As a game rooted in paradoxical time cycles, it seems fitting that Elden Ring feels both recent and ancient. On one hand, it's difficult to believe that it's already been a full year since FromSoftware's latest, brutally challenging action RPG first graced our screens; and yet on the other, it's had such a huge impact – on its respective genre and the wider landscape of mainstream video games – that it's already hard to picture the entertainment world without it.
Part of that's down to the involvement of Games of Thrones novelist and screenwriter George R.R. Martin who assisted in the Lands Between's creation, but most of it's down to the fact Elden Ring is a remarkable video game. Its myriad Game of the Year accolades speak directly to that, as does much of GamesRadar+'s commentary over the last 12 months. Here, we gather our 12 favorite features to this end – each of which underlines why this game has captured the hearts and minds of so many players since its launch on February 25, 2022.
It takes a special game to earn a five-star rating at GamesRadar+, and Elden Ring more than earns its place among the pantheon of our greatest games. Joel Franey writes: "When Elden Ring hits the rails, the momentum carries it forward and refuses to slow down… It might not be as groundbreaking as its inspirations, but taken on its own terms, Elden Ring might be the best of its brethren – and that's something I'm still struggling to believe has actually happened."
Elden Ring lets you play Prop Hunt with its enemies thanks to 'Mimic Veil'
Elden Ring was even causing a splash pre-release, with players uncovering a number of its would-be secrets during its extensive play test weekends. During one such session, our own Joel Franey discovered Mimic Veil, an in-game tool that lets you assume the form of inanimate objects. He writes: "Up ahead, I spied a rather austere-looking commander, dutifully patrolling his route. He'd definitely be more than I could handle, but then again, would I have to handle him at all? I vanished in a puff of cowardice, replaced in a flash by a harmless fern which shuffled surreptitiously out behind him when he wasn't looking."
Forget Elden Lord, this Elden Ring streamer is the self-proclaimed Bimbo Mage of the Lands Between
Given the widespread popularity of Elden Ring, it's no surprise that it's a huge hit with streamers. Drag queen Trashly is a Twitch streamer and TikTok star who does "fun and fabulous" Elden Ring magic – our interview is a must-read.
Alyssa Mercante writes: "I'm playing the way I want to play. I want to wear cool clothes. I don't want to wear the ugly helmets that cover my gorgeous purple face," Trashly insists, referring to her Tarnished's design, which includes vibrant purple skin, giant red lips a la queer icon Amanda Lepore, and blue and green eyeshadow. "I think there's some chess involved in the melee combat where you have to learn the moves and respond to those, and if I can just shoot spells from afar that's how I enjoy playing."
Heart and Souls
After 250 hours with Elden Ring, I now fully appreciate the masterpiece of Dark Souls
Elden Ring is an all-timer, but after sinking a long time in the Lands Between, GR+'s Joe Donnelly garnered a whole new appreciation for another of FromSoftware's previous esteemed action role-players in Dark Souls. Not that Dark Souls is short of praise over a decade on since its release, but by spending so much time wandering the Lands Between, Joe believes Elden Ring underlines how far ahead of its time Dark Souls really was.
He says: "And the fact that the conversation keeps swinging back around to Lordran, even now over a decade on, tells you everything you need to know about its long-reaching influence. Elden Ring could have buried Dark Souls if it were a lesser game, but the fact that Elden Ring's brilliance has only elevated Dark Souls in stature also speaks volumes of that first game's enduring quality. As a critic, every time I write about Dark Souls at length, I wonder if it'll be my last. But, just like in Lordran, history is destined to repeat itself. I'll see you in the next one. Praise the sun."
Game of the Year
Why Elden Ring is Game of the Year for 2022
As 2022 drew to close, there really was no argument over the best game of the year. Elden Ring dominated the conversation at the turn of the year, but for Joel Franey that praise will extend well into the future – in the same way FromSoftware's wider back catalog is still spoken about today.
He writes: "It's even more impressive when viewed in a historical context. A decade ago, FromSoftware changed the industry and started a revolution in game design when they took the lessons learned from Demon's Souls and made the iconic Dark Souls afterwards. Now, with Elden Ring, they've shown once more that it wasn't a fluke – and changed the industry again by taking everything they learned to the extreme. Elden Ring is such a high note to go out on, that if [game director Hidetaka Miyazaki] decided he was going to make light farming sims for the rest of his career, he could still be safe in the knowledge that he's left an untouchable legacy behind."
