Like many gamers around the world I’ve found myself enraptured by Elden Ring. It has exceeded my expectations (bugs aside) and I’ve already sank a good 100 hours into my first play-through. With the help of George R. R. Martin, FromSoft has hit the nail on the head in terms of immersion. If you’ve read any of his novels you’ll find it easy to feel his influence – and not just by the ungodly amount of bare feet on female characters (seriously, let me wear a nice skirt and shoes at the same time).
The game’s open world has allowed for more environmental storytelling than has ever been seen before in a Soulslike game – and that’s an achievement by itself, considering the series is based around subtle hints and world-building. The secrets of the Lands Between are hidden away, waiting patiently for you to unearth them.
Thankfully, the main bosses of this game are quite chatty during their cutscenes, making it easy to understand the basic storyline. You must find all of the great runes and take the throne as Elden Lord. That alone may be enough for some players to delve in and complete their quest, but I needed to know more. I wanted to know why the world was in such a state – what was it like before? How did the people of the Lands Between live before the corruption of the Demi-Gods? What’s the deal with those dastardly two-fingers?
This knowledge can be pieced together by reading item descriptions and puzzling out the cryptic things various NPCs say along the way. There’s a certain thrill to it when you reach a lightbulb moment and it suddenly all begins to make sense. There are hundreds of tiny lore tidbits hidden away, and if you so choose to, you can have the fun of putting the puzzle together by yourself.
Or you can watch VaatiVidya do it. Once I’ve unlocked every ending (I believe there are 4, but I could be wrong), I’ll be marathoning every video he’s made on Elden Ring so far. I’m hoping my theories are correct – I’ve been thinking almost nonstop about what could have been. I have an inkling that this game is related to Dark Souls in some way. Perhaps a spiritual successor? There are too many references to fire, it can’t be a coincidence. Or, Miyazaki just really has a thing for flames and I’m reading far too much into the subtleties of everything.
The hidden lore and mysteries give the game an insane amount of replayability and keep the fandom alive. Players are burning with questions, heading to forums and starting conversations on the what-ifs. Hell, the Dark Souls 3 community is almost just as active as I first remember it — who knows how long Elden Ring will last? It’s exciting to think of what will be unearthed by the hackers who delve into the game's code to find the deepest of secrets. I’ll be keeping an eye on Zullie’s Twitter for a long time.
The sense of community that FromSoft achieves with their games is an asset that can be sometimes overlooked, but I think it’s important to give credit where it’s due. We all want to be a part of something, and by overcoming the challenges this game presents, we’re all together on the same journey, suffering and succeeding as one.
If anything, this just makes me even hungrier for DLC. Perhaps the lack of in-your-face storytelling is really just a marketing tactic to trick story-hungry fools such as myself into spending more money. I can’t be angry about that; it works.
I’d love to hear any theories other players have. Or really, anything about the game. I could talk about it for hours, but I’d hate to be the one to spoil the lore for a newer player.
That being said, let me know what your Elden Ring journey has been like so far!
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