How Elden Ring conquered the gaming world, and what comes next

There’s no doubt that Elden Ring is one of the biggest and most influential video games of the past decade. But how and why did this open-world role-playing game, based on the famous Dark Souls archetype, become so big?


That’s a question that requires zooming out and looking at the broader gaming landscape. As game development has continued to evolve over the years, some of the main changes have come in streamlining player experiences. Gone are the days when an arcade cabinet required you to insert your hard-earned quarters and figure things out on your own. Instead, developers now have the technology and the experience required to hold players’ hands, guiding them through intended experiences.


There’s something to be said for this approach. Sometimes, it’s nice to know exactly where to go and what to do. It can make for a more relaxing experience than having to blindly fumble about in the dark for answers. But what’s also true is that sometimes, gamers still want to figure things out for themselves.

Miyazaki leads the way with Dark Souls


This desire explains the rise of the Dark Souls franchise. Starting with 2009’s Demon’s Souls, game director Hidetaka Miyazaki led a charge in the opposite direction from most developers. Rather than making things clear and simple for players, Miyazaki and his development teams would create robust challenges, and task players with overcoming them with minimal aid.


As wild as the idea was, it worked. The Dark Souls trilogy of games followed the cult success of Demon’s Souls, and each new Dark Souls game seemed to succeed even more brightly than the last.


This all led up to the 2022 release of Elden Ring, by far the most ambitious of Miyazaki’s games. And, as it would turn out, by far the most successful.


Elden Ring benefited from more hype and more marketing by far than any of Miyazaki’s previous games. The hype was justified; Elden Ring contained a massive world waiting to be explored, with nearly every inch of it covered in unique challenges and discoveries waiting to be unearthed. Just when players would think they’d seen most of what there was to see, they would find more.


Along with this, new innovations for the series paid off in spades. Elden Ring was the first of Miyazaki’s games to feature mounted travel and combat, and the results added a new element to the familiar formula. Combined with epic set-pieces and tremendous boss encounters, the sum total was an unforgettable experience.


Elden Ring would go on to win multiple Game of the Year awards, including at the Game Awards, and it became by far the most critically-acclaimed video game of 2022. Some developers of other contending titles even bemoaned its success, wondering how a game that lacked so many of the seeming advancements made in user experience could triumph over all.


But those developers were missing the mark; Elden Ring may be missing some UI or UX elements, but in lacking these progressive features, it allows the player to fill in the gaps themselves. It’s a big risk, and it led to an even bigger achievement.


After accomplishing something so great, where does Hidetaka Miyazaki go from here? Well, for now, he does more of the same.


Elden Ring isn’t finished yet, more still to come


The biggest request from most fans of Miyazaki and his FromSoftware studio was more Elden Ring. And that’s exactly what those fans are going to get, as FromSoftware is set to deliver downloadable content for the award-winning title.


There are still many questions left unanswered as to what exactly will be featured in the DLC. Miyazaki has been somewhat cagey, and FromSoftware has been limited in the information it has provided. But there is already firm speculation from series fans about the new games story and the identities of the Elden Ring DLC bosses.


The mystery is part of the appeal. Just as players were constantly surprised by more and more discoveries as they popped up in Elden Ring, so too will players be surprised by what’s laid out for them in the game’s DLC, titled Shadow of the Erdtree.


A continuation of the game’s narrative is assured. Exploration of new and familiar spaces is a given. Meeting more odd and creepy characters is a guarantee. But as for the details? The exact nature of what the experience will have to offer? This is being left purposefully vague. And Hidetaka Miyazaki’s accomplishments are now such that he has earned the benefit of the doubt. Even in the age of social media, spoilers, and instant gratification, players are more than happy to wait and find out for themselves what lies in store for them in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.


This latest DLC isn’t likely to set the world on fire with its brave design as Elden Ring did in 2022. But it’s certainly going to sate the appetites of gamers worldwide. Considering how audacious Miyazaki’s path has been, going against the grain of the better part of his industry to deliver creative works true to his unique vision, that says a lot.

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Chicano | Fighting/Writing for Diversity | DM since 08 | Anime Lover | Site: | | |

Chicano | Fighting/Writing for Diversity | DM since 08 | Anime Lover | Site: | | |

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