Game of the Year 2022: Elden Ring

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Elden Ring is our Game of the Year

Here it is: our pick for the overall Game of the Year, 2022. Elden Ring was a clear winner among the team, a game that we’ve collectively poured thousands of hours into. Want to see what else made it into our awards this year? Head to our GOTY 2022 (opens in new tab) hub.

Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: Has a whip ever awoken something in you? Take that question however you want—for me, whips were the catalyst for fully appreciating how much FromSoftware has improved the flexibility of its combat over the last decade. Compared to the Souls games that have pretty clear picks for the best weapons, Elden Ring lets you stick practically any ability and affinity on any weapon and dual wield for new moves. After playing some 60 hours with a pair of curved swords I threw away my muscle memory to become a whip guy, and it was a thrill. Instead of getting in close for quick combos I was staying back to poke at enemies or pouncing with a dual-whip slam.

The scale of Elden Ring’s open world exhausted me, but the depth of that arsenal is going to keep me coming back for years. I mean, have you seen that twinblade with a scythe on it? I’ll never go back to the monogamous sword life.

Sean Martin, Guides Writer: Weird builds are definitely one of the best things to come out of Elden Ring. Once you’ve honked an invader to death with a giant horn, electrified yourself to roll around like Sonic, or fired an endless stream of madness-inducing fire from your eyes, it’s hard to see Souls’ staple sword ‘n’ shield the same way.

Fraser Brown, Online Editor: Elden Ring’s launch and the following months were the best part of my 2022. Easily. It wasn’t just due to the game itself, but rather the event that it was at the centre of—the Elden Ring era. Most of PC Gamer seemed to be playing it, it was all over my social feeds, and my days were spent in endless discussions about it, or trawling for new build ideas or funky exploits. It was this beautiful oasis of pointless bullshit, offering a welcome reprieve from the apocalyptic state of the real world. 

This is not to say that Elden Ring, on its own, is not an exceptional game. It wouldn’t have so dominated the early part of the year otherwise. FromSoftware’s stuff always does it for me, but I’m also impatient and easily frustrated by even the tiniest bit of adversity, so I’m often on the edge of packing it all in. Elden Ring’s freewheeling open world and concessions to accessibility solves that problem nicely. It’s still bastard hard, but there’s so much more you can do when you get stuck here. And that’s why I ended up putting 150 hours into it in just a few weeks.

(Image credit: Tyler C. / FromSoftware)

Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Elden Ring felt like a months-long moment inside and out of the PC Gamer team. Every morning I got to ask fellow PCG writer Jorge Jimenez for the daily Jorge Report—in which he told me which major or minor boss he’d killed the night before. And in the evenings I was playing co-op with one of at least three different friends. On a nightly basis I was asking things like “have you found the Prattling Pate for ‘You’re beautiful’ yet?” which is an incomprehensible phrase to anyone who’s not played but a gleeful little sidequest for me and a friend.

Beyond my love of a good co-op romp though, my favorite bit of Elden Ring is how its open world should not have worked. It was common speculation leading up up to launch day that the classic Souls formula of tight corners and sneak attacks just wouldn’t translate to an open world. Not only were there plenty of legacy dungeons and interior areas to keep FromSoftware’s signature tight level design, but even open world encounters genuinely kept me on my toes with my Tarnished’s head on a swivel.

Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: In the months after beating Elden Ring I went back and replayed nearly every single Souls series entry sans Demon’s Souls, which I hit just last Halloween, and Sekiro. I feel secure saying that Elden Ring’s my very favorite, the pinnacle of that magic I felt when I first played Dark Souls back in 2014. I need its expansion pack yesterday.

Robin Valentine, Print Editor: I’ve really struggled to get invested in any of the Souls games, but Elden Ring hooked me right from the jump. Its more accessible story and open structure make it so much easier to love than its predecessors. 

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Sarah James, Guides Writer: Elden Ring has pretty much taken over the entirety of 2022 for me, so much so that I’m currently in the middle of my third full playthrough. I don’t think there’s anything not to love about the Lands Between. I mean, the first handful of hours can be pretty daunting—the amount of choice you have is almost paralysing, especially when you’re not sure if you just died horribly because it’s a hard boss that will take a few goes or if you’re far too low level to have any business attempting it. Thankfully you get over that pretty quickly as you realise it doesn’t matter because you’ll always find stuff you can kill. 

I expected Elden Ring to be good but didn’t think I would end up playing it as much as I have. It’s not my first FromSoft game either but I think I’d forgotten how enthralling I find its particular brand of storytelling. Even after completing Elden Ring, I couldn’t resist revisiting areas to look for clues that I might have missed the first time around. Now it’s just a case of impatiently waiting for the first story DLC.

Tyler Colp, Associate Editor: I like Elden Ring even more than I did when I reviewed it. After another playthrough, dozens of videos and discussions about it, and some distance, I’ve realized how effective FromSoftware’s open world triumph really was for me this year. A couple months ago, I stepped back out into Limgrave with the co-op mod and heard the swell of the score as I looked out across the landscape, and that’s when I knew this game wouldn’t leave me. I’m already nostalgic for it, and at that moment, all the feelings I had playing it for the first time came rushing back.

As a long time Dark Souls evangelist, I am mostly happy to see FromSoftware impress so many more people with its weird and tremendous imagination. Elden Ring is packed with so much creativity. It’s rare to be so taken by a game like that, especially when many of them are sequels to existing franchises. Elden Ring synthesizes the open world framework with western fantasy in a way that is immediately familiar and inviting and then spends most of its length twisting your expectations. It’s what I adore about FromSoftware’s work, but at a scale that remains unfathomable to me even after having played it for hundreds of hours. If I think about it too long, I want to load it back up and be in it again. This year had a lot of outstanding games, but Elden Ring stole the show.

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