Elden Ring was arguably the most successful breakout game of 2022, mopping up awards left, right and center. The product of Dark Souls developers FromSoftware’s first earnest foray into the open world RPG genre, it brought together the hardcore difficulty people have come to know and love from Souls-likes, with a vast world and greater storytelling sensibility. This was no doubt bolstered by having Game of Thrones’ author George R R Martin on as a “worldbuilding consultant”. Despite being an extremely difficult game – as one can expect from a FromSoftware title – this particular title got a massive influx of new players, all eager to prove themselves in the lands between. The game is more accessible partly because its Open World component allows players to go explore and level up elsewhere whenever they hit a brick wall, but also because there are a lot of very good Elden Ring Walkthroughs out there, teaching the ropes to newcomers and optimizing the experience for Souls veterans.
But here’s the thing – in case you hadn’t noticed, triple-A gaming has gotten more expensive than ever. This comes at a time when much of the industry is diversifying and looking to transfer value and accessibility to the end user. To see evidence of this, you need only look to the compelling array of options available to those looking to play free poker online, or gaze with envy at those fans of battle royales who have come to expect their games to ship free-to-play as standard.
But triple-A games are of a different order. They take hundreds of millions of dollars and as many man-hours to create, and these growing production costs end up impacting gamers directly. With new PlayStation 5 games increasingly commanding a retail price of $70, and next generation consoles on general sale for upwards of $500, it’s not a cheap time to be a fan of triple-A gaming.
Thankfully, there are still options, the best of which is the arrival of cloud gaming. This refers to a technology not dissimilar to what you’re used to when streaming TV and movie content from leading over-the-top subscription providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. What makes this technology harder to implement is that, rather than streaming a static media file to your device, it streams a whole game that’s unfolding in real time and reacting to your controller inputs.
This has meant that delivering cloud gaming has been tricky, with plenty of latency issues hampering any one developer from announcing they’ve got the finished product. Though for those wanting not only ease-of-access to their favourite games, but a means of cutting out the costly overheads of purchasing a whole console (or game), cloud gaming is worth paying attention to.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
At present, Xbox Cloud Gaming, which ships as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, represents the best plug-and-play example of cloud gaming on the market today – particularly following the closure of Google Stadia. With 170+ Xbox games old and new to enjoy all for a single subscription fee, it’s the cheapest and most direct way to enjoy headline titles like Halo: Infinite.
Nvidia GeForce Now
But for those wanting to play the likes of Elden Ring, Cyberpunk 2077 and, eventually, God of War Ragnarök, an alternative solution is required. This comes in the form of Nvidia GeForce Now. While you need to buy your own games to use this service from platforms like Steam, GeForce Now circumvents you having to invest thousands of dollars into upgrading or building a gaming PC capable of playing the world’s top titles.
Nvidia GeForce Now offers several subscription tiers, with their top option – Ultimate – giving you access to a server-side RTX 4080 rig at 4k resolution and 120fps for only $18 per month.