Picture this, if you will: you’re at a raucous party, packed wall to wall with friends, colleagues and amiable associates. It should be lots of fun — the music is thumping, the drinks are free flowing, and there’s a guy in the bathroom who gives you cocaine without even being asked.
Despite this, however, you’re left sitting in a corner, alone and brooding. The reason for this disconnect isn’t the people you’re surrounded by, but the conversation on their lips, as it seems everyone only wants to discuss one topic, and one topic alone.
For the purpose of this analogy (which is really a thinly veiled way of boosting my word count to ensure this article appears in search engines), that topic can be literally anything.
Bread. Gotham City. This hot new dance called the Charleston.
The problem is, you’re just not into it, for whatever reason, and have no particular opinion for or against it. But it keeps coming up again. And again. And again. And again.
Soon, your apathy turns to vitriol, and you now hate that which the others love. The party is ruined, your weekend is ruined, your whole life is ruined. Switch from cocaine to heroin, there’s no point in trying anymore.
This is (kinda) how I feel about Elden Ring.
Since it launched on consoles last month, it has taken the gaming world by storm, and everyone and their dog is gushing about it at all times. Everyone and their dog does not include me and my cat, however, who has not played it, nor has any particular interest in playing it, and has gone so far as to mute the game’s title on Twitter.
In fairness, maybe if I tried it, I would find it enjoyable. I dabbled in Dark Souls in the past, and I thought it was… fine, really. I defeated the first boss, felt a cursory sense of satisfaction, then put it down and never gave it a second thought.
The action role-playing genre is at its apex in the modern era, with the descriptor of being ‘Souls-like’ acting as a surefire shot in the arm for public discourse. To mine eye, few have whetted the appetite quite like Elden Ring.
And obviously, this is great news. The developers who worked hard on it get to reap in the adulation of their efforts. The players who sought its particular brand of pugilistic combat get to delight in progressing deeper into its world.
I just wish they’d stop talking about it so damned much. I feel like Bart Simpson trying to dodge gossip around the Itchy and Scratchy movie, with the caveat that I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
I actively want to miss out, in fact, instead of being beaten over the head as if I were Godrick the Grafted himself.
“This boss was so hard to beat,” one Tweet gushes. “Have you figured out how to do it yet?”
“Check out my newest armour,” boasts another. “It took hours of grinding just to put together!”
To fellow Elden Ring enthusiasts, these statements are engaging and relatable, garnering enthusiasm or comparisons to their own experiences. For me, it’s white noise, constant and droning, and nigh impossible to tune out.
During my time with Twinfinite, I would publish various ‘get off my lawn’ posts expressing viewpoints such as “Modern gaming has made me a bitter old man” and “How Streets of Rage 4 reminded me that gaming is passing me by“. It does make me wonder if I veer too quickly towards spite, however the underlying thread is that I just don’t love gaming anymore.
I engage in it passively, sometimes out of an arbitrary sense of responsibility — screw it, let’s throw in one more relevant article for kicks — rarely really being stimulated with much more than brief interest.
Had I not felt so jaded on the industry as a whole, perhaps Elden Ring wouldn’t bother me so much. As it stands for now, it simply does. If everyone else is so keen on it that it has hijacked my timeline, I must channel the inverse with equal fervour.
So with that being said, I preemptively award Elden Ring as EZIYODA’s Worst Game of 2022. It’s bound to cause shockwaves throughout the industry, potentially even jeopardise the cumulative Metacritic score. I won’t be swayed on this stance, short of a sizeable bribe (preferably one that comes in a sack with a big dollar sign on it because Scrooge McDuck is my hero).
In truth, I hope everyone continues to enjoy Elden Ring for a long time to come. You all deserve to have nice things. Just know that the mere mention of it aimed in my general direction will evoke the vivified manifestation of whatever this stupid emoji is called: 😒