Since this can be a sensitive topic, even on this board, before I list the negatives, I will give it a score, just so that (You) know what my opinion of the game is. From a scale of 1(horrible) to 10(masterpiece) with a 5 being average, I would give it a 7.5, meaning it's a good game. It's not great, it's not excellent, it's not average, it's just a good game. It has good stuff, and also some bad stuff, but since this is the negative design thread, I will focus on the negative stuff.
With that out of the way, let's list the negative design decisions:
>The open world nature of the game works against the spawning enemy at bonfire mechanic from the previous Souls games
Think of the previous Souls games, more or less from one bonfire to another, you would pass through a somewhat linear series of rooms(hidden by good game design), which had all sorts of obstacles such as traps and enemies, and if you died somewhere in between, then you had to redo the challenge from scratch. The challenge was reaching the next bonfire alive. In Elden Ring, at least in the open section, I would like to present the second picture, especially the part that is circled. This is the starting map, and most players will first reach the church, go through the forest, and they can either go through the ruins or immediately go to one of the two bonfires next to it. Technically there is no obstacle with that ruin, as once you existed the forest, and it's daytime, it would be much faster to reach the bonfire directly from the forest and avoid combat, instead of going through that ruin and risk getting killed by the enemies. Now there is a reason why you would want to go there, as there is loot, a piece of the world map and even an ash of war, so there are rewards for risking your life to get it, and it makes sense for enemies to respawn if you failed to clear out the entire camp. So my question is, if after you have defeated all the enemies and got all the loot, what is the purpose of them respawning after that? They are not an obstacle to reach the next bonfire(even without teleportation), and there is nothing to incentivise you to go back and kill them, unless you want to grind, which I think it would be a bad game design. Honestly I would have done it like Nioh's youkai realms, in which when you clear them the the yokai will stop spawning. If they really wanted both respawning enemies and open world, then I would have made it like Dragon's Dogma, in which the entire world, is actually a series of cleverly disguised tunnels, so you are "forced" to go through those ruins with enemies in them, before reaching the next bonfire.
Another bad thing of the respawning system, is how fake the world feels like. To the east of the area I marked on the map, there is a convoy, that always resets whenever you use a bonfire. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, if you use a bonfire, they reset. I even followed it to see what it would do, and it will just stop in the area I marked. If I go and kill everyone in the convoy, as well as the giants, get all the loot, the convoy will still reset. It just feels fake. On one hand, some things that you can do in the game, like stopping a convoy, has so no impact on the world, as it resets with the bonfire, but on the other you can progress through an NPC's storyline, and even change some stuff(like that castle ,that you clear from bandits, but then gets infested by goblins) so it's not like the game's timeline isn't progressing, it's just that it's not consistent.
>Stealth is bare bones
I assume it's a holdover from Sekiro, yet enemies do not react to seeing their dead comrades, doing a "sneak attack" that instantly kills an enemy, will still alert the others, there are too few enemies that have the role of "alert others", and there is no clear indication on how close an enemy is to detect(I am not even sure if it's based on only sight, or if sound can alert them as well). I think they should either have expanded on it. or simply dropped it entirely, and considering how the game is, I think they should have just dropped it. Lastly, it's not like you needed a stealth button to sneak past enemies in the previous games, as you could sneak or run past enemies in Dark Souls 1 as well, just by running and timing yourself with enemy patrols.
>Camera does not zoom out when fighting giant enemies, especially on foot
There were a few boss fights, that were giant but also placed in tiny rooms, and I would really have wished to have the camera zoom out, so that I can know what attack it's going to do, while I am slashing at their toe. Especially with the Ulcerated Tree Spirit boss fight, but even the dragons, I sometimes wish the camera would zoom out a bit, or at least give the option to do so.
>Can't use horse during invasions
I guess this is just an engine limitation, and the way they programmed the horse was so jank, that trying to allow it in multiplayewr would have broken the game. Even if that is true, I still consider it a negative, even if I barely touched the PVP, I just think it would have been great to have jousting as a form of PVP
I will not critique the game for allowing you to go to places where you are under leveled and get killed, or even allowing you to get lost and not know where to go, or even getting overpowered equipment and easily killing the low level opponents with it, or even the fact that you "need" a guide to properly do all the content, as there are plenty of other "classic, good" games that do this type of bullshit, and /v/ likes them such as Might and Magic IV, V, VI, Gothic 1 & 2, Morrowind, and from the Japanese side, it would be Oriental Blue : Ao no Tengai and Saga Frontier 2.