The success of the Elden Ring launch was fueled by loyal fans of FromSoftware - Polygon

I entered Elden Ring a bumbling but earnest rookie. I removed Stormveil Castle after much death and despair; so I set out on the adventure, and in a moment I found myself on top of a tower, next to a chest. Someone before me left a message: wealth ahead!

I opened the chest, sucked on a portal, and woke up to a nightmare region of the game, full of misery. This is the moment that clicked for me; I suddenly felt like I was sa in the FromSoftware experience.

Elden Ring is one of the biggest titles of the year, with over 12 million copies sold in March 2022. The game has proven both a commercial and critical success, and while developer FromSoftware has sacrificed some of the hardest edges from the previous title, it is still very familiar for long -term fans of the studio. FromSoft has been studying many of the same mechanics and design principles over the years, and the scale of Elden Ring‘S success is largely thanks to the fan base cultivated by Japanese developers through previous releases. And this very community isn’t the only thing that appeals to me Elden Ringbut also boosted my interest in both playing previous FromSoft games and digging deep into their knowledge.

Image: From Software by Polygon

FromSoftware is probably best known for the Dark Souls series. Demon Souls, a 2009 release that will eventually be made again as a PlayStation 5 launch title in 2020, was a cult hit. The Dark Souls trilogy will be released in the 2010s, along with Victorian gothic horror Blood in 2015 (hence the term “Soulsborne” is used by many fans, a way to simply refer to the developer’s catalog). FromSoft also released the adventure during the Sengoku era Sekiro: Twice the shadows die in 2019, departing from familiar elements such as repetitive, disruptive Patches.

Dark Souls also influenced game design more broadly, with “Soulslike” becoming a shorthand for defining a particular game’s ethos and set of mechanics. There are Soulslike games that, on the surface, are not the same as FromSoftware’s majestic, awful settings. But the creators of games like Tunic intelligently learned from FromSoftware and interpreted developer mechanics through their own lens.

I’m the kind of player who loves to dig for knowledge, learn little secrets about the world and its characters. At first, I missed a lot here Elden Ring, until I started paying attention to the flavor text in item descriptions. Most of the world is ready for debate, spread small riddles and unreliable narrators. It is refreshingly open to discovery and interpretation; there is no in-game codex full of world-building or dialogue tree full of technical information on the world.

Elden Ring - Rennala, Queen of the Full Moon, poses.  He was wearing an elaborate cloak, high coned hats, and holding a large scepter.  The full moon is set dangerously behind him, reflecting in a form of water behind Rennala.

Photo: From Software/Bandai Namco

Many of FromSoft’s games share similar gameplay cores: There’s very hard combat, until the player can figure out the specific attack patterns and movement styles of the enemy. But the characters and world formation really intrigued me, and I became interested in the whole FromSoft canon. Opponents are often extremely pathetic, whether they are cheerful, day-loving warriors who eventually succumb to madness and frenzy or desperate monster hunters who stumble and fall into unspeakable horrible eldritch. .

There is a limited amount of information about the game world, provided in mysterious dialogue lines and item descriptions. The FromSoftware game follows internal consistency in its design and logic, even if the developer experiments with larger aspects.

This consistency and range has helped build one of the most ardent fan base in gaming. For years, it was almost a plague; there was a recurring stereotype of the “git gud” gamer who would accept all criticism or concerns about Soulsborne games with one saying: Just be better at video games. This conversation is still going on-and we’ll likely see debates over whether FromSoftware games should have easy modes until the inevitable death of the heat of the universe-but it has disappeared over time to allow for a more accessible, welcoming fan experience.

Elden Ring Guide: Respec with Larval Tears

Photo: From Software/Bandai Namco by Polygon

Peek at Elden Ring subreddit, and you’ll find players sharing the repeated trials and tribulations of fighting Starscourge Radahn, or sharing gifs of their horrific, hilarious deaths at the hands of birds or suspicious cliffside. For every person who says using a summon or a shield isn’t the “real” way to play, dozens more are celebrating wild techniques-like intense incantation, blood build, or good ol ’cheese – they survived then.

Elden Ring was the first FromSoftware game I played, and it was partly because I was extremely intrigued by the deep identity that FromSoftware fans had. I have witnessed friends go through a cycle of frustration and anger, slow understanding, and successful revenge in boss battles. I’ve seen people share great fan art of FromSoft characters, or share their lore theories on social media. I also learned about the communities built around these franchises.

FromSoftware games are collaborative and highly based on interaction with other players, whether it’s through in-game messages or gatherings with creators who interpret knowledge and share their theories. There is shared vocabulary and understanding with developer fans, and they work together to understand the worlds of FromSoft crafts. And there are also local legends that inspire works of their own, such as Let Me Solo Her, a player who exists only to summon the world of a lucky ally to single-handedly defeat the game’s toughest boss-even that he has been bugged and heals a ridiculous amount of damage.

Malenia donned her helmet in a screenshot from Elden Ring

Photo: From Software/Bandai Namco

Elden Ring Fans have also done a lot of fascinating projects around the lore and setting of the game. The developers of Elden Ring have made demake trailers and Game Boy adaptations. Players joke about the difficulty of the game and assign their own challenges by playing with a Fisher Price controller or going for a legendary nine -minute speed run. There is also, of course, an incredible amount of fan art.

Although the size is surprising, talented observers can see the game’s popularity from afar. Even then Elden Ring came out for public enjoyment, FromSoft fans held a vigil after each game conference where Elden Ring is not shown or previewed. Moments later, they become fierce and create their own knowledge, along with bosses like “Glaive Master Hodir.” And when an additional trailer was finally released in 2021, providing more insight into Elden Ring‘s lore, fans immediately rallied to a favorite character: the humble Pot Boy.

Elden Ring there was a similar hold on me. Then Elden Ring, I am addicted; I never thought of “being good,” but I was completely down to explore games like that Bloodtook the game and swallowed it itself-along with digging into fan-created resources like Redgrave’s novella “The Paleblood Hunt,” a 90-page dissection of Bloodthe themes, enemies, and character’s, or avoiding videos of enemy models to fully understand their designs.

Elden Ring opened the door for many fans who may have been intrigued by the glimpses of this community that they caught here and there, but were terrified of the “get good” dialogue and the reputation that games hold for the incredibly poor boss. But FromSoftware fans have been successful with the games for years, sharing the best pieces on social media and seeking subsequent releases. It is worth noting that Elden RingSuccess owes a great deal to the combined efforts, in-jokes, and analysis. I’m looking forward to the prospective DLC adding more riddles for fans to ponder, but I think I’ll also go through the new game plus, making a victory lap around Lands Between.

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