Meanwhile I'm nearing 40 hours into Elden Ring and I'm not sure if I'll bother playing any other game ever again.
At this point FromSoft easily has all of my Top 5 all-time faves. I clearly like their style, but I still hesitate to recommend them to certain friends. I know it's not going to click for everyone. But they sure do work for me, and what I love about them goes well beyond combat. The exploration, the meticulous level design, the complete lack of hand-holding (this is huge), the deceptively complex lore, the character building and true role-playing, and most of all, of course, the fashion!
I'm about 55 hours in and can say it's the greatest game they've ever made. I hold Bloodborne in the absolute highest regard, but Elden Ring manages to top it in every conceivable way. I prefer the Lovecraftian themes and enemies in Bloodborne a lot more than typical fantasy settings, but can forgive all that for crafting the most robust game world I've ever traversed. I damn near cried when I first hopped on Torrent and looked over the ridge to the sea because it reminded me of the first time I did the same on the PS2 in Shadow of the Colossus.
I really don't want to make any more over the top claims, but it's a game that's perpetually rewarding for just about anyone. I wouldn't say it's free of handholding, though. If anything this might be the easiest game to pick up and play because of the world map + fast travel, the ash summons, the guiding lights, the refilling of flasks for mob wipes, stakes of marika respawns, no real penalty for dying outside of rune loss, very VERY generous i-frames for rolls and general QOL stuff. Don't get me wrong, the difficult portions are still a pain in the ass (looking at you, Crucible Knight) but it's about as welcoming as Souls games get.
My only real complaints with the game are the obvious technical shortcomings of the PC port. I have pretty beefy PC specs and still get those nasty stutters if I'm near mountains and sometimes my game will randomly freeze when being summoned for multiplayer. Have to end task to get it to close. Doesn't happen very often, but it's still a shitty thing to deal with.