Games Inbox: The future of Elden Ring

The Friday letters page wonders if the Sonic cycle will apply to Sonic Frontiers, as one reader is happy to see the return of Zero Tolerance.

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Industry impact
It really is astonishing how well Elden Ring has done. It’s hard to believe really, even the suggestion that it could outsell Call Of Duty would’ve been laughed at, at the beginning of the year. This opens up two main questions from my point of view: will there be an Elden Ring 2 and what effect is all this going to have on the rest of the industry?

Dark Souls had a really big impact despite being a fairly minor hit, so theoretically Elden Ring should be the game that everyone tries to copy from now on. And yet we haven’t really seen any indication of that so far. Imagine if Elden Ring ends up having the same impact as GTA 3 or Call Of Duty 4! It should do, judging by the sales, but even a fraction of that should see future games becoming bolder, deeper, and more challenging.

As for the other question, it’s hard to say, isn’t it? Obviously, there’ll be another game that’s like Elden Ring in the future, but will it be a direct sequel or something new like Bloodborne? Elden Ring could easily have been Dark Souls 4, after all, it was even the same publisher, but they chose not to. I think they’ll go with a numbered sequel though.

Even if it was terrible, which at this point I think we can all but guarantee it won’t be, it would sell just on the name alone. For now though I’ll just settle for some DLC…

Where was I?
Every FromSoftware game I have loved and played for endless hours, but it took Elden Ring for me to realise why the formula worked so well for me: linearity! Every previous game I could come back after days, weeks or months and it pick it straight up again and after a few minutes of regained familiarity I’d be back in the thick of it!

With Elden Ring and its open world, and 30 minutes wandering around, I realised I had no hope unless I want to start reading guides, etc.! So as much as I have enjoyed it, it’s one I think I won’t put much more into (30 hours) but I certainly wouldn’t ask for it to be changed beyond selfish reasons. It’s amazing, and for another day!

Still alone
I really enjoyed Zero Tolerance on the Mega Drive back in the day, mainly because it was the only first person shooter available to me at the time. The thing is, it was actually quite good. I even sent off for the link cable to play multiplayer, but it never came.

So imagine my surprise when I saw it had appeared as a standalone game on Switch. I had a look at the gameplay video and it doesn’t seem to have been enhanced from the original version, and is presumably just an emulator running it. But the big shame is they didn’t implement the multiplayer. One day I’ll get to try it. One day.

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Later years
I want to chime in about games having an easy mode. In my younger years, I never liked playing on easy mode and mostly chose normal difficulty for a better challenge. Now that I am in my mid-40s, I prefer to play on easy mode. This is because I no longer have the patience and get too easily frustrated repeating the same level if I keep on dying against a boss or from any other obstacle.

Another reason is that I find some games too frenetic and instead want to play more for the experience rather than the challenge. It could be that old age is catching up to me and things that gave me a thrill back then no longer do. Things like commitments and having more outdoor hobbies in my older years have made me less inclined to master a game.

However, I still enjoy gaming and I think everyone is entitled to play single-player games whichever way they choose, whether easy or expert mode. Each to their own as they say.

Helping fingers
RE: Chris Harlow’s letter. Have you tried summoning in Elden Ring? It does give the bosses more HP, I think, but if you’re lucky enough to be paired up with players who know what they’re doing, which is most players who co-op, then it virtually becomes an easy mode.

I sometimes summoned help in New Game, mainly towards the endgame where there is a big difficulty spike. I’d offer assistance but I’m on New Game+ now and nowhere near where you are. Good luck!
Chevy_Malibu (PSN ID)

Breaking the cycle
Well colour me surprised and take me to Twinkle Park, that most recent trailer for Sonic Frontiers looked very encouraging, particularly the modern Green Hill Zone level and Cyber Space hub area. Makes you wonder why Sega opted not to show this vastly more interesting trailer in lieu of the comparatively humdrum first reveal.

I’m really hoping the open world is compelling and fun to traverse and explore, as it is visually rather stunning. The combat is looking like it’s going to be the most involved and energetic it’s ever been in the series, and that’s despite detecting a modicum of messiness in the fights.

