FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was a smash hit, and the studio is planning on continuing that success with Elden Ring, a game that — for the majority of its existence so far — has been shrouded in mystery. Releasing in 2022, Elden Ring is the next game from the renowned studio, directed by Souls series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki and with the creative input of A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin. We will return to a dark fantasy setting, much like in Dark Souls, but make no mistake: Elden Ring is a different beast.
Here is everything we know about Elden Ring so far, including its combat, setting, structure, and when we’ll be able to get our hands on it.
After what felt like an eternity of silence, Elden Ring finally has a release date. The original date we got was January 21, but it received a bit of a delay and will now hit on February 25. However, there will also be a closed network test that players can register for being held throughout November to get a taste of the game early.
As with the reveals for most of FromSoftware’s projects, Elden Ring’s announcement trailer was simultaneously enthralling and cryptic. In it, we see a figure hunched over an anvil that is emitting a bright light, and then shift to a man who appears to be putting someone else’s arm over his own as hands reach out to grab him.
Next, we’re shown a quick glimpse of several scenes, including an enormous hammer being wielded and a mysterious person with a helmet and flowing red hair. This warrior wields a spear, and after attacking an enemy, we see the titular Elden Ring break apart.
This figure is then seen looking up at the red sky, seemingly being ignited by the light above. An enormous sword is planted in the ground nearby, and we see the figure who was standing above the anvil one last time as it appears to begin disintegrating.
The second trailer revealed during the Kickoff Live! Summer Game Fest event was much more substantial. It showed off the open world, characters, combat, and some more bits of story. It starts off with a character summoning a horse before heading off into the open world. As the character rides, a few Dark Souls-esque characters are shown, possibly hinting at the enemies you’ll fight in the game. They look like monsters; though, if the Souls games are anything to go on, some of them could be allies.
Later on in the trailer, we get a look at a dark dungeon area, with a greater emphasis on combat. Here, we see some melee action, though it’s important to take note that none of the UI was shown. Dark Souls’ and Bloodborne’s UIs are famous and easily recognizable, so we’re curious to see if a similar interface will appear in Elden Ring. Another detail is that the main character is able to swing their sword with two hands, but in a subsequent shot, they’re seen holding a shield. So it might feature a similar system that enables players to opt out of using a shield just like in Souls.
The trailer also gives us a look at what is presumably a boss, and the main character can be seen dodging out of the way of its attacks, before unleashing a devastating blow on their opponent. After that, a shot of a character sitting at a fire can be seen, also possibly referencing the Souls games. We won’t give away the rest of the trailer, but you should absolutely check it out.
Elden Ring is scheduled to launch for PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Publisher Bandai Namco does have a history of releasing games for Nintendo Switch, but it looks like this one will be skipping the handheld hybrid, which comes as no surprise. Perhaps for the Switch Pro, though!
If you’re a fan of games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, you don’t have to worry about Elden Ring veering too far from the established formula. Speaking to IGN after the game’s reveal trailer at E3 2019, Hidetaka Miyazaki said that the game would remain a third-person action RPG that is “heavily based on Dark Souls.” Much like these games, you won’t be returning to populated towns to speak with villagers or collect quests. Instead, you can expect encounters with non-hostile NPCs to be relatively rare, adding a sense of dread and destruction that FromSoftware is known for.
Elden Ring will also be taking a different approach to the world itself, with a more open-ended structure rather than the Metroid-inspired maps of past FromSoftware games. It will be the studio’s largest game so far. You’ll be able to move throughout this world on a horse, which hasn’t been possible in any of the Souls games, Bloodborne, or Sekiro, though Sekiro did feature a boss riding on a horse in its early hours.
Elden Ring also returns to character customization after removing the feature in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. With the “role-playing” phrase being used in interviews rather than the “action-adventure” used for Sekiro, you can likely expect more player choice and the ability to craft your own preferred play style. There will be multiple weapons as well as magic abilities to use, and it could offer even more combat variety than the Souls series.
The challenge Miyazaki games are known for will still be there for Elden Ring in full force. Speaking to Xbox Wire, he said that his staff still puts great importance on “the joy the player experiences through overcoming challenges,” and that it should be comparable to the studio’s previous games.
During its most recent trailer, Bandai Namco showed off Elden Ring’s gameplay, and it looks more like the Souls series than many expected. The biggest change will come with its open world, but beyond that, the combat and emphasis on exploration will be similar. During a few segments of the trailer, the player can be seen dodging and maneuvering around nearby enemies in typical Souls-like fashion. It’s unclear if the game will feature a stamina system, but when it comes to pure movement, you can tell where it draws inspiration from.
