FROMSOFTWARE’s titles have a tendency to turn inexperienced players away from their games. With this track record of creating difficult entries, Elden Ring elicits a response that capitalizes on the difficulty of FROM’s past titles. Despite this, Elden Ring has garnished a new audience that is experiencing FROM’s titles for the first time. However, there are still people looming, wishing for a game to scratch that inescapable itch of something new. So if you haven’t played Elden Ring, what’s stopping you?
Elden Ring does present the difficulty of other FROM’s titles while boasting a large, immersive world in grotesque fantasy. It also holds something intangible, hidden behind hours of trial and error. That is the evolving cycle of success you get from overcoming challenges present in the Lands Between.
Before Elden Ring, I barely touched FROMSOFTWARE’s titles. I viewed them with little to no engagement because I would constantly tell myself, “You want to enjoy games, not spend the majority of your time raging at them.” This mindset is something I found difficult to overcome. Yes, to put it bluntly, these titles are brutal, ruthless, and don’t care about your feelings. As a casual gamer, Elden Ring was intimidating, but now that I have ripped the Band-Aid off, I don’t know how I have gone so long before without giving them a try.
During the first five hours in Elden Ring, I tried to destroy a small group of bandits just a short distance from the tutorial area. I spent hours trying to beat this group of enemies only to fail repeatedly. This moment defined my experience throughout my 117 hours of playtime.
Elden Ring capitalizes on giving you the least amount of information in regard to a map, compass, and database, setting you free in the Lands Between. This can seem uninteresting and even frustrating. But if you explore, let go of that fear of dying, and dive headfirst into the ever expansive world, you will feel greatly rewarded.
Wired into all of our minds is a want to succeed and overcome adversity, and that is something that FROMSOFTWARE understands. Overcoming challenges became an intoxicating cycle of “getting gud” while deciding where to go next. You will lose some experience when you die (if you didn’t spend it first), but you also are posed with an interesting question: do I go back and try again, or go somewhere else?
Sometimes we can’t progress until we complete a boss or challenge, and this is a common theme in Elden Ring, especially for inexperienced players. This often creates a feeling of anger or rage that may have you shouting profanities at your television screen. Some bosses will seem unfair and unbeatable. I know plenty of times on my playthrough where I had to set the controller aside and say, “This sucks.”
The best comparison for the challenges in Elden Ring is comparing them to a bully. Not just any bully, but one that is motivated by crushing your spirit. They don’t care about money, they care that you can’t buy lunch later. Day after day, you challenge them in hopes to get that lunch money back and to leave the bully as broken as they have left you. Then, one day, it clicks. You anticipate the bully’s every move because you have seen their attack patterns over and over again. That’s when you realize that the tormentor is now a bloodied, broken heap. You won.
Although this process sounds excruciating, it leaves you grinning from ear to ear. It’s that same sensation that has you shouting from the top of your lungs when your favorite football team scores a game winning touchdown. It’s hitting 100% on “Through the Fire and Flames” by DragonForce on Guitar Hero. It’s a feeling of pure ecstasy that leaves you hungry for more and pushes you to continue your journey in the Lands Between. This experience becomes addicting, especially as the game’s bosses become more difficult.
The experience that creates this magical conundrum of trial and error may not make sense when you read about it. It is something that must be experienced. I won’t lie to you and say that you will only fail once. Speaking from my own perspective, I died hundreds of times to certain enemies and bosses. When I finally beat what I perceived as unbeatable, those moments became something I do not think I will ever forget.
The journey I traveled in the Lands Between became something that I will look back at fondly. It has opened doors to games that I would usually never give the time of day to. FROMSOFTWARE knows how to build your confidence in a way that goes beyond rewarding. These experiences taunt you in a way that says, “Bet you can’t beat me.” But, eventually, you get to a point where you say, “Bet.”