2020 was a long, hard year, and it was a year without Elden Ring. After its E3 2019 reveal, we saw and heard virtually nothing, as FromSoftware toiled away in secret. For so long, we knew Elden Ring was still coming, but we hadn't seen it in action, or even gotten another scrap of concept art. At last, that's finally changed. I doubt you could even imagine it!
Elden Ring has finally reemerged, not in a leak, and not in cryptic hints. It's very real, and it's coming relatively soon, actually. It isn't making it out in 2021, but it's arriving in January 2022. It looks worth the wait: the new trailer is absolutely packed. From what we've seen so far, this is definitely a Souls-style game. A very pretty new Souls game.
Here's what we know about Elden Ring, which is, finally, a lot, including its release date and what it looks like. We've gone deep analyzing the trailer and collecting every interview quote we can find.
Check out Elden Ring's first gameplay trailer
Damn, there is a lot going on here. Let's just take a minute to absorb it. Then watch it a few more times.
As hoped, Elden Ring did show up at the Summer Game Fest event hosted by Geoff Keighley at the start of E3. In this three minute trailer, FromSoftware showed off a good chuck of gameplay with all sorts of familiar Souls game action. The art design is absolutely Souls, and a lot of the series staples are here, too. Resting at bonfires, backstabs, giant bosses. Let's talk details.
When is Elden Ring's release date?
Elden Ring launches on January 21, 2022. Wow, that feels pretty good to write down. We'd been hoping for a look at Elden Ring for a while but weren't sure if we'd be hearing about a release date when we did.
Thank goodness whatever curse is keeping George R.R. Martin, from finishing The Winds of Winter hasn't transferred its bad energy to Elden Ring.
Fast facts about Elden Ring:
- Open-world: Elden Ring is an open world with six main areas to explore
- Co-op: Co-op for up to four players is supported
- PvP: Unclear so far whether invasions are present
- What else is new: You can jump and fight on horseback
Here are a bunch of screenshots from the trailer
What is Elden Ring's combat like?
Based on what we saw in Elden Ring's gameplay trailer, combat looks rather similar to the Souls games, which is not at all a bad thing. We like Souls games.
Elden Ring's combat seems to be the kind of action RPG fare that we're already familiar with From producing. There are large bosses. There's dodge rolling, backstabbing, blocking, and spellcasting. Even the combat animations are familiar. As for the stamina system, FromSoftware says: "The stamina bar exists in Elden Ring, but we feel it has less influence on the player overall. We wanted to make it feel less restrictive."
That's what's staying the same. Here's what's different.
Stealth and mounted combat
Elden Ring will have horseback combat of some kind. We've not seen much of it, but there are definitely instances of slashing at an oncoming enemy while you're both on horseback. There's also a stealth system, though FromSoftware has said that it's a light part of the game.
Summons are back, but bigger
There also seems to be a big focus on summons. Souls games have allowed you, at points, to summon the spirits of friendly characters to help you in battle. They're always located in particular spots, often near boss fights, but Elden Ring's summon system seems much larger and more freeform.
Miyazaki explained in his IGN interview that players can summon creatures as allies that would otherwise normally be enemies:
"And these spirit summons, we feel like—as well as there being a large variety to them—they're a nice collectable hidden element within the game world to discover and to equip as you go. They offer a lot of different strategic options, but also the player might find that they just like a certain enemy tagging along with them, a certain summon pleases them aesthetically. So there's a lot of strategic and a lot of personal touch to these summons."
Less restricted weapon skills
You'll also have more freedom over how you construct your build, which will be less restricted by your weapon choice. "Before, where there was a certain skill attached to a certain weapon, now you're actually able to freely interchange skills between a large variety of weapons," Miyazaki says. "There are, I believe, around a hundred skills in total. Obviously you're free to combine your different skills with different weapons. You're free to build your character with different weapons and equipment.
Is Elden Ring multiplayer?
Yes! Elden Ring has confirmed co-op for up to four players. Based on what we've seen, it looks likely that you'll summon your friends for co-op and that they will appear as phantoms like in the Souls games.
We don't know for sure whether invasions are returning, but given how similar Elden Ring is to Souls in other areas, it seems likely they'll show up in some form.
How big is Elden Ring's world and how do you get around?
