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 soon, actually. It isn’t making it out in 2021, but it’s arriving in February 2022. It looks worth the wait: the newest 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. You can also read our impressions from the Network Test and playing the game early.
Elden Ring release date
Elden Ring launches on February 25, 2022. It was originally expected in January, but FromSoftware announced a short delay in October of 2021. “The depth & strategic freedom of the game exceeded initial expectations,” From said in October. “Thank you for your trust & patience.”
The Elden Ring Network Test
The Elden Ring Network tests took place from Friday, November 12 through Monday, November 15 on consoles, but were unfortunately not available on PC. Some players even paid hundreds of dollars to get test access and play the game early. We got to try out some of the game, and there were things we both liked and disliked as well as not being entirely sold on its open world. As expected, the preview also left lots of questions yet to be answered.
It’s unlikely that FromSoftware will run another network test as it’s not that long until release now, but we’ll update this section if that unlikely event does occur.
What’s new in Elden Ring?
What’s new in Elden Ring?
Elden Ring definitely feels like Dark Souls, but FromSoftware are pulling a few new tricks too. Here are the 14 new things we learned from the hands-off previews in August. Here’s the short version on what’s new:
- Open world: Elden Ring is an open world with six main areas to explore
- Jumping and riding: You can jump and fight on horseback
- Guard Counter: Attacking immediately after blocking, separate from Parrying
- World map: A drawn map where you can place your own markers
- Co-op: Co-op for up to four players is supported
- PvP: Invasions are in, but you may not be able to invade solo players
- Bonfires: Fast travel and resting are back, now called Sites of Lost Grace
- Bloodstains: These are back too, for laughing at the mistakes of strangers
Elden Ring Trailers and Screenshots
Watch the Elden Ring story trailer
In what is a rare occurence for a FromSoftware or Soulsborne game, we actually got a fairly explicit story trailer for Elden Ring at the game awards. Though much of the game’s narrative still remains shrouded in mystery, we got to learn more about the lands between, its warring gods, and what the Elden Ring actually is.
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.
Here are a bunch of screenshots from the trailer
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.”
Elden Ring’s combat and gameplay
What is Elden Ring’s combat like?
Based on what we saw in Elden Ring’s gameplay trailer and the new, longer gameplay reveal, 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. 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.”
Which Elden Ring classes can you play?
FromSoftware have revealed five of Elden Ring’s player classes and just like the combat, they certainly look familiar. You’ll be able to choosen from the warrior, enchanted knight, prophet, champion, and bloody wolf, each available in two body types.
As ever in Souls games, we’re expecting these classes to determine your starting gear and stats but you’ll likely have quite a bit of freedom once you get started. Game director Hidetaka Miyazaki has already said that Elden Ring’s build customization will be “even more varied than before.”
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 also know that invasions are back, though there might be some extra restrictions. Information from the recent previews indicates that you won’t be able to invade a solo player, only one who is currently co-opping. That decision isn’t final though, FromSoft said.
Elden Ring is open world
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.” While Dark Souls is relatively unrestricted in how it allows you to explore, it sounds like Elden Ring will be even moreso.
“It’s divided into six major areas, and these are the domains of the major demigod characters…” Miyazaki told IGN. “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.”
Miyazaki also said that each of the main six areas has its own main dungeon map that’s seamlessly connected to the rest of the Lands Between. These are where each of the demigod bosses can be found, and sound like they’re the kind of Souls-y explorable areas we’re used to such as catacombs and castles and fortresses.
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 said. “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.”
- There are six main areas in the world with their own bosses and dungeons
- There is weather and a time system in the world
- Sites of Grace have golden rays to guide you in the right direction
- 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
- You’ll find weapons, spells, and spirit summons hidden out in the world to encourage exploration
- 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.”
How is George R.R. Martin involved?
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.”
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…so I’ll be as excited as everyone else to see it.”
What else do we know about Elden Ring?
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!
This new video leak is a very small one—just 27 seconds mostly containing information we already knew. We know From fans will take any bit of information they can get though. This footage showed the player character jumping in place, unlike the run jump from Dark Souls. It looks like the footage shown takes place in an bit of landscape already seen in the original reveal trailer.
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.