Elden Ring I've barely touched my endurance and I almost never run out of stamina. I can get like ten sword swings in and roll like crazy without ever thinking about stamina. Makes crowd management and boss dodging a lot easier if you can just spam attacks or dodges without much consequence.

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noobsauce

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I understand the criticisms, especially since the game has seemingly adapted to previous Soulsbourne game players with some delayed attacks to time your assumed dodges. It might be hard for me to remove my bias but I do think this game retains the methodical approach of Dark Souls 1 but has sped it up some ala Bloodborune to hit a nice mid ground that Dark Souls 3 was close to but kind of missed the mark, leaning more into the quicker pace of BB. In that regard, I think Elden Ring is the open world successor to Dark Souls 1.

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Efesell

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#35  Edited By Efesell

The actual main complaint I'm coming around on in this games combat is that I've reached sort of end game areas and a frustrating number of enemies have just decided to stop flinching from attacks altogether.

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Humanity

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@efesell: Except THAT is then offset by the remarkably low damage those “visceral” attacks do to bosses as opposed to regular enemies. It sometimes really feels like just another charged hit.

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@lapsariangiraff: The bosses in Elden Ring are certainly surmountable, it's just that they felt more fun to fight when I was playing as Sekiro. Maybe one day somebody will mod him into Elden Ring, that would be interesting to play.

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MagnetPhonics

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#38  Edited By MagnetPhonics
@mellotronrules said:

i actually don't mind the pacing or feel of combat- it's just something i adjust to, for better or worse.

if i can have one pet peeve on the combat side though- it's the enemy animations. i can't tell you how hilarious/deflating it was to spend my first few minutes buzzed on the effusive critical praise and visual presentation- only to hit that first wolf cave and have them animate attacking me like they were being puppet-ed on strings (lots of moonwalking up ramps and zooming to close distance like the wolves were wearing roller skates). maybe it's just the animals, i dunno.

also- the amount of bosses that do the telegraphed MY ARM IS RAISED SO HERE COMES THE BIG ONE only to slam it down and have an area of effect totally disconnected from arm placement can be annoying. i know it's how these games are, and if you see it coming you get the fuck out of dodge...but there's still a lot of BS in terms of being fully behind a boss and still being affected by a front-focused animation.

This is my biggest problem too. The weird patterns can be annoying, but never seem unfair and mostly always actually hit you. But there's way too much shit where whats happening on screen doesn't make any sense or doesn't match your input.

But there are way too many attacks where some designer has said X, but whats drawn on screen says Y, but X is what happens. Something like "This attack should have a long range of effect in front of the enemy, so if the player dodges backwards they can't avoid it," but when rendered it's "This attack shoots a beam of fire 5m, but the player ends up 6m back" and they've just resolved it with a playerDidTheWrongThing variable rather than actually detect collisions.

There are also a few where they seem to have noticed this paradox too, and resolved it with "The attack where you get hit by 10 sword slices and have all four limbs removed... now only does 1HP damage, because players can't actually avoid it."

I've noticed similar issues with the Astrologer where the spells seem to have a minimum effective range, but theres no way to depict this in game. So the player character just aims 45 degrees to the side for no reason if an enemy is too close.

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The splash damage on all big slams has been significantly increased in my opinion. There were mini bosses where I rolled past the actual attack but I was still caught by the wave because I didn’t clear enough distance. This can be avoided if you roll a lot later than you normally would but personally that just feels a little cheap. I’m not sure why they felt the need to make dodging so much more frame specific if the performance isn’t even up to the challenge. Most bosses have gigantic health pools and you need to land dozens of hits on them while the boss could destroy you in 3 attacks. That was always the balance for you being able to hug their behind and eek out little blind spots - because the boss could always obliterate you very quickly if you weren’t paying attention or got too greedy. I guess this is the price we pay for not having to do boss run backs anymore.

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My only real issue with combat so far is getting nibbled out of my attacks and stunlocked by rats because they still ignore poise. Rats are the scariest thing in this game by far. Also, the big, slow weapons I gravitate towards make horse combat unplayable.

