Elden Ring’s open world is massive and packed with detail. It takes time and patience to move from one Site of Grace to another, on foot. Luckily, with Torrent, the horse summon, the world is absolutely manageable. The noble steed makes Elden Ring both more and less dangerous, all to the tune of enhancing freedom, exploration, and tomfoolery. To ride Torrent is to know peace, if only briefly; you can journey to what appeared unreachable, only to be slain by the myriad higher-level enemies you find there. It’s incredible.
Torrent has made playing a FromSoftware game much more approachable for a first timer like me. The handling is intuitive, with movement as responsive as when I operate my character normally, and easy ways to speed up or dismount. I can gallop and kite like a little freak. I feel safer attacking the big guys, because I know if all else fails, I can often get on horseback and escape. (I’ve outrun even you, Tree Sentinel.) I can also breeze through dense enemy areas to get to other parts of the map. Each escape, right in the nick of time, is a little thrill.
Repeatedly dying at the foot of an enemy no longer feels like a setback. Torrent can take me wherever I need to go, and the open world is full of (terrifying) wonders. Instead, each battle feels like a choice, and one I decided to stick to. If I’m getting off of Torrent to stir up some shit, then I’m committing. Getting good at fighting doesn’t feel like an obligation, but like a concrete decision to improve a skill or try a tactic. These experiments add up to improvement; the nice externality of all of my messing around.
And Torrent has absolutely enabled my basest impulses and most chaotic dreams. I’m stab-happy with any creature that approaches — just to see what happens. I may run away fast enough to evade death; I might be crushed to oblivion. The latter is fine, because these deaths are almost always funny. And I don’t mind losing runes, I can always farm them if I need to.
Plus it never takes me long to get anywhere, thanks to Torrent’s faithful gait. Torrent is so fast, I often end up in unfamiliar regions, filled with enemies who immediately pile onto me. Each rerun is a chance to find another cave, pass, or hidey hole. There’s also Torrent’s double jump, the real secret sauce of exploration — great for scaling cliff faces, or weaseling ways in.
Every time “You Died” appears on my screen, I do not suffer. But should Torrent be killed, I absolutely mourn. I have no agenda beyond recklessness and exploration, and the desire to fight whoever catches my eye. By the time the first boss and I finally meet, maybe they’ll have reason to fear me? Probably not. But a girl and her horse can dream.