From Software’s highly anticipated action RPG Elden Ring was finally revealed during the lead up to E3 2021. A gameplay trailer was shared as part of the Summer Game Fest, showing combat, traversal, and summons. Fans even got a taste of the game’s story and lore, albeit there’s still a lot more to unpack. Now, there are more details about the game straight from creator Hidetaka Miyazaki.
In an exclusive interview with IGN, Miyazaki provided new tidbits of information that shed more light on Elden Ring, including its story, the Lands Between, combat, abilities, fast travel, and more.
The Elden Ring Story is Lore-Heavy, but It’s Meant to be More Accessible
Stories in the Souls series have a penchant for being oblique. Though many of the very high points are presented in a traditional manner, most of the deeper, perhaps most interesting, lore is scattered in out-of-the-way areas or found in texts. Some franchise fans have devoted themselves to piecing it all together, and it’s the driving factor for multiple playthroughs.
However, Miyazaki told IGN that Elden Ring‘s story will be, at least on some levels, more accessible than the stories in previous From games — specifically those in the Souls series. Elden Ring‘s story, written in collaboration with George R.R. Martin, is “more character-driven,” and while there is still deep lore to be uncovered, the team wanted to find a balance between telling too much up front and holding too much back in hidden places.
We hope that that level of understanding is easy to access, but then again there’s a lot more depth there as they [players] explore. And this depth, again, this idea of uncovering the world as you go, picking up its many little pieces, it’s multilayered, it’s complex, it’s very fascinating.
The Lands Between are Vast but Interconnected
FromSoftware has said that Elden Ring features the largest map they’ve ever made. And while it remains to be seen just how large it is, Miyazaki provided some new context to The Lands Between and how they are interconnected.
There are six primary areas in Elden Ring, each of those home to one of the game’s demi-god bosses. Players will have the freedom to tackle most areas in the order they choose, though some will be understandably blocked off until certain criteria are met. Miyazaki stressed that there is a “mainline path” in Elden Ring, but that the team didn’t want to force players into a specific route.
One of our big themes for development of this new world was that, because of the grandeur and sense of scale of it, we didn’t want players to get lost and not have any clue of what to do or where to go. So there is an element of guidance, particularly at the beginning. There is a mainline route that they can follow, but at any time they’re free to break off this route and to take the untrodden path…
There also seem to be subareas within these larger, overarching areas on the Elden Ring map. Miyazaki referenced “catacombs, castles, and fortresses” as places players can visit, all ripe for exploration.
Though the gameplay trailer shows some of these reportedly smaller areas alongside forests, mountains, and swamps, Miyazaki did not provide any further details on the landscapes players can expect within these areas.
There is a Hub — And Fast Travel
Details are still scant on both of these, but Miyazaki confirmed that Elden Ring will have a hub similar to Firelink Shrine in Dark Souls. However, it won’t be accessible until “later into the game.”
He also mentioned that there will be some sort of fast travel system in the game, helping players get from one area to another more quickly. Players can choose to traverse the map on their trusty steed, as seen in the trailer, but the team wanted to integrate the two options, reinforcing the sense of choice and freedom central to Elden Ring.
You Can Summon Fallen Enemies and Other Players
The Elden Ring gameplay trailer shows a player summoning and fighting alongside blue phantoms. While it seemed these were others players, Miyazaki confirmed that these blue phantoms are AI-controlled spirit summons, which can be conjured offline to help players. It’s an expanded system from ones found in From’s other games, where specific NPCs can be summoned to help fight bosses.
These summons can become companions, but it’s still unclear how they’re summoned or for how long they follow the player.
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.
Miyazaki also confirmed that there will be traditional, Souls-like player summons as part of Elden Ring‘s multiplayer component, but he did not elaborate on the system.
There are Many Abilities and Skills
Dark Souls 3 introduced skills and abilities in the form of weapon arts, and further explored in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It appears a similar system will be found in Elden Ring.
Miyazaki said that abilities and spells, another central pillar to the Souls franchise, can be purchased and learned from NPCs. But also made clear that there are other ways to discover these that are tied into the game’s focus on freedom and exploration. Many are found by uncovering specific portions of the world, giving players reason to travel off the beaten path and look for secrets.
Miyazaki continued by saying that “there are … around a hundred skills in total” that can be interchanged with many of the game’s weapons. “Obviously, you’re free to combine your different skills with different weapons. You’re free to build your character with different weapons and equipment.”
Stealth Will be an Option but is Not Required
A big part of the IGN interview with Miyazaki revolves From’s central design focus for Elden Ring: player freedom. When it comes to combat, the team wanted to let players approach situations with different tactics. While combat still looks strategic and weighty in comparison to the Souls franchise, there’s also an element of Sekiro to be found in its stealth elements it seems.
Players could always sneak up on enemies to perform a devastating backstab, but stealth in Elden Ring is a bit more than that. It appears the system will be a more meaningful compliment to barreling into fights with weapons drawn.
We think it’s a relatively simple implementation of stealth, but it has a wide variety of uses. And again, it contributes to this level of player freedom, we feel. So you’re able to crouch, you’re able to sneak and be less easily detected in long grass for instance.
You’re able to use that to your advantage to sneak up on the enemy, get a back stab, get a stealth attack. But you’re also able to use it to bypass certain areas and to assess situations from afar.
Stamina and Health Work Differently
Anyone who’s played a Souls game, Bloodborne, or Sekiro knows that stamina is an important part of every movement and interaction, from rolling through poisonous swamps to blocking incoming enemy attacks. But it won’t be as important in Elden Ring. Miyazaki didn’t elaborate, but he said it will be “less restrictive.”
He also said that there will be more health items in the game. Whereas Demon’s Souls uses different grasses to heal players, Dark Souls uses Estus Flasks, Bloodborne uses Blood Vials, and Sekiro uses Gourds, Elden Ring will presumably have several items that can restore health. Miyazaki said this is because the world map is so large, and it can be inferred that resting points may be fewer and farther between than in other From games.
From the Erdtree to who the Tarnished are and how the team gained inspiration for the game’s enemies and bosses, there’s a lot more to the IGN interview that’s well worth checking out. Be sure to click the link near the top of this article to find out more.
Elden Ring is set to launch on January 21, 2022, for PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Until then, stay tuned.