I've noticed the longer windups and honestly, I can respect it on some level. I was fighting some giant hands that would knock you down, and if you spam/panic roll on wakeup they will hit you with the exact same attack the second your roll ends, and they will keep doing it until you die. It felt like some programmer at From was assaulting my neanderthal brain and forcing me to learn. Still aggravating as all hell in the moment.

@humanity said:

The splash damage on all big slams has been significantly increased in my opinion. There were mini bosses where I rolled past the actual attack but I was still caught by the wave because I didn’t clear enough distance.

The more egregious stuff is probably intentional because the jump has some i-frames. For example, those giants in Limgrave and Godrick have big AOE slams you can just jump over, and that can allow you to stay in melee range and punish with a jump attack.

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#41 thatpinguino  Staff

The game added a good number of mechanics, like jumping, jump attacks, and block counters, that just don't do anything for the parts of this game's combat that I detest. You're still slow as hell. The camera still can't keep the large enemies they insist on making on screen. They still love throwing a ton of enemies at you that can blindside you because of how tight the camera is on your back. They still love putting you into fights near ledges that the camera can keep just out of frame so you fall without expecting it. It's all stuff that falls into the "LOL Souls is slapstick comedy, but a game" category. I get that Souls fans love this stuff. It's part of what they're here for. I get that this game has it's audience. Like Pokemon games, the series can kinda just keep churning out the same game with minor improvements, and to be fair an open world is a bigger improvement than past Souls games provided. But the fact that there has been little to no effort to address the very same basic problems they've had for over a decade is frustrating. At the end of the day, I'm on the losing side of this argument and I acknowledge that. I just saw the wave of effusive praise from what felt like the entire game press and thought this game would have made major strides in how it played. It didn't. It's the same game with a bigger world and slightly less obtuse mechanics.

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MindBullet

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It's incredibly interesting to look at Elden Ring as an example of game designers in active conversation with their players. Oh, you got good at dodging and blocking our attacks? Well here's a bunch of delayed animations and endless attack strings, let's see what you can come up with next.

You've also got an increased emphasis on relying on summoning players and companions to help out. Is it a concession to the people who already thought the bosses were too hard? Was it a necessary balancing move? Is Elden Ring a game about accepting your own inability and learning to let others help you?

And then you've got the open world, which can end up being an easy out when someone gets stuck on a boss. Having a hard time with Margit? Go explore. Godrick got you stumped? Go fight something else.

I have to wonder how far this extends, or how useful this actually is compared the the effective difficulty of each boss. Is there a certain amount of exploration that will make a boss easier? Are there specific items or weapons scattered around that are meant to be used in specific encounters?

As someone else said, combat is my least favorite part of these games. I still think what From is doing is deliberate and is more interesting to think about than actually control.

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Efesell

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#43  Edited By Efesell
@mindbullet said:

I have to wonder how far this extends, or how useful this actually is compared the the effective difficulty of each boss. Is there a certain amount of exploration that will make a boss easier? Are there specific items or weapons scattered around that are meant to be used in specific encounters?

Yes to both, but the former especially. For as much as I love the open world it makes the leveling curve terribly unstable. There's a pretty strict "intended" order of zones based on soul level and all that and if you deviate from it you'll probably overlevel a TON of content.

A friend of mine was talking about how he one tried Margit like he was some scrub mini boss and I was like wtf are you talking about and it's because he just went East and fucked around in Caelid for a long time before ever heading in the direction of the castle.

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@efesell said:
@mindbullet said:

I have to wonder how far this extends, or how useful this actually is compared the the effective difficulty of each boss. Is there a certain amount of exploration that will make a boss easier? Are there specific items or weapons scattered around that are meant to be used in specific encounters?

Yes to both, but the former especially. For as much as I love the open world it makes the leveling curve terribly unstable. There's a pretty strict "intended" order of zones based on soul level and all that and if you deviate from it you'll probably overlevel a TON of content.

