Here’s everything you need to know about Miyazaki and Martin’s new creation.
Announced at Microsoft’s E3 briefing this year, FromSoftware’s newest game, Elden Ring, has taken the internet by storm. Though the trailer itself was powerful and captivating, it arouses more curiosity than answers. What kind of game is Elden Ring? What is it about? We don’t know much about Elden Ring yet, but thankfully, some of the biggest and most important questions surrounding the game have been shared, even if that doesn’t help the wait go by any faster.
Miyazaki is Back
Hidetaka Miyazaki is essentially synonymous with FromSoftware and the last decade of their fantasy RPGs. Coming to the rescue of the developer during troubled times in the Demon’s Souls development cycle, he quickly rose in the company to become its beloved president. He’s the visionary behind Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro, games that have now spawned dozens of similarly-designed games known as Soulslikes.
Miyazaki’s unique and foreboding artistic choices, cleverly looping world design, and penchant for narrative ambiguity has crowned him one of gaming’s most respected figures, so Elden Ring is almost sure to join the ranks of his previous work and impress gamers of all kinds with his meticulous attention to detail.
George R. R. Martin Joins the Team
Joining Miyazaki to help craft its detailed mythos is famed writer George R. R. Martin. Most of us know him as the writer of the A Song of Ice and Fire books that were later lovingly brought to life in HBO’s Game of Thrones series. Martin is no stranger to crafting insanely detailed worlds and histories spanning multiple generations, and his unique brand of emotionally-resonating character development is both widely appreciated and affecting to his readers.
Most of FromSoftware’s fantasy RPGs have relied on a mixture of cryptic dialogue and ambiguous item descriptions to help players piece together an intriguing but vague history of the game world, but the addition of Martin to the writing team hints that we might can expect a more fleshed-out experience in Elden Ring. We don’t know yet whether what he’s crafting will serve mostly to expand on the game’s lore or if he will be helping to write a more straightforward and deliberate narrative. Either way, having someone as talented and detailed as Martin working alongside Miyazaki is guaranteed to yield an exciting outcome for fans of both talented men.
It’s Not the Ring You’re Thinking
After watching Elden Ring’s debut trailer and examining its themes and name, it would be very easy to assume the game’s story will revolve around a physical ring, perhaps like Lord of the Rings before it. Miyazaki, however, has been quick to put that idea to rest, confirming that the ring in question is a concept, not a tangible item. As pointed out in the trailer, this seemingly sacred ring has been shattered, and it’s likely to leave our playable character somehow tasked with dealing with whatever terrors that brings. Whether we will be working to reform the connection or simply suffer the consequences of its shattering is yet to be seen, but it’s exciting to imagine what lore and story Martin and Miyazaki have in store for us with this concept.
It’s As Dark As You’d Expect
Elden Ring is very clearly set in a dark fantasy world. From the opening moments of the game’s debut trailer we’re greeted to beautifully ominous music and visuals, with a seemingly broken and defeated king or prince character being sustained by a multitude of hands. We soon see a character with a crack in his back slaving away over a forge or anvil before collapsing, and other imagery shows red skies, characters wearing medieval-era armor and weaponry, and a large and sinister-looking character becoming engulfed in flames. “Look up at the sky,” says an unsettling narrator with a powerful voice. “It burns.”
All of these elements are par for the course with FromSoftware games, with Dark Souls offering an eerie medieval setting, Bloodborne showcasing a Lovecraftian nightmare, and Sekiro exploring an often morbid side of feudal Japan. Miyazaki has spoken up to say that Elden Ring and its world will be very foreboding, and with Martin’s writing at the forefront of the experience, it’s likely to be a grim and chilling tale from beginning to end… Just how fans like it.
It’s Open World
Dark Souls and FromSoftware’s other Soulslike experiences take place in what might be referred to as pseudo-open worlds. Large underground caverns, maze-like forests, and majestic towers all typically loop back to one another in realistic ways, creating a true feeling of connectivity and exploration. The “aha!” moment that comes from finding a shortcut connecting back to a previous area is very rewarding, and moving between them lends a sense of freedom to the gameplay even if the game isn’t technically open world.
According to Miyazaki, Elden Ring seems poised to break the mold with a more traditional open world approach. He has confirmed that we’ll absolutely explore and discover individual areas, of course, including underground areas and castles. However, we’ll be granted much more freedom in how we get there as we explore a game that will dwarf previous titles in terms of volume. It will be an undeniable joy to see how FromSoftware translates its core mechanics into an open world design, and it’s hard to imagine them doing anything less than a stellar job.
It’s Still Very Souls-like
Like the other games in their catalogue, FromSoftware is building Elden Ring as a challenging third-person action RPG with all the expected (and surely some unexpected) gameplay elements that come with it. Miyazaki has confirmed that we’ll get both magic and melee attacks to use against difficult and demanding enemies, alleging that Elden Ring aligns closer to the RPG focus of Dark Souls than the more lightning-fast action of Sekiro. This design philosophy grants significantly more options for us to build characters the way we want to play them with an assortment of weapons, armor, and spells to choose from. How all of these elements tie together remains to be seen, but this return to its roots is sure to put this Soulslike game on the radar of old and new fans alike.
Bosses Are Here to Stay
Soulslike games are designed to challenge players constantly, but no bigger roadblock exists than the genre’s memorable collection of boss battles. Often the breaking point for less patient players, these bosses typically require an immense amount of patience, skill, and willpower to overcome but yield an unmatched feeling of reward when that final blow attaches and victory is yours.
Luckily, Miyazaki has confirmed bosses will be making a triumphant return in Elden Ring, going so far as to call some of them “horrifying”. Given some of the uniquely unsettling creatures we’ve fought across the genre so far, it’s always good to hear that the developers are showing no signs of slowing down on that front.
Character Customization is Returning
Sekiro, while an immensely satisfying game, lacked FromSoftware’s usual addition of character customization employed in games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne. It has been confirmed to return in Elden Ring, however, so we can expect the developer’s normal range of options for gender, face, and body types. There has been no confirmation of whether concepts like gifts or specific starting builds will return, but we’re sure to see and hear more on those elements when gameplay surfaces in the coming months.
It’s Already Two Years Deep in Development
Development on Elden Ring began at the end of the creation of The Ringed City, Dark Souls 3’s excellent and final DLC, and ran parallel to the development of Sekiro until that game’s release in March of this year. Given that Elden Ring has been in development for two years and the team is now freed up to assumedly focus their attention exclusively on it, it’s not unfair to hope that things are fairly far along. It’s likely we’ll hear more about the game by the end of 2019, as FromSoftware generally announces their games less than a year before release.
Everyone Gets to Play… Almost
While FromSoftware has sometimes paired up with Sony for exclusive game releases like Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne. Elden Ring will be reaching gamers across most major platforms. It’s highly unlikely to see a release on the Switch, but players will have the option of playing the game on PS4, Xbox One, or PC when it releases at an unconfirmed date.