Elden Ring, FromSoftware's open-world magnum opus, won the Game of the Year award at The Game Awards 2022. From indie smash-hit Stray to Nintendo's biggest open-world role-playing title in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to the very recently released sequel to 2018's God of War, God of War Ragnarok, the nominees for 2022's Game of the Year award were some truly amazing.
Many fans were expecting Ragnarok to win the accolade due to its focused storytelling, breathtaking visuals, and accessibility features. Elden Ring, however, was easily the most obvious choice for a multitude of reasons that made it a much superior experience to all the other nominees.
Elden Ring was responsible for single-handedly bringing the very niche "souls-like" sub-genre into the limelight. While the Dark Souls games were popular, they never garnered the amount of love and widespread acceptance from mainstream audiences. Elden Ring had a number of things that made it an excellent role-playing experience, as well as a worthy choice for the Game of the Year 2022. Here are five reasons why Elden Ring won the award at the event.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the author's opinions.
From unorthodox storytelling to rewarding open-world exploration, here are five reasons Elden Ring won Game of the Year at TGA 2022
5) A non-traditional approach to open-world design
Elden Ring's biggest highlight is the Lands Between. While FromSoftware's games in the past have been relatively focused on exploration and backtracking, they were never advertised as "open-world" experiences, making this title the studio's very first attempt at an open-world design.
It is really surprising to see how much FromSoftware got right. The true essence of an open-world title lies in the freedom it offers. However, over the years, such experiences have become much more guided and restrictive.
Elden Ring, on the other hand, offers absolute liberty to players when it comes to exploration. Right from the get-go, gamers are free to go almost anywhere on the map of the Lands Between, without any hand-holding. Players are free to pursue their own adventures before indulging in the game's main narrative quests.
Elden Ring never forces gamers on a set path, actively encouraging them to go wherever they want to find something new and intriguing. The game is truly one of the best open-world experiences ever created and is indeed worthy of the Game of the Year title.
4) Some really spectacular boss fights
FromSoftware is best known for creating some truly memorable and spectacular boss fights. From the original Dark Souls to Sekiro, the studio has created some really amazing monsters that are as challenging to take down as they are memorable. From Ornstein and Smoug to Isshin the Sword Saint, bosses in FromSoftware's games are easily the highlights of its offerings.
Elden Ring is no exception to this notion. From legacy dungeon bosses like Godrick, Morgott, Godfrey, Maliketh, and Malenia to overworld minibosses such as the Tree Sentinel, Crucible Knights, and Erdtree Avatars, the game features some of the best boss fight experiences of 2022.
3) A distinct and breathtaking art style
Elden Ring does not compare to the likes of Horizon Forbidden West, Plague Tale: Requiem, and God of War Ragnarok when it comes to raw visual fidelity. However, it features a really distinct art style, something that has improved substantially over FromSoftware's previous projects.
FromSoftware was never one to push for graphical fidelity, in part due to its primary focus on gameplay. That said, with Elden Ring, the studio tried to shake things up a bit, giving this game a unique and breathtakingly stunning art style that didn't hinder or limit the gameplay in the slightest.
While the title is based on the same graphics engine as Dark Souls 3, it still manages to deliver some truly amazing visuals, making it one of the most arresting games of 2022.
2) A greater focus on accessibility without hindering the core aspects of a souls-like offering
It is no secret that souls-like games are not for everyone. The challenging combat experience can be overwhelming for the majority of gamers, which is why the Dark Souls titles have such a low completion rate. However, Elden Ring has made massive strides in terms of inclusivity to make the offering more approachable for newcomers.
From the new NPC summoning system to the open-world design, there are plenty of accessibility features built into the gameplay itself. That said, the most fascinating aspect of the title is that, despite all the new features, the core "souls-like" experience is still pretty much the same, making this offering quite welcoming to newcomers.
1) An unorthodox approach to storytelling
FromSoftware is a master of environmental storytelling, something that it uses as the primary medium to deliver the plot in most of its games. Conveying the story using items that players come across while exploring — as well as through the title's in-game surroundings — instead of lengthy cutscenes and expository dialogue is really an ingenious way to present a narrative.
Much like the gameplay, the plot is not forced upon players. It is delivered in a subtle yet impactful manner. From enemy and boss placements to optional NPC dialogue and item descriptions, everything in the title is used to present the game's overarching plot.
Coupled with the intriguing narrative of the Lands Between, the storytelling in Elden Ring is yet another reason that it ultimately won the Game of the Year award at The Game Awards 2022.