A reader extols the virtues of Elden Ring, except for its platforming – and hopes FromSoftware can improve the jumping in future games.
I’m not going to be the first to say this, but Elden Ring is an amazing game. I can’t imagine it not sweeping the boards in terms of game of the year nominations and it’s clear it’s one of the best games of the… generation (I guess? Does that even mean anything while everything is cross-gen?). It’s a fantastic game that I’ve sunk well over 200 hours into, but like anything it’s not perfect.
There are lots of minor issues, like the repeated bosses and the not-so-great endgame, but for me there is only one thing that stands out as a major problem, that actively spoiled my enjoyment of the game at times, and that’s the platforming. Which, if I can be blunt, sucks.
Now, you may be thinking, if you don’t know the game that well, that the platforming doesn’t matter. After all, Elden Ring isn’t much of a racing game or football sim either, but platforming is actually very important in the game, in terms of exploration and discovering a lot of secrets. If you don’t try and jump onto every surface you think you can reach you’re going to miss out on a ton of good loot. So it’s a real problem that jumping is really terrible.
Now, no one’s expecting Super Mario here, but that’s a good job because Elden Ring’s jumping is the exact opposite of that in terms of quality and entertainment. The biggest problem is that it all feels like it’s broken even though it’s actually not. Part of this is because of the animation, which is extremely limited and basically has a basic jump and that’s it. A running jump doesn’t look or feel any different and there’s very little impression of weight or force in any jump or movement you make.
There’s no attempt at parkour whatsoever, even though a good percentage of the gameplay involves clambering over all kinds of things. You can’t climb up anything, even something that’s lower than chest height, and you certainly can’t clamber around like you can in the, otherwise quite similar, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.
You can’t mantle either, all you can do is jump and hope the thing that looks like a surface will be something you land on and don’t fall straight through – which will happen sometimes.
I was discussing this issue with a friend and he summed it up best: all of the jumping in Elden Ring feels like a mod. It feels like originally there was no jump at all but then someone modded it in and that’s why the animation is really limited and the reliability of the platforms seems so inconsistent.
It’s not, obviously, but that is how jumping has always been in Dark Souls and I really wish it had got a proper overhaul. One of the other complaints about Elden Ring is that there’s not actually that much that’s new in it, which I don’t really think matters when it’s doing what it does so well. But with the platforming, that was always bad and there’s been very little attempt to make it better.
Imagine if instead of just awkwardly hopping from one platform to the next your character was crabbing along, with their back to the wall, when on a narrow ledge; or clawing their way up stone walls with a grappling hook; or desperately grabbing onto a ledge at the last second to pull themselves up. None of that happens in Elden Ring and instead platforming is the one time in the game it feels like you’re just controlling a lump of dumb pixels instead of real character.
It doesn’t ruin the game, of course it doesn’t, but making it better could ensure the next one really is the best game of all time.
By reader Wotan
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