After 13 years of iterating on the “Souls” series and decades more in the wider gamut of game development, renowned Japanese studio FromSoftware did something that seemed tougher than even the most brutal Dark Souls boss fight: it created a global smash hit, all while continuing to cater to hardcore fans and expertly evolve the often imitated, never replicated formula it’s best known for. Elden Ring is a monumental achievement in video games, a sprawling, endlessly rewarding masterclass in open-world game design where grand vistas and towering cities feel as paramount to the experience as the intimate conflicts that happen within them.
At the heart of it all is you, the player, exploring a gorgeous and intriguing but also arduous, punishing world that pushes back hard. You’ll die a lot – in brutal and seemingly unconquerable ways – to brutes and beasts and environmental perils, but you’ll never feel alone. You’ve got a near endless combination of weapons, spells, armor sets, and even human players to summon by your side. Roleplay as a hulking knight swinging a truck-sized battle axe at the head of a fire breathing dragon, or a withered mage hailing cosmic horrors down on enemies from afar. Elden Ring is your story to create and your Tarnished hero yours to shape.
While Elden Ring may be light on narrative in the more overt, traditional video game way, it more than makes up for it with its lore and world building, rewarding players with intricately crafted characters in sidequests tucked in corners all over the world. Like most things here, the more effort the player puts in to discover, the more rewards they’ll reap. It’s a core tenet of the philosophy behind what makes Elden Ring so special and it’s something that no studio can pull off quite like FromSoftware can.
Ironically, for a game about a lonely journey through a hellish world, one of the most lasting gifts of Elden Ring is that it became a global cultural phenomenon, inspiring millions of players everywhere to share secrets and incredible moments. We all cheered each other on, spent countless hours discussing our strategies against the toughest bosses, and proudly posed our characters in their greatest (and strangest) costumes and builds.
We’ll likely spend the rest of our lives thinking about, talking about, and playing Elden Ring, but until then and for now, Elden Ring is IGN’s Best Game of the Year for 2022.
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