Elden Ring practically became a meme by the middle of 2021 – FromSoftware‘s upcoming action-RPG spawned myriad jokes about becoming vaporware that a cursory Google search of the game would throw up more parody accounts than it would actual news stories. Between its initial reveal at E3 2019 and E3 2021, precious little had been shown about the game. All we had was some key art and the promise it’d be made in collaboration with Game of Thrones‘ George R. R. Martin. Not exactly a lot to go on.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the game emerged from its dank subterranean dungeon like a glorious dragon, armed with a trailer and – amazingly – a launch date. A launch date within a year, no less. Praise be! Developer FromSoftware (known for the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne and Sekiro) and publisher Bandai Namco have sat on a lot of information about the game over the last few years, but now – finally – the final scale and shape of the game are coming into focus in a real way.
“With Elden Ring, we have applied all our dark fantasy and action-RPG expertise cultivated throughout the Dark Souls series, in order to create a bold, classical evolution of the genre,” commented Hidetaka Miyazaki, director at FromSoftware, when the first gameplay trailer was released.
“We’ve crafted a rich world with a staggering sense of scale, based off of legends written for the game by George R. R. Martin. Elden Ring is a world full of mystery and peril, ready to be explored and discovered; a drama in which various characters flaunt their own mystique and ulterior motives. We sincerely hope you enjoy experiencing it for yourself.”
If you’re a glutton for punishment and want to experience the pain of scouring The Lands Between and getting unceremoniously bodied by all the beasts that dwell within, come with us on a journey to the heartlands and read on below. You might just learn something about how to survive in this grimdark fantasy epic.
Elden Ring release date delay, platforms and price
After all that waiting without anything to even subsist on, we learned earlier this year that the Elden Ring release date was originally set for January 21, 2022.
However, in October, the game was delayed to February 25, 2022.
In a tweet posted on October 18 from the Elden Ring account, the developer stated: “Important message: ELDEN RING will release on Feb 25, 2022, as the depth & strategic freedom of the game exceeded initial expectations.”
The game will be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.
If you pre-order Elden Ring on the Xbox One or PS4 you’ll get a next-gen upgrade included for free. The game retails at £59.99 in the UK and $59.99 in the US. At the time of writing, FromSoftware hasn’t announced pre-order bonuses or any collector’s editions or digital deluxe editions.
How do I get into the Elden Ring beta?
If you’re eager to know how to get into the Elden Ring closed network test, we’re here to help – though you are going to have to jump through a few hoops.
From the registration page, it’s worth noting that the beta will only be available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 and PS5 – so PC players, you’ll have to wait until either release date or until another test is announced.
The test is being held in order to “improve the quality of the product” will be completely free to all who get in, and will run through five sessions. You will need to register for a chance to play the test before November 1. Don’t delay; sooner is always better. Here’s when you’ll be able to play:
- Session 1: 11am-2pm UK, November 12, 2021
- Session 2: 3am-6am UK, November 13 2021
- Session 3: 7pm-10pm UK, November 13, 2021
- Session 4: 11am-2pm UK, November 14 2021
- Session 5: 3am-6am UK, November 15 2021
How difficult is Elden Ring?
First thing’s first: you want to know how hard this game is, right? “How hard is Elden Ring?” we hear you ask. The game may have been designed for “all sorts of players” and not just “hardened veterans” (as per FromSoftware marketing and communications manager Yasuhiro Kitao) but don’t let that dissuade you if you are a hardcore fan: game director and master of all things sadistic Hidetaka Miyazaki says that Elden Ring is about as hard as Dark Souls 3.
As per the director, the game has been made so that players will find it “very difficult, but it can be handled.” Don’t expect difficulty settings, then, or any hand-holding throughout the entire experience. Veteran Soulsbourne players, eat your hearts out. Miyazaki explains that he feels “the difficulty level as a pure action game is lower.” Instead, Miyazaki states “I think that the closest image of difficulty is Dark Souls III.”
There are some new elements to the game that should make things a bit easier, too; for a start, more stealth options have been added to your repertoire, allowing you to instantly kill certain enemies if you’re canny enough. Finishing moves and guard breaks make a return from Sekiro, giving players with quick wits and good reflexes the opportunity to get the upper hand, too. You able to will be able to “put off” bosses you’re struggling with, which will allow you to return to difficult fights much later in the game – probably when you’re very over-powered – if you prefer.
