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This New Soulslike On Game Pass Will Scratch Your Elden Ring Itch

It's not the most original setting for a Soulslike, but Lords of the Fallen still deserves your attention.

screenshot from Lords of the Fallen
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One of the great things about falling in love with a video game is that you’re often falling in love with a genre. I’d never played anything turn-based in my life until I stumbled upon XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and suddenly there were dozens of new titles on my radar. Going deep down the rabbit hole is one of the best things about games as a medium, and few rabbit holes go as deep as Soulslikes.

Lords of the Fallen, developed by developed by CI Games and Hexworks, transports players to a dark, medieval fantasy world brimming with challenging enemies and intricate lore. Sound familiar? Sure, it's not the most original setting for a Soulslike, but Lords of the Fallen still deserves your attention. It stands out in a crowded genre thanks to some savvy tweaks to the Soulslike formula, as well as a busy dev team that has updated the game nearly 30 times since it launched six months ago.

A successor to the 2014 original, Lords of the Fallen released in October 2023. Since launch it has undergone various updates and re-releases, continually refining its core mechanics and improving, and fixing, its design. Its similarities to the Dark Souls series are undeniable, yet Lords of the Fallen carves out its niche through a unique blend of combat, narrative, and aesthetic choices.

At its heart, Lords of the Fallen is a game about combat. Set 1,000 years after 2014’s release, players are caught in the middle of a war between two gods: Adyr and Ordius. Adyr was the big bad in the previous game, a demon god who was locked away … until he wasn’t. Now players are tasked with stopping him before he breaks out of his ethereal prison in Umbral, the land of the dead. Players use a magic lantern to travel between Umbral and Axiom, the land of the living, to light the beacons that will prevent Adyr from escaping. Along the way you explore new areas, solve puzzles, and bludgeon/be bludgeoned.

The game's bludgeon-y combat system is methodical and rewarding, emphasizing timing, precision, and strategic thinking over button-mashing. Each weapon, from massive greatswords to swift daggers, feels distinct and impactful. The game encourages players to experiment with different weapon types and builds, allowing for a high degree of customization. Armor also plays a critical role, offering various trade-offs between mobility and protection.

There’s tons of builds to tinker with thanks to a huge skill tree and loads of equipment.

CI Games

A robust progression system offers a satisfying loop of exploration, combat, and character development. Players defeat enemies and bosses to earn experience points, which can be used to upgrade Harkyn's attributes and unlock new abilities. Like any good Soulslike, Lords of the Fallen is about figuring out which builds are best.

Updates to the New Game+ open up experimentation and replayability, thanks to the pre-upgraded loot modifier which essentially scales weapon drops to your level. This means more variety, more experimentation, and more hack-and-slash fun on your replays.

A dark, gothic aesthetic is beautifully realized through detailed environments and character designs. Each location, from crumbling castles to foreboding dungeons, is meticulously crafted, creating an intimidating world that feels suffocating in size.

The deeper you go, the darker it gets.

CI Games

Lords of the Fallen is not an easy game. Its difficulty is a defining characteristic, requiring players to master its mechanics and learn from their mistakes. Success is its own reward, and the boss fights are often the make-or-break moment for new players. One thing Lords of the Fallen does differently than other titles in the space is allowing for a dedicated range slot in your build. It’s a small tweak that might be a big deal for genre diehards, but one that likely won’t be noticed by new players.

It’s also coming to Game Pass at the perfect time for diehards. We’re less than a month away from the highly anticipated Elden Ring DLC. If your thumbs are starting to twitch with anticipation, give Lords of the Fallen a try. It’s a solid B+ of a Soulslike that ticks all the boxes you’d want, except the one that says From Software.

Lords of the Fallen is available now on Game Pass. It’s also for sale on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

Correction 6/2/24: An earlier version of this article mixed up some details between the 2014 game Lords of the Fallen and the 2023 game of the same name. We have fixed this mistakes and regret the error.

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