Finally, in November of 2021, we got a full 19-minute look at what Elden Ring will actually look like in action. There’s far too much here to cover everything in detail, but a big new feature is a ray of light that will guide players toward sites of grace, this game’s bonfire equivalent, somewhat reminiscent of how the guiding wind worked in Ghost of Tsushima. Of course, they were quick to point out that following that guide is completely optional. After some cuts of the player riding through some environments, action kicks off as a dragon appears from the sky to ambush him and a mob of smaller enemies around a bonfire.
Here we see some horseback combat. While this is completely new to any of FromSoftware’s games, the ability to cast magic while riding is another thing we hadn’t known was possible. We see some basic magic missile-looking spells, plus a magical bow that shoots a trio of homing magic arrows at the dragon. The battle is cut between on-foot and horseback melee combat, ending with a very Sekiro-looking finishing attack where the player plunges his sword into the dragon’s eye.
Next we got a look at some NPC interactions with a man named Iron Fist. He has found himself stuck inside some sort of pot monster and asks the player to break him out. Upon smacking the pot with a club, it launches from its hole, revealing that Iron Fist wasn’t trapped inside, but is the pot itself, which is exactly the kind of odd, easily missable type of side character we expect from the series.
Aside from plenty of more exploration, we got some better looks at the stealth mechanics, allowing you to sneak up and get the drop on enemies in the open world. Another new feature shown off was crafting. Players will be able to prepare equipment themselves, such as daggers and different arrow types, by picking up raw materials throughout the world. Also, jumping is back! And no, not the janky, only-after-a-sprint-type jump of the old Souls games, but a proper jump button. On that note, fall damage appears to be very minimal, if not completely removed.
Other Souls mechanics are back, including visceral attacks, parrying, torches to light dark dungeons, illusory walls, and deadly environmental traps.
A new character, Melina, was featured. She approaches the player and offers them an “accord.” What this means, who she is, and how it will all play into the cryptic narrative is all still unknown.
During an interview with PlayStation, Miyazaki confirmed two fan favorites from the Souls series would also be included in Elden Ring: New Game Plus and multiple endings. In all previous Souls games, New Game Plus modes could continue almost indefinitely, with each run getting progressively harder, but we don’t know if the same will be true here. He also didn’t comment on how many endings there would be, nor what would dictate which the player will get. Based on his previous works, we suspect there will be some very cryptic and obtuse ways to get endings that we won’t discover for quite a while.
In terms of difficulty, Miyazaki had this to say. “We don’t try to force difficulty or make things hard for the sake of it. We want players to use their cunning, study the game, memorize what’s happening, and learn from their mistakes. We don’t want players to feel like the game is unfairly punishing, but rather that there’s a chance to win a difficult encounter and make progress.”
Though it wasn’t announced in the trailer, Elden Ring will, in fact, have four-player online cooperative play. According to FromSoftware, you’ll be able to “traverse on foot or horseback, alone or online with friends across grassy plains, suffocating swamps, and lush forests.”
We got a look at some co-op and now see, or hear, that gestures seem to have little voice lines associated with them too. This can help random summons communicate much easier than gestures alone.
In the Souls games, the multiplayer functionality is a bit complicated and requires both players to have specific items to “summon” and join one another. It’s unclear if this functionality will work the same way in Elden Ring, or if it will take on an identity of its own.
Considering the game is still several months out, it’s still too early to have concrete information about potential Elden Ring DLC. However, based on the other Dark Souls games and Bloodborne, it’s highly likely Elden Ring will get post-launch support. All of the Souls games received major post-launch expansions, so it’s a safe bet Elden Ring will, too. We’ll likely find out more after the game comes out.
You can actually pre-order Elden Ring through Amazon right now for the PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series X versions of the game.
A Game of Thrones
In contrast to past FromSoftware games, where the lore has largely come from Hidetaka Miyazaki himself, Elden Ring is being developed in close partnership with author George R. R. Martin, whose A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels were later adapted into the show Game of Thrones. The collaboration started with Miyazaki sharing his general ideas and themes for the game, and Martin was then responsible for creating an overarching mythos. Martin also created characters as well as “mystical and mysterious elements” that Miyazaki’s development staff then used when creating the game.
The title Elden Ring relates to a “mysterious concept that defines the game world itself,” according to Miyazaki. Its exact nature is being kept under wraps, though we do know that it is currently destroyed — either by someone or something.
Development on Elden Ring actually began when Dark Souls III’s downloadable content was finished, and for a time it was being created concurrently with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Through assigned co-directors, Hidetaka Miyazaki was able to juggle both projects at once. It’s unclear at the moment if yet another Souls-like is also in the works at FromSoftware, or if this is the studio’s sole major project.