Elden Ring is the best game ever made! In this article, we’ll discuss why Elden Ring is indeed the Best Game of All Time, and why you should not miss out on playing it, based on my completely unbiased and objective opinion that I am sure 100% of readers will agree with and will generate commentary only telling me how perfectly correct I am.
Elden Ring is the Best Game Ever Made
We’ll go through the atypical marketing cycle that fueled relentless hype for the game, its spectacularly successful launch, and the elements that make the game feel like Magic: Player Agency, Freedom, redefining Immersion and infinite build variety. If you want even more of this, check out our video that explains why Elden Ring Succeeds where other games fail.
This is the first on a series of videos exploring how many games have gotten impressively huge and committed fanbases, and what it’s great about each of them. If you haven’t noticed it yet, the title is not serious!
The Atypical Marketing of Elden Ring
Elden Ring is a rather unique title as it went through a very interesting development process and it created a few wrinkles on their marketing plans due to unexpected but massive delays. This would normally cause the hype for a game to die down, but it had the contrary effect of fueling a rabid obsession among fans of souls, leading to an incredible amount of hype at launch.
Initially announced at E3 2019, Elden Ring was originally supposed to release in 2020 or 2021. Yet after the initial announcement, there was no Elden Ring at the game awards 2019, then silence for most of 2020 except for some tweets confirming the game was still in development, and no Elden Ring News at the Game Awards 2020. By this point it had been a year and a half since the game’s announcement and the fanbase was losing touch with reality, to the point the subreddit has declared that period as “The Great Hollowing“. Fan desperation and memes about “ohhhhhh” and no news of Elden Ring became daily gags throughout May 2021, until finally there was a June 2021 Summer Game Fest trailer.
But it would still be over 7 months before Elden Ring was finally released, at which point it had gone an unimaginable (tee-hee) 992 days from announcement to release. That’s over 32 months, or over 2 and a half years of fans just “waiting”. This may be seen as normal for some long standing series like The Elder Scrolls or Final Fantasy, but it’s something that FromSoftware and Namco don’t typically do: Start the hype marketing only to completely stop and drip breadcrumbs of non-news until finally restarting the campaign 6 months before launch.
By any previous standard, this campaign should have failed, yet it did not. Why? Obviously, the eagerness of dedicated Souls fans contributed immensely to sustaining interest, but in a strange way the buildup of mystery and expectation in the absence of any proper information became enticing for non-souls fans too. Articles began popping up about how the fanbase invented lore, theorycrafted non-existing builds, and laid out more and more hype built on dreams and hopes from very suspicious and sometimes obviously fake leaks and rumors. These articles attracted more views, which created more fake leakers, more hype memes, which created more articles… and it could all have come crashing down spectacularly had the launch not delivered. But, as it’s now the norm for FromSoftware, it did.
The Spectacular Launch of Elden Ring
Once Marketing was re-started, FromSoftware went to their typical pattern of closed-door previews, gameplay reveal, network test, and pre-launch reviews. This is a very consumer-friendly method of advertisement, as it gives plenty of information and even access to press, influencers and players so that everyone can get a taste for the upcoming product. With this transparency as a backing, I whole-heartedly recommended preorders of Elden Ring, and I’m happy to look back and say I wasn’t wrong.
Elden Ring went on to sell 13 Million Copies by the end of March 2022, almost doubling that by March 2023 with 20 million copies, and is Bandai Namco’s fastest selling game of all time, and of course smashing records for FromSoftware itself.
The fact the game has kept selling and is sustaining high concurrent players late into 2023, almost two years after launch and with little additional content, demonstrates the game’s value, appeal and longevity. But what is it that makes it so good? Let’s discuss.
Why Elden Ring is The Best Game Ever
Many have attempted to downplay the brilliance of Elden Ring by saying it’s simple Dark Souls with a horse and more space. And while the core of that argument is true, the implication that this is a bad thing is completely off-base. After all, the “Dark Souls Formula” isn’t really a formula, but rather the same artist using similar components to create thematic but clearly different experiences for the user.
As I said in my review of the game:
When I first heard of Elden Ring and saw the few screenshots and early footage, I thought it would be Dark Souls 4. When I first saw official Elden Ring gameplay last year, I thought it would be a take on open world like Dragons Dogma, but still be Dark Souls.
When I first played Elden Ring during the network test, I thought it would be less souls and more about traversing large landscapes and popping into dungeons. 50 hours into the demo I thought I knew the game’s tempo and knew how the whole game would turn out.
My first hours with the full game have taught me otherwise: this is a game that will shatter your expectations and you can’t even imagine the actual scale and depth of it. Every time you think you have it figured out some new thing pops around the corner to surprise you.
What made Elden Ring so successful is that FromSoftware correctly identified the best aspects of Souls, and masterfully weaved them into a seamless open world, integrating innovation and new tricks in subtle but impactful ways. The melding of elements is so well done that it is indeed difficult to list out “new features” of Elden Ring versus the souls series beyond the obvious like a jump button. Everything that was added to the game was done with a precise touch and a careful measuring spoon, to meld new and old concepts into one completely unique flavor.
Dark Souls was an action RPG focused on combat and challenge, and the perseverance and dedication needed to overcoming those challenges made your eventual success feel very rewarding. So FromSoftware was faced with the challenge of alluring a fanbase that loves to say “git gud’ to instead try a game that pretty much anyone can play and focuses instead on exploration and discovery.
