I love From games. I loved Bloodborne and played it multiple times, even got the platinum for it. I played DS3 and loved it. At the PS5 launch I launch I bought Demon Souls and absolutely loved it.
I was looking forward to Elden Ring and pre-ordered it. I took time off from work and put over a hundred hours into. I skipped HFW on purpose knowing I need my time with Elden Ring and it will be the better of the two games. Reviewers certainly thought so.
this is the first time I've played a From game where I got tired of it before it had finished. The game started to drag and I stopped caring about side quests and dungeons, all I wanted to do was to finish it.
did it start well?
yes it did. I loved every moment of it. I was in awe seeing the game open up and the tree in the distance. The first time coming across a convoy, my journey to the underground or being whisked away to Caelid. The Melania quest and the legacy dungeons were amazing.
where did it go wrong for me
i think i hit a fatigue point after the capital city. I don't think it was one single thing but a combination of things:
1) copy and paste feeling dungeons
- let's be real, this is the most copy and paste we've ever come across in a From game, from enemies, bosses, dungeons and collectible bosses (that's what I'm calling the dragons). Usually every from game has had purposely created everything and everything felt fresh and new as you progressed or had a reason for being there. This at times felt it was there for the sake of padding the world.
The Bloodborne chalice dungeons worked as they were outside of the main story and were optional, but here they were part of the main game.
These small dungeons all started to feel the same and had similar traps and puzzles, with repeating bosses and NPC's.
2) copy and paste bosses
- Whether it is the dragons, the dungeon bosses or the Ever whatever it is, you never felt like you were fighting unique bosses by the time you had done a few. You kinda accepted it is padding.
3) cookie clutter weapons, spells, spirits, ashes
- Bloodborne I think had the best weapon set. Switching weapons, using the tricks, all of it was amazing. I never felt that in ER. Tina of weapons, spells, sorcery, etc but most of it just put aside as as they weren't worth it. Even Nioh does a better job here, but When ring again in these areas felt more like clutter for the sake of padding.
4) diminishing returns on leveling up
-Again, if this was not an open world game, it would be fine, but here you are completing tasks and doing things and you got a wall where leveling up does nothing. You already have pointless weapons, spells, sorcery, spirits, ashes and then your levelling up starts to mean nothing. Maybe this is another reason why I stopped caring about doing more and just wanting to rush through the game.
5) difficulty spike when you hit the last quarter of the game.
Easy peasy, and then you hit the last quarter / third of the game and the difficulty jumps for NPC's and bosses. Fuck the fire giant and Melania. The Haligtree journey to the bottom was a piss take with the trumpet enemies (not difficult, but a piss take) and in the end I just ran through it. A lot of the final third / quarter of the game I treated this way including the snow area.
There is more to discuss, but I can't be asked typing, but let's move into Horizon.
1) graphically it is better in every way
- yes, from games are but about graphics, but that don't stop horizon being a thing of beauty. Holy shit does this game look good. It's not just how it looks but the level of detail on machines and moving parts. Simply climbing vents when your body weight tugs then down a bit when you latch on. Simply stunning.
2) the sound is amazing. Not saying ER is bad, but the different insect noises, animal noises, types of water noises, machinery noises, enemy sounds, DS sounds for actions and interactions.
3) DS use is God tier. I will argue it's better than Astrobot. You can feel the rumbling boulders, the ridges of rope you zipline on, the explosions, the tightening of the bow, and the list goes on. Effort was made here for immersion for the gamer and it pays off massively.
4) weapons have a sense of purpose and use. Weapons, not just one or two weapons, but weapons. The same goes for armour. Machines and humans both go hand in hand with a range of weapons and strategies and it makes both with while exploring and using. The game does a good job of making it easy to swap out and change, as well as encourage the player to use different strategies and load outs.
5) combat is way better. It has levels and allows creativity. You can plan ahead, rush in, user stealth, user different weapon strategies. It feels like Monster Hunter in many ways and the best parts of monster Hunter, with a hint of from and some card game where you build your deck for best chances against the enemy.
6) the platforming is better. Yes it's barely existent in ER, but there are parts where you kind of platform, but here it just feels GG made the effort to invest time into it and make it better and more fun
7) the dungeons are better. They are varied, have better puzzles, have great atmosphere and have rewards which are worth it. You actually get something for putting the time in.
8) in terms of story they both do well in their own way as they both have their own style, but I think HFW learnt from GOW 2018 and From, and learnt to tie in side quests to the main story, as well as flesh out the world and what's going on in it.