They may not sell Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty numbers, but every FromSoftware game launch is an event. Even if you don’t play them yourself, it’s hard to ignore the fervent anticipation in the lead up to release, the buzz and excited chatter when people finally get their hands on the game, and the inevitable think pieces about the game’s philosophy and