Elden Ring has seen a surge of new players jump into FromSoftware’s latest brutal adventure. How has the Dark Souls community reacted to this influx?
Dark Souls fans, or “SoulsBorne” players in general, have long held a reputation for being a rather gruff and unwelcoming group of gamers. Comments from newcomers about the difficulty of Souls games have often been met with misspelled statements like “Git Gud” or similar advice.
The release of Elden Ring has catapulted developer FromSoftware and publisher Bandai Namco into the spotlight, and the title is already a contender for Game of the Year. This has led to more people playing Elden Ring than would normally experience a Souls game, meaning lots of players are about to discover how punishing a FromSoft game can be.
Understanding the Souls community
To understand why the SoulsBorne community has the reputation they have, it’s important to look at why they love the Souls games so much. For many, this has been a long journey, and it honestly goes so much deeper than a typical gaming fandom. Those only just discovering FromSoftware’s games with Elden Ring may not fully appreciate this yet, but we’ll get you up to speed.
Many members of the Souls community have been around from the beginning, since either Demon’s Souls in 2009 or Dark Souls in 2011. The original Demon’s Souls crowd will be even more committed in many ways, as the game developed a cult following and wasn’t initially viewed as a success by Sony.
This is what led to the sequel being canceled, then revived as a spiritual successor by another publisher. While Dark Souls received considerably more attention than Demon’s Souls upon release, it was still word of mouth, online chatter, and games journalism that told the world about the series, allowing it to blossom into a cult hit.
The appeal of SoulsGames
The SoulsBorne games manage to deliver a feeling of nostalgia. Videogames used to be difficult, be it due to tech limitations or design, games used to be objectively harder. The Souls games, including Elden Ring, often feel like a throwback to an earlier era in gaming, when games made us work for our enjoyment.
It was in overcoming this challenge that our addiction to them started. It was in figuring out solutions to problems without the aid of the internet or simply becoming skillful. If we wanted to progress, we needed to get better. We needed to get good.
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“Git gud” can be an arrogant, dismissive, and frustrating piece of advice, but that doesn’t stop it from being true — it’s what all Souls players did.
While there will be a contingent who are gatekeeping, and don’t want their community to grow, this doesn’t reflect most Souls players. What’s happening with Elden Ring is proof of this.
A community rekindled
A quick glance on the Elden Ring Reddit, or across multiple social media groups will show you that Souls fans are helping newcomers through The Lands Between. Sometimes that’s with sage advice, others it’s with ways to overcome a particularly tough boss encounter.
Other times the assistance is more hands-on, with offers of co-op sessions to help players takedown early bosses. A lot of that enjoyment comes from Elden Ring’s open-ended structure — a player can just as easily stumble upon the next “story boss” as they can get lost and return with a completely different loadout or set of items and skills. It’s a game the community will be piecing together for years.
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It’s less about “do this”, and more about “why not try heading here” with even more experienced players regaling newcomers of their times being slain by Margit’s magic hammer or being burned to a crisp by a dragon.
Facebook especially has numerous groups committed to what the community calls “Jolly Co-op.” Here, any member of the group can ask for help from more experienced players. Often, within minutes, someone has answered the call and two strangers will be working together to beat a boss or explore a new area.
Praise the fun
These groups exist for all three Dark Souls games, Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne, and now Elden Ring. As Elden Ring is FromSoftware’s most ambitious title to date, it has attracted a legion of new players. Many of them have never played a Souls game before and are finding the learning curve to be especially steep. However, the support they’re receiving from veteran Souls players is overwhelming and is amazing to see.
Long-time fans of the Souls games have stepped up and are helping new players learn the ropes and understand what these games are about. What’s clear is that the community never deserved their reputation, and through Elden Ring, will likely leave it behind.
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With the release of Elden Ring and all the mysteries that exist in The Lands Between, it looks like the SoulsBorne community will continue to grow exponentially over the coming months. We may end up calling it the EldenSoulsBorne community or something else, but new players need to know that they are welcome, and support is available. In truth, it always was, you just needed to know where to look.
With Elden Ring, the remake of Demon’s Souls on PS5, Bloodborne, and the remasters of the Dark Souls games, now is the perfect time to get involved. Praise the Sun, FromSoftware, and each other.