FromSoftware’s new game, Elden Ring, can combine Game of Thrones’ moral and political complexity with the combat and drama of the Souls games.
Elden Ring could gain a lot by borrowing from the story toolbox of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. Elden Ring, the anticipated upcoming release by FromSoftware is breaking new ground by combining the dark aesthetic and iconic, influential playstyle of their Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Sekiro, and Bloodborne franchises with the world-building of renowned television screenwriter and sci-fi/fantasy novelist George R.R. Martin.
One thing Martin has proven to do well in his A Song of Ice and Fire novels is flesh out the world with lore and minutiae. FromSoftware’s games do this as well, in their idiosyncratic way, with item descriptions and other devices rather than an abundance of dialogue. However, an occasional critique of FromSoftware games is that this keeps their stories in many ways further in the background, and with Elden Ring touting George R. R. Martin’s name, it’s possible there could also be a more traditional narrative structure along with it.
Related: How Elden Ring Could Evolve BOTW’s Open-World Innovations
While Elden Ring will no doubt share gameplay elements with Bloodborne and Sekiro, it follows in the high fantasy lane of the Souls games. Nominally, Elden Ring invokes The Lord of the Rings, and perhaps the partnership FromSoftware and George R. R. Martin means that Elden Ring’s story will also find ways to borrow character types and themes from the story of Game of Thrones.
One thing that Game of Thrones focuses on is the gray areas of morality (especially as it relates to people in power and the corruption of institutions), like the lack of honor among the King’s Guard, King Robert’s decadence, or the Freys and Boltons betraying guests and allies at the Red Wedding. Elden Ring’s premise focuses on a world ruled by the demigod offspring of Queen Marika the Eternal, each corrupted by the shards of the Elden Ring that they carry, known as Great Runes. This seems already like a straightforward metaphor for the ways power can corrupt.
Elden Ring’s premise calls its protagonist, the Tarnished, to restore the Elden Ring and become the Elden Lord, so perhaps the price of power can come across through forging and breaking alliances to get to that point, helping knights like Jaime Lannister and Jorah Mormont restore their honor, or freeing princesses in captive marriages. Or maybe they can be drawn into this quest for power through a blood connection to former rulers, like Daenerys and Jon Snow were.
Borrowing from Game of Thrones doesn’t mean Elden Ring has to be a story closely following the children of nobility as they seek vengeance for the destruction of their land and homes in Elden Ring’s Lands Between. Rather, it means Elden Ring can use a narrative with more traditional literary conventions and themes while continuing contemporary FromSoftware design. The studio makes open-world action games where the narrative is something felt and played through, where cinematographic qualities are often experienced rather than just watched.
Elden Ring doesn’t need to take everything from the Game of Thrones show or A Song of Ice and Fire books. The show took an already violent book series and upped the instances of sexual violence while minimizing their diversity. The books themselves include myriad easter eggs in the forms of characters, lands, and in-universe stories that reference real life figures from J.R.R. Tolkien to Bill Belichick. Elden Ring doesn’t need to look to Game of Thrones for everything, especially given its pedigree – there are plenty of FromSoftware games it will undoubtedly borrow concepts from. But it would be served well by incorporating the most meaningful themes of George R.R. Martin’s epic saga that already fit the FromSoftware design philosophy.
Next: How Elden Ring’s NPCs Will Be Different From Dark Souls’
Kevin Fox, Jr. is a freelance writer. He holds degrees in history from Loyola University New Orleans and Villanova University. He loves videogames, film, comics, sports, and people. He tweets sometimes @kevinfoxjr.

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