Elden Ring’s Controversial Launch Stirs Unrest Among Players


Jace Bracelin, Staff Writer

FromSoftware released their new hit property Elden Ring in Feb of 2022 to both critical acclaim and substantial criticism of its immense difficulty. Gaming journalists who received the early copies gave the game almost universal 10/10s, but the reception from the actual player base was more tumultuous. Many players, newer to the franchise, had issues with FromSoftware’s iconic difficulty. 

Though Elden Ring is certainly a culmination of elements from all of FromSoftware’s previous games, it undeniably has its differences. In Elden Ring, you are dropped into a massive and actively hostile world, with little to no direction except the mission to seek out the shattered pieces of the titular Elden Ring. Throughout the game you will traverse many dark fantasy inspired hell scapes, from the rotted red swamps of Caleid to the floating city of Farum Azula engulfed fully in a tornado. You will encounter enemies who are not only vastly stronger than you but bigger than you and smarter than you. This game is not about giving the player a power trip, it’s about existing as a small piece of the constant struggle for survival and power that this world is defined by. In keeping with this theme, the combat in the game is incredibly difficult.

“The game definitely has some frustrating moments that don’t feel the most fair,” said Summit senior Felix Cowan.

The characteristic difficulty of Elden Ring generated a bit of controversy with some players asking for an easy mode, a concept that is entirely antithetical to FromSoftware’s game development ideology. The game’s lead director and FromSoftware President Hidetaka Miyazaki in a recent interview said “to not fear death but instead embrace the trial and error process that comes with Elden Ring, and FromSoftware’s games in general.” On the other hand, players that were able to get past the difficulty consider the game an almost masterpiece — an idea that gaming journalists seem to corroborate.

Selling 12 Million copies in just 18 days, Elden Ring is a certified blockbuster and it is unlikely that this is the last we will see of the new darling property.

FromSoftware is most well known for their Dark Souls series which mixes dark fantasy with medieval surrealism and a violent, hopeless and devastating atmosphere. In Dark Souls – like in Elden Ring – you play not as some special hero who is able to overcome their enemies with ease but as a pathetic wretch who will surely die hundreds if not thousands of times. 

“The game’s environments and world are super unique and well crafted, it looks like you’re playing concept art at times.” Said Cowan

“I’ve played Demon Souls, Dark Souls 1 2 and 3, Bloodborne and Sekiro. Which I’m pretty sure is all of them,” said former Summit student and self admitted FromSoftware fanboy Ryan Huebner.

Huebner was undeniably a big fan of the new release. Sinking 150 hours into the game in under a month, Huebner falls firmly into the camp of FromSoftware veterans who consider the game a near masterpiece. Huebner had no issue with the difficulty most detractors took issue with.

“I find it to be the main staple of the game. Without the difficulty it wouldn’t be as fun. The idea of overcoming this challenge is so much more exhilarating than any other game has really captured for me,” Huebner said.

That said, for Huebner the combat isn’t the biggest draw. Elden Ring is the first FromSoftware to feature a massive open world. One that Huebner both thoroughly enjoyed and thoroughly explored.

“Elden Ring specifically captures this sense of adventure that I hadnt experienced since I was a child playing Skyrim. The aspect of being dropped into a world that I know nothing of and just going out and exploring it is just ridiculously fun. When you first step out into the world and see the landscape that surrounds you. It really just took my breath away.”

Huebner’s experience was far from universal though, even among Summit Students.

“I was really excited about the game and I really liked playing it but I literally just could not find the time to play it,” said one student who preferred to stay anonymous. “I had a bunch of college tours coming up. I had picked up another 5 and a half hour shift every week. I just didn’t have the time.”

Elden Ring is undeniably a time sink. Playing through the game normally takes around 100 hours to get through the main story and that number is entirely dependent on your skill level. To beat this game you are going to have to sink hours into memorizing enemy attack patterns, the map layout, and ideal builds. For a lot of people that is simply not feasible.

“I had put about two hours in and I was like, you know what, I’d rather the $60 be spent elsewhere,” the anonymous student said. 

Whether the difficulty or length of Elden Ring is too much for players to handle or if—on the contrary—the game is the best game ever conceived by the hands of skilled artisans, the game has made big bucks for FromSoft. Containing elements from DarkSouls, Bloodborne and Sekiro, Elden Ring is the ultimate homage to the FromSoft legacy and it seems to be just the breath of fresh air after years of factory produced simplistic game design that the market and that community craved.