“We want players to feel a sense of accomplishment, and one of the ways to achieve this is to set a high difficulty level,” producer Yasuhiro Kitao said in a later interview, before confirming a new mechanic that’s on offer when you’re fighting mobs: “When there are a lot of enemies, you can summon a spirit to fight with you as your companion”, he notes.
Elden Ring Credit: FromSoftware
Elden Ring world
As per Miyazaki and IGN, Elden Ring takes place in The Lands Between: a location that has been painstakingly designed by FromSoftware to inspire the feelings of “an enormous sense of scale and this broadness and openness”. That sounds quite different to the more claustrophobic nature of Dark Souls, then, but we’re sure there’ll be just as much pressure and intimidation in the scale as there was in the suffocating realms of From’s celebrated series.
The world is carved into six different areas, each belonging to a demigod that you’ll have to kill. FromSoftware notes that there is a ‘golden path’ that the game will suggest to you (and that will likely take you the better part of 30 hours to complete, if you’re competent). When it comes to the recommended way in which you should tackle the various quests and bosses in the game, the developer notes that you will be able to conquer these realms in any order you wish, as per the game’s new focus on openness and player freedom.
A hub will connect these regions, and if you’ve got a taste for eclectic world design, “a wide variety of catacombs, castles, and fortresses […] are interspersed throughout the map”. Who knows what kind of horrors they’ll be hiding.
“You won’t be able to access everything from the start, but there are a lot of different ways you can approach each area,” Miyazaki has outlined. “And there’s a lot of freedom as to which order you tackle different areas as well.”
You’ll be pleased to know there’s a fast-travel option, then.
Elden Ring. Credit: FromSoftware
“Featuring a vast and seamless landscape with natural weather and time-of-day progression, players will become fully immersed in the world of Elden Ring as they begin their journey and choose on their own path,” a press release adds – we’re looking forward to seeing that day/night cycle in action.
“Traverse on foot or horseback, alone or online with friends across grassy plains, suffocating swamps and lush forests.” The world will also include spiraling mountains, breathtaking castles, and “other sites of grandeur on a scale never seen before in a FromSoftware title”.
We wonder if there’ll be a chance to chance your steeds and mounts, depending on the challenge and terrain you’re heading into? Curious. Despite all these new ways to get around, the developers intend to make the game as satisfying and rewarding as ever to complete:
“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,” said Miyazaki. “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.”
Elden Ring. Credit: FromSoftware
Elden Ring multiplayer
As per an interview with Famitsu, Miyazaki confirms that you’ll be playing as your own custom character throughout the game (so it’s more in line with Dark Souls or Bloodborne than it is with Sekiro) and there will be multiplayer elements similar to those you’d have seen in other FromSoft titles, too.
Co-op will be possible in large open areas and boss battles, and a similar asynchronous system to that we’ve seen in past Dark Souls games will be included, too. Miyazaki confirmed that “the hurdle to become a host and get help from someone is set lower than in the Dark Souls series.”
A rudimentary party system can be enabled by entering a group ID in the game’s menus, meaning you should be able to find your mates by all sharing a keyword or collection of letters and then searching in-game with that information – and there’s no upper limit to the number of players you can have in a group (cheers, GamesRadar).
Messages and bloodstains left by your allies will be pushed you if you connect with other players in this way. You will also have the option to summon up to two allies into the world with you at once. Is the fourth space in the lobby for an invader? It seems likely.
So if you’ve got a penchant for invading other players’ worlds and offing them when they’re just about to enter that boss they’ve been psyching themselves up to beat for months, that should get your sadistic little heart racing.
Elden Ring lore
“In the world of Elden Ring, The Lands Between are blessed by the presence of the Elden Ring and by the Erdtree, which symbolises its presence, and this has given grace or blessing to the people throughout the land, great and small,” Miyazaki has said of Elden Ring’s lore in an interview with IGN.
“What this represented in them is this sort of golden light, or this golden aura, that’s specifically shown in their eyes. And this symbolises 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.”
The Tarnished were banished and exiled from the game’s world many years prior to when you – the player – will enter it. Since their ex-communication, the eponymous Elden Ring has been shattered and now, for some reason we’ll no doubt uncover in time, the Tarnished are being summoned back to The Lands Between.
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