Of course the first success in this was to create clever “traps” so that people may get an initial impression of difficulty that may not necessarily be so, such as the Tree Sentinel that roams your path right after the tutorial, the casual Dragon that will melt you just a short ride from the start point, or the Night Cavalry and Deathbird minibosses in Limgrave. These are nothing but “Illusory Walls” as they are avoidable encounters that can be done later when you’re more powerful, but they helped set the tone that the game had that “challenge” approach early on.
From here, FromSoftware had to then also convert the non-souls fans who may have been intimidated by the difficult enemies. So they added Guidance, that points you away from danger, and many, many options for exploration that would quickly distract anyone without putting them in danger, allowing them to gather gear and level up, which makes all encounters a lot easier.
Thus, with a good foundation that allowed more casual players to continue while keeping the self-titled “elite” engaged, the next step was to fill out a world that would truly compel you to explore, so that you would seek out the challenging encounters because you want the loot hidden behind them.
It is here where I feel FromSoftware truly created something unique. I am a huge fan of builds, tinkering and character optimization. Many times I make builds just to see how they do against bosses and feel powerful, then restart my game or respec the character to try something else, without ever progressing. It’s how we ended up with over 100 unique builds created by me that have been published to our wiki and channel.
The Infinite Builds of Elden Ring
Being the kind of person that tries to make many builds in many games and play it many ways, I can say with confidence that Elden Ring delivers the most satisfying build experience in Gaming. Yes, CRPG games like Pathfinder have a lot of classes and nuance, MMOs like Lost Ark or Elder Scrolls Online have huge amounts of customization via loot, and ARPGs like Path of Exile or Diablo have deep and ongoing metas that everyone loves.
But Elden Ring gives an incredible amount of variety and uniqueness per build, without needing to be “Meta” or farmed, and it does it without the frequent bugs and issues of things not working correctly that are commonplace in other complex RPGs. The excellent balance of the game drove me to create a mock series where I explained how every weapon is the “best weapon in Elden Ring“, something that is only possible because the game is that well thought-out, that you can truly make it through and feel powerful using almost anything.
Builds, of course, aren’t just about weapons. In many games they are about classes, but since Elden Ring classes are simple attribute and gear starting points, their classless system moves “skills” to a freeform choice where you can select the skill you like that matches your weapon’s moveset and own playstyle. Then you add in talismans, spells, buffs and consumables to end up with thousands of unique combinations. And the important thing is that they work – you can play the game with them, you’re not hopelessly gimping yourself if you want to stick to A or B.
Of course, some builds are more powerful than others, and there are certain “metas” for PvP that are quickly found and abused. But given FromSoftware has now deployed separate balancing for pvp and pve, solo players can really devote themselves to creativity and enjoy the combat in multiple unique styles.
Player Agency, Freedom & What Immersion Truly Means
The build variety is the most appealing to me, but the reality is that Elden Ring’s interpretation of Player Agency and Freedom redefine what “immersive” means and it’s a huge factor in its success.
Many games approach immersion as a need for high-end graphics, a minimalist UI, realistic physics and events. Many fall into the trap of becoming an interactive movie, where you are “immersed” into the events but have little control over them.
Elden Ring gifted us instead with a world as a playground, where rather than feeling that you’re playing a game, you feel like you’re playing a world. Like if you had wondered into a book, each corner hides unique vistas, secret lore, hidden valuables and unexpected enemies. It successfully delivers the excitement and intrigue that Tabletop RPGs have always been lauded for, giving a feeling of freedom to explore, interact, attack or retreat.
This approach is reinforced by the “multiple protagonist” narrative, where you as the player character aren’t the “Main Protagonist” and will find the NPCs don’t exist for your purposes, and will act and move of their own accord based on their own actions and objectives, regardless of whether you stopped to talk to them. This of course leads to the player missing out on steps for multiple questlines, which can be a frequent complaint, but it is a powerful tool when it comes to making you aware that this world does not revolve around you.
The Magic of Elden Ring
Taking all the individual components of the game, one could easily think that there’s little new or innovative in the mix. Yet somehow the combination resulted in a magical experience. The reason for this is, as I said earlier, the careful consideration and use of each aspect. The nuanced layering of mechanics so that players would not be overwhelmed, but rather thrilled to discover something new. The scale of the map, exploration and hidden spaces that aren’t locked behind tools or events, but rather your own observation and creativity.
It has been almost two years since the launch of the game and I still lose myself in the quiet tunes of Limgrave, and I still see people discovering small things here and there, tying up lore notes, or perfecting our understanding of how specific effects work or even charting every boss moveset into complex graphs.
The passion the game has generated among the fanbase has not dampened. And now, with the announcement of Shadow of the Erdtree Expansion, we have arrived at yet another cycle of waiting for more news. First revealed in February 28th, 2023, most don’t expect it to be out until February 2024, which is a year after its official introduction. But the lack of news and updates has many thinking the expansion may be even further down into 2024, meaning yet many months of expectation buildups.
Will the Elden Ring DLC deliver this magic once again? Can FromSoftware surprise us again, in this same world? I have complete confidence that yes, they can. For the past 15 years, release after release of FromSoftware games have successfully delivered a unique and compelling gaming experience. I fell in love with Demon’s Souls, I was seduced again with Dark Souls, I was completely blown away by Bloodborne and then again by the tempo pace of Sekiro, and finally I was left in awe at Elden Ring. For that, I’m happy to say that it’s the Best Game Ever Made.
So what do you think? Is Elden Ring your favorite game ever? Or maybe just right now? What other titles would you like us to cover on this series and why? Let us know in the comments below!