Clocked

The Elden Ring magic system isn’t a problem, it’s the solution

The Elden Ring magic system has been singled-out as a potential issue after players found it slightly overpowered in the network test. However, at least in single player, it could actually be a great solution to a nagging problem.

The Elden Ring magic system is a great deal more complex than the systems the game’s predecessors offered. Currently, there appear to be a variety of different magical spells and abilities that are useful in a number of contexts – some specific and some more general.

Considering how useless magic has generally been in the Dark Souls series (don’t even get me started on Bloodborne), Elden Ring‘s magic is a breath of fresh air. To start with, it appears to have been designed as a functional playstyle, as opposed to a gimmick for those that have already completed the game proper.

elden ring magic
Image: Elden Ring / FromSoftware

However, in the time that has elapsed since the Elden Ring network test, fans have debated the pros and cons of the newly reworked system with a curious degree of passion (anger would be another word for it).

The one point that keeps comings up over and over again is that the Elden Ring magic system makes the game too easy. What I find odd about this criticism is that it has virtually no effect on players that chose not to use it; as is often the case in players’ first playthrough.

Melee combat has traditionally been what Souls games have centred on, and the elitist in me desperately wants to blurt out some inane nonsense like ‘that’s how the games are meant to be played’. But honestly, who the fuck cares.

Elden Ring having an effective magic system in no way impacts my ability to stubbornly persevere with my ridiculous Greatsword, dying over and over again to a boss that refuses to jump in front of my tragically slow swings. For as long as I have played FromSoftware games the unofficial mantra has been that every weapon is valid if used well. It isn’t, however, that every weapon is equal.

Elden Ring‘s magic system, and its apparent effectiveness, may mark the first time that a melee class isn’t widely considered the most overpowered character build; a mantle that is generally agreed to be held by dexterity-based characters in FromSoftware’s past games.

elden ring network test
Image: Elden Ring / FromSoftware

It should also be noted that melee builds in Elden Ring won’t be without their own share of unique and powerful abilities, with the ‘skills’ system replacing the ineffective Weapon Arts framework from Dark Souls 3. This new paradigm promises far more flexibility, as well as a much higher probability of overpowered exploits/combinations. So rest assured, melee classes won’t be rendered ineffective anytime soon.

In fact, after completing a run of the network test demo, I was less worried about how powerful the Elden Ring magic system is, and more excited by how wild players are going to get creating unique builds for different skills, weapons and armor combinations. Sure, there are bound to be some balance issues, but as I wrote before this has always been the case.

The Elden Ring magic system promises to create a new problem for PVP players to solve, while simultaneously giving players a different and rewarding way of experiencing the game – one that is more polished and complete that any Souls magic system before it.

The possibility that Elden Ring‘s magic will make it easier than ever before for players to complete a FromSoftware game isn’t a problem, particularly as it doesn’t impact other players’ ability to enjoy their own playthrough. Hell, you can always chose to not level up your character if your are really that thirsty for repeated deaths.

Rather, a newly rewarding and effective magic system could actually help solve one of the most enduring criticisms of FromSoftware: that their games are unforgiving and exclusionary to people of different levels of ability. And if Elden Ring‘s magic system can negate that it will a case of something gained and nothing lost.