The less I try to “git gud” in the Elden Ring, the more I like it

I carefully make my way through a deep underground cave, the path ahead of us only illuminated by an impossible canopy of stars hanging in the sky. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do in this place – I didn’t even know the Siva River even existed until a few moments ago. I can’t easily escape to more familiar areas, everyone here wants to kill me and is very good at doing it. So far, so Elden Ring, right?

right. But. The difference here is: I neither hope to find sweet loot on some withered corpses dangling over the edge of a dilapidated monument to the forgotten gods, nor do I make an effort to “complete” another area while I carve a ruined path through the lands in between. I’m here because my curiosity, guided by a map more deliberate than instructive, led me here. I don’t know what I will discover here or what I will do when I find it, and that makes every shaded corner an unexplored corner of my own adventure even if it is a dead end.