The 300 Club
I'm 300 hours into Elden Ring and have only now discovered its version of Dark Souls' worst area
This one might speak to Joe's lackluster exploration skills, but nevertheless the fact that he was able to discover an entirely new and wholly sophisticated area 300 hours in – filled with awful baddies and a maze-like sprawl of tunnels and poisonous beasties – is impressive.
To this end, he says: "Look, I realize there's every chance some of you are reading this and saying, how the hell is he only discovering this place now?! And you might be right. But I guess the beauty of Elden Ring's suggestive lore and optional pathways means it's possible for someone pretty familiar with how these games work to still be discovering such intricate locations with so much game time under my belt. And I love that. I think this is my last big location revelation – I've already cleared Miquella's Haligtree and Nokron, the Eternal City, for example – but I'm now starting to doubt myself."
Elden Ring's PvP Colosseum has brought out the worst, weirdest, and best in players
At the time of writing, we're still waiting on official Elden Ring DLC – but developer FromSoftware did throw open the doors to its mysterious colosseums towards the end of 2022. In doing so, GR+'s Austin Wood couldn't believe how quickly unhinged Elden Ring gladiators became after the update arrived.
He says: "Naturally, the PvP arena has also brought about all manner of cheese, and I'm talking about true cheese like spawn killing, with magic to farm points in timed modes. Honor was out the window; gesturing respectfully at the start of fights was a thing of the past for many users, who were content to let honor be the empty tradition that warms the dead in their graves. But even in this wretched hive of scum and villainy, you could find unique builds, absurd brawls, and impressive role-playing that stood out. Never change, FromSoftware fans."
You'll never walk alone
Don't panic if a giant turtle invades you in Elden Ring – they're "just taking a walk" and give free Runes to chill hosts
If ever a headline spoke for itself, it's this one. Because while Elden Ring's PvP Colosseum update introduced a new thirst for blood to the RPG's community, one would-be Invader instead seized the moment to promote peace and tranquility through idle strolls around the Lands Between. Their name is "JustTakingAWalk," and they are just taking a walk.
"'My goal most of the time is to reach the fog wall, and if I complete it with the host waiting for me I make sure to bow, drop some runes I have laying around, and Sever out,' JTAW tells us. 'I'm just chilling; most of the time I do these kinds of walks after a while of playing normally. If I need a quick laugh I go and change up my character and start Invading to take a nice stroll and give some players a quick laugh.'"
10 things we'd love to see from Elden Ring DLC
At this point, Elden Ring DLC feels like a matter of when not if, yet it's still to poke its head above the action RPG's blood spattered parapet. In light of the Colosseum update, we expect to see more of the technical nips and tucks we've seen applied over the last several months in due course – but what might a fully-fledged premium DLC look like? Here, our DLC wishlist for Elden Ring gathers 10 things we'd love to see rolled out into the Lands Between.
Meet the Elden Ring streamer spending hours training her mind to make a single attack
As time wears on, scores of players have worked out new and unorthodox ways to play Elden Ring – with dance mats, plastic guitar peripherals and… completely hands-free using nothing but the power of their minds? That last one may sound as contrived as FromSoftware's interpretative lore itself, but it's exactly what streamer PerriKaryal is doing in the Lands Between.
Our Ali Jones writes: "When we spoke, the only input Perri had achieved was attacking. Other activities, like moving or using an Estus Flask, are still bound to a traditional controller, and, having started from scratch a few times, it took 'maybe 11 hours of straight training.'"
Meet the Elden Ring superfan who beat the game 100 times chasing the weirdest challenges you can think of
If you think Elden Ring is challenging, you're hardly alone. But when you've beaten the game over a century of times, it's not unreasonable to seek new challenges – and that's where Twitch streamer Bushy comes in.
"Bushy's most recent challenge runs focused on purposely getting hit by every attack and only using the shoddy equipment obtained through NPC questlines. He's beaten the game – that is, killed all the main bosses – without spending runes, while suffering from Scarlet Rot constantly, with an equip load of zero, at twice the game speed, with twice the enemies, and with every enemy replaced by Malenia."
A billion Runes and 300 chicken feet couldn't satisfy this Elden Ring player, so they are still farming
One billion runes. I mean, how do you even… I can't even imagine.
"One such grinder recently appeared on the Elden Ring subreddit. A few days ago, brave Tarnished VahnNoaGala shared an impressive achievement: hitting the 999,999,999 Rune cap through the sheer force of farm. A billion Runes. A billion Runes. I don't know if I've accumulated a billion Runes and Souls combined across the entire FromSoftware library, and I've been here since the three-four Black Phantom Soulsucker farm in Demon's Souls."
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