When it was first revealed, Miyazaki called the world of Elden Ring will be "ripe for exploration." He confirmed that it will take place in an open world which he refers to as a large open field to play in. While Dark Souls is relatively unrestricted in how it allows you to explore, it sounds like Elden Ring will be even moreso.
Despite being open world, Elden Ring is still a From-style game. Rather than villages bustling with NPCs that we may expect of a game like The Witcher 3, Elden Ring will stay away from a lively open world in favor of a grim one. "Creating a new type of game is a big challenge for us," Miyazaki told IGN. "If we would add towns on top of that, it would become a bit too much, so we decided to create an open world style game focused on what we are best at.”
Since its big gameplay trailer from E3 2021, we've learned several more things about Elden Ring's world:
- There are six main areas in the world with their own bosses and dungeons
- There is weather and a time system in the world
- There's a fast travel system
- Your horse appears to materialize out of thin air, and has the ability to leap up sheer cliff faces
- There is a hub area you can access "a little later into the game"
What is Elden Ring's setting?
The Lands Between, created by George R.R. Martin. Here's how Miyazki has described it:
"The world of Elden Ring, The Lands Between are blessed by the presence of the Elden Ring and by the Erdtree, which symbolizes its presence, and this has given grace or blessing to the people throughout the land, great and small. What this represented in them is this sort of golden light, or this golden aura, that's specifically shown in their eyes. And this symbolizes the blessing or the grace of the Erdtree. However, after a time, there were some individuals who lost this grace, and the light faded from their eyes. And these are what are known as the Tarnished.
"So, the Tarnished, you could call them tarnished individuals who have lost grace. And this was a long time preceding the setting of the game, a long time before. The ancestors of the characters that are present in the world were banished and exiled from The Lands Between, these Tarnished. Then a long time after that, the Elden Ring was shattered in a historical event. This triggers the return of this lost grace and it calls out to the Tarnished, who were once exiled from The Lands Between, and it guides them back. So this is the starting point, or the impetus for the game itself, the Tarnished being called by the lost grace and returning to The Lands Between."
Four juicy quotes from Hidetaka Miyazaki
These quotes from Miyazaki's IGN interview will help you better understand Elden Ring. They'll also make it harder to wait for Elden Ring.
Combat options and RPG mechanics:
A "major point of this title, is the number of choices you have available in combat. So while you can just choose to go in head-on, we also have a number of [alternative] elements, such as being able to summon the spirits of deceased enemies and use them as allies in battles. So we have a number of elements that let you approach different situations at a high level of freedom."
"There's a large variety of ways you can approach combat, and a large range of abilities you can acquire. We wanted to allow the player to combine these different elements to find their own strategy, and even take indirect approaches to combat if they wanted to."
"The stamina bar exists in Elden Ring, but we feel it has less influence on the player overall. We wanted to make it feel less restrictive."
"Before, where there was a certain skill attached to a certain weapon, now you're actually able to freely interchange skills between a large variety of weapons. There are, I believe, around a hundred skills in total. Obviously you're free to combine your different skills with different weapons. You're free to build your character with different weapons and equipment. You're free to learn magic as well. So if you throw all of these things in, we think the build customization is going to be even richer and even more varied than before."
"With this increased sense of scale and this vast new map, we had to allow for a certain amount of progression and reward no matter which direction the player took and which path they take because of that high level of freedom. You will find those elements to battle and those elements to just exploring the world, which will allow you to keep that going. You can customize and craft items on the go by using materials found in the world."
"A part of making this new world with this new huge sense of scale was adding enjoyment to that sense of exploration... that could be through acquiring new weapons and magic spells and abilities such as the different spirit summons. We wanted to place these elements so the players will enjoy exploring the map and discovering these elements for themselves. There are cases in which you can buy them at stores or learn them from NPCs, but generally they are hidden throughout the game’s world for the player to discover through exploration, rather than unlocking them through a skill tree as in previous titles."
"It's divided into six major areas, and these are the domains of the major demigod characters... While the areas are lined up in a way so that you would normally tackle them in a specific order, you don’t have to follow it. We wanted to give a free level of progression and exploration throughout the Lands Between, so there's a lot of different ways. You won't be able to access everything from the start, but there are a lot of different ways you can approach each area. And there's a lot of freedom as to which order you tackle different areas as well."
