From Software is known for making extremely challenging, but ultimately fair games. The latest in their long line of critically acclaimed video games is Elden Ring. Which for many journalists and Youtubers is the best game they’ve ever played.
But is this merely recency bias or has Elden Ring truly surpassed the famous Dark Souls series, that arguably is the reason why From Software is as notorious as they are now. In this article we will answer the question of whether Dark Souls is Better than Elden Ring?
However, if we were to answer this question briefly then we would have to say: no, Dark Souls is not better than Elden Ring, and neither is Dark Souls worse than Elden Ring. Each of these games have their own merits and faults which make them unique experiences that people may subjectively enjoy from one over the other.
Whereas, Dark Souls has spectacular level design, a more focused game-play structure, better PvP system and better individual bosses. Elden Ring on the other hand has far more freedom in exploration, tons more combat options and a massive selection of boss encounters.
Regardless, you must be asking what specifically these aspects mean and how would they influence your enjoyment of the game. So we’ve broken things down between the two games to help give you a better idea of what you’re in for with each.
What are the differences in level design?
It’s safe to say that one of the defining moments for Dark Souls players was that amazing click moment when we first took the elevator in Undead Parish back to Firelink Shrine. It highlighted one of the key strengths of Dark Souls as a video game, and that was it’s meticulous level design.
The entirety of the map was connected and there were several ladders, locked doors, elevators and hidden walls that provided a wondrous sense of verticality to Dark Souls unseen in most triple A games of the time.
Every nook and cranny in Dark Souls seems to be full of secrets, items and enemies. This is what made exploration such an engaging facet of its overall game philosophy. However, this complete inter-connectedness is yet to be repeated by any other entry in the Souls franchise and Elden Ring also falls short in this regard.
Although it might be true that Elden Ring does not replicate Dark Soul’s verticality it does share some of its DNA owing to the meticulous placements of secrets, items and enemies. Where Elden Ring excels is horizontal exploration.
You are free to ride your trusted steed Torrent where you might like and dash through thick forests, damp swamps and snow capped peaks. The game feels like an unending road that continues to express itself the further you push towards its seemingly infinite boundaries.
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What are the differences in gameplay?
If we’re to compare gameplay differences between the original Dark Souls and Elden Ring it would be hard to describe anything concrete, yet just by looking at the two games one clearly understands that they function differently. The mechanical differences between the two games might be a result of the time at which they were released, but in reality it truly feels as if Elden Ring’s combat is the epitome of the system first laid down by the first Dark Souls.
Although anyone who’s played both the games will tell you that there is a clear difference in focus between the two games. By focus we mean which systems in the game were most developed and how much time did From Software foresee you putting into that particular aspect of the game.
In Dark Souls its all about navigating tight corridors, dark dungeons and ruined castles. There is a focus on exploring claustrophobic spaces that restrict and confine the player. Which would make them afraid of any terror lurking behind the corners.
It was encouraged to take your time and be mindful of your surroundings constantly. This was then capped off with a memorable boss-fight one which was specifically curated to challenge you regarding all that the area taught you.
However, in Elden Ring this focused approach is far less common. This is because Elden Ring although capable of providing tight corridors, dark dungeons and ruined castles for players to get through does not have these as absolutes.
That is to say, you are free to traverse at your leisure and are not forced to follow the railroad of the game. You can venture as far as you like and tackle these challenges in whatever order. Often times the bosses at the end do not even need to be fought sequentially (there might be some unavoidable circumstances).
This allows Elden Ring to be focused on the journey, the gorgeous set pieces, the wide-arching vistas and the memorable locations. It provides a sense of freedom in exploration that was sorely missing in the previous From Software games.
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What are the differences in PvP?
While both games have a robust PvP system implemented within them they are nonetheless quite different in their execution of the mechanic and how ultimately you will experience the games.
If we start of with Dark Souls, we believe the most crucial strength of Dark Souls is the PvP system’s simplicity and responsiveness. This is to say, that even after so many years and after the release of so many other games it is quite easy to find a duel, helpful summon sign and tons of community messages everywhere.
