You lay your final blows on the galactic Elden Beast and welcome in an age of your choosing to the troubled Lands Between. The screen fades to black, the credits start to rain down, and as you listen to Elden Ring’s full-bodied orchestra one last time, you know that you did good. Alternatively, you got bored of dying to Caelid’s scab-headed giant birds, and are now ready for something, anything to play instead.
You’re in luck, buddy. FromSoftware’s open-world epic will likely never get old, but the games you left at the bottom of a drawer somewhere (or haven’t yet picked up) are banging on your door, begging you for just one, measly chance. Tough cookies. They can wait a bit longer — you’re ready to move on from Elden Ring now, and Kotaku made this list of seven games you should play next. All of these games are just like Elden Ring, except…something.
We’re talking Elden Ring, but darker. Elden Ring, but cuter. If you have prayed to the cloudless skies for just one Elden Ring, but with Cup Noodles cut scene, I am pleased to inform you that your cries have been answered. Wipe those tears away, and begin this slideshow to discover which Elden Ring, but…something you should queue up next.
Elden Ring…but darker
Like, literally darker — you won’t find Elden Ring’s luxuriously blue skies or wide-open terrain in this game ruled by hard lines, glinting metal, stone, and mist. But Mortal Shell is a brooding love letter to FromSoftware games’ opulent doom with its own set of power-hungry protagonists and helpful maidens. It looks and plays like a lot of FromSoftware games, complete with big red boss health bars and black death screens, which is nice if you’re looking for something to feel familiar after Elden Ring. This game also has the benefit of being much smaller and shorter than other FromSoftware games, so you can let yourself relax a bit after spending months killing every stupid burial watchdog in Elden Ring. This is your post-dessert digestif.
…but more snakes
If Mortal Shell is a digestif, Nioh 2 is after a few hours at the bar when you finally give in to eating a whole bag of Takis at 2 a.m. This Japanese history-inspired game is for Elden Ring players who wish Caelid was their hometown. It’s filled with rancid demons that explode damage points and yellow sparks when you hit them, and it prefers that you memorise their movesets and master timing as an art. In other words, this is a very hard game with very hard enemies, including these pure evil Nure-onna serpents, which the game has bequeathed giant boobs for some reason. But you beat Elden Ring, and you’re ready for it.
If your favourite thing about Elden Ring is how it made you feel, you should try Dead Cells next. Thematically, the roguelike game asks the same questions moulded to the core of Elden Ring: who dies and why? Like in Elden Ring, immortality is crucial to Dead Cells, which has you play as a parasitic body of armour that runs around bursting enemies until they kill you first. And they will kill you, at least temporarily. As in FromSoftware games, death in Dead Cells is more of a tool than a condition. Its recurrence asks players to consider their power and decisions carefully while pushing them to tear through a resplendent pixelated environment. The game’s plentiful blood drops are crisp red cubes, and jewel tone backgrounds glow as you run toward your lofty goal to kill the king. The soundtrack, punctuated by plucked guitars and airy, aching drums, is pretty nice, too.
OK, so let’s stick with the plagues and ruined kingdoms and existential questions about death and power but make it tiny and adorable. I’m not downplaying Hollow Knight’s brilliance or its relevance to Elden Ring fans — the game has you wandering through desolate, dead cities, slashing sickly creatures, and collecting souls, all things that will feel comfortable to you as a battle-scarred Elden Ring player. The story, soundtrack, and blackened environments work together to create one immersive movement, and combat is subtly complex and very satisfying. You can double jump, for God’s sake. But the little big protagonist is also adorable. Look at its tiny head and giant eyes. Look at it!
On its surface Monster Prom has very little to do with Elden Ring aside from the fact that they both include monsters. But the funny, endearing dating sim is an exaggerated version of all Elden Ring’s quirky bits — it’s for the weirdos (me) who enjoyed getting to know a humanoid jar and wonder if Sorceress Sellen is the kind of lady who might enjoy long walks along the Siofra River. And if she isn’t the type, perpetually dying in Elden Ring has prepared you for many times monsters will reject your dating advances in this game.
Final Fantasy XIV mastered the massively multiplayer online game, but Final Fantasy XV mastered food. This action role-playing game is primarily about Prince Noctis and his merry band of buddies, all of whom, I might add, are wearing very fun jackets. They wander the game’s open world in search of truth and monsters, just with the help of a slick convertible called Regalia instead of a horse named Torrent. But Elden Ring craft fiends in particular will enjoy collecting ingredients that the character Ignis uses to make increasingly elaborate, drool-inducing, stat-boosting meals at campfires.
Kidding! Haha! No, I’m not kidding, sorry. Even as a hardcore FromSoftware fan, if Dark Souls 2 was a person and I was a snot-nosed 5-year-old, I would be doing some booger-flicking in its direction. Trust me. That said, if you’re willing to look past the game’s lethargic mechanics and enemies that are somehow able to smell you from 10,000 fucking miles away, I don’t think this is a bad FromSoftware game to try if it’s your first after Elden Ring. Dark Souls 2 is the longest in the series and has 42 bosses if you’re counting its DLC, but Elden Ring taught you how to savour the long haul. You will, however, need to learn to love Dark Souls 2’s truly putrid textures (sorry!), but other than that, it’s a massive, difficult game waiting for you to mine its fields of crystalline lore.
These are just a few games I’m thinking of revisiting now that Elden Ring has me feeling all medieval, but there’s always more knighthood to be gained and horse content to be whinnied. What games has Elden Ring inspired you to play recently?