One of the more subdued and unexpected “mechanics” in Elden Ring‘s open world that a good amount of players may not even realize is there are its time-reliant boss encounters. Whether you’ve been playing Elden Ring for over a hundred hours or twenty, you may have stumbled upon these bosses. The Night Cavalry or the Deathbird, are bosses that you can find in the open world at only a specific time of day.
I have to admit when I first found out about this I was quite blown away. There is no shortage of bosses in Elden Ring on its own, and to realize there may have been an entire slew of boss fights that I may have missed simply because I was exploring at a different time of the day made room for opportunities that expanded the scope of Elden Ring’s world to a towering degree.
How Exploration Works in Elden Ring:
The exploration in Elden Ring feels a lot more different to many mainstream AAA games, the game actively pulls entire chunks of its content behind a large draped curtain. Only subtly hinting at the player that the curtain may actually be hiding something. In doing so, Elden Ring presents an open world that doesn’t have to rely on the conveniences of a mini-map or a journal to make itself worth exploring.
Through all of this, the game sparks a curious sense of adventure and discovery within the player, causing them to check every corner of every crevice on the open world while occasionally rewarding the player with big discoveries like entirely new regions or a new mini-dungeon and sometimes even entirely new levels that are just as detailed if not more so than a proper level in any other From Software game.
This keeps the player consistently engaged and interested to see more of this carefully and immaculately crafted open world.
How the Night Bosses Factor into Exploration:
But this might make you wonder, how do the Night bosses alter the experience of exploration. Well, before this I think a lot of players would have likely ignored the option to rest at a Grace to pass time. This mechanic not only encourages players to use that system but also go through previously explored areas all over again and not only discover new bosses at different times while also making entirely new discoveries that they may have previously missed.
With the addition of stuff like this and the unguided nature of Elden Ring’s open world, the game feels very unique and special. Compared with some of the other already out open-world games right now, Elden Ring, just like Breath of The Wild before it, dared to do something new and special. The sheer effort that has been put into this world can hardly be understated, easily missed zones, levels, bosses and mini-bosses.
While I’m no game designer and I certainly can’t make the claim that I understand the reasoning and inner workings behind many of the decisions made during game development. The night time bosses in Elden Ring pose an interesting theory that makes sense considering the whole of the open-world at large. Players are most likely going to stumble into these special bosses at least once in their playthrough, they will then go to look for these bosses again and be surprised that they aren’t there anymore. And will slowly realize that this certain boss was tied to the time you explore in.
What’s interesting here isn’t the direct apple hanging from the tree, its the implication that there might be a whole forest of trees filled with apples. And the game has already made a promise to the player that almost everything that you do in this game’s open-world will usually be rewarded with something to show for it.
This urges the players to go back and re-explore areas at a different time to see everything that they missed out on and a very subtle way of the devs pushing the player into discovering many of the incredible secrets present in The Lands Between.
This small pact between the game and the player, is a promise that while not every moment in Elden Ring will reward you with discovery, the discoveries themselves will be significantly more meaningful. And its this pact that makes the feeling of exploration so special. And Elden Ring lives up to it beautifully right up to it’s conclusion.
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