Elden Ring is an open world game, but perhaps not in the way you might think when you first hear those words.
It’s not about waypoints pointing you off to a distant location, or following a map that over-populates with activity icons. Instead, it’s about pure, unbridled exploration. Think about the hands-off, player-trusting approach previous Souls games took to things like character progression and storytelling. Apply that philosophy to an open-ended land, and you get the backbone of a game that is, ultimately, a bit of a masterpiece.
The game is named Elden Ring after an all-powerful plot MacGuffin, but I came to think of it as Endless Ring. The early game is relentless in handing you a series of key tools in quick succession – most importantly your horse – but then it sets you free. Venture in any random direction you want. Something catch your eye? Try to make your way there. Do what you want. Elden Ring doesn’t care.