The most important aspect of an RPG is getting to play the role you want. While most games will put you in the shoes of a specific individual and have you follow their story, RPGs give the player the world and let them create their own identity. The path might be the same through the game, but it’s the character you design and build along the way that is most appealing about the genre. Out of all the games released this year, Elden Ring topped our list when it comes to giving players the freedom to create their own identity and find their own role in the world of the Lands Between.
Elden Ring sets itself up as an RPG immediately. Players are given the option to create a character using one of several class archetypes. Will you be a sword and board soldier, a magic-slinging sorcerer, perhaps a bow-wielding thief, a samurai, or something else entirely? These act as a mould into which you can pour your ideas, a mould that can be broken out of as you lean heavily in the way you want to play.
For me, the way I play is as a knight. The longsword I started the game with is the same as the one I ended the game with. I may have picked up a few additional pieces to help me on my quest, but as I reached the end, I was still clad in my steel armor, looking every bit the part of the knight.
There are other playstyles and roles out there, like the iconic Let Me Solo Her. With nothing but a loincloth, a pot on his head, and two katanas, this player filled the role of hero to many Tarnished that had ran headfirst into the wall that is Malenia.
And that’s another key point of Elden Ring’s success as an RPG: it features a co-operative mode. Players can rally together to tackle a common foe, bring their own style and specialty to the mission, and work together as they explore this vast and mournful land. Role-playing games are so often a solo experience, so having the option to bring a friend is a treat.
Even the players that prefer to go it alone might like to have an ally with them at some point, which is where Elden Ring offers an almost Pokemon-like component with its Spirit Ashes. Not quite as powerful as summons (excepting of course the Mimic), these are beings that can be beckoned into your world to fight alongside you. Whether it’s a pack of wolves, a group of scuttling skeletons, or even a friendly jellyfish, they help alleviate some of the solitude without steamrolling a boss like another player might.
Then there’s the meta side of Elden Ring’s RPG chops. Players will design characters around real world people, other fictional characters, or even take on the look and persona of an in-game NPC. One such instance of this was where a player donned the clothing of a humble soldier in Limgrave and simply patrolled along its route. The purpose of this? To fool an invader!
Outside of the character building, Elden Ring features all the other elements that create a great RPG: quests, dungeons, bosses, combat, story, and gear management. Every facet of the game shines. No matter how you slice it, Elden Ring offers it all when it comes to the RPG genre. Though the role of Tarnished falls upon everyone, your journey through the game is going to look completely different because of the character you build. The role that Elden Ring gets to play now is the winner of the Shacknews Best RPG of 2022. Congratulations, FromSoftware!
Check out our Year of the Games: 2022 article to see all of the other Shacknews Awards that have been announced so far.