Elden Ring’s horse: yay or neigh?
The PC Gamer team is having a great time blasting through Elden Ring’s sprawling dungeons and dense open world. We’ve already talked a lot about the game’s great combat and how it finally lets us relax in Souls, but not much has been said about the game’s stellar mount, the faithful four-legged companion that gets us from point A to the point. B: Torrent. Because Souls games can’t do something as common as whistling for a horse that rides into the frame, FromSoftware used a magically summoned double-jump superhorse. It’s certainly helpful to have a faster way to get around Elden Ring, but is Torrent a good video game horse?
Rich Stanton, News Editor: I played without the Elden Ring horse for a surprisingly long time, mostly because I activated but didn’t bother to rest in Sites of Grace, so I didn’t have the dialogue to unlock the Torrent (I spent the first few hours in the open world just exploring and avoiding most fights). When I got my glow horse and started riding Limgrave, I immediately felt that something was wrong. A torrent is definitely a useful tool: especially in some of the later areas, which can be pretty barren hellscapes, and whenever there are nasty things on earth that you don’t want to go through. But does he ever feel the need or the satisfaction of riding?
Not for me. I admit there are bosses where a horse is almost mandatory, but I mean more open world travel. I like to move quickly through the Places of Grace, and this also means that I can be almost anywhere in the world in an instant. Torrent doesn’t seem to be of much use in this regard other than turning a 30-second run into a 10-second ride, which is fine. I’ve used it to walk around large areas looking for doors, and those are probably the times I’ve felt comfortable with Torrent.
But then, as soon as I’m about to turn the creature, ahh, this turning radius drives me crazy, especially at low speeds: it feels unwieldy like I’m constantly retuning and overshooting. And not in the sense that the animal does not obey my commands because it has free will. In the sense that it looks like one of the slightly crappy bikes in Saints Row.
Fraser Brown, online editor: Rich, you have a lot of great approaches to Soulsborne, so I think it’s only natural that you end up with a completely wrong take. Torrent is my best friend on horseback, even though I named him Terrance in my headcanon, and I couldn’t imagine crossing the Lands between them without him galloping under me.
Maybe you’re just used to not having him around? It was one of the first things I did, so there was never a moment when I had to learn to do without it. For me, it is an integral part of the world, and you just have to look at the Limgrave hills to understand that this place was created to travel on horseback. The Lands Between is vast and sprawling, and while cutting a 30-second ride down to a 10-second ride doesn’t sound all that helpful, when you turn a 30-minute ride into a 10-minute one, Torrent starts to feel more important.
Indeed, he is the only way to get to some places, whether it be his double jump or his ability to jump into updrafts, sending him skyward. Without it, I wouldn’t have my favorite weapon, the Twinblade. I found it nimble and relatively accurate, especially when compared to the stubborn Roach or the more realistic Red Dead Redemption mounts.
Rich: I’m definitely exaggerating Torrent’s shortcomings because there are areas where I’ve used a horse a lot: and there’s no denying the main utility of using it for dashing to get a runic spot (that’s what they do), called?), when you died far away from the place of grace.
I also find Torrent a bit of an odd combination of the game’s stealth element. When I’m exploring something new, I don’t want to use Torrent: and once I’m done, I probably won’t go back to most places. I tried to attack one or two “compositions” with it but ended up just rolling around useless loops, swinging the blade in the thin air.
Frazier: I will never call them bloodstains again – hence the rune stains. Anyway! It’s true that he’s not secretive, but I didn’t expect him to be like that. It’s forgetting where you want to go quickly and with less risk, not for sneaking around. That’s why you can’t summon him in dungeons. He would be useless. And you can’t tell me you’re in stealth when you’re just exploring an open field or a long road through a region where you have a line of sight.
Rich: Fair point, although my concern is more that stealth and riding don’t really go together in the world, they just coexist, and that’s fine. Metal Gear Solid V did this really well with the D-Horse’s “horse stealth” button, which allowed Snake to dangle from the saddle and then smoothly dismount and crouch. It was cool.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with Torrent is how it fits into Elden Ring’s precise combat loop. I always feel like I’m just driving up to something and then fending off any flank, running to evade the attack, line up again and repeat. Maybe it just hasn’t “clicked” for me yet, but that side of it all feels a bit weightless – until you get hit, and that stupid thing stops to recover, and you have to pick up the pace again. Hooray! I just don’t like him as amount, and I don’t get the feeling of that attacking armored knight that I want from a fight.
Frazier: Of course, mounted combat is not what Elden Ring does best. I actually love it, and as you mentioned earlier, in some encounters, it’s a must, but there are others where I just feel safer and more efficient when Torrent is with me. It is also very useful when you need to make a quick escape.
You’ve been critical of the turning radius in the past, and that may explain our different views on combat because I don’t circle enemies. It’s a faff, and it’s dirty. This may have something to do with recently watching The Last Duel, but I treat most fights with Torrent like duels, constantly attacking enemies, hitting them a little, and then turning around to attack them again. This may make the fights a bit longer, but their flow has improved a lot, and they just seem to be cooler.
What I really want to know is that if you think Torrent sucks, what kind of video game horses do you really like?
Rich: Oh classic: Agro from Shadow of the Colossus, who I still consider to be the most “horse” horse I’ve ever ridden in a game, although by any reasonable standard, Red Dead Redemption 2 horses currently are – art. Obviously, the horses in Breath of the Wild can be fun, although they are much easier to control and less obsessed with simulation.
I don’t think Torrent is supposed to be a straight horse like RDR2’s nags. It’s a magical jumping horse, but yeah… I like Torrent enough. I don’t think it’s terrible, I had some fun, but it’s not great. And for me, perfection is what these games should be: every part of them.
Frazier: Not a bad horse among them. They are all great. But in order to cross the Intermediate Lands, I would not prefer Torrent to any of them. They are perfect for the games they play, just like my active boy. Is he a great horse? I think so. But even if it wasn’t, I spent half my time in the game with dirty clothes and a pot on my head, and I lost count of my deaths, so who am I to judge? I would love him anyway.
Imogen Mellor, Feature Film Producer: Guys, guys, guys, this is a goat, not a horse.