We got the date. We got the trailer. But what did FromSoftware really tell us about Elden Ring with these new announcements?
It was the final announcement at the Summer Game Fest Kickoff Live! —and a relief for a fanbase who had been waiting for too long. Elden Ring has brought not only a trailer, but also a release date. The latest from Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin brings a familiar experience, but many changes as well.
Because an open world replaces Soul's traditional structure. "We have created a rich world with a spectacular scale and scope, based on the legends written by George R. R. Martin for the game", the people in charge of the game disclosed. The story of the despicable Tarnished and the search for the Elden Ring will take place in this new environment with really different scenarios, an occasional tribute to Anor Londo, and swamps, too.
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The Golden Order is broken —perhaps corrupted— and only the ring can bring back the lost grace. Although it is not entirely clear, it seems the plot will lead us to face this corrupt order along with the challenge that is a staple of the Japanese studio. We will find out in 2022, both in the current and the new generation. But first, let's take a closer look at everything that FromSoftware's new game has shown us.
Mounts, monsters and transformations: Elden Ring is new, yet familiar
We have the expected imagery from FromSoftware, a studio that masters the art of creating ugly and dangerous monsters. In the gameplay shown by Bandai Namco at the presentation we saw a good parade of creatures —four-wing dragons armed with flashing spears, monsters with heads full of worms, armoured werewolves with swords, or stone elephants with hanging bells.
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What does the story tell us?
The trailer displays the usual resources of any game by Miyazaki and FromSoftware —many sentences leaving clues to a plot that requires delving into every little detail. Fortunately, Elden Ring's official website provides more context.
Guided by grace, the Tarnished must travel the Lands Between to kneel before the Elden Circle and become Lord of the Circle. The problem? The Circle was shattered, which caused the Lands Between to fall into disgrace. The demigods, who are Queen Marika's offspring, claimed the Great Runes, which are the shards of the circle that gives the game its name.
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Their eagerness to seize these shards prompted The Shattering, a war that meant abandonment by the Greater Will and the loss of the grace with which the Erdtree bathed the world.
Everything suggests that, in order to fulfil their mission, the player will have to deal with Marika's offspring —the bosses we got a glimpse of in the trailer— and collect the Great Runes to rebuild the Elden Ring and become the Elden Lord. Will Marika be waiting for you as a final challenge?
Considering how much Miyazaki and his people like to keep recurring elements on both a mechanical and plot level, it would come as no surprise. Marika may not be Gwyn, but the parallels between Elden Ring and the First Flame are easy to draw. Both are the main element of each game for now, and it is very likely that there is also a "Kiln of the First Flame" in the Lands Between, albeit with a different name, where the queen awaits us instead of that disgraced king.
New mounts, and a combat that merges the past with newer features
The video also showed new mounts. Particularly, we saw the player's character riding an antlered horse several times, both while fighting and exploring Elden Ring's world. What stood out from the combat itself was the ability to charge at our enemies and dodge attacks with double jumps. On top of that, a similar feature will allow us to hop over huge walls using some kind of propellers that seem to be placed in a very strategical way. And yes - according to the first minute of the video, we can fight while mounted on a horse. However, we must bear in mind that it was all part of a trailer, since no footage from the actual gameplay has been showed so far.
Combat mechanics are reminiscent of the core mechanics in Dark Souls. Elden Ring offers a rolling movement that will allow us to avoid most attacks - which can be combined with normal and special hits. Certain hints suggest that Elden Ring will introduce enchantments for attacks. It will also introduce new weapons, such as whips, and movement will vary depending on the weapons we use. FromSoftware's upcoming title will also feature a new cooperative mode for up to 4 players, in which we will be able to summon our allies to try and make the hardest battles a little bit easier. Well, most of them at least.
Bonfires, stealth, and agility
Despite taking place in a whole new world, Elden Ring is set to be a conservative title. Checkpoints will make a comeback as bonfires in a pure Dark Souls style. However, FromSoftare seems to have been taking notes from Sekiro, as we will able to jump while fighting - a feature that has been showed in pre-recorded scenes, which may be present in cutscenes as well. Apart from jumping, we will also have the opportunity to crouch and sneak around enemies in order to kill them. Finishers are in the mix, too! A new class system with different abilities has been hinted as well, so the player's agility may depend on their equipment and progression.
As it is the case for Dark Souls and other games in the genre, Elden Ring will allow us to customise our character. Regarding its world, FromSoftware has stated that the Lands Between will feature a night-and-day cycle, as well as dynamic weather. Thus, we can expect to explore the land and fight for our lives in the rain, amidst the fog, and even during thunderstorms.
Exploration will be a key element in such an open, interconnected world without transitions. We will not only have to traverse the land to progress on the story and find out secrets, but also to talk to NPCs. While some characters will be glad to lend a hand when needed, others will not be as kind, as will attack us if we let our guard down. How much interaction we can establish with them is yet to be seen.
The Tarnished and the long-haired woman. It is Marika?
"They will fight and they will die in an endless curse. How else would a champion or a lord be born?". The amazing bosses of Elden Ring, all demigods, seem to be Queen Marika's offspring, and the members of the broken order. One of the many things that stands out about them is their white hair - a symptom of how cruel time is, and an element they all share with the title's main character. The Tarnished, however, could use some more colour and evolve a little bit. Could this be a mechanic similar to the Hollow/Human concept of Dark Souls? We can only wonder.
But there's one more detail we would like to share: The first Elden Ring trailer showed us a glimpse of a red-haired character. FromSoftware has not added much about such mysterious appearance, so it remains unknown how much of an impact they will have on the story, if any. Who are they? It could be Queen Marika, the Eternal, or any other character with a relevant role - we really don't know. In any case, their presence -and the fact that they placed their right arm back in as they did in 2019- has not escaped anyone.
There's still a lot to uncover about Elden Ring, but -thankfully- we now have a release date to look forward to: January, 2022. We cannot wait to share with you more information regarding FromSoftware's new title in the upcoming months.