2022 has the potential to be one of the best and most densely packed years in gaming. Multiple major potentially generation-defining games are scheduled to launch in the coming 12 months, including the likes of Starfield, God of War Ragnarok, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, and many more, and of course, there’s bound to be many more that launch this year that haven’t received official release dates. Even in that exalted company though, one name that gets brought up more often than most is Elden Ring.
That Elden Ring will be one of 2022’s biggest games isn’t exactly a controversial statement. In fact, it’s so much of a given that it verges on being a non-statement. Why it will be one of the biggest games of the year is a much more interesting question though. There are a great deal of obvious reasons for that, of course, but there’s also a couple that are specific to this game, and this game only.
The obvious reasons are, of course- well, obvious. It’s a FromSoftware game. Look at all the major flagship titles this developer has put out in a little over a decade, and it’s impossible not to be supremely confident in whatever it is they make next. Demon’s Souls, the Dark Souls trilogy, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are all some of the best games to have been released on their respective platforms, and with creative mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki, who directed all of those (except Dark Souls 2) coming back for Elden Ring, it’s hard not to take that as a guarantee of extreme quality. Unless something goes ridiculously, monumentally wrong, there’s just no way that this game isn’t going to be another FromSoftware masterpiece.
That would have been true even if this was just another Soulsborne game. Sure, there is something to be said about whether or not that formula is beginning to wear thin- but the thing is, Elden Ring is not going to be just another Soulsborne game. It’s very much cut from the same cloth, of course, with mechanics like souls, bornfires, and what have you all returning with different names. What makes this feel like such a different prospect, however, it the fact that it’s going to be a fully open world experience.
More than a few times in the last decade or so, developers have adopted the open world approach for a game or a formula where doing so feels like a misguided attempt to chase a trend, but that’s clearly not the case here. With its previous games, FromSoftware has perfected the art of meticulously crafting linear levels that loop in and around each other, and seeing those same design philosophies applied to a much wider and larger world is a mouthwatering prospect. Given the developer’s track record and cache, it’s hard not to be excited about what will hopefully be a lovingly crafted open world, teeming with systemic depth that enables emergent gameplay, and littered with dungeons and discrete areas that boast the same qualities of tighter, more focused level design that past From games have been known for.
Beyond all that though, there’s another reason for why Elden Ring is shaping up to be such a massive game in terms of the impact it could potentially make- George R.R. Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, is involved. The world that the game is set in was created by Martin, who was responsible for all the lore and world-building, which Miyazaki and his team at FromSoftware then took and made an entire game around. How can we not be excited about that kind of a team-up? As it is, FromSoftware has always been known for the excellent lore and world-building of its games, so a game made by the developer that revolved around George R.R. Martin’s creative output is doubly interesting.
Of course, we know what to expect from games made by this studio when it comes to the style of storytelling – rather than hours of expertly directed cutscenes, it’s going to be focused on passive storytelling that challenges the player to piece things together themselves – but the content that that storytelling delivers is going to be treading new ground, and we can’t wait to see what that in particular looks like.
It helps, of course, that a large number of people (ourselves included) have already played several hours of Elden Ring. FromSoftware’s closed network test allowed players to experience the opening section of the game, which in and of itself was a huge chunk of what’s going to be an even bigger open world, and even based on that little snippet, our confidence in the game and how it will turn out has soared to great heights. The closed network test was brimming with content, boasting excellent design, unique ideas, and a ton of variety, all backed up by the mechanical depth and tense combat that you expect to see in a From-developed title. If Elden Ring can maintain (or even surpass) that level of quality throughout the entirety of what’s clearly going to be a long and meaty game, there’s no way it doesn’t end up as one of the best new experiences of 2022.
All of that’s just scratching the surface of why everyone’s so excited about Elden Ring. Many of the other reasons go back to FromSoftware’s pedigree, and what the studio has accomplished in the past. Things such as excellent boss fights, incredible visual design, and mechanically dense and rewarding role playing are things that the studio has always excelled at, and based on everything we know about Elden Ring so far, it seems like the game is going to continue in that vein. Even if it doesn’t surpass From’s past games in those areas and just hovers around that same level of quality, millions are going to be more than satisfied.
I realize that this feature has been full of way too many superlatives for a game that hasn’t even come out yet, and if the last few years (or more than a few, even) have taught us anything, it’s that you should never be this confident in a game that isn’t fully out yet. There is a chance, however small it may be, that Elden Ring ends up burning us and doesn’t deliver on its astronomically high expectations- but you know what? It’s a very, very tiny chance. If things turn out the way they look right now like they’re going to turn out, FromSoftware’s open world action RPG is going to be one hell of a game, and one that we’re going to be talking about for years to come.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.