Most of all, I really hope Sonic Team finally nail the controls in a 3D Sonic. As much as I’m currently enjoying Sonic Colours, and I’ll staunchly defend its position as one of the few genuinely good 3D Sonics; taking a few, mostly thematic, creative notes from the Super Mario Galaxies, the titular hedgehog’s jump physics are a tad floaty and imprecise, and the speedier sections are little too unbridled for my liking.

Colour’s controls in general are by no means ‘ bad’ in the conventional sense, it’s just that there’s perennially been this feeling of a lackadaisical missed opportunity regarding the controls, and general game design for that matter, in 3D Sonics. That and they simply fail to measure up to the astronomically high standards established by the 3D Marios.

Sometimes I just wish Sonic Team would studiously and continuously play the Yoshi’s Dash Peppers/Gotta Go Fast Yoshi’ level in Super Mario Galaxy 2, and replicate the perfect harmony of speed and precision seen in that magical stage. A Nintendo and Sega collaboration on a 3D Sonic would be the stuff of dreams.

But I digress, so here’s hoping Sonic Team knuckle down and hone the controls and physics in Frontiers until they’re as tight, weighty, responsive, and slick as their 2D counterparts.

Asking too much? Perhaps. Be that as it may, I’ve gone from being cautiously optimistic about the latest Sonic, to unequivocally buoyant at this point. Will the dubious Sonic cycle finally break? Here’s to wishing we’re at the tail end of 3D Sonic mediocrity. For at least a gen.
Galvanized Gamer

GC: The Sonic cycle theory has proven highly accurate for more than two decades; we wouldn’t call that ‘dubious’.

Whacky inclusions
That is surprisingly good news about the Final Fantasy 7 Remake and them not cutting any locations. I would’ve sworn they would, considering how little headway they’ve really made so far, but if they can get it all into the next two games than fair play.

I’m fascinated to see how they’re going to handle the Gold Saucer and Cait Sith seemed whacky back in the 90s and I don’t know how they’d even begin to work today, with realistic graphics. I guess we’ll see though, which should be fun.

Singularly difficult
I keep seeing this argument that adding options to a game doesn’t affect the enjoyment of others if they don’t use the options, as though this is the final word on the topic.

It should go without saying that it wouldn’t affect my individual experience, but I think it’s wrong to assume use of the options would deliver the same experience as others (and the intended experience) when it comes to these particular games.

Dynamic difficulty wouldn’t even work because of this. The whole point of a From game is it’s unmoving in the challenges it provides, because it’s the players themselves that need to be dynamic in their approach.

The issue I’ve always had is there seems to be this assumption that difficulty is a factor in a game’s design that’s inherently distinct from all other design elements. Obviously, this is because other factors aren’t (theoretically) as disruptive when it comes to progress. But, arguably, uncompromising difficulty can be an even more important element if it delivers greater weight and meaning to all the other design decisions.

I’m thinking about so many role-playing games where it barely matters at all how you distribute your stats or what equipment you use. I’m also thinking about what makes games like Returnal so great and how important all the moving parts are in every run.

We’ll always see complaints about certain design decisions in other games that don’t have anything to do with difficulty, but I can’t think of many regular demands or complaints about such a design decision in a game whose experience is so fundamentally reliant on that decision. And I can’t think of many examples where there’s such insistence that the experience would still be largely the same for those who choose to circumvent that design.

Some people don’t like films about men sitting in rooms talking but I think they’d accept if you chose to replace the character building scenes in The Godfather with lots of action and explosions, you probably wouldn’t be able to insist you’ve had the experience that the director wanted to deliver.

Inbox also-rans
I don’t know if this has anything to do with your Nintendo Switch OLED YouTube story or not but a new Splatoon 3 themed Switch with new controllers has just gone up on the Nintendo store.
freeway 77

GC: We don’t think so. At least the videos haven’t come back as a result.

Can I play PlayStation 3 games on the PlayStation 5 console?

GC: If you pay for PlayStation Plus Premium you can stream a select collection of them.

This week’s Hot Topic
Since we’ve just passed the halfway mark of the year this weekend’s Inbox will act as a half-year report and ask what is your favourite game of 2022 so far?

It has to be a game released for the first time this year (here’s our top 10), so it can’t just be whatever you happened to have played from your backlog. Given that, which was your favourite and why?

What do you think of 2022 so far for games and how have you felt about the relative lack of new titles, and previews, recently? What are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2022 and how bothered are you by the smaller number of releases, compared to previous years?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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