In November 2021, FromSoftware introduced us to five Elden Ring character classes: The Warrior, Enchanted Knight, Prophet, Champion, and Bloody Wolf. They were a motley crew, especially the guy with the bad haircut and the wagon wheel around his neck, but none of them come close to the all-out strangeness (and, frankly, creepiness) of the Prisoner. It’s a newly-revealed class rocking peasant pyjamas and what looks to be the most supremely uncomfortable (and impractical) piece of cast iron headgear imaginable.
"A prisoner bound in an iron mask," the brief Twitter description states. "Studied in glintstone sorcery, having lived among the elite prior to sentencing."
WARRIOR: A nomad warrior who fights wielding two blades at once. An origin of exceptional technique. PRISONER: A prisoner bound in an iron mask. Studied in glintstone sorcery, having lived among the elite prior to sentencing. Pre-Order #ELDENRING: https://t.co/oooEiDTmRv pic.twitter.com/IyzMhb8ZAtFebruary 8, 2022
It's not exactly a deep dive into characterization and motivations, but the bit about "glintstone sorcery" suggests a magical focus for the class. Glintstone Stars, Pebble, and Arc are sorceries in Elden Ring, essentially a type of magic that enables players to fire projectiles, conjure weapons, and even call meteors down from the sky. Glintstone Stars, for instance, creates a trio of homing magic missiles that proved particularly effective against Margit the Fell Omen in last year's Elden Ring network test.
At the same time, it seems clear that the Prisoner is not any sort of straight-up mage. That helmet looks like a cross between The Man in the Iron Mask and a Big Daddy prototype that really didn't work out, and you have to think that it's bound to be a hindrance in a fight. Peripheral vision has to be effectively non-existent with that thing on, and how are you supposed to hear anything in there? Like in Dark Souls, the item description will probably explain why one eye is covered up. Elden Ring already has two characters with damaged eyes in Melina and the “storyteller”—they might even be the same character for all we know.
The rest of the Prisoner's outfit isn't much better—I don't think those ratty ol' PJs are going to offer much protection against a broadsword or a battleaxe.
On the upside, I bet this guy lays out an absolutely killer headbutt. I'm not sure that makes up for all the apparent deficiencies, but you have to take the good news where you can.
How that wacky, horrific lid ultimately impacts gameplay remains to be seen, but we'll find out soon enough: Elden Ring launches on February 25. We'll no doubt see a few more classes revealed between now and then, too.