The story of Elden Ring is long, vague, confusing, deep, and very interesting. And of course, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with if you’re going to be playing the game.
FromSoftware has a unique narrative approach. By the time the game starts, the story is already in its final chapter.
Bloodborne saw humanity approaching its end as eldritch horrors exerted their will more frequently. The Interior Ministry is already positioned to overwhelm the Ashina clan by the time Wolf and Genichiro cross paths at the start of Sekiro. Every Dark Souls game starts with the Age of Fire facing its end. The list goes beyond the Soulsborne umbrella, too.
Elden Ring is in that same mold. The key difference comes with its huge cast of characters who play significant roles in the story, many of which actually interact with the player.
With that in mind, here are the most important parts of the Elden Ring story. While this isn’t completely comprehensive, it should help to clarify things and provide context to the characters and locations in the game.
What is Elden Ring’s story?
The central conflict in Elden Ring revolves around “The Shattering,” an event that took place hundreds or perhaps thousands of years ago.
At the time, Queen Marika and King Consort Radagon ruled over the Lands Between. A group of assassins swooped in and attacked the royal family, killing a number of them including Marika’s son Godwyn. For reasons that aren’t immediately known, Radagon breaks the Elden Ring.
Pieces of the Elden Ring are taken by the surviving family members of Marika. Each of them rally forces to try and claim the remaining pieces of the Elden Ring, but no one of them proved to be strong enough to take the whole of the Lands Between. This resulted in a stalemate between them, leading to a permanent war that wiped out most of the region.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead for the Elden Ring story.
What they don’t tell you about The Shattering
Naturally, there was much more to this than meets the eye.
The biggest wrinkle to this is the fact that the player discovers that Radagon and Marika are, in fact, the same person. This is particularly notable because both Radagon and Marika had backstories that involved them deposing other powerful figures from the Lands Between.
Radagon was the husband of Rennala, and his departure from Liurnia led to a major decline in the strength of Caria. Marika was the wife of Godfrey the Golden, who is revealed to be Hoarah Loux the Chieftain of the Badlands. After leading Marika’s forces to defeat her enemies, Godfrey was exiled from the Lands Between alongside his forces. Those forces later became the Tarnished.
Melina later reveals that Marika willfully manufactured the circumstances surrounding the exile of Godfrey and the Tarnished. She also planned to have the Tarnished return in the future in order to have one of them become the new Elden Lord.
Marika’s goal for removing Hoarah Loux and Rennala is clear. The removal of Marika’s enemies leads to the Age of the Erdtree. This era leaves Marika and Radagon as the most powerful forces in the Lands Between and establishes the Elden Ring as the dominant source of magical power in the world. More or less.
Who are the Demigods in Elden Ring?
The Demigods of Elden Ring are the children of Queen Marika and Radagon of the Golden Order.
Radagon and Marika had children together, as well as with their other spouses. The list of their Demigod children includes a variety of NPCs and bosses from Elden Ring including Ranni the Witch, Malenia, and Morgott, to name just a few.
One of the stranger facets to this is the fact that Radagon is Marika, but Radagon and Marika had multiple children together. The specificities of how Marika and Radagon relate to one another are unclear. It’s possible they’re two separate people with a shared mind, one person that can transform, or something else entirely.
Who broke the Elden Ring?
The Elden Ring was broken by Radagon.
Radagon breaking the Elden Ring was actually the very first thing shown in the very first trailer announcing Elden Ring. He could be seen hammering the Elden Ring on an anvil, giving way to the Shattering.
It’s not entirely clear why Radagon broke the Elden Ring. The most likely explanation was that Marika and Radagon were trying to bring about the end of the Age of the Erdtree, which was brought about through the power of the Elden Ring. Breaking the Elden Ring put the end of the era in motion, which is catalyzed by the Tarnished.