Souls Week: As the Elden Ring subreddit reaches its endgame, let's revisit the whole wild ride

Fake lore and order.

Hello! Souls Week is all but over, and what better way to celebrate the imminent release of Elden Ring than with people who really couldn't wait to celebrate the release of Elden Ring?

Subreddits can be a fickle thing. A joining of minds from around the world, uniting over one topic, game, film, TV show, or even location, can usually guarantee two things: discussions, and arguments. All it takes is one spark to the powderkeg of such an online community for everyone to be at each other's throats.

That's never been the case with Elden Ring's subreddit. When From Software's new game was unveiled with an incredibly enigmatic trailer at E3 2019, a subreddit sprang up immediately, bringing together fans of Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and others into one space. There was just one problem: there wasn't actually anything to discuss, and there certainly wasn't anything to argue over.

Instead, the community simply sat there, revelling in the glory of From Software's usual raspy trailer narration, snapshots of a blacksmith hammering something, and little else. There was incredibly little discussion to be had over the deliberately ambiguous teaser trailer, and as the weeks turned to months with no new information, Elden Ring's subreddit began to get a little restless.

Elden Ring gameplay reveal.

At this point, you might expect things to take a turn for the worse. The subreddit might just lose all interest in Elden Ring, or they'd go out of their way to make life difficult for the developers withholding any information on the game. Instead though, the community did the unthinkable: they developed their own game.

This entire concept sprang up from the outburst of "fake lore" on the Elden Ring subreddit. No one actually knows where the trend originated, but in the months following Elden Ring's announcement, the subreddit was awash with people proclaiming details of Elden Ring's world, characters, and intricate lore. Some would vividly describe imposing bosses, while others would paint pictures (in some cases literal pictures) of smaller characters inhabiting a hub area of the game.

Tornheim
Tornheim: Gothic castles? It's a From Software game alright.

These bosses, characters, and game details were entirely fake, and the subreddit knew it. Not to be deterred by the lack of information surrounding Elden Ring in over six months after its announcement, Elden Ring's subreddit decided to have its own fun, and get down to business drawing up an intricate working world entirely from their own imagination, based on details of an upcoming game that they weren't privy to.

Then someone posed another idea: what if they made a game from all this fake lore? As I explored back in 2020 for Eurogamer's sister site USGamer (rest in peace), an amateur game dev called "Spriteblood" approached a steward of the fake lore stream on the Elden Ring subreddit, called "stray_demon," and asked if they could create a playable test level based on their fake lore musings. This test level, which saw a player character battling a dismembered head, torso, and hands, saw such an overwhelmingly positive response from Elden Ring's subreddit that over 100 users compiling testers, artists, writers, programmers, and more came together to create their very own game based on the fake lore imaginings of the subreddit.

Three
Three Norns: This lot would've probably packed a mean punch.

The weeks turned into months, and interest around Elden Ring: Fake Lore Edition began to die down. Where the Elden Ring subreddit was once awash with fake lore posts, it was now home to desperate pleas from community members starved of information. The cycle went something like this: community sees an upcoming games event, gets incredibly excited about Elden Ring potentially appearing, reverts to self-deprecating humour when From Software's new game is nowhere to be seen.

The crucial point of that cycle is the final part. Elden Ring's subreddit didn't lash out at anyone for From Software's game failing to appear at E3, Gamescom, or The Game Awards over the course of a year. They didn't berate Geoff Keighley, harass From Software's Yasuhiro Kitao, or go after anyone in a public-facing position in the games industry for failing to produce brand new info on Elden Ring. As more events passed where Elden Ring failed to make an appearance, the 'hyping up' period for showcases became something of an in-joke for the Elden Ring subreddit, like they'd all point fingers and shout "gotcha!" at one another.

In June 2021, after nearly two years, the Elden Ring subreddit completely changed overnight. From Software finally unveiled an extensive gameplay and story trailer for Elden Ring, signalling an end to the great content drought with brand new details, as well as a release date. The floodgates of change were thrown open for the Elden Ring subreddit, as thousands of members around the world openly celebrated with silent screams across the internet, with new story beats, characters, world details, and much more to peruse for the very first time.

Spear_Guy
Spear guy: One of the originating “fake lore” posts on the Elden Ring subreddit.

Nowadays, the Elden Ring subreddit looks worlds apart from its previous incarnation nearly two years ago. Since From Software's game was announced at E3 2019, the subreddit has gone from despairing at a lack of information, creating their own game in the vacuum of said information, having a laugh when showcases inevitably failed to highlight Elden Ring, and finally delving into the bowels of any new information after From Software finally went public with Elden Ring gameplay and story info last year.

That... is a long journey. It might sound silly at first, praising a subreddit rising to a collective new height of creativity with their own game, before basking in the glory of gameplay info, but it's an impressive thing to witness firsthand. What's really more impressive is just how chill everyone was about the whole thing: no digital hands were thrown when Elden Ring fans got a little antsy with a lack of news for nearly two years. Now, with little over a week to go until Elden Ring finally launches around the world, the subreddit will undoubtedly turn yet another new corner with fascinating in-game discoveries, boss tactics, and more. Elden Ring's subreddit has been a bizarre shitstorm of comedy and creativity, and I've enjoyed every minute of the journey.

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Hirun Cryer

Hirun Cryer

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