Elden Ring Hands On Preview

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We got hands-on with the Elden Ring closed network test, and it felt both familiar and different in an exciting way.

Of all the things I expected from Elden Ring, a sense of serenity wasn't one of them. Whether you've played From Software's games or are simply aware of them, you likely have an idea of what they offer: doomed kingdoms, tragic characters, a pervasive sense of melancholy, and gameplay that will challenge both your skill and your resolve. And yet, what defined my seven hours of hands-on time with the Elden Ring closed network test was what many would consider uncharacteristic of a Soulsborne game: tranquility.

As much of a surprise as that was, it's not something that's completely uncommon in these games. Whether it's the Nexus, Firelink Shrine, Hunter's Dream, or the Dilapidated Temple, each FromSoft title has a place where adventurers can find respite from the cruelty of the world beyond. These places have a sympathetic quality to them, somehow being able to acknowledge the harshness of the world, lament that its fate has been put upon your shoulders, and comfort you when you're at your lowest, giving you the space to put yourself together before you pick yourself up and venture out once more.

Walking around the Lands Between, specifically a small section of an area called Lingrave, I felt that same intent, but laid out over a vast open world. The gentle, understated music that played as I wandered around aimlessly, or marveled at the beautiful golden Erdtree towering above, invited me to let my guard down and take in the world around me without the fear that a blade would suddenly be plunged into me. And when I did, I found the world to be both familiar and unlike anything in From Software's previous games.

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