In the Alden Ring, the struggle seems real

In the last two years, the epidemic has brought to us many works of art that have certainly tried to capture the struggle of humanity. That movie with Leonardo DiCaprio turned pink when he screamed at the top of his lungs so people could look at the comet rushing towards Earth. It was on the nose that it aroused the slightest thought: yes, we are divided, perhaps destroyed. What is it?

There is no way to fully encapsulate our situation like video games. In the beginning, when many of us were in lockdown and moderate talk back, we played Animal Crossing, which involved relaxing on simple tasks like fishing and gardening stuck on the island. This year, we’re playing the Elden Ring, a ruthlessly tough game that will get harder the more you play. This is a summary of what it was like to live in an epidemic.

The Alden Ring has a story that has something to do with a ring, but more importantly its design: it’s an open-world game, which means you can do whatever you want. Players will ride through poisonous swamps, run across molten lava and cross a broken bridge surrounded by tornadoes, fight or avoid enemies on the way.

Whatever you do, you will probably die again and again trying to do it, sometimes for hours. Because the slightest mistake of pressing a button will push you to your death or expose you to attack. Even the most experienced gamers will die dozens of times in a dungeon before reaching the boss – the main villain at the end of a game level.

None of this makes the Alden Ring a delight for viewers, but the video game – a collaboration between creative director Hidetaka Miyazaki and “Game of Thrones” writer George RR Martin – is on track to become the best seller of the year. Within a month of its release in February, 12 million copies had been sold.

At some point in the game, you encounter a dragon. You have a choice to fight or escape. At first, you will probably retreat, and in the end, after gaining enough strength and the right weapon or magic spell, you will return to kill the terrible fire-breath and taste your victory. Moments later, though, you’ll be stunned and killed by something unexpected, like a hawk that has a razor blade in its tail.

It’s hard to imagine the Alden Ring succeeding in any other era. In the 3 years since the epidemic, as vaccination rates have risen and hospital admissions have dropped in some areas, offices, schools and restaurants have reopened. To many Americans, the dragon has been killed. Yet in other parts of the world, a new form of coronavirus is making waves, and in New York, cases are starting to rise again.

Since some of us let our guards get some glimpse of normal life, we are preparing ourselves around the corner for that stupid bird that can still kill us. Our hard-educated lessons about the epidemic – despair and hope for more struggles – have given us good training for the Alden Ring.

While the DiCaprio movie was polarizing “Don’t Look Up” because it chose a direction that criticized anyone for denying the Apocalypse, the Alden Ring’s Choice-Your-Own-Adventure format is more inclusive to the public Not to agree on anything. In the Alden Ring, there is no right or wrong.

To defeat a boss, you can carefully study its moves and plan an attack, or you can “cheese” it with a cheap technique that requires no skill and ensures victory. Either way, victory means victory. Such a flexible game can resonate with players around the world and bring them together at a time when people are choosing their own truths about their masks, shots and information read online in general.

Players mostly suffer through the Alden Ring alone, but there are some parts, such as a very tough boss fight, that require people to get help from others online. To accommodate this, the game places small statues in challenging areas that act as post calls to bring in a collaborator. When the mission is complete, the good Samaritan disappears.

Struggle has always been a central theme in the games of Mr. Miyazaki, who gained fame through the slight success of his predecessors in the Dark Souls trilogy, Alden Ring, but so does the need for people to return to each other.

Mr. Miyazaki, who did not respond to requests for comment, said in an interview that he was inspired by a personal experience many years ago when he was driving on a snow-covered mountain. A car in front of him got stuck, and so he and one behind him, but then another car in the back moved forward and began to push the third car. Similar help has finally been received by everyone on the hill.

“We come into each other’s lives for a minute and disappear and still make an impact,” said Keja MacDonald, editor of The Guardian’s Video Games and author of a book about Mr. Miyazaki’s games, “You Died.” “It’s not really a player vs. a game. It’s a game versus a whole community of players. “

By the time I finished the Alden Ring with some help from friends and strangers online for about five weeks, I had not come out of the game feeling more anxious or pessimistic. I’ve made plans with friends I haven’t seen in two years.

Many of us have endured the epidemic alone because of restrictions and health risks that make it difficult to travel and gather indoors. It has been an impossible situation to navigate, and the struggle continues, but we are together for the long haul. Why not turn to each other?

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