I put 120 hours into Elden Ring — here's why a movie adaptation is a terrible idea

Elden Ring
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Two years after its release, Elden Ring is back making gaming headlines all over again. The acclaimed DLC expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree has arrived, expanding FromSoftware's already huge world with another dose of uber-tough action. 

In addition to the DLC, the title's been making waves for another reason. In an interview with The Guardian, FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki has let slip that there's "interest" in developing an Elden Ring adaptation at the studio, with the caveat that the studio would need to bring a strong creative partner onboard to make it happen.

"I don't see any reason to deny another interpretation or adaptation of Elden Ring, a movie for example", Miyazaki said. "But I don't think myself, or FromSoftware, have the knowledge or ability to produce something in a different medium. So that's where a very strong partner would come into play. We'd have to build a lot of trust and agreement on whatever it is we're trying to achieve, but there's interest, for sure."

Since that story went out, "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin — who did the worldbuilding for Elden Ring — coyly talked around the adaptation on his 'Not a Blog' site.

"Oh, and about those rumors you may have heard about a feature film or television series based on Elden Ring... I have nothing to say. Not a word, nope, not a thing, I know nothing, you never heard a peep from me, mum mum mum. What rumor?", he wrote. Given Martin loves to drop hints about potential "Game of Thrones" spinoffs in the same place, there's every chance this could well be a cryptic hint we should pay attention to. 

The fact is, I have some serious concerns about a potential adaptation. I've spent more than 120 hours in the Lands Between to date, and I'm not exactly sure an Elden Ring movie has the potential to be the next "Fallout" or "The Last Of Us". I know some readers might call those rookie numbers, but after my three-month fugue state cycle of "wake up, go to work, have dinner, play Elden Ring, repeat" at launch, I had to play other stuff; Baldur's Gate 3 wanted my PS5 hard drive space! 

Regardless, after exploring a ton of the catacombs, taking on the base-game bosses, and earning the platinum trophy, I struggle to see how an Elden Ring adaptation would work; here are just a few of the reasons why.

Elden Ring is too well-suited to being a video game

One of the best things about playing Elden Ring, or any of FromSoft's games, for that matter, is the unfamiliarity of the world around you, and actually getting to take it in at your own pace, taking on the challenges it offers and overcoming them.

An adaptation in another medium is going to lack the tactility of playing FromSoftware's title. I struggle to see how a movie or TV show could replicate the feedback loop of this brilliant game. 

Elden Ring is so compelling because it feeds into that 'one more try' mentality. You're stepping back into the boss arena over and over until you finally learn that one enemy's attack patterns well enough to get the upper hand. It's a feeling that is so specific to the medium, and I just don't think seeing a Tarnished going through the motions on-screen would be the same. 

Furthermore, your journey from Limgrave to the Elden Beast is as compelling because it hinges on the choices you make as a player. You choose what order you approach the Shardbearers in; you choose your Tarnished's build, your weapons, your play style, and so on.  

Elden Ring's story hinges as much, if not more, on the player's interaction with and exploration of the world as they approach that, so I struggle to see how it can work when someone else is holding the reins. 

ELDEN RING - Story Trailer - YouTube ELDEN RING - Story Trailer - YouTube
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Elden Ring's lore seems too dense to adapt

Putting aside what I said about the "experience" of playing Elden Ring, let's say that plans are indeed already underway to adapt the overarching plot. Okay, how on earth do you approach that story? 

Elden Ring presents you with a sprawling open world full of lore to digest, plot threads to follow through, characters to meet, and bosses to defeat, with little more than a short introductory cutscene to prime you before you spawn in an unforgiving, broken and often downright alien world. It's full of possibilities, right?

Well, I feel overwhelmed just thinking about how a showrunner might try to approach something this dense. I fail to see how it would work without turning into a massive slog full of exposition. The Lands Between feels richly realized not only because of the well-designed levels and legacy dungeons but also because, as players, we get the time to stop and ponder the lore tidbits when we pick up a new weapon or chat with a new character. 

Yes, I know plenty of fans (myself included) adore listening to lore retellings from creators like VaatiVidya, but I don't think this is the kind of form an Elden Ring adaptation will take. It will need to be more approachable, something to suit a very wide audience (given how expensive it will likely be to make), and I think an adaptation of that scale would have to trade in some of the intricacies of the world. 

Elden Ring screen shot

(Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.)

The only feasible way I can see an adaptation working would perhaps be by taking isolated events from the time before our Tarnished arrived on the scene. Perhaps a studio wants to tackle The Shattering, the war between Shardbearers that sprung. But even on this front, I'd apply the same logic George R.R. Martin applies to some of the events in Westerosian history: I think we already know all we need to know about Elden Ring's past to make the game a compelling story. 

Talking about the oft-requested "Robert's Rebellion" spinoff, Martin wrote back in 2017 that he didn't want one made because we'll know every important event by the time he's finished A Song of Ice and Fire. And unlike readers still waiting for The Winds of Winter, Elden Ring players have the finished story at hand. We've experienced the consequences of The Shattering, and seen what effect it had on the Shardbearers and the world itself. 

I'm willing to accept that I could be very wrong and that someone is waiting in the wings to transplant the Elden Ring experience into a new medium entirely. I have loved returning to the game for the DLC and even started up a brand-new character to run through the early hours to try and recapture the feeling of playing it over again before writing this up.

If FromSoftware strikes up the right creative partnership to bring Elden Ring to our screens in a new light, there's every chance that the ensuing adaptation could be just as successful as the original game. Right now, though, I think this story is best experienced in its original form. 

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Staff Writer, Streaming

Martin is a Streaming Writer at Tom’s Guide, covering all things movies and TV. If it’s in the theaters or available to stream somewhere, he’s probably watched it… especially if it has a dragon in it. Before joining the team, he was a Staff Writer at What To Watch where he wrote about a broad range of shows that stretched from "Doctor Who" and "The Witcher" to "Bridgerton" and "Love Island". When he’s not watching the next must-see movie or show, he’s probably still in front of a screen playing massive RPGs, reading, spending a fortune on TCGs, or watching the NFL.