A friend of mine was talking about how he one tried Margit like he was some scrub mini boss and I was like wtf are you talking about and it's because he just went East and fucked around in Caelid for a long time before ever heading in the direction of the castle.

Yeah you can really over-level content. I first attempted Margit around SL 19 I think and while I got close a couple times was getting stomped pretty bad so I went somewhere else. Which unbeknownst to me is considered one of the end game areas, so when I completed that I was SL44ish with +6 weapon and barricade. When I completed it (its was the area accessible next to the Limgrave minor erd tree) I went back to carry on with the story and absolutely trashed Margit in like 5 or 6 block counter/poise breaks. Whole fight took 1 try and less then a minute.

However I think it was earned considering I conquered a SL 50-70 area according to a labeled map I looked up later. The fact I found fighting those foes considerably easier then the ones I'm now encountering in the much lower level lake region is just a testament to the flexibility this game affords which has kept me playing long after I'd have said F this to a previous From game.

While I'm blathering on - WTF is up with some of these enemies being able to track you mid swing and rotate like a turret? Makes the whole dodge game feel super unsatisfying to me which is why I went with a block build.

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Ares42

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#45  Edited By Ares42
@junkerman said:

While I'm blathering on - WTF is up with some of these enemies being able to track you mid swing and rotate like a turret? Makes the whole dodge game feel super unsatisfying to me which is why I went with a block build.

This is nothing new. You don't dodge to positionally avoid attacks, you dodge to iframe the hit and put yourself into the position you want to be. 9 out of 10 times you want to dodge through the hit and into the boss.

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Nodima

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What've everyone's favorite weapons/summons been so far? I've played most of my 20+ hours with the Uchigatana, which I detailed elsewhere I spammed up to a +8 in a moment of total frustration so I haven't really messed around with much else. But now I'm level 46, have been around a pretty big chunk of the map and am just kind of in a rut as far as progression goes so I decided to just go play around in some smaller areas and goof around with the inventory I've got.

I was intrigued by the Pest's Glaive and Crescent Moon Axe because they reminded me a bit of the Hunter's Axe from Bloodborne which I basically carried through the entirety of that game, but they seem just a tad slower and compared to the swiftness of the katana it's been pretty hard to get used to. If there's a more intriguing Greataxe out there though I'd love to try it eventually. The glaive meanwhile is just way too slow and Spinning Slash is way underpowered compared to the same move with the Hunter's Axe, making it unbearable. I was looking forward to trying out the Tree Sentinel's Halberd soon but now I'm less excited for it.

The whip and hookclaws are funny but feel like gimmicks against anything but the most chill enemies. I'm not very dexterous though, I imagine there are some really cool claw builds (it sounds like that's how Renata Price is rolling at Waypoint) but it's not for me.

Right now my main goal has been getting strength up enough to wield the Grafted Blade Greatsword which I'm really crossing my fingers won't be a let down. I'm still ten levels away though.

So what am I actually enjoying besides the katana? I think if I had it upgraded the Serpent-God's Curved Sword could be my preferred exploration weapon thanks to a generous HP restore on each kill and some nice, vicious looking animations to go along. Similarly, Bloodhound's Fang just looks cool, has a similar radius to the axes with a little quicker release on the strikes and a really fun skill called Bloodhound's Finesse in which you perform an uppercut, somersault backwards and then follow up with a sprinting slash that can hit multiple enemies simply by pressing strong attack when you land. It's an actual combo in a Souls game! That's new to me. But maybe the weapon I actually want to put some real time into is the Twinned Knight Sword which is basically Darth Maul's lightsaber and your character acts like it which is fun to watch.

All that being said...a +8 katana with Unsheath is really hard to overlook so this other stuff is all just under consideration for now.

Almost forgot...summons! I'm not feeling the Jellyfish love I'm seeing from most people, and the Rotten Stray, Noble Sorcerer and Wandering Noble all feel like petty distractions at best. But, I love my homies the Raya Lucaria Soldier. Three magic casters, two of which wield daggers and one a big honkin' sword. They can hang back, they can close in, they can gang up on and they can distract while dishing damage. These dudes have powered me through some true big struggles and at this point I'm even summoning them for most regular encounters, basically whenever I can. It feels real good tearing through an encampment with these lovable ghost boys.