"Each of these six areas will house its own mainline dungeon map, which is again seamlessly connected to the Lands Between itself. These will be the domains or the areas of the main demigod bosses. From here, you're able to explore not only these mainline dungeon areas, but also a wide variety of catacombs, castles, and fortresses, which are interspersed throughout the map."
"There is a hub area that you can access a little later into the game."
"One main theme of the main bosses of the game, in particular, are that they are essentially demigods... and they inherited the mad tainted power of the Elden Ring shards once it was shattered. We wanted to depict these beings as not just creatures and horrible monsters, but have an element of heroism and an element of mythology to them. Essentially, they are the old gods of this world... They each fell to madness and fell to ruin in their own individual ways. So while there is heroic and mythological elements to them, they are also going to have this very mad taint and this deep-seated ruin to them."
Here's the 2019 announcement trailer and initial description
FromSoftware CEO (and game director) Hidetaka Miyazaki says Elden Ring will have an open world "ripe for exploration," but we should expect the Souls DNA to be very much intact. The game world and lore aren't entirely FromSoft's own creation, this time around. Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin collaborated with the game developers early on to help create the setting. That means it's almost certainly going to be bleak as hell, and we're already looking forward to the flavor text.
Elden Ring's announcement trailer is certainly full of atmosphere if not answers. The voiceover from the announcement trailer is pretty on point for a FromSoftware game: All mystery and doom without any hard details.
"I doubt you could even imagine it. That which commanded the skies, giving life its fullest brilliance. The Elden Ring. Shattered, by someone or something. Don't tell me you don't see it. Look up at the sky. It burns."
George R.R. Martin wrote the "overarching mythos"
After Elden Ring's announcement, Miyazaki explained a bit of how GRRM was involved with the project. When they got to work, Miyazaki began by explaining his overall vision to Martin, describing "what sorts of themes, ideas, as well as many game-related aspects" he envisioned.
"This allowed us to have many free and creative conversations regarding the game," said Miyazaki, "in which Mr. Martin later used as a base to write the overarching mythos for the game world itself."
"This mythos proved to be full of interesting characters and drama along with a plethora of mystical and mysterious elements as well," said Miyazaki. "It was a wonderful source of stimulus for me and the development staff. Elden Ring’s world was constructed using this mythos and stimulus as a base. Even I myself find it hard to contain my excitement from time to time. We hope that everyone else is looking forward to the world we have created."
After the release date announcement in 2021, GRRM explained that his work on Elden Ring was actually completed years ago, earlier in development.
"Basically they wanted a world created to set the game in, they wanted world building as a big factor in fantasy and science fiction," Martin said. "You're not really talking about the characters and the plot, but the setting is almost as important as everything else."
"I worked up you know a fairly detailed background for them, and then they took it from there so really it's been several years since I've last seen them," Martin added. "But they would come in periodically and show me some monsters they'd designed, or the latest special effects, or the cool things, but the game has been very slowly developing and it's coming out in January I believe so I'll be as excited as everyone else to see it."
Okay but will there be a poison swamp?
Yes, definitely. We'd expected as much, because horrible, poisonous areas are pretty much a staple for FromSoftware's Souls games. Sure enough, Elden Ring's website confirms that we'll be exploring "grassy plains, suffocating swamps, spiraling mountains, foreboding castles." We can't wait to be chowing down on whatever the Lands Between's version of poison curatives are.
Dark Souls 3's composer is working on Elden Ring
It doesn't come as a huge surprise to hear that veteran From Software composer Yuka Kitamura is also working on Elden Ring. Kitamura was also involved in Sekiro and Dark Souls 3.
After changing her Twitter handle to her professional name (instead of her favorite Golden Sun character) a fan asked Kitamura if she's working on Elden Ring. Good news, she is!
George R.R. Martin got involved because Miyazaki is a huge fan
While we don't know much about the mark that G.R.R.M is going to leave on this new world, we do know even Miyazaki is excited by it. He calls himself a huge fan of Martin's work and has been known to recommend some of Martin's books to new employees.
"The actual collaboration itself begun with Mr. Martin ever so politely confirming what sorts of themes, ideas as well as many game-related aspects I had envisioned for the game," Miyazaki said.
"Even I myself find it hard to contain my excitement from time to time. We hope that everyone else is looking forward to the world we have created."