Elden Ring is officially out. How is it? I dunno, I wrote this article a week ago. But even if it doesn’t live up to the hype, it’ll be all I need it to be: a new Souls game.
As you may have guessed from my numerous articles about them over the years, I love the Souls games. Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne, I’ve played all of these games more times than I can count. They’ve helped me make friends and brought me closer to the ones I already had. These games are extremely special, to me and to so many others.
Question is: why? Is it only because they’re hard and people are addicted to the struggle? Does it all simply boil down to masochism?
Well, yes. But there is more to it than that. And I think most of it boils down to its community and how the games bolster it.
That sense of difficulty lends itself incredibly well to building a sense of comradery in the community, both in the game and outside of it. Players can leave tips, be it in-game notes or on community forums. That, and you can simply summon others to help you out with difficult levels or boss fights. Or you could be a total troll and leave fake advice or straight-up invade another player and ruin their day. It’s a nice blend of kind helpfulness and trolling.
Although there is the more elitist side of the community. But you can just ignore them. Play the games as you want to, whether that be solo or a co-op run or whatever else you want. Now, with that bit of advice out of the way, let’s move on.
Even the story encourages community interaction and cooperation. The Souls games don’t give you a straight-forward story. You’re given the basic premise, then told to go. If you want the details, you need to figure them out yourself by reading item descriptions and going through NPC dialogue.
Finding all of it on your own is extremely difficult and time consuming. Often times, it’s a trial just to find out how to get an item or even an ending. Luckily, there are plenty of forums discussing various theories, not to mention YouTube channels like VaatiVidya. Not only does it save you a ton of work in the game, but it also allows you to explore differing theories and opinions that you may have never considered, allowing you to view the game in a whole new light.
Each of these games is essentially a big puzzle, both in gameplay and in narrative. What happened to the Lords of Cinder in Dark Souls 3? Just what is the Orphan of Kos in Bloodborne? How the fucking hell am I supposed to beat Saint Isshin in Sekiro? Where can I find this item that’s ideal for my current build? You can solve it all on your own, sure, but they highly encourage you to cooperate with others in order to unravel it all.
There are plenty of reasons beyond even that to love the Souls games. Their highly immersive settings drip with atmosphere. Their high difficulty make for extremely satisfying feelings of triumph and growth when you overcome. They all have killer music. If you really want to boil it down to its simplest form, you could simply say that the gameplay is just fun!
Or you could love these games for entirely different reasons that I never even touched on. That’s the magic of opinions.
I’ll see y’all in Elden Ring.