With over 13 million units sold, Elden Ring has brought in many players new to FromSoftware games. After finishing Elden Ring, it’s only natural to want to play the other games in FromSoftware’s growing library. The most famous of these are the Dark Souls trilogy of games. So it is only natural to wonder: is Elden Ring connected to Dark Souls?
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Comparing Elden Ring and Dark Souls
While initially you might assume they are completely separate games, there are a lot of similarities and references that have us theorizing if these games share an overlapping universe. Today we’re going to be looking at the ways in which these games are similar, and the ways they differ, to determine if and how Elden Ring and Dark Souls are connected.
The first, and most obvious similarity, is that they are both developed by FromSoftware. Under the direction of Hidetaka Miyazaki, FromSoftware has developed numerous games of a similar style. This style, dubbed “souls-like”, has become so popular it is now considered its own subgenre.
Titles in this subgenre that FromSoftware has developed include:
What is a “Souls-like” Game?
A common feature of this subgenre includes stored experience points. These are lost upon death but can be recovered from the spot where the player died. Other gameplay elements associated with the “souls-like” genre include difficult action RPG combat, checkpoints where players can level up specific stats, and a variety of weapons and equipment for your character to use.
Elden Ring checks all of these boxes landing it squarely in the “souls-like” genre. But there are a lot of games that are considered “souls-like.” Let’s look a little more closely at the specific similarities between Elden Ring and Dark souls.
FromSoftware has a habit of including certain items and characters across many of their games. One of these characters is Patches.
Patches, FromSoftware’s Immortal Trickster
Making his first appearance in a “souls-like” game, Patches the Hyena in Demon’s Souls is a trickster who lures the player into his trap with the promise of treasure only to kick them off of a cliff so he can loot their belongings.
In Dark Souls, Trusty Patches appears and plays almost the same trick on the player, luring them to the ledge of a cliff before kicking them off of it.
He then takes on an arachnid form in Bloodborne with his signature bald head connected to the grotesque body of a spider. Once again, he plays his same trick booting the player off a ledge.
In his final appearance prior to Elden Ring, Patches appears as Unbreakable Patches in Dark Souls 3.
This time, Patches attempts to trick you into descending into a hostile area before stealing the ladder so you cannot escape. He also tries to lock you in the bell tower near Firelink Shrine. This time, though, after escaping both of his traps, Patches settles down and becomes a merchant the player can purchase from.
Patches Returns in Elden Ring
Making his grand re-appearance in Elden Ring, Patches has gained a new moniker: the Untethered. He is first encountered as an optional boss who ambuses the player in Murkwater Cave. He will surrender when his health is low and, should the player spare him, becomes a merchant much like he was in Dark Souls 3.
This begs the question: is this the same Patches as the one in the Dark Souls games?
The Patches encountered in Dark Souls appears identical to the one in Dark Souls 3. This implies he has survived for the centuries between the two games without going hollow.
Now, his Untethered moniker in Elden Ring suggests something even more fantastic about Patches. It is almost like he is untethered to one particular world, or game in this case. If Patches could survive centuries in the Dark Souls world, perhaps he also has the ability to travel between worlds.
The implications this has for the connection between Dark Souls and Elden Ring point to a shared multiverse with the potential to travel between realms.
While there is no official confirmation, many have speculated that the world of Elden Ring exists as a parallel to the world of Dark Souls. The connection doesn’t end with Patches, though it does get more speculative.
In both Elden Ring and Dark Souls, the player is cursed. Elden Ring has the Tarnished while Dark Souls 3 has the Unkindled. Both of these cursed individuals are seeking in their respective games what is essentially godhood. In-game dialogue refers to the land of Lothric as a “transitory land” in Darks Souls 3. This bears a striking similarity to the Lands Between of Elden Ring in its implications as a liminal world.
Is Solaire of Astora in Elden Ring?
Speaking of cursed individuals, Elden Ring references another classic Dark Souls character.
The Dung Eater in Elden Ring is a grotesque fellow Tarnished who appears in a corpse-filled room within Roundtable Hold. Completing his quest line grants you his Omen armor set. Take a look at the Omen Armor and you’ll notice a sun adored on the chest piece similar to that worn by Solaire of Astora.