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Efesell

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@nodima: I run a melee int build with the Moonveil Katana, Dark Moon Greatsword, and the mimic summon.

It is, frankly, the cheesiest bullshit against bosses I've found in the series. I try to save using the mimic at all until I'm just done fighting a boss battle for real.

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@nodima: First, the Moonveil katana that @Efesell mentioned is definitely the way to go if you like Katanas, it's widely considered the best one due to its OP weapon skills. Does have somewhat high reqs, 18 DEX and 23 INT. Can be found in the Gael Tunnel. It seems to be the meta weapon for PvP, and works great for PvE as well.

For myself, I prefer the Sword of Night and Flame, which has very high reqs (24 INT and 24 FAI) but has insanely broken weapon skills that can really melt bosses. The disadvantage versus the Moonveil is that the skills on Sword of Night and Flame have a longer windup so they're bad for PvP (I don't PvP at all, so I don't care). But for PvE they work just fine and are even more devastating than the Moonveil's skills when they hit.

For summons, I like the Greatshield Soldiers (there's five of them) because they're amazingly good at drawing aggro, they will periodically do a yell that draws enemy attention... poor damage, but I don't need them for damage. Unfortunately they are a fairly late-game acquisition, though.

The other one I used and liked was Banished Knight Oleg, who you can get by beating the boss at the end of that dungeon you can unlock with keys right after the tutorial area (right next to the Stranded Graveyard site of grace). Unfortunately that boss is really hard and also requires you to run past this crazy rolling death machine chasing you. He also costs 100 FP to summon. Honestly the starting wolves actually aren't bad, they're just a little more fragile than I'd like.

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@nodima: I'm a pure dex character, and I actually started using the hookclaws after Renata mentioned 'em, They've been working REAL well. When you two-hand it you just pull out another one, enabling these really vicious, rapid attacks. That, coupled with a generous bleed debuff, means most humanoid enemies (including bosses!) will suffer a bleed proc after a combo or two. They punch way above what their stats would suggest, and I've struggled to find anything else that felt as right.

Also, you attack just like Wolverine which is kinda the best.

For spirits, I'm here to stan the Jellyfish. It's tough and basically artillery, meaning you can do whatever and it will attract all the attention. Against bosses, this can often distract them at critical times giving you an opening. It has poor damage but a massive HP pool making it a heckuva tank. Overall It really compliments my hookclaws well, since it lets me close the distance and tear into my opponent.

And y'know, I've been looking for a whip to round out my build so far. With that, I'd have some range (and striking damage!), covering the biggest weakness of the claws. I've been using a spear and now a rapier but, even upgraded beyond my claws, their damage pales in comparison (though the range really helps out against a few enemies, e.g. those with spears).

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Nodima

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#50  Edited By Nodima

@atheistpreacher: Yeah, I kinda wish I'd known how much INT was going to factor into much of this game from the outset, but it'd take a lot for me to start from scratch at this point and I did just get the item that hints at the ability to re-spec at some point. I've got a lot of stuff I straight up can't use right now like the Crystal Sword, Meteoric Ore Blade, Winged Scythe, Golden Halberd, a couple staffs (Meteorite Staff might be the first time I've seen an S-rank affinity in one of these games?) but since I started Samurai and come mostly from Bloodborne I went heavy on HP, STR and DEX I'm a long, long ways from enough INT or FAI for most of them, it'd be quite a lot of grinding.

Kind of a bummer as I've also been collecting a lot of spells and did that mother dragon exploit so I could buy stuff at the dragon shrine but just can't afford any of it any time soon. I want to mess around with Crystal Burst, Golden Vow and Flame of the Fell God, dangit!

Even if you'd have told me I'd have my shield up as much as I do in this game I'd have laughed you off. Even in Demon's Souls I like to two-hand a halberd.