FromSoftware is a studio that offers relatively niche games that appeals to a subcategory of gamers who enjoy tough challenges. Games developed by FromSoftware are known for their brutal difficulty and their tendency to cause players to die multiple times trying to defeat seemingly invincible bosses. Although FromSoftware games have always sold well, they have avoided being considered mainstream because, for many gamers, the time, patience, and perseverance required to succeed is just too much.
The latest offering from FromSoftware is Elden Ring which takes players to the Lands Between where new challenges and adventures await. Elden Ring has been a long-anticipated game, and since its release, it has been enjoying stellar reviews and an impressive commercial performance. The meteoric sales of the game suggest that FromSoftware has managed to appeal to mainstream gamers outside the studio’s usual niche, and this has been made possible by introducing a few new features to the FromSoftware formula.
Assessing Elden Ring’s Success
Since Elden Ring‘s launch, the game has been showered with praise from gamers. The PS5 version of the game currently sits with a score of 97 on Metacritic and is among the highest-rated games of all time on Opencritic. On the commercial front, FromSotware is sure to be pleased with Elden Ring‘s performance. The game had the biggest launch of a non-FIFA and Call of Duty game since 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2, and its week one sales surpass that of Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
Elden Ring has sold well on all platforms, although the majority of its sales have come from the PS5 which accounts for 32% of Elden Ring‘s player base. The game has also performed well on PC which is responsible for 30% of Elden Ring‘s total sales. On Steam, Elden Ring is FromSoftware’s biggest launch to date, surpassing Dark Souls 3 and Sekiro.
Elden Ring Embraces the Open-World Format
When Grand Theft Auto 3 launched in 2001, it would have been hard to predict what an impact the game would have on the gaming industry. It went a long way to popularizing the open-world format that now dominates gaming, and the trend appears to show no signs of slowing down any time soon. For a long time, FromSoftware games have not fully implemented an open-world design for their games, instead opting for a series of levels that interlink like a complex spider web.
With Elden Ring, FromSoftware has embraced the open-world format, and it may be one of the biggest reasons the game has enjoyed such popularity. Not only does an open-world draw the attention of far more gamers, but it also complements the style of FromSoftware games quite well. Typically, in FromSoftware games, players may find their progress suddenly impeded by a tough boss, causing the entire game to grind to a halt until players find a way to conquer their foe. However, with a wide open-world available, players have the option to simply turn away, explore the rest of the Lands Between, and return for their revenge when they feel ready.
Elden Ring‘s open-world design encourages exploration every step of the way, and while most open-world maps are polka-dotted with quest markers and icons indicating points of interest, Elden Ring instead presents a relatively clean map that allows players to blaze their own trail. While this may be a daring design choice, letting players get lost instead of gently guiding them everywhere makes exploring the Lands Between feels like a true adventure.
Elden Ring Has Some Big Names Attached to It
Hidetaka Miyazaki serves as Elden Ring‘s director. As President of FromSoftware, Miyazaki’s influence on the studio has been monumental and games he has overseen have come to be iconic cornerstones in gaming. The Dark Souls series features some of the highest-rated action games of all time, and while games from several other studios have attempted to emulate the franchise’s combat, none have managed to replicate the magic of Dark Souls. The games are also known for their indirect storytelling that requires players to pay attention to the world around them and piece together details to try and better understand the plot. Due to Miyazaki’s successes in gaming, anticipation for Elden Ring was high, as gamers were expecting yet another masterpiece.
Elden Ring was able to also attract the attention of casual gamers through George R. R. Martin’s contributions to the game. Martin, who is responsible for the A Song of Ice and Fire series, serves as one of the game’s writers, and he assisted with the worldbuilding and crafting of the game’s backstory. Miyazaki has revealed that he is a fan of Martin’s writing and that he had Martin write about the history of the Lands Between rather than the present because “by having him write about a time the player isn’t directly involved in, he is free to unleash his creativity in the way he likes.”
Thanks to Miyazaki’s good reputation within gaming, gamers flocked to Elden Ring. However, Martin’s involvement ensured that even casual gamers became tempted to see what Elden Ring is all about.
Elden Ring is FromSoftware’s Most Accessible Game
Part of the difficulty of past FromSoftware games comes from the fact that they embrace struggle and make players work hard for the smallest of victories. Hence, after dying to a boss, players have to make a long journey that often involves passing other enemies that can also be tough. With Elden Ring, players spawn closer to bosses after dying, making it easier to jump right back into the fight. Design choices like this have made Elden Ring more accessible to the average gamer than previous FromSoftware titles, and the game has consequently been able to attract a wider player base than its predecessors.
Elden Ring‘s exploration is also made extremely accessible. Players can summon a trusty steed to help them journey through the vast Lands Between. Although players will encounter geographical features such as hills, cliffs, and mountains, none of them are impassable obstacles thanks to Spirit Springs which helps players get to higher ground. These features make adventuring easier, and it ensures that gamers who might be interested in the game feel as though they can ease themselves into the world of FromSoftware titles.
The success of Elden Ring suggests that FromSoftware and Miyazaki are not done with crafting video games just yet. Through Elden Ring, the studio has illustrated that it is capable of taking its classic tough-as-nails gameplay and presenting it in a way that makes it palatable for the average, mainstream gamer.
Elden Ring is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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About The Author
Smangaliso Simelane (156 Articles Published)
Smangaliso Simelane spends most of his time writing. When he isn’t working on his imaginary worlds, he is writing about video games.