While it is unclear whether the Dung Eater of Elden Ring is supposed to be Solaire, he does become cursed by the end of Dark Souls. It is not a coincidence that similarly cursed counterpart show up in Elden Ring.
While there are a lot of notable similarities, references, and allusions to Dark Souls, Miyazaki states that Elden Ring is a spiritual successor to Dark Souls and not directly connected. This unfortunately bursts the bubble of fans looking to piece together clues about Elden Ring’s connection to Dark Souls.
But the question of whether or not Elden Ring is connected to Dark Souls on a higher level is more complex. Comparing the two games makes it clear that Elden Ring is the successor to the Dark Souls series, not its sequel.
Elden Ring’s Open World Design…
Elden Ring brings the souls-like formula to its natural evolution with its open world-style of exploration and combat. The heavy emphasis on player discovery and asymmetrical world building makes Elden Ring’s narrative highly influenced by the player’s choice in how much they want to explore.
For example, the player technically only needs to beat two Shardbearers to reach the end of the game. This means they could potentially miss out on important pieces of lore, resulting in a completely different experience from other players.
…Vs Dark Souls’ Semi-linear Design
In contrast, the Dark Souls series has a relatively linear, interconnected world and its gameplay and narrative design reflects that. Because of this disparity in level design, the way in which the narrative is designed to unfold has to differ as well.
Events in Dark Souls occur in generally the same order for all players. Whereas, the events of Elden Ring’s story may occur in a different order for different players depending on how they decided to explore the world.
This approach to game design could work in a Dark Souls sequel. However, the non-linear exploration-based gameplay of Elden Ring is more suited for a stand alone title.
Story and Lore
The story and lore of Elden Ring, while sharing similar elements to Dark Souls, stands completely on its own. The Lords of Cinder of Dark Souls are remarkably similar to the Shardbears of Elden Ring. These Lords of Cinder are called so because they have linked the First Flame and prolonged the Age of Fire. This led to the creation and perpetuation of the curse of the Undead.
In Elden Ring, the Shardbearers each hold a Great Rune of the shattered Elden Ring. Prior to the shattering of the Elden Ring, Queen Marika the Eternal took the Rune of Death so that those blessed by the Elden Ring could not die.
After the shattering of the Elden Ring, this blessing dissipated, granting only the Tarnished undeath. The player sets out to collect the Great Runes from the Shardbearers and reform the Elden Ring. These pieces of lore are similar thematically, but canonically different.
The Role of the Player in Dark Souls…
Another difference in lore is the role of the player character in the two games’ stories.
As noted above, where Dark Souls has Undead and Unkindled, Elden Ring has Tarnished.
The Chosen Undead is the player character of the first Dark Souls. The player seeks out Gwyn, Lord of Cinder to either succeed him, rekindling the First Flame and prolonging the Age of Fire and the Undead Curse, or defeat him and extinguishing the First Flame ending the Age of Fire and beginning the Age of Darkness.
In Dark Souls 3, the player character is the Ashen One. This game assumes the player continued the Age of Fire in the first Dark Souls. As such, the Ashen One goes on to defeat the remaining Lords of Cinder. Doing so puts an end to the First Flame and the Age of Fire once and for all.
…Vs the Role of the Player in Elden Ring
This pattern of defeating a series of demigod-like beings and fulfilling a prophecy does appear again in Elden Ring. The Tarnished are those who have lost the grace of the Erdtree and were banished from the Lands Between.
The player character is a Tarnished seeking to reclaim the Great Runes from the Shardbearers and reform the Elden Ring, granting them the title of Elden Lord. We see a lot of the same tropes from the Dark Souls series in this plot.
The cursed “chosen one” sets out on a quest of epic proportions in order to break said curse and restore the land to its former glory. Apart from these loose plot beats, the Dark Souls series does not share any lore with Elden Ring.
An infamous selling point of Elden Ring is its lore written by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. So while much of the lore of Elden Ring has similar archetypes and tropes to that of Dark Souls, the world of Elden Ring is completely separate.
Join the High Ground!
These are our theories on the connections between Elden Ring and Dark Souls. If you have your own theories, feel free to share them in the comments down below. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with all of our latest Elden Ring content!