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2022 was the year of the ring of elders

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2022 was the year of elderberry ringof Miyazakiof Malenie. The highly anticipated title from From Software held the industry by the throat for months, dominating the conversation around difficulty, damage scalingand player builds (including everyone’s favorite nepo baby, Elon Musk). He taken more than diffusionhe renamed each animal “dog”, he legends created.

After more than a decade of FromSoftware games holding court as the quintessential “git gud” franchise, locking those of us without a masochistic bent out of speech, elderberry ringThe open world of has opened the doors to a whole new player base. As such, he catapulted Hidetaka Miyezaki’s work to new heights: elderberry ring is by far the best-selling From Software title, he wins GOTY awards like Rowa Fruitand it’s still generating heated conversations 10 months after its release.

By subtly deviating from From Software’s tried-and-true formula and giving us a game freed from a single punishing linear path, Elden o-ringpresented the middle lands on a beautifully ornamented (but slightly tarnished) silver platter. And we gobbled up that shit.

Fueling the Difficulty Speech Machine

Captive Virgins of Elden Ring

These guys are called Abductor Virgins, and they suck.
Image: From software

the souls the talk of the game has almost solely revolved around difficulty. Before elderberry ring came out, FromSoftware’s Yasuhiro Kitao told Eurogamer that the game was “made for all kinds of players”, not just “hardened veterans”. It sent fanboys into a tailspin, but it sparked the interest of those who never got to enjoy the punishing gameplay of FromSoft’s work.

I wrote about Kitao quotes when I was at GamesRadarsuggesting that what would elderberry ring great would be its accessibility, and that this accessibility was made possible by its open world. It’s much easier to avoid difficult areas if you can get around them on horseback, but first souls the games required you to choose between the difficult path and the path of banging your head against the wall because it’s impossible. The promise of a wide choice made me think that maybe, just maybe, elderberry ring could be a game I would enjoy.

Tarnished Ring of Elden

Image: FromSoftware/Kotaku

Conversely, Forbes posted a response to my post, the one who hoped elderberry ringThe open world of wouldn’t ruin FromSoftware’s vibe by focusing too much on “making these games accessible rather than harsh and gritty”. It was months before the release date, but the talking machine spun and spun and spun, smoke spewing from every inch, its cogs creaking and creaking with each new one caught in its gaping maw.

Until February arrives, and brings with it the lands in between, wide open for exploration as a darker, deadlier land breath of the wild. Players quickly realized that Most of them accidentally skipped the combat tutorial, and a little more slowly learned that the first boss (that goddamn Tree Sentinel) was avoidable. Many of us who could never hang onto a FromSoft game willfully clung to elderberry ringbecause we learned that we could, in fact, ride a horse and go fuck ourselves with a horrible eldritch beast.

As we collectively made our way through elderberry ringwe’ve been given the gift that only comes with truly open-world games: seemingly endless discoveries by ourselves, our friends, and other players on the Internet.

Brave brutal battles for a glimpse of beauty

elderberry ring

Need a hand?
Image: From software

The beauty of elderberry ring Resides in its world that swarms, seethes and spits with a life that is both friendly and deadly, that titillates and terrifies with its landscapes, that attracts you and avoids you with a single breath. I find this beauty at so many times during my time with the game, like when I accidentally go down to the Siofra Rivernot too long into my playthrough.

In Limgrave, I step onto a platform and am dragged down, down, down, until I emerge into an amazing space: a night sky fully realized in a variety of bruised colors , littered with pinholes of light. Crumpled classic architecture obscures my view of this impossible galaxy, and tombstones line the path leading away from the platform, which glowed an odd green during my descent but now slumbers.

As the kids say, I’m gagged and stumble aimlessly away from the platform, paying little attention to enemies who might get in my way for the first time since starting. elderberry ring. It’s a mistake I quickly pay for, as I walk straight into a horde of Claymen. They move slowly, but they hurt, and I’m seriously underrated for that area. One of the unarmed magical conjurers blasts me out in seconds with his eerie bubbles, sending me back to the Site of Grace right next to the platform that brought me here. When I go back to get my several hundred runes, the same guy takes me out again.

“Fuck that,” I mumble before stepping onto the stone circle in the center of the elevator. “I will come back later.”

And I do, just much, much later. After discovering that I’m a battle mage with an affinity for gravity magic and summoning, and long after taking down the Tree Sentinel with a single stone slingshot, I return to the Siofra River a completely different direction and devastates its inhabitants. Then, after collecting all the last items dropped by a fallen NPC and picking up all the Ghost Glovewort my eyes can see, I allow myself a second to breathe. I look up at that still impossible night sky and breathe out. I won this. elderberry ringunlike other FromSoftware games, gave me plenty of opportunities to gain the tools and experience I needed to earn a brief respite.

Eternal Elder Ring

End of the Elden Ring's Frenzied Flame

I am Aries.
screenshot: FromSoftware/Kotaku

But elderberry ring isn’t just dark and serious, it’s not just grueling hours of gameplay with brief meditative breaks. It’s clunky as hell, as all FromSoftware games inherently are. There are stupid and dirty messages littered all over the floor are dozens and dozens of ways to die that will have you laughing in disbelief, and the ever-popular but still somewhat broken online game that encourages players to fuck with each other.

It’s this combination of punishing gameplay, engaging story (thanks, George RR Martin), and silly antics that make FromSoftware games, especially this one, so special. elderberry ring gives you enemies like Starsbane Radahnwhich at one point will crush you with gigantic meteors launched from a blood-red sky and at another will send you into a fit of hysterics when you realize that he is, in fact, sitting on a tiny horse. elderberry ring plays with you, offering prophecies and moral dilemmas that will have you scratching your head, but undermining it with both accidental and deliberate absurdism.

Elden Ring Turtle Pope

screenshot: FromSoftware

elderberry ring gives you a gigantic turtle wearing a pope hat. It gives you weird and disturbing stories about grapes that are actually eyeballs. It hides a giant grandmother bat among a rocky outcrop and give her a haunting song to sing ad infinitum – or until you cut through his leathery gray skin. It deflates your hope in humanity at one point only to rebuild it again the next.

It lets you explore this incredibly screwed up world for hours and hours, falling in love with some of its characters and swearing at others, taxing you physically and mentally with enemies ripped from the deepest depths of hell. of game design, and at the end it presents you with some options that don’t really matter. It does all of this while making itself playable for us From Soft plebeians, so that (brilliantly) means more of us will be talking about it than any game that came before it.

When we inevitably look back elderberry ring A decade from now, it will be hard for us to remember exactly how much it defined the zeitgeist, how deeply it permeated popular culture outside of gaming, and how much we couldn’t stop talking about it. . But now, ten months after its release, it’s hard to imagine we ever existed in a world without it.

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