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Elden Ring Industry Analysis

How Elden Ring Makes “Hard Mode” Work

After one of the most successful launches in history, Elden Ring has shown astounding success as an adventure game known for its absurdly brutal difficulty. Elden Ring has already sold over 12 million copies within a month after release. But when looking at competitors, Elden Ring seems to stand alone in its approach to adventure game design. Many players are asking the question, why is Elden Ring so difficult? And why don’t they offer an “easy mode” like other adventure games?

The Competition

There are seemingly endless examples of open-world games that hold the player’s hand throughout the journey. A recent example of this is Horizon Forbidden West, an adventure game that was released a full week before Elden Ring. While the launch of Horizon was dwarfed by that of Elden Ring’s, it was still able to take second place on the charts.

Horizon takes a much more traditional approach to adventure games, offering to hold the player’s hand throughout the game. Looking at the world map, Horizon chooses to guide the player with a simple look with every detail on display so the player can avoid danger or face challenges as they see fit. Elden Ring, however, chooses to use a very weathered world map that does not outline the majority of the encounters you will face during the game. Since it is harder to navigate and predict danger, players can often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Elden Ring’s world map (left) compared to Horizon Forbidden West’s word map (right)

Building A Brand

There is no question that FromSoftware, the developer of Elden Ring, has done a great job developing a unique brand for their games. While not all of their games terrorize their players, notable titles such as the Dark Souls series, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, or Bloodborne, stand out as games suitable only for the bravest of gamers.

(Image from @DuncstarTV)

The difficulty of their games scratches an itch for a different type of gamer. While games like Horizon focus on task completion, Elden Ring focuses on presenting a challenge for its players to overcome. This change in direction is why Elden Ring players have become forgiving of the game’s lack of polish, where poor game design has become part of the challenge.

Effects on the Game

Ubisoft is a company known for creating easy open-world games. While titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, or Far Cry can be challenging, these titles allow the player to lower the difficulty. It can feel as though the player is never free from an endless amount of guidance via waypoints, mini-maps, objectives, etc. With the success of Elden Ring, which features none of these options, the gaming community has backlashed against companies like Ubisoft for their lack of challenging gameplay.

“If Ubisoft Made Elden Ring” (Image via @DreamcastGuy)

Elden Ring has reminded gamers what it is like to be faced with a challenge and face it without easy solutions. While spending 12 hours grinding and improving your skills to defeat a single boss may seem ridiculous to casual players, this gameplay has allowed Elden Ring players to develop a sense of pride in their achievements that easy games fail to grasp.

While this sense of achievement allows players to feel a real sense of achievement, the level of difficulty also serves as a deterrent to casual gamers who don’t have the time or skill to overcome the challenges. Over time, this will likely result in organic filtering out of non-committed players. but it is safe to assume that the die-hard Elden Ring community will stay loyal to the brand for many years to come.

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League of Legends Stories

Why League of Legends is so Great

Over the course of gaming, countless titles have grown to receive world recognition and build a diehard fanbase. But no title compares to that of League of Legends. Ever since its release in 2009, this MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) has become the greatest single Esport in the history of competitive gaming and is home to the largest fanbase in the world.

On average, there are over 700,000 players in-game, battling it out in the arena. The game has even expanded into many spin-off titles, a complete board game, and just this last November, launched a TV series called “Arcane” receiving an impressive 9.4 score on IMBD, as well as a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But how did League of Legends find itself where it is today?

Evolution and changes

The game is constantly evolving with new patches every two weeks. The meta is always changing with new balance changes. This allows for every champion to have a seasonal moment of glory. The pacing and length of the game changes along with content that is added or changed as well. The most recent changes, as of February 2022, are the dragon changes. It was introduced in 2020, and they expanded upon it in the pre-season of 2021.

Every game is different because there are a lot of combinations between over 150 champions and the random element of elemental dragons as well. Many items were added, deleted, or reworked over the years, and they are the core of building a specific hero. Games that come from the RTS genre, in general, tend to rely on more strategy in general, and League of Legends went in an action direction, and it keeps paying off. The game is more accessible, which could be bad for some players because it means that it is easier overall than it was some time ago. However, the difficulty of the game often depends on your ranking and the champion you are playing.

League of Legends Great Dragon
Image via Riot Games

Eternals and Events

There is a lot of diversity when it comes to creating character builds, and you can play a single character in many ways with the reworked item system. Champion reworks also add a breath of fresh air into some older heroes. In addition, the ever-changing events add a lot of meaning to playing the game. A lot of missions require you to play the game, you do not need to accomplish any hard specific missions. Just play the game and earn rewards. The game is full of events like Ruination, Pool Party, Christmas Events, Halloween Events, and more. They often add thematic skins and other rewards like icons or ward skins to earn in your collection.

Finally, when it comes to just feeling of purpose by playing the game apart from missions, Riot Games has added Eternals to the game. It is another way of tracking your progress with various milestones that measure how many kills you have on a specific champion, how many enemies you have defeated or hit with your Ultimate, and much more. Statistics are fun, yay!

Champions on Summoner’s Rift

There is a lot of diversity when it comes to champions. Every character has its own set of abilities. Four active abilities and a passive one. It is often more complex than that because champions like Aphelios have basically about 16 abilities and 25 interactions that all work differently, but not every champion is so complex. However, it all results in you having a lot of freedom of choice while choosing the role and character you want to focus on and learn. The thing that differentiates League of Legends from other games is that it is still very accessible for casual players. You do not need to play ranked and master every champion in order to stay relevant and have fun. It is rare these days, and League does that very well.

Lore of Runeterra

League of Legends always had some kind of story behind the characters, but in the last couple of years, they expanded upon it tremendously. With a lot of character reworks that add a lot of freshness into the game, there are a lot of changes or re-writes to this character’s lore. More often than not, connected to the entire region of Runeterra. Gangplank’s rework added a lot of lore to Bilgewater for example.

