video games

Steven T. Wright on Elden Ring as an “enigmatic, beguiling world worthy of exploration”

Elden Ring is the latest in From Software’s genre of ostensibly enjoyable challenge sims, reviews went up for it today. Here’s Steven T. Wright reviewing Elden Ring for Input:

By modern gaming standards, Elden Ring gives you hardly any direction, especially past its first major dungeon, Stormveil Castle. The most guidance the game gives you for core progression is in the form of vague compass headings like “east of [X landmark]” or “the northwest part” of a continent you haven’t even discovered yet. Even finding the map fragments needed to piece together a basic layout of the world’s topography and scale can be difficult, especially for the more remote regions. While you eventually unlock a hub of NPCs who give you useful (and some less-than-useful) hints as to how to proceed, it’s ultimately up to you to put it together.

Wright finished the review by calling Elden Ring an “enigmatic, beguiling world worthy of exploration” and afterwards pushed back on the general narrative going around from other reviewers that this is somehow a more approachable Souls-like, but even though I’ve struggled with these games in the past I’m still looking forward to trying Elden Ring when I can. It’s wonderful that From is putting out bespoke unexplained single-player games, that aren’t zeitgeist-chasing daily grinds, on this scale, and has found an audience for them.

Frustratingly, reviewers were supposedly only given about a week to go through Elden Ring’s 80+ hours of gameplay. A week is enough time to understand a game, but it is painful to think of people being forced to rush through what should be a slow burn, and the discussion around it suffering as well.

Elden Ring is $60 on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam for Windows. It comes out on Friday, the 25th of February.

video games

Preying on Compulsion in Rocket League

Speaking of exploitative event and battle passes, here’s Steven T. Wright quoting Psyonix’s Scott Rudi about their Rocket League Rocket Pass in Variety:

From Rudi’s perspective, the Rocket Pass is just another way for Psyonix to shower items onto the dyed-in-the-wool rocket-freaks who’ve already put thousands of hours into mastering the subtleties of their hit game. “We didn’t even really think about it from a financial perspective,” he says. “We have enough new players each month to sustain the game, frankly. It’s more about having a short-term experience that engages with players all across the spectrum. I’m a big believer in the one-more-turn compulsion – this idea that, well, I’m only one game away from getting my next tier, so let’s go again.”

Perhaps the time to stop implementing part of a video game is when you realize you’re exploiting people’s vulnerabilities. Rocket League is fun, it shouldn’t need this.