In the Elden Ring, the fight seems real

In the last two years, the pandemic has brought us many works of art that have tried to definitely capture the struggle of humanity. It was the movie in which Leonardo DiCaprio turns pink as he shouts out loud at people to watch a comet rushing towards Earth. It was so on the nose that it caused a little thought: Yes, we are divided, probably doomed. What about that?

No media has come close to perfectly encapsulating our situation as a video game. In the beginning, when many of us were in isolation and baking mediocre sourdough, we played Animal Crossing, which involves finding solace in simple tasks like fishing and gardening while stranded on the island. This year we are playing Elden Ring, a relentlessly difficult game that gets harder the more you play. This roughly summarizes what it was like to live in a pandemic.

Elden Ring has a story that has something to do with the ring, but more important is its design: it’s an open world game, which means you can do whatever and whenever you want. Players will ride horses through a poisonous swamp, race across molten lava and cross a crumbling bridge surrounded by tornadoes, fighting or avoiding enemies along the way.

No matter what you decide to do, you will probably die over and over again trying to do it, sometimes for hours. This is because even the slightest wrong push of a button will lead you to death or open you up to attack. Even the most experienced players will die dozens of times in the dungeon before they reach the boss – the main villain at the end of the game level.

None of this makes the Elden Ring sound like it loves audiences, but the video game – a collaboration between creative director Hidetake Miyazaki and Game of Thrones author George RR Martin – is on track to become the best-selling of the year, with 12 million copies sold within of one month since its publication in February.

At some point in the game, face the dragon. You have the choice to fight or flee. In the beginning, you will probably retreat, and in the end, after gaining enough strength and the right weapons or magic, you will return to kill the fireman’s base and enjoy your victory. Moments later, however, you will be ambushed and killed by something nasty, like a falcon catching razors in its claws.

It’s hard to imagine Elden Ring succeeding in any other era. In the third year of the pandemic, as vaccination rates rose and hospitalizations fell in some areas, offices, schools and restaurants reopened. For many Americans, the dragon was killed. Yet in other parts of the world, a new variant of the coronavirus is triggering another wave, and in New York the number of cases is starting to rise again.

While some of us have dropped our caution to have some semblance of a normal life, we are preparing for that stupid bird around the corner that could still kill us. Our hard-learned lesson about the pandemic – to expect disappointment and even more fighting – prepared us well for the Elden Ring.

Where DiCaprio’s film, “Don’t Look Up,” was polarizing because he chose a side that criticized everyone in denying the apocalypse, the Elden Ring-Choose Your Adventure format is more inclusive for a population that can’t seem to agree on anything. There is no right or wrong in the Elden Ring.

To defeat the boss, you can carefully study his moves and plan an attack, or you can “spread” him with a cheap trick that does not require skill and that ensures victory. In any case, victory is victory. This kind of flexible game can resonate with players around the world and connect them at a time when people themselves are choosing the truth about masks, recordings and information they read on the internet in general.

Players mostly suffer from the Elden Ring on their own, but there are parts that are so difficult, like the ultra-heavy fight against the boss, that people will have to seek help from others online. To adapt, the game raises small statues in challenging areas that act as summoning places to bring collaborators. When the mission is over, the good Samaritan disappears.

Fighting has always been a central theme in the games of Mr. Miyazaki, who became famous for the modest success of the Dark Souls trilogy, the predecessor of the Elden Ring, but also the need for people to turn to each other.

Mr Miyazaki, who did not respond to requests for comment, said in interviews that he was inspired by personal experience many years ago when driving uphill covered in snow. The car in front of him got stuck, he and one behind him, but then another car in the back moved forward and started pushing the third car. Similar help eventually brought everything over the hill.

“We enter each other’s lives for a moment and disappear and still influence,” said Keza McDonald, video game editor for The Guardian and author of “You Died,” a book about Mr. Miyazaki’s games. “It’s not really one player against the game. It’s a whole community of players against the game. “

By the time I finished Elden Ring, with the help of friends and strangers online for about five weeks, I hadn’t come out of the game with more anxiety or pessimism. I ended up making plans with friends I hadn’t seen in two years.

Many of us have endured the pandemic on our own because restrictions and health risks make it difficult to travel and gather indoors. It was an impossible situation to navigate, and the fight continues, but in this we are together in the long run. Why don’t you turn to each other?

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