League of Legends Great Esports
Image via Riot Games

Esports Scene

League of Legends is one of the biggest games when it comes to e-sports, and Riot keeps pushing this notion forward. E-sport is slowly going in its own direction, like a split branch of gaming. League of Legends is at the top of the mountain when it comes to organizing events like Worlds. Millions of viewers all around the world gather to watch some match in a game. It seems amazing, and connecting communities, especially among gamers, is always a good thing. It is pleasant even for people who do not play the game. I even found my friend’s parents watching the finals of Worlds 2021 on national TV as a broadcast. They had a lot of fun watching a video game that they have no clue what it is about.

Wider Media Expansion

Last but not least, in recent years, League of Legends is much bigger than the classic game itself. The world grew big and is expanding into other video games like Ruined King: A League of Legends Story which is a strategy game focused on just a few characters. Legends of Runeterra is a build-your-own deck card game. In addition, there are a lot of other video games in production, including an action RPG and fighting game set in the world of League of Legends. There is also a board game called “Mechs vs. Minions” which offers a lot of innovative gameplay and mechanics. I played it, it’s surprisingly good.

Finally, the amazing success of a TV Show by Netflix and Riot Games called “Arcane”. It was the main mainstream expansion to date and was definitely a success. The marketing was huge around it and the second season is already in the works, set for its earliest release in 2023. The game is really good and expanding upon the world created over a decade ago keeps the interest going. All the updates to the game help the core experience to attract new players, as well as make old-time veterans come back from time to time and play a game or two of Full AP Nunu. Just remember to have fun, no matter what game you play.

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League of Legends News

How Riot Games Dominated Tournaments During a Pandemic

With the outbreak of the Covid-19, esports, like the rest of the world, ground to a halt. Starting with IEM Katowice in 2020, hundreds of events were canceled, switched to online, had their crowds removed, or were otherwise changed in response to the coronavirus.

But even as the rest of the esports world was canceling and moving their biggest tournaments online, Riot Games managed to put on three enormous tournaments: Worlds 2020, Mid-Season Invitational 2021, and Worlds 2021. But how did Riot Games succeed where so many other tournaments, such as Dota 2’s The International and CS:GO’s Majors, were forced into cancellation?

The feat of Worlds 2020

Image via Riot Games

Riot Games and their League of Legends competitive scene was not immediately immune to the cancellations that ripped through the esports world in the wake of Covid-19. With their leagues moved online, taken out of studios, and in some cases, postponed, competitive LoL and the newly revealed Valorant competitive scene suffered in early 2020.

Most notable was the cancellation of MSI 2020. The Mid Season Invitational 2020 was initially scheduled for May 2020. But after the outbreak of the Pandemic was canceled in April of that year. It looked like, in all likelihood, Worlds 2020 would share the same fate. After all, several massive international events like Worlds had to be canceled that same year. 

But Riot had an ace up their sleeve: The backing of parent company Tencent. It’s impossible to know just how much sway the state-backed Tencent corporation pulled to ensure that League of Legends got its Worlds 2020. But suffice to say, Worlds 2020 was held in China, with a limited crowd for some days. 

But beyond just greasing the gears with some corporate connections, the measures taken to ensure a safe environment were astronomical. Taking place on a closed set in the Shanghai Media Tech Studio, teams traveling to the event were all placed in the same hotel. Each squad was forced into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Employees faced similar strict restrictions. Ultimately there were no reported cases during the event.

Many would criticize Riot’s all-spanning control of the competitive scene for League of Legends. But when faced with needing to operate an international tournament in a bubble, it’s hard to fault the total control.

Iceland saved the day in 2021

Image via Riot Games

With the Pandemic continuing into 2021, instead of the eight or 12-month crisis, many had initially predicted, more competitive events would have to be scaled down or canceled. With Riot’s newly launched VCT for Valorant and the new 2021 season of League of Legends starting, it looked like the continuing Pandemic would scupper it. But for several reasons, that wasn’t an option. 

In many ways, Riot Games was snookered by its past decisions. To have held Worlds 2020 and set expectations of what could be achieved in a pandemic so high, only to scale things back in 2021, would be unthinkable. It would have sent two messages: Firstly, Worlds 2020 was a mistake; an event born of hubris and brute force (accurate on many accounts). And secondly that it was a one-off miracle and not something that could be replicated by Riot Games again. Especially not outside of China, without the influence of Tencent on its side.

Scouring the globe, the ideal venue for Riot Games 2021 events became clear. Iceland and its capital of Reykjavík was the perfect location. Nominally a European location, but with enough restrictions and a small population to have prevented huge numbers of coronavirus cases, Iceland was ideal for esports events.

Valorant Masters, MSI 2021, and Worlds 2021 were all hosted in Reykjavik in the Laugardalshöll arena under similar lockdown conditions to Worlds 2020. As a result, the three huge events were pulled off with no press, no audience, and just players and staff isolated in arenas.

Looking ahead to MSI South Korea

Image via Asia Tech Daily

With all these successes, it’s no surprise Riot Games is again looking to hold an event during a global pandemic. This time it’s rumored to be in South Korea, with the League of Legends MSI 2022. What measures Riot Games will put in place remains to be seen. The company has operated well with strict measures, but the overall attitude to the Pandemic has changed over the past two years.

We live in a world where most competitors will be double or even triple vaccinated against the virus. The cases in South Korea have steadily increased over the past months, but so has testing. And in many cases, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 seems to have less severe symptoms, especially for the vaccinated. Under these conditions, Riot Games once again attempts to hold an international tournament. Over the past two years, they’ve proved they’re more than capable of doing so.