Oh, Elden Ring. It's been over a year since that lovely cinematic debut trailer, but besides a short interview with From Software president Hidetaka Miyazaki, we've been starved for details about the open world fantasy RPG. Elden Ring hasn't appeared in any of the shows during the endless E3 summer, even missing out at the Xbox Games Showcase where it debuted last year. In this vacuum of information, the game's subreddit has collectively lost it.
I'm laughing at them, sure. It's just a videogame. But I'm crying with them too. For most of the last year, I haven't played much of anything besides the Dark Souls series on repeat (and a little Session for the comedown). 2020 has been a rough one for most of us, so I truly empathize with the infinite scrawl of hopeless messages populating the Elden Ring subreddit. I feel it all.
I especially feel for Reddit user Stray_Demon, who made a pledge to create Elden Ring fan art every day until a gameplay trailer is released. With nothing but a short cinematic as a starting point, a fun project evolved into a new hobby, and then a genuine art practice. But now I wonder what Stray_Demon feels when they consider the unknowable expanse between now and then, between today's painting and that gameplay trailer, if it ever arrives. Stray_Demon calling it quits would be a shot to the heart for the Elden Ring subreddit, where they've become a local celebrity. But the novelty will wear out someday, it's only a matter of when.
VIDEO: See Stray_Demon's work for yourself, also available on YouTube.
I feel for the low effort, instantly downvoted text posts because what other option do those people have? Not all of us are so lucky to have a canyon in our backyard that we scream into on the reg. Wherever you are, author of the post titled "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA," whatever you're thinking, scribe of the number named "LET OUR SORROWS BE KNOWN," I hear you.
Now go play Demon's Souls on the PC. Take my hand. I'll show you how.
some lunch reading pic.twitter.com/JYvlv7TIPCJuly 23, 2020
ABOVE: The moment the Xbox show ended I loaded the subreddit and sorted by 'New'.
I feel for the angry, confrontational posts too, largely because I think they're funny, just dark little mirrors that say a lot about our relationship with media and creators. But I still feel for them, because what kind of blind rage leads someone to scorn a lover? Last week my weird neighbor told me the difference between hate and love is kissing, so I see these aberrations as less a failure of the human spirit and more of an expression of the passion of the human spirit. I love Legos, but sometimes I'll step on one and tell Legos to fuck a duck. What we're witnessing with these posts is an absence of reciprocation.
No game studio is obligated to keep development completely transparent and communicative, or even say anything until the thing is fully cooked. But a developer worshipped like From can't drop a gorgeous cinematic trailer then go radio silent for over a year and expect that passion to evaporate. I only wish I could steer these posters in a healthier direction.
What hurts the most is that the ongoing memes and jokes on the Elden Ring subreddit don't hit like they used to, with plenty tipping over into sincere frustration. I feel for lilcheesy101, who, likely inspired by Stray_Demon, took on the challenge to make a new Elden Ring meme every day until a gameplay trailer hits. The memes up until the Xbox Games Showcase were good fun, reaching something of a peak with Day 19's Sixth Sense joke. When there was still hope we'd see something on Thursday, it was cute.
Now, the idea that little Haley Joel Osment will continue to see the ghosts of fake lore while the Stray_Demons of the subreddit continue their descent into madness is a bit too real.
How did we get so damn attached to From Software's games?
Like Sam Roberts with Sekiro, the From Software's games have ruined most other games for me. Sekiro's punishing but precise combat encounters pushed Sam to seek the same thrill in a completely different videogame genre: competitive shooters. And it's the Dark Souls series that taught me to overcome mild anxieties, like seeking therapy or talking to someone on the phone (ugh).
No, Dark Souls didn't cure my depression (we've all read 100 versions of that article), but it's certainly helped me realize that I shouldn't be afraid to try new things, within videogames or not. I imagine it up there on the shelf with my favorite books, the kind of thing I'll pull down at random and read a few pages from because what it has to say is always so prescient and actionable. Literally no other videogame series is so thoroughly stuck in my mind like Dark Souls.
So like many on the subreddit, I'm particularly antsy for any news about Elden Ring because I absolutely love these games. But also because 2020 has been such utter shit, and maybe Elden Ring has something new to teach me. At the very least, I just want something to grab and hold my attention that isn't a headline, a thick new book to pull down from the shelf. And while watching the Elden Ring subreddit's enthusiasm quickly warp into exasperation is top-tier internet entertainment, I know the line separating me from submitting a text post that's just IT BUUUUUUUUURNS in all caps is a thin one, thinner by the second.