With Elden Ring looming closer, many players are sharpening their skills and these games teach the core mechanics of any Soulslike game.
By Jesse Brooks
Published Jun 14, 2021
The release of the newest game from From Software is creeping ever closer, with a recently-revealed release date of January 21, and Elden Ring is starting to show it is not going to cut players any slack. The latest Elden Ring trailer showed off some gameplay and plenty of enemies to battle with, from multi-armed monstrosities to colossal giants, which leads many to question if their reflexes are up to snuff. However, practice makes perfect and, when it comes to From Software, it pays to “Git Gud” as the difficulty only scales up from the first steps taken on?the journey to slay evil.
It is important to remember the originals that brought the mechanics to the board when it comes to the feel of a Soulslike game. Demon’s Souls was the first to really catch on, followed closely by the Dark Souls trilogy. They defined the action role-playing game by introducing a learning curve that turned some new players off, but many more were prepared for the challenge. Enemies would ruthlessly attack, and traps were aplenty, but the core of the gameplay was trial and error. Through this formula of gameplay, and focusing on those elements, players can train with these Soulslike games to get ready before Elden Ring’s?release.
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Looking into the heart of the gameplay that makes?Soulslike games?so popular, it is easy to break down most fights into a simple formula of block/parry and attack through the opening created. However, getting the reflexes required to regularly and reliably do so is another story. The best way to sharpen this skill is with another From Software game,?Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.?Every battle in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a game of counters and pattern exploitation set in Feudal Japan. Elements of stealth also drive home the need for patience when facing groups of enemies. Although Elden Ring has yet to show any stealth mechanics, waiting for an enemy to turns its back before moving in for a backstab is always a viable strategy.
An important element to discover early on in any Soulslike game is a comfortable build to proceed with. If Elden Ring is anything like its predecessors, knowing if a big two-handed sword is the right choice over a sword and shield is important before hours are invested into the story and minds are changed. Looking into this aspect, Code Vein from Bandai Namco?is an excellent choice as?switching playstyles is as easy as swapping out the players chosen Blood Code.
This anime-styled game is one of the few that does not have an in-game cost for switching stats around and allows?an easy change from a two-handed berserker class to a ranged hunter class with a simple change of equipment. Code Vein also emphasizes cooperation through the use of an AI partner. As a result, many bosses become easier?as partners?can draw attacks or set up moments to land critical backstabs at the cost of the boss becoming tougher should they fall in combat.
Trial and error are a huge part of the progress a player makes in any Souls game. Defeat is a constant reminder of what lies ahead and the world resetting upon each failure is a learning moment as the enemies spawn back in the same place every time. Nioh from Team Ninja teaches this in the nicest manner possible. While being a relatively easier experience among Soulslike games, enemies are easy to bait into fighting one at a time. The true challenge comes from the boss battles. They use every trick in the book to kill the player and require similar tactics to defeat. Every item can turn the battle around while arriving with full health is a must for the boss-sized Yokai.
Dodging is important for characters who cannot take a hit. Whether using magic or attempting a roguish-style build, keeping equipment loads light is a good strategy but timing the invincibility frames of dodges is a tricky thing to master. Luckily From Software has another game in their pantheon to exercise those reflexes. Bloodborne is a gothic-style Souls game that focuses more on stylish evasion and gruesome backstabbing than tanking hits till the boss is tired. Wearing light clothing and knowing when and where to roll is crucial to every encounter.
Lastly, looking at the Elden Ring trailer, it is easy to miss a big aspect that looks like something new coming to the Souls formula. As the Tarnished rides through the desolate land, it seems the world is more open than previous titles. If exploration is on the table, then Ashen by Annapurna Interactive is a game that needs some consideration. Along the same lines, the player is tasked with exploring and fighting hordes of monsters, often with the help of a partner, thanks to the game’s passive multiplayer system.
Now armed with the tools?needed to “Git-Gud” at every aspect of the Soulslike sub-genre, it is time to train up and dive into these bleak worlds and sharpen every skill possible. Though, in the end, if anything is learned from these titles, it is that controllers are easily broken and expensive to replace.
Elden Ring?releases January 21, 2022, for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series?X/S.
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