Elden Ring has a bit of a reputation on PC already as being kind of a technical mess. We've covered it extensively, but the long and short of it is that the game doesn't support high refresh rates, ultrawide aspect ratios, and is prone to frame drops. None of this is ideal, with especially the latter issue causing problems in a game that's already so difficult.
But you know what? I don't care about any of that.
I will always be the first person to complain when I have to play a game that doesn't support ultrawide monitors - it's actually the reason I haven't played Psychonauts 2 yet - but Elden Ring is such a good game, that I powered through the giant black bars on either side of the screen anyway. And I'm about to do it again in New Game+.
A hint of the old days
I'm going to be honest, I usually hate it when people take a look at something I'm complaining about and come back with some B.S. about how things were harder "back in my day". But, like, yeah things were worse back in my day.
I remember the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation, where most of the games made for consoles were simply not optimized for PC. I had to deal with low frame rates all the time, and just a metric ton of bugs and crashes. So, I quickly learned how to troubleshoot problems with pretty much any game I wanted to play. Googling something like "Mass Effect resolution fix" was pretty standard.
But when it comes to Elden Ring, the only problems that are really facing the game on PC is that it has very occasional frame drops, and doesn't support stuff like high refresh rates and ultrawide monitors. My boss even put out an article telling people not to buy the game on PC because it's such an unbearable mess, apparently (Editor's note: Matt Hanson is a style icon and is always correct).
It's not really a mess though, is it? (Editor's note: yes it is) The game runs without problems, doesn't break at high resolutions and usually sits around 60 fps, just with an occasional frame drop. This is coming from the company that put out Dark Souls, which was such a bad PC port at the time, that the community had to patch it just so folks could play it correctly.
No fancy frills
There's something that's started to bug me about PC games over the last few years, especially when it comes to AAA games like Elden Ring. The tech that gets worked into games becomes a selling point.
Technology like ray tracing, DLSS and FidelityFX Super Resolution is cool, but it shouldn't be required for a game to be worth looking at on PC. Unfortunately, we just got ourselves stuck in a situation where a lot of it is super necessary.
With all the shiny bells and whistles that are getting shoved into PC games these days, DLSS and FSR are more important than ever, especially if you want to play games at 4K. Even with the most powerful graphics card in the world, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, you can't play a game like Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K with the fancy effects without rendering it at a low resolution and upscaling it back to native res.
So while something like DLSS has some genuine benefits for people with lower-end hardware, it ends up being a crutch that developers can lean on, adding bloated visual effects to games that don't need them.
When a game comes out and focuses on just being a good game, it doesn't need fancy tech to be worth playing. I'm going to be honest, the only reason I play most of the games that come out recently is to look at the shiny lights. Dying Light 2 is a great example of a game that's absolutely awful, but it has ray tracing, so it had my attention for a while.
Elden Ring doesn't need that. Elden Ring is essentially using last-generation tech, the big move that makes it harder to run is just that it essentially extended it to an open world. As pretty as Elden Ring can be, it doesn't look that much better than Dark Souls III or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. But it doesn't need to.
To be fair, I am really fond of the games From Software has put out in the past, but playing through Elden Ring over the last few weeks really drives home how bloated AAA PC games have become.
Even without the bells and whistles I typically expect from a major game release these days, I've already put 130 hours into Elden Ring on PC, finishing the game once already. And while the frame drops are bad sometimes, it was never what stopped me from killing a boss or enjoying walking into a new area.
As far as "bad" PC ports go, Elden Ring is pretty damn good. And because it's one of the best games I've played in my life, even the problems it does have simply don't matter to me - a minor inconvenience that accompanies what I hope becomes the benchmark for RPGs in this new generation.
- Here are the best gaming laptops - you should play Elden Ring on them
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Jackie Thomas is the Hardware and Buying Guides Editor at IGN. Previously, she was TechRadar's US computing editor. She is fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but she just happens to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop her a line on Twitter or through email.