Episode 464 - Awaken Ye Tarnished

We open this pod with a short discussion on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the reactions from a few developers that are headquartered in and nearby the affected regions. Then, Ren and Patrick have awoken as Tarnished and seek a better horse in Elden Ring. Ren's enjoying her time but wishes some of From Soft's design ethos was more evident in the open world (and that damn horse), and not just in specific (spectacular) moments. After the break, Cado is exploring a different kind of fucked up swamp in Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, the latest expansion which adds a bevy of new mechanics and a more engaging campaign than past Destiny 2 dlcs. Rob's been checking out Grid Legends, an racing game with delightfully charming FMV storyline, and the racing is ok too.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://shows.acast.com/vicegamingsnewpodcast/episodes/episode-464-awaken-ye-tarnished

I think Ren hits the nail on the head with her comments about the Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring comparisons, because even after about 5-6 hours I don’t feel much of BOTW in here at all. There’s sightline exploration and a somewhat similar map (though… not really?), but there’s friction in every inch of BOTW. The thing that made that game so compelling for me was the giant traversal puzzle that was just navigating the world. (It’s almost a trend at this point that every time someone compares another game to BOTW, I feel more and more like I did not get the same things out of it as other people did.)

And there are some really explicit decisions made with ER to make it frictionless — like how stamina doesn’t deplete when you run, or when you swing a weapon outside of combat. I also feel like I started with a metric ton of stamina (though maybe the samurai class just has more than everyone else) — but I can get 6-7 hits into an enemy without having to back down. I don’t really feel like I have to manage it in the same way I used to. It feels like an amalgamation of all the different Souls games to a degree, and those pieces feel pretty heavily informed by Sekiro’s feel. The jump, too, because it’s the exact same jump. Like, the exact same in terms of animation and feel. And Torrent really is frictionless to control — in a hilarious way, he actually feels pretty much exactly like the mounts in Pokémon Legends Arceus. Going more or less from that game to this one, it feels like I’m controlling basically the same beast.

I’ve barely engaged with the crafting yet, and I’m curious how these systems will reveal themselves. At the moment I do kind of miss the interlocking world design that I’ve grown to enjoy so much about these games — “does not open from this side” might be my favorite phrase in all of gaming, and I’ve only seen an equivalent to it once so far. Open worlds, outside of a couple of very specific games (mainly BOTW and Death Stranding), have always been less compelling to me. But I’m still early, and very much in love with most of what this game is doing. And I’m also thinking a lot about how really, looking at these games in terms of feel, combat, pacing, weightiness, even world design, from Demon’s Souls to now… the first Dark Souls really was the weird experiment, and the deviation from the norm.

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I also miss the interconnected levels! I think Dia Lacina really nailed it on the head in her review. The open world in Elden Ring kind of feels like a giant level select screen, where instead of moving a cursor around you’re riding your horse for a few minutes. While there is interesting stuff to find in the open world, the things I’m most excited about finding (and the things with the biggest rewards) are the dungeons. Even the smallest ones feel well designed and rewarding this far.


Ren’s take on Elden Ring is one of those cases where a critique makes me want to play a game more. As someone who dislikes horse in video games (and real life) the fact that Torrent is mechanically just a speed boost sounds great. And as someone who finds traversal in the non-Sekiro Souls games to be a significant point of friction the prospect of being able to relatively freely roam around a world designed by that studio sounds exhilarating.

I do agree that I would love to see the Studio apply their design philosophy more completely to traversal. You might end up with something like Death Stranding but with good boss fights and a story that’s somewhat less up its own ass.


I pushed stubbornly a little too deep into Stormveil Castle, and there’s a lot of “contraption does not open” in there that I was able to unlock later in the castle, so I think that they’ve pushed a lot of that into the major dungeons of Elden Ring instead of making it the whole game.

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