The Success of Elden Ring and What it Means for Gaming

by Jamie Bobko and Eason Dai

Elden Ring, the latest game in the Souls series, notorious for its immense difficulty and steep skill-curve, has blown away critics and fans alike with not only the quality of it’s gameplay and world building, but also the absolutely astonishing sales numbers.

Elden Ring, despite it’s deceptively engaging player v.s. player gameplay is mainly designed with the single player experience in mind, which should inherently mean a less profitable product in the current climate of gaming; however, Elden Ring defied this stigma, which may indicate the presence of a burgeoning 2nd renaissance of video games as an art form.

Elden Ring is the most recent in the famous lineage of FromSoftware games, and it makes it clear that it wants to do more than its predecessors, and in doing so lay the groundwork for advancements in future installments in the franchise, but that isn’t all it has proved. The profits that Elden Ring has brought in are far higher than anything people could have expected, including experts. In an investor meeting earlier this year, Bandai Namco executives projected Elden Ring to sell around 4,000,000 total copies across all platforms by March 31, 2022, or around the end of Q2 of the fiscal year (WCC). 

As boisterous as that number sounds compared to previous entries in the franchise, an example being the 3,800,000 copies of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice sold in the first three months; in reality it was massively underestimating Elden Ring, which has reportedly sold 5,000,000 copies already, and that’s only on steam(WCC).  

It has also had the single biggest launch of a game, excluding the Call of Duty and FIFA franchises, since Read Dead Redemption 2 in the UK (GI Biz). That is just about the best company a game of it’s stature can hope for. 

Video Games are the fastest growing industry in the world, and with this growth comes immense greed. This greed is seen in the form of excessive microtransactions, pay-to-win mobile games, and various forms of gambling such as loot boxes. These mechanisms are mainly found in multiplayer games, in which monetization can capitalize on the desire of the player to succeed and have rare, especially valuable items.

The success of Elden Ring highlights a greater trend in video games as of late, and that is the resurgence of single player games as a mainstay in the gaming scene. Ever since the aforementioned launch of Red Dead Redemption 2, gamers have been reminded of the immense potential of story driven games. The wonderfully world crafted by FromSoftware and legendary writer George R.R. Martin may finally be the push the industry needs to bring gaming back from the abyssal clutches of corporate greed, and back into being an art form.

Without wasting much time, I want to give you my score first before the actual review, if that’s what you’re into. (I won’t judge) From my experience, I would most definitely give the game a solid 9/10. It’s quite nice to have an actual game come out that’s polished, and most importantly, finished; since most AAA titles that have been released recently have been nothing but messy, lazy, unfinished, and full of a plethora of bugs. It’s refreshing getting a well-executed game for once. On top of that, the game is immersive, with world-building and lore to rival that of decades-old franchises; and more importantly, the potential for great things to come in not only the near future of this game but in future titles in this ever-expanding universe.

Almost instantly, I noticed how good the game looks, and how visually appealing the art design was; it blew me away, especially since I was on the older generation of consoles. Despite this praise, I will say it didn’t run perfectly.

There were significant amounts of lag and frame drops when there were too many enemies or particles on my screen. However, I would designate much of the blame on my older console for that rather than the game itself. I’ve been able to get over it, though it was a bit frustrating when my frames decided to hit terminal velocity with how hard they would drop during boss encounters. To once again mention visuals, every boss was astounding, and they all look like they were ripped right out of the twisted mind of H.P. Lovecraft himself. There are not enough words to describe the beautifully twisted nature of these gothic goliaths. 

Moving on from the techno-jargon and art design, and on to the gameplay: It’s pretty amazing. It’s probably the smoothest Souls game, and the combat stuck out, which is a monumental feat considering that’s what the franchise is known for. Once you get a handle on it, it becomes so unbelievably satisfying when you manage to beat a boss you’ve spent so many hours of pure agony trying to best. I’m beginning to understand how attaining mastery over the combat systems in the game would be so enticing for the many millions of Souls fans.

The bosses themselves are nothing to laugh at or shrug off, considering how difficult some of them are; one such being Meliana, taking hours for even veteran players to complete. Each of them comes with a special gimmick or move-set that you need to learn, read, predict, and understand to even have a chance at taking them down. It’s a hard yet rewarding game, giving you the satisfaction of triumphing over a creature truly worthy of the title of “boss”. 

Overall, Elden Ring earns its place among the best of the best. It is a game that is more than just a linear narrative with some combat in between, it’s an interesting world with lore and nuance around every corner.

Most of all, it is one of the elite games that ascend beyond just an experience, and into the level of well made art.