Everyone is talking about Elden Ring. Well, it might be more apt to say everyone is either creaming their jeans over Elden Rings or arguing about it. Despite overwhelming praise from mainstream reviewers, I still find myself unsure what to think about the game and whether I should finally dip my feet into the “SoulsBorne” pool with this game being the body of acid that burn them off.
My problem with the whole Elden Ring discourse is that everyone who seems to be getting real excited over the game are the same people already neck deep into adoring Souls games. I feel like they’re kind of a biased source of information given my personal history (or lack thereof) with the genre.
As someone who has never played one before I feel more put off than attracted to the game at this point. The main brunt of takes I’m seeing on social media are people declaring it Game of the Year already and going insane praising it for being weird, obtuse and near impenetrable. All the things people praise other Souls games for and the thing that makes me unsure about wanting to invest the time and money into the game in the first place.
I literally have Sekiro and Bloodborne on my shelf and have never played them. Do I need to spend £50 + on a game I might bounce off of super hard?
Usually seeing so much, seemingly universal, praise of a game would make me want to pick it up. But it’s knowing that these games are like and what they’re about that makes me more inclined to doubt the praise they’re getting. I have been known to be something of a contrarian in my past, I mentioned it a few weeks back. It’s something I try to avoid doing these days, but when it comes to Elden Ring, it really is hard to tell.
From what I do know about Souls games, it that they’re so nigh impenetrable (by design) that you can’t really know their extend and scope until a hive mind of players have spent weeks or months digging into it. Hence why I am so very wary of this instant and overwhelming praise. I mean, how can you know it’s all that good? Or if it’s just another Souls-like?
By which metric, my I could just play the well received games I already own that I haven’t started to play yet. I’ll admit that there is some aspect of this coming from me wanting to actually buy a new game on my PS5: a console I managed to get my hands on last year and have played very few games on it since. But, by their nature, games on the new console are becoming exorbitantly expensive and I have already had my eyes on Guardians of the Galaxy and Horizon: Forbidden West for the past few weeks as an alternative.
Hence I have found myself unconsciously backing the more toxic, contrarian section of the internet who seem to be rallying against Elden Ring purely because it is getting so much universal praise from the biggest reviewers that make up the big numbers on Metacritic. Because, some of the points really do make sense to me. Even with their early access to the game, how can they really have a full scope of the game and whether it really is GOTY worthy so soon upon release?
A point I see made a lot from genuine wary commenters of the praise and trolls alike. The thing is though, modern video game discourse simply doesn’t exist on the internet anymore. It devolves into name calling, endless arguments and people simply typing the word “Ratio”, as if that were some actual counter to a remark. Using popular opinion as a blunt force object does not make your opinion more correct.
Because of course this leads to the people who pile onto the reviewers who are giving a more nuanced opinion on the game, maybe the ones like myself who are still virginal when it comes to this punishing genre of video game. Or maybe they’re writing the review expressly for people like me who are interested but unsure.
I suppose that is ultimately always going to be the problem with a game like this, or any game from a long running series or one with an enormous community already behind it. People just tie so much of their identity up in the the media they consume these days that anything this big is going to turn into a war of reactions.
At the end of the day, the most sensible option for me would be to just start playing Bloodborne. And then in a few months, see what the discourse of the game has settled at. Then decide whether to pick it up or not, with the added bonus of being able to get it cheaper second hand. But it’s just hard not to get swept up in the hype and want to be a part of the discussion of what might potentially be the biggest game of the year as it’s new and fresh.