Elden Ring won Most Anticipated Game of the Year at The Game Awards for the second year in a row. Clearly, the Network Stress Test beta was a big hit with those gamers lucky enough to play it, and everyone else who watched streams and footage of the game.
The dark fantasy action-RPG is the latest from Dark Souls creator FromSoftware and is being directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, with lore written by Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. Yes, it’s a collaboration conjured from my happiest of imaginings. Two of my favorites in the fantasy genre teaming up to create a twisted, grimdark masterpiece.
As I’ve noted many times, it’s basically Dark Souls 4—but with an open world, horseback riding and myriad other small but potent changes. From what I’ve played, it’s familiar enough to make hardened Souls veterans feel right at home, with enough changes to keep the gameplay exciting—not to mention a whole new world filled to the brim with entirely new enemies, lore and treasure to discover.
Publisher Bandai Namco showed off a new trailer at The Game Awards as well, and it’s absolutely stunning—one of the coolest FromSoftware game trailers I’ve ever seen (and they’ve released a bunch of really terrific trailers over the years).
Check it out:
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The narrator in the trailer is called the Storyteller and she walks us through a lot of important lore and backstory. Much of this remains cryptic, as it always is with From games, but here we get much more than any previous trailer in terms of story, including names to characters we’ve only seen in the past.
Like so many characters in Elden Ring, the Storyteller has more than one pair of hands:
“It happened an age ago,” she says over ominous strings. “But when I recall, I see it true. On a night of wint’ry fog,” she says, as dark riders gallop through a wanly lit forest, “the Rune of Death was stolen and the demigods began to fall, starting with Godwyn the Golden.”
We see a body, an angry gash across its back, and then the face. A shuttered eye beginning to twitch, then opens, staring lifelessly.
“Queen Marika was driven to the brink. The Shattering ensued; a war that wrought only darkness. The Elden Ring was broken, but by whom? And why?”
We see the golden leaves of the massive Erdtree and then the scene shifts to war. Legions of darkness descend upon a fortress with high stone walls. Flames and spears and smoke. Hulking beasts and fiery catapults.
“What could the demigods ever hope to win by warring?” the Storyteller asks.
The scene shifts again to the aftermath of a great battle. The sky is fiery red. This is a new glimpse at the same scene and the same figures we saw in the Elden Ring reveal trailer.
The hulking giant is General Radahn, conqueror of the stars. His red-haired adversary is Malenia the Severed, known also as the Blade of Mequella.
“These two were the mightiest to remain, and locked horns in combat,” the Storyteller says. “But there would be no victor.”
“And so,’ she tells us, “we inhabit a fractured world, awaiting the arrival of the Elden Ring. Unless of course, thou shouldst take the crown?”
I wonder if this Storyteller is a figure we should trust. The final image of her reveals someone perhaps just a little . . . two-faced. After all, can simply taking the crown heal the world? Isn’t it strongly implied that only the Elden Ring can do that? Perhaps we’re dealing with another choice like we did with the primordial serpents in Dark Souls.
There, Kingseeker Frampt and Darkstalker Kaathe urged the Chosen Undead toward different paths—linking the Flame or ushering in the Age of Dark.
There’s tons to unpack here, and we could dive into some previous trailers to help tease out more details.
We know that the Golden Order has been broken, but so far we only known of two of its members: Godwyn the Golden and Godrick the Golden, both presumably demigods. I suspect there could be more in the order, and more demigods outside of it.
We now also know of the demigods Melenia and Radahn and the mother of the demigods, Queen Marika the Eternal. The list of “main” boss fights continues to grow, dear readers. Steel thyselves.
I will add that it appears that Melenia and Radahn not only came to a draw, but perhaps conjoin in some way. We could be facing them both at once as a double-boss encounter. A quick, dexterous knight and a slower, hulking giant. Now what does that remind me of?
I’d also hazard a guess that the Golden Order broke itself at the same time the Elden Ring was destroyed. Some betrayal, perhaps. Did Godrick stab Godwyn in the back and take the ring for himself? This may be the most intense and fascinating tale of powerful rings since Tolkien. (And players, of course, will make use of many less powerful rings in their adventures).
As the Tarnished, players will travel to the Lands Between to discover the mystery behind the shattering of the Elden Ring, and face off against the remnants of the demigods and their legions.
I played many hours of the beta and loved every second of it—except the game crashes and the many times summoning was impossible or took forever. But every other second of Elden Ring was sublime and February 25th, 2022 cannot come quickly enough.
P.S. I still need to finish my preview from the beta. Technical difficulties and other frustrations hampered my progress and I decided to wait until after the flood of other previews to publish. Stay tuned both to this blog and my YouTube channel for that.
We also got this incredible moment at The Game Awards when a pot goblin came out on stage with Geoff Keighley:
Maybe not the greatest moment in video game history, but in Game Awards history yes. Pretty damn cool.