The use of humanities made this system extremely streamlined and provided ample opportunities for players to engage with each other. There are also several popular PvP hot-spots along with a dedicated PvP area added to the game through the DLC Artorias of the Abyss.
On the other hand many players have reported several issues with Elden Ring’s PvP system. It’s an obtuse mechanic that aims to reduce the frustration of new players by only allowing PvP to occur if wanted and does not allow for natural instances of it within the game. The matchmaking system is also very strict and many players have complained how long they often have to wait in order to even load into a match.
However, when the PvP system works it is a charm. The sheer amount of build variety and usable weapons makes Elden Ring combat feel rich and engaging. Although you will find your frequent Rivers of Blood clones, but you will also find unique builds centered around special weapons in game and those focusing on the use of a combination of deadly spells. The ability to test out and compete with such a variety is what makes Elden Ring’s PvP such an attraction.
What are the differences in Boss battles?
Epic Boss battles have been a hallmark of From Software games. Both Elden Ring and Dark Souls have some extremely memorable boss battles, but there exist some differences between then that make their experiences individually unique.
For Dark Souls, the boss battles are always the climax to a gauntlet of traps, enemies and platforming challenges. These bosses highlight the apex of the creatures that exist within Lordran and require sheer will to overcome. Who can forget the iconic introduction to the Gaping Dragon, or the insane difficulty of Ornstein and Smough and the then blindingly fast combat being pit against Artorias of the Abyss.
However, we have to agree that most of these bosses are very clunky in their execution. Dark Souls bosses require the player to get behind them and whack them till their dead or require patient defense whilst they whip out their moves. The age of these fights has certainly reduced some of their luster.
Elden Ring on the other hand has two types of Boss fights. The main story boss fights which are accompanied by an introduction cut scene and the over 100+ side bosses that do not feature a cut scene, but are a challenge nonetheless. The amazing aspect of Elden Ring Bosses is their mechanical genius and design. Each of them looks superb and perform complex combos and require a sound tactical mind and lightning quick reflexes to overcome.
However, therein also lies the two major issues of Elden Ring boss fights. The side bosses owing to the fact that they can be encountered in the open world often are either surprisingly easy for you if you’ve thoroughly been exploring, or are insanely difficult if their mechanics are simply not clicking. Moreover, many main story bosses enter into an almost frenzied state that requires such pixel perfect dodges that if failed can simply one shot you.
What are the differences between their story and lore?
What’s obvious from the get go is that Dark Souls and Elden Ring do not share a single world. So their lore and plot-lines will vastly differ from each other.
In Dark Souls you are the Chosen Undead tasked with ringing the Bell’s of Awakening and finding out the true purpose of the Undead. Through the story you go from fighting against Demons, to Knights, to Dragons to ultimately fighting and defeating Gods themselves.
You must then choose to either extend the age of Fire, which manifests the familiar rotting stagnancy that the world is currently plunged in or to abandon the Fire, which manifests the acceptance of an unknown, unforeseen Dark era over the land.
In Elden Ring you are but another a Tarnished. An individual provided the guidance of grace that attempts to repair and obtain the Elden Ring to become Elden Lord. On your journey you fight various God-like beings from the get go, Eldritch horrors and defeat legendary creatures both Dragon and Non-Dragon.
There are several NPCs who you can interact with throughout Elden Ring that can alter the ultimate ending you particularly see. This is perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Elden Ring.
Both games have an exceptionally deep story and immersive lore, however, both require much input and effort from the player in order to untangle its complex web of connections and plot threads. Both have memorable NPC interactions and ultimately both provide a satisfying end to the epic journey thus far.
To say one From Software game is objectively better than another is simply folly. Both Elden Ring and Dark Souls are unique experiences and fans will find different aspects of them that they enjoy and praise. It is said that your first souls game is your favorite and we can’t agree more with this statement.
We hope that our breakdown is helpful in guiding fellow chosen undead or tarnished make an informed decision about their games. We hope to hear your comments and thoughts about our breakdown regarding these legendary games.