Elden Ring is a masterpiece that’s wildly popular, topping sales charts for PCs, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S.
Why it matters
Players are devoting a huge amount time playing the game, and finding little reason to play anything else.
It’s been more than two months since I saw the end credits for Elden Ring. It took me 164 hours of dying again and again to beat FromSoftware’s massively popular open-world action RPG. The game, which was released in February, will almost certainly be my Game of the Year.
Now I have a problem. I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to play other video games.
This is the first time I’ve felt this drained after finishing a game. I am bereft of motivation to jump into the next game. No, this isn’t permanent. I’ve actually dabbled with a few games since (Lost Judgement, Halo Infinity, Destiny 2), but they simply don’t scratch the same itch as Elden Ring.
This phenomenon isn’t new or limited to me. Certain AAA titles tend to drain players, whether from an emotional or time standpoint. And sometimes, a game can be simply so good that no other games can compare.
The Last of Us 2, Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Witcher 3 are games released in recent years that have had a similar effect on other players.
For me, Elden Ring had everything. The FromSoftware formula requires players to make incremental improvements to their character in order to overcome difficult enemies, something that clicked with me first in the developer’s 2015 PS4 game Bloodborne. When you defeat a major boss or reach a save point in Elden Ring, there’s a sense of elation that runs through you. It’s downright addictive.
I spent hours sucking the marrow from the bone, trying to extrapolate and enjoy every single inch of this majestic open world. Again and again, that surge of adrenaline would hit me and cause my heart rate to spike. The proof is on my Apple Watch.
Exploration wasn’t the only addictive aspect of the game. Combat offered numerous options, from casting epic spells to destroy enemies to using my favorite, double katanas to create a whirlwind of blades to take down bosses. I loved how in the toughest areas the option to summon help, referred to as Spirit Ashes, was available to even up the odds, whether it’s a gang of soldiers, a pack of wolves, a group of rats or a copy of my own character.
It’s not just me who’s addicted. Elden Ring sold more than 12 million copies in its first month, and it continues to be at the top of the sales charts for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles. It’s also the top-rated game released this year on Metacritic.
Day after day, I played as much as I could in the limited time of a 43-year-old journalist, foregoing other forms of entertainment. Then 164 hours later, it came to an end. My time as the Tarnished was over as I was crowned the new Elden Lord.
After that, nothing.
Yes, playing the game again on New Game Plus – a mode where everything collected carries over to a new game while the enemies are a little tougher – is an option, but battling those bosses again with all the best weapons, armor, spells and so on won’t have that same impact. It won’t give me that rush.
Instead, it’ll be a chore, just like the other games I’m trying to play.
I know things will change. Gaming, in general, will pick up in June when new games get announced during the Summer Games Fest and more titles are released. For now, I’m stuck in my funk.