As we pointed out in our review of Elden Ring, though, that’s also part of the reason why the game’s quest design and UI work as well as they do. Elden Ring doesn’t have any quests that ask players to do things like “kill x rats in a basement” (even though those rats are a surprisingly good source of Runes), so it doesn’t necessarily need a persistent UI element designed to track those kinds of tasks. The game channels an older style of mission design that gives players hints and breadcrumbs that lead them to the proper location without holding their hands. Elden Ring’s UI and quest design don’t talk down to gamers and are confident players can figure things out for themselves, which is a common complaint some fans have concerning modern open-world RPGs.
Still, the nature of the titles Salama and Rebouche have worked on inspired some gamers to have a little fun trying to imagine what Elden Ring might look like if it was designed by another studio known for making more…familiar open-world games. The results of that process were…well, this image speaks for itself:
Now, that photo is obviously a piece of satire designed to be an intentional mess that squeezes a quest log, button prompts, and map markers onto the screen. While that image may be a joke that ignores the many ways Elden Ring could theoretically incorporate some of those design elements without them being quite that overwhelming, it also speaks to the idea that Elden Ring was intentionally designed to work around a minimalistic UI interface that encourages players to discover things for themselves while allowing the actual game to take up as much of the screen as possible as often as possible.
As for O’Shea’s complaints…well, those are even more interesting. According to O’Shea’s LinkedIn page, she worked on the graphics of games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Marvel’s Avengers (specifically their PC ports), so it makes sense that her comments naturally target Elden Ring’s PC graphics and performance. Credit where credit is due, the PC version of Elden Ring was more than a little rocky at launch. Many gamers who played the game on their computers ran into screen tearing, invisible enemies, and unstable framerates. Unfortunately, that is pretty much par for the course when it comes to FromSoftware games, but the developers are working on PC performance patches as you read this article. All things considered, though, O’Shea makes a good point when discussing Elden Ring’s performance.
That being said, some of those other complaints regarding the general quality of Elden Ring‘s graphics are understandably much more divisive. While many gamers love titles that push graphical fidelity (as demonstrated by a rising number of games that use ray tracing and similar features), many gamers agree that art style tends to be more important. In fact, Elden Ring’s director, Hidetaka Miyazaki, famously told Edge Magazine (reposted via VGC) that his team doesn’t prioritize graphical fidelity. A similar issue arose earlier this year shortly before the launch of Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Many gamers argued over that title’s graphics, and quite a few ultimately came to the conclusion that if the game plays and performs well, they are willing to overlook lackluster visuals. Of course, those are just a couple of incredibly noteworthy recent examples of a debate that will likely not end anytime soon.
Ultimately, no video game is perfect, Elden Ring included. Every title has problems that are worth criticizing, and while some are surprised to see members of the video game industry so openly criticize a generally well-received game when developers traditionally congratulate and support each other, that doesn’t mean that the criticisms themselves aren’t worth discussing. That said, it’s easy to see why some read these complaints as perhaps being a little bitter.