Unsure About ‘Elden Ring’? Try These 9 Similar RPGs
No shame in fearing the game.
It doesn’t take much review-stalking to know that Elden Ring is going to go down as one of the best games of our generation. Some even say that it’ll be a generation-defining work of art, and considering what a momentous achievement of a game it is, there’s no doubt that it deserves such accolades.
All the same, it is a From Software game, which means it comes with a learning curve that might be daunting to newcomers. Or perhaps the art style and narrative themes are too dark to jump right into. Either way, if you find yourself curious about Elden Ring, yet not quite ready to take the plunge, you’re not only valid, but you have other options. Here are some other excellent games to try first.
God of War: Ragnarok
More than the previous God of War title, this one really, really leans into the mythology of the world it takes place in, and the combat is more inventive than ever. I find there’s a lot of crossover between GOW fans and Elden Ring fans, and it makes sense: the games are pretty easy to transition between.
Of course, the story in Ragnarok is more of a hard-hitter than Elden Ring, which—depending on your play style—can either be a good thing or a bad thing. I guess you need to ask yourself if you can stand to leave your blue witch GF behind for a little while to go raise your Boy.
Dragon Age: Origins
It was this game that first got me into fantasy RPGs, and I’ve found that it hasn’t lost its luster one bit. In fact, I’m replaying it now (for the millionth time, as we wait for the next title to release) and enjoying it more than ever. Dragon Age: Origins is truly a special game in that it does so much for both veteran fans of the genre AND newcomers.
It’s impossible not to get attached to your Warden and their companions, and the companions are so well-written, it’s also impossible not to get frustrated with them at times. One minute, you’ll want to tell Morrigan to shut up for making fun of you for rescuing a village, and the next, your eyes will be watering as she calls you her sister. Best of all, the game tempers its dark atmosphere with clever and hilarious dialogue, so you’ll never feel awash in despair as you play. Even all that aside, it’s just plain fun.
This title is a bit unconventional, since it’s technically a Skyrim mod. More specifically, Enderal is a “total conversion mod,” which means its dev team (the wildly talented SureAI) took Skyrim‘s engine and various other assets, and used them to create an entirely new game. You need a copy of Skyrim to play it, but the mod is otherwise free as a standalone title with its own download page on Steam.
That all might sound complicated, but believe me when I say that this game puts traditional developers to shame. The writing is so incredibly disturbing, thought-provoking, and tragic, it left me thinking about it for weeks after initially beating the game. Its dark themes will parallel Elden Ring‘s while also matching its fantastical elements. And for those seeking a challenge, make no mistake: it is NOWHERE as easy as Skyrim.
Many have compared Dragon’s Dogma to Dark Souls in the past—not necessarily because of the gameplay, but because the art style and aesthetics are fairly similar between the two. This is in no small part because both titles share little homages to the manga series Berserk.
Indeed, Dragon’s Dogma is a strange underdog of a game, with novel concepts that still stand out, yet are sorely deserving of an upgrade (where’s the sequel, Capcom?). The graphics are outdated, and the story is somewhat hard to follow, but it’s so unbelievably fun and cool. You get to climb monsters while stabbing them! You get to design your very own companions! You can even shoot lightning bolts from a bow, straight into an ogre’s eye! Similar to Souls games, you’ll find yourself so familiar and overpowered as you play, you’ll feel like you’re unstoppable—and that’s a pretty rewarding feeling.
Baldur’s Gate 3
This one was well worth the wait because Larian is known for producing quality RPGs, and Baldur’s Gate 3 quickly shaped up to be such a title.
When it first started gaining traction, many called it a spiritual successor to Dragon Age: Origins, and I have to say they’re right! This game lets you do so much all at once, yet it never feels overwhelming or difficult to learn. It helps that Larian has been consistently making changes to benefit the player (such as updating the UI), and it really shows that this is a project of love that will go a long way. Plus, anyone who’s a fan of Forgotten Realms will be happy to know that this title (along with all the prior Baldur’s Gate entries) takes place in that canon.
Breath of the Wild
While Breath of the Wild certainly isn’t as grimdark as Elden Ring by any stretch, one can safely assume that the latter’s exploration of the open world format was inspired by the former. BOTW is considered a modern masterpiece for a reason: it completely redefined and reinvented the open world RPG. And since the next game is coming out soon, there’s no better time to give it a shot.
Accolades aside—come on, it’s just a really good game. The gameplay is fun and intuitive, the game itself doesn’t hold your hand, you really see your progress pay off as it goes on, and the story manages to be compelling while not overtly in-your-face. On top of it all, never before has a Zelda game managed to make me care about Zelda herself, yet here I am, having collected all of her memories of my own volition.
The Witcher 3
This game has gotten so much press even years after its initial release, it might feel excessive to the uninitiated. But if Elden Ring is what you’re craving, then The Witcher 3 would absolutely be a fitting first course. It’s got all the same beats—from the learning curve to the dark fantasy setting—yet I would say it’s a better fit for those who are looking for something more traditional to ease into.
The Witcher 3 follows the continuing story of Geralt, everyone’s favorite himbo fantasy dad, as he navigates a fairly frightening world of amazingly designed monsters. And for those who like the gender neutrality that Elden Ring offers, don’t worry: while this game might seem overly macho on the surface, the women are pretty well-written, and you can even play as his daughter Ciri in certain moments.
… also, there’s the PS5 remaster, so …
Shadow of the Colossus
Watching players ride their mounts into the fray against massive monsters in Elden Ring, all while traversing a gorgeous yet desolate landscape, I couldn’t help but think of Shadow of the Colossus. Of all the titles on this list, this might be the most welcoming for newcomers because the gameplay follows a fairly straightforward pattern.
That said, it’s by no means a simple game. Just like every FromSoft title, the story here is subtle, yet incredibly deep and moving. One can’t help but wonder about every colossus they defeat: did I do the right thing, killing such a magnificent creature? What am I even doing here? And: will my efforts pay off in the end? This game is truly a majestic experience, nothing short of artful, and worthy of all the love it gets and more.
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
To end this list—although this might seem a little out-there—I think Dreamfall: TLJ would work beautifully for players who are looking for a game with phenomenal fantasy lore. The lore in this game (in the whole franchise, really, but I think this is the best game in the series) is second to none. It’s just gorgeously written all the way through, and it asks pretty ingenious philosophical questions for its genre.
And yes, the combat is terrible, and there isn’t a lot of it. But if you’re like me, and all you wanted to play was a cool fantasy game (Elden Ring) without all the difficult combat (not … Elden Ring …), then this game might be for you.
(featured image: Bandai Namco)
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