FromSoftware gained a huge number of new fans with the release of Elden Ring, but new players may not be sure where to begin with the studio’s back catalog of games.
For many years now, FromSoftware has had a reputation for making games that are difficult but fair, with combat that punishes carelessness and rewards players who pay close attention to enemy attack patterns. Elden Ring is its latest game of this nature, but it emerges from a history that dates back to the genre-defining 2009 PlayStation 3 title Demon’s Souls. In between Demon’s Souls and Elden Ring, the studio made the ground-breaking Dark Souls trilogy, the Lovecraftian-inspired Bloodborne, and the ninja adventure Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Many would-be fans may find themselves lost when approaching the studio and its catalog of blockbuster titles. Players who are approaching FromSoftware games for the first time may need a bit of guidance in terms of figuring out where to start.
Start the Dark Souls series with Dark Souls Remastered
The Dark Souls series is beloved for a reason and makes a great jumping-off point into the rest of FromSoftware’s catalog. Those looking to tackle trilogy are well-served by starting from the beginning with Dark Souls, which not only remains a solid game all-around but received a remaster in 2018.
Dark Souls sees the player take on the role of the Chosen Undead, an unwitting conspirator in an eons-long plot to keep the First Flame, source of all warmth and light in the world, lit for as long as possible. This requires hacking and slashing through a forgotten kingdom, defeating a series of powerful bosses, collecting souls to level up, and acquiring new gear along the way.
As the series progresses, the basic formula stays the same, but several details change. Dark Souls 3 is infamous for having some of the most challenging encounters in the series, and Dark Souls 2 made some controversial choices when it comes to mechanics and level design. All of them are still great games, but it’s best to start off with the original and work from there.
Elden Ring offers the most modern experience among FromSoftware games
There’s a reason everyone’s still talking about Elden Ring more than a year after its release. FromSoftware produced six games with similar mechanics before making this one, and Elden Ring pulls many of the best parts of those titles and combines them into one masterpiece.
Elden Ring follows the Tarnished, a lost soul tasked with restoring the Elden Ring. The ancient artifact is a dominating force in the Lands Between, but it is now broken apart with powerful demigods holding onto the pieces.
Elden Ring has some of the flashiest spells, coolest weapon and armor designs, and most epic boss encounters in a Soulsborne game to date. Those who want to start tackling FromSoftware games in style need to look no further, except for looking forward to the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC and other updates.
Discover the origin of Soulsborne games with the Demon’s Souls remake on PS5
Elden Ring may be the latest, Dark Souls may be the most iconic, but neither of them would exist if Demon’s Souls hadn’t set the stage back in 2009. Those who want to explore the genesis of the Souls genre might want to start where it all began, either with the PlayStation 3 original or the recently remastered Demon’s Souls for PlayStation 5.
Demon’s Souls sees the Slayer of Demons in a kingdom absolutely overrun by demonkind. Experimentation with forbidden magic and the imperialistic aggression of Boletaria have torn the world apart, and the massive monster known as the Old One threatens to destroy everything that’s left
In comparison to all the titles that came after, Demon’s Souls is the roughest of the lot in some ways and may sometimes feel a bit experimental. The PS5 remaster retains that roughness, for better or worse. With that being said, this is what laid the groundwork for everything that would come after, and it can be illuminating to experience FromSoftware’s first Soulsborne effort.
With all that being said, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. All of these games enjoyed rave reviews and each title has a distinctive feel and vibe to it in a way where personal preference will come into account. Some might feel called by the Lovecraftian aesthetic of Bloodborne, while others might want to immediately try the acclaimed “power stance” mechanic of Dark Souls 2. Ultimately there’s no wrong way to approach FromSoftware games.