Elden Ring’s launch success is being fueled by loyal FromSoftware fans

Elden Ring’s launch success is being fueled by loyal FromSoftware fans

i went in elden ring a clumsy but serious beginner. I vacated Stormveil Castle after much death and despair; So I set out on an adventure and soon found myself on top of a tower next to a chest. Someone who got here before me had helpfully left a note: Honey ahead!

I opened the chest, was sucked through a portal and woke up in a nightmare region of the game full of misery. It was the moment when something clicked in me; I suddenly felt like I was in on the FromSoftware experience.

elden ring is one of the biggest titles of the year with over 12 million copies sold in March 2022. The game has proven to be both a commercial and critical success, and while developer FromSoftware shed some of the toughest edges of previous titles, it’s still very familiar to longtime fans of the studio. FromSoft has been tinkering with many of the same mechanics and design principles for years and on the order of elden ringThe success of owes much to the fan base the Japanese developer has nurtured through previous releases. And it is precisely this community that has not only made me addicted elden ringbut also piqued my interest in both playing FromSoft’s earlier games and delving deep into their lore.

The Hero character class sits by a fireplace in Elden Ring as a mysterious cloaked stranger approaches

Image: FromSoftware via Polygon

FromSoftware is perhaps best known for the Dark Souls series. demons souls, a 2009 release that was later relaunched as a PlayStation 5 launch title in 2020, was a cult hit. The Dark Souls trilogy was released in the 2010s alongside Victorian gothic horror bloodborne in 2015 (hence the term “Soulsborne” that many fans use to casually refer to the developer’s catalogue). FromSoft also published the adventure from the Sengoku era Axe: Shadows die twice in 2019, which deviated from familiar elements like the persistent pesky patches.

Dark Souls also had a broader impact on game design, with “Soulslike” becoming an acronym for identifying a specific game ethos and set of mechanics. There are Soulslike games that, on the surface, have nothing to do with FromSoftware’s majestic, horrid settings. But creators of games like tunic cleverly learned from FromSoftware and interpreted the developer’s mechanics through their own lens.

I’m the kind of player that loves to dig into lore and find out little secrets about the world and its characters. At first I missed a lot of it elden ring, until I started paying attention to the flavor text in item descriptions. Much of the world is up for debate, divided into small puzzles and unreliable narrators. It’s refreshingly open to discovery and interpretation; There is no codex in the game full of world building or dialogue trees full of technical information about the world.

Elden Ring - Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon, poses.  She wears an elaborate robe, a tall conical hat, and holds a large scepter.  The full moon looms ominously behind her, casting a reflection on a body of water beyond Rennala.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

Many of FromSoft’s games share similar gameplay cores: there are excruciatingly difficult combats until the player puzzles out the specific attack patterns and enemy movement styles. But it was the characters and world-building that really intrigued me and sparked my interest in the entire FromSoft canon. Enemies are often deeply tragic, whether they are cheerful, sun-loving warriors who eventually succumb to madness and frenzy, or desperate monster hunters who stumble upon and fall prey to unspeakable horrors.

There is a limited amount of information about the game world given away in cryptic lines of dialogue and item descriptions. A FromSoftware game follows an internal consistency in its design and logic, even as the developer experiments with larger aspects.

This consistency and reach has helped build one of the most passionate fan bases in gaming. For years this was almost a plague; there was the persistent stereotype of the “Git Gud” gamer, who deflected any criticism or concerns about Soulsborne games with a saying: just be better at video games. That conversation still lingers – and we’ll likely see debates about whether FromSoftware games should have simple modes until the inevitable heat death of the universe – but it’s faded over time to make for a more accessible, welcoming fan experience.

Elden Ring Guide: Respec with Larval Tears

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Check them out elden ring subreddit, and you’ll see players share the repeated trials and tribulations of the Starscourge Radahn battle, or share GIFs of their horrific, comically inept deaths at the hands of birds or suspicious-looking cliffs. For every person who claims that using a summon or shield isn’t the “real” way to play the game, dozens more celebrate the wild strategies — like intense summons, blood builds, or plain old cheese — they use to survive to have.

elden ring is the first FromSoftware game I’ve ever played, and that’s partly because I was so intrigued by the deep sense of identity that FromSoftware fans had. I had seen friends go through the cycle of frustration and anger, slow realization and triumphant revenge over boss fights. I had seen people share beautiful fan art of FromSoft characters or shared their lore theories on social media. I also got a sense of the communities that have been built around these franchises.

FromSoftware games are collaborative and rely heavily on communication with other players, whether through in-game messages or gathering developers to interpret the lore and share their theories. There is a common vocabulary and understanding among the developer’s fans, and they work together to understand the worlds that FromSoft creates. And there are also local legends that inspire fanworks of their own, like Let Me Solo Her, a player who exists simply to be called into the world of a lucky ally to single-handedly defeat the game’s toughest boss – even if they is bugged and ridiculous heals damage sums.

Malenia puts on her helmet in a screenshot from Elden Ring

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

elden ring Fans have also already created tons of fascinating projects around the game’s backstory and setting. Developers have created Elden Ring Demake trailers and Game Boy adaptations. Joking about the game’s difficulty, players assign their own challenges by playing the game on a Fisher Price controller or embarking on an iconic nine-minute speedrun. There’s also, of course, an incredible amount of fan art.

Though the scale is surprising, seasoned observers could tell the game’s popularity from afar. Already before elden ring was released to the delight of the public, FromSoft fans held a vigil after each game conference elden ring was not shown or previewed. For a while, they went completely wild and made up their own lore, including bosses like Glaive Master Hodir. And when an additional trailer was finally released in 2021, giving more insight elden ring‘s lore, fans immediately rallied around a favorite character: the humble Pot Boy.

elden ring had a similar grip on me. According to elden ring, I was hooked; It never occurred to me to “get good,” but I was absolutely ready to explore games like bloodbornepick up the game and devour yourself — along with digging into fan-made resources like Redgrave’s novella, The Paleblood Hunt, a 90-page analysis of bloodbornethe themes, enemies, and characters of , or browse videos of enemy models to get a full sense of their designs.

elden ring opened the door for many fans who might have been intrigued by the glimpses of this community here and there, but intimidated by the “get good” dialogue and the games’ reputation for incredibly tough bosses was. But FromSoftware fans have championed the games for years, sharing the best bits on social media and hyping subsequent releases. It’s worth mentioning elden ringThe success of owes much to this concerted effort, jokes and analysis. I’m excited for the upcoming DLC, which will offer fans more puzzles to ponder, but I imagine I’ll also go through a new game plus and do a lap of honor through the Lands Between.

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