I think Elden Ring might be the best game ever made

by Ben Kirby
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I don’t think this is a hot take, necessarily, but it is something that’s been slowly burning for me. Elden Ring is somehow not only a 2022 Game of the Year winner, but the best game ever made.

This isn’t a title I take lightly, either. In fact, I’ve played so many games, and my core top 5 has largely remained unchanged for a while. Ocarina of Time, Shenmue, Halo: Combat Evolved, Titanfall 2, Breath of the Wild. Now, there’s actually a lot to change there, upon reflection. But, one thing remains. Elden Ring is the best of the best, and it’s freaking me out because the Soulsborne genre isn’t normally my thing.

But as Shadow of the Erdtree approaches, I’ve re-visited Elden Ring. There’s something undeniable about it.

Elden Ring - Rykard

Elden Ring

Why has Elden Ring become a phenomenon? Let’s look at the unique marketing cycle that fueled relentless hype, its successful launch, and the elements that make the Lands Between such a compelling world to explore.

The atypical marketing of Elden Ring

The road to Elden Ring’s release was unusual. Announced in 2019, the game went through long stretches of silence, sparking memes and fan theories. This unconventional approach, alongside the dedicated Souls fanbase, only intensified anticipation.

Apparently, FromSoftware knows how to generate hype because even I was on board and I wasn’t even really sure why.

Elden Ring - Mimic Tear

A solid launch

FromSoftware’s trademark strategy of closed previews and network tests finally gave players a taste of the game. Elden Ring’s critical and commercial success was undeniable, selling millions of copies and becoming Bandai Namco’s fastest-selling title. Even nearly two years later, the game retains a large and active player base.

Some might say Elden Ring is simply Dark Souls with a horse in a bigger world. And what do I know? My experience with the series/genre is minimal. But this expansive open world breathes new life into the Souls formula. FromSoftware masterfully weaves familiar elements with fresh mechanics, creating a unique experience that constantly surprises players.

The core of what made Souls games so engaging remains – challenging combat and the rewarding feeling of overcoming obstacles.

However, Elden Ring opens its arms to a wider audience. Subtle guidance systems and a focus on exploration ease players in, while the vast world offers opportunities for those who crave a tougher experience.

For the first time, I’m challenged but it feels accessible in a way the other games perhaps haven’t.

Character builds and player agency

The variety of character builds available in Elden Ring is staggering. Unlike other RPGs, Elden Ring empowers players to create unique and effective builds without needing the “perfect” gear or worrying about common bugs. The balance is impressive, allowing players to conquer the game with a wide range of approaches.

This freedom extends beyond builds. Elden Ring’s open world encourages exploration and unscripted discovery. Unlike some linear experiences, the Lands Between feel like a living world, with its own stories and secrets waiting to be unearthed. The “multiple protagonist” narrative reinforces this immersion – NPCs have their own agendas, and the world doesn’t revolve around the player character.

Elden Ring - Miquella Cocoon

The magic of Elden Ring

While Elden Ring might not boast groundbreaking innovations on paper, the sum of its parts creates a truly magical experience. The masterful layering of mechanics, the meticulously crafted world, and the constant thrill of discovery all contribute to this. Even after the launch, the community continues to delve into the game’s lore, strategies, and hidden details.

The amount of time I spend on Reddit and wikis, reading and trying to put pieces together, is likely more than I’ve spent actually playing. That intrigue, self-discovery and openness is the real magic.

The Discussion Continues

What are your thoughts on Elden Ring? Does it hold a special place in your gaming library? What other titles would you like to see us explore? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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