With all the quality of life upgrades, Elden Ring can be Fromm’s best to date

Yes, I want to take instant quick trips across the map anywhere

That Elden Ring closed network testing is here and we had the chance to test it. Like someone who’s been there ever since Demons ‘Souls’ pre-release, I’ve seen so many twists and turns when it comes to From Software’s design philosophy. Some things came, some went. Some were added for convenience, some were deliberately removed to create a different experience. But Elden Ring quality of life upgrade? It feels like From dumped a whole lot of items from wishlists dating back to 2009.

Let’s start with a discussion of some new quality of life-based things Elden Ring offer.

An optional self-study area, so everything can skip it completely

Typically in a Souls– like, there is a “first area” that makes you familiar with what is on time. In a few games, they are extremely obvious tunnels with tutorials on the ground. In several posts, they are more naturally embedded, but linear tutorials nonetheless.

IN Elden Ring, at least so far in the closed network test building, there is a completely optional cave that you can jump into to start the tutorial process. Or you can skip it and walk into the main open world center in 30 seconds or less. Your call. It will make future races so much faster.

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Instant fast travel

So I led with the optional tutorial because it’s the first thing on the menu right after you select a character and start it up (the closed network test has five pre-built characters, but you can shape them to your liking and use someone who can be customized in the final build). But the instant fast journey is huge. I know you’ve heard stories about it. But it’s so much smoother in action.

As soon as you discover a “Site of Grace” (read: bonfire), you can return to it whenever you want, as long as you are not in combat. On the PS5 (which we tested), you press the bottom of the touchpad and it brings out a nice little card that you can mark, open-world gameplay. Just click on one of the icons of a Site of Grace and you are there. On the PS5, we experienced loading times of about three seconds to zone between areas.

The card is too lovely and full of personality. It’s easy to see where points of interest can be, so you can push markers down (which are clearly visible in the upper world) and go there.

Checkpoints between “bonfire”

Here’s one more little convenience. So there are actually mini-checkpoints between some Site of Grace locations that are called Stakes by Marika. If you die, you return there instead of all the way back to a previous place. It makes corpses run so much faster, and often your pile of runes (the game’s “souls” currency) lies right next to it.

This is not an exaggeration – mainly only in places where you might be fighting a tough enemy and want to get back to the next attempt faster.

Everything is more customizable

So weapons and hand-based equipment (sticks, shields and so on) can be imbued with elemental stats and / or given different abilities. Weapon skills are returning, and now you can switch between them more easily. So if I wanted my shield to be a sacred shield and trigger a healing circle instead of a pairing, I could do that with a quick Site of Grace menu change and then swap it back if I wanted to. It’s like free gun respect.

Your playing style and loadouts can therefore be customized more. Due to the way the item system works, there are several options for how to approach combat, enhanced by the stealth mechanic. There’s even a new custom elixir drink (which can be refilled on a Site of Grace) that can swap in two locations with abilities like ‘restore mana’ [FP] and temporarily increase max endurance, ”in any combination of two skills.

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There is a multiplayer menu that instantly brings up all the elements related to it

Here’s another great addition. So you know how From made multiplayer easier and easier as time went on (for the most part)? Well, it’s super easy to trigger Elden Ring.

All you have to do now is display a multiplayer menu with the start button and everything you can use for it (PVP summons, matchmaking items, PVE summons and more) is gathered in one place. Or you can use the old-school menus to sift through all the fingers and stones as usual.

You do not have to fill flasks at a “fire” constantly

Similar to how Blood-borne used the “Regain” mechanic, Elden Ring has something for himself. If you destroy entire groups of enemies, there is a chance for a bottle type (health or mana) [FP]) can be rebuilt.

It’s a small thing and you may not even notice it (especially if you have max flasks), but I found that I did not have to keep going back to the Site of Grace constantly because I was filled up as a reward for doing well. Translation: I could stay out and explore more often.

My horse is amazing

The horse. Male. The horse is so good!

Formally known as “The Spectral Steed”, this thing is unlocked early in (check out our tip article!) Closed network tests and it changes the game. Mastering prepared battles is something that becomes difficult to pick up, but in most cases you can just jump off your horse and fight against something on foot: even other prepared enemies.

If you are worried about it Elden Ring it’s just going to be big open spaces, don’t. There are still quite a few zones that feel like old-school SekiSoulsBorne layouts, with tricks and traps.

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There is a jump button

It is a simple thing, e.g. Ax, but it goes so well in step with the horse.

You can jump in as your player character Elden Ring. But in the open world, by default, you can summon your horse and double jump. If you find specific wind locations on the map, your horse can basically fly up in a comical way and jump over selected areas. It is amazing and promotes easy exploration.

Everything looks good so far

After playing it in-depth, I can see why there was a delay: this game is a massive undertaking, and is absolutely dumping on everything Bethesda and a few other “open world developers” have been doing lately.

Open worlds can feel overwhelming, but in a Miyazaki and George RR Martin universe, it’s a good thing. I am more likely to take my time because of all the quality of life traits I noted above, even more than I did in Ax, which says something. With a big story boss, multiple optional bosses, and a giant card, this closed network test feels like an entire game in a small size.

It sounds hyperbolic to face value, but I hope to crown this as the best From game to date in February. If you want to experience all this for yourself and you came in: it Elden Ring closed network test starts on 12 November.

Chris Carter

Reviews Director, Co-EIC – Chris has been enjoying Destructoid eagerly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, create an account and start blogging in January 2009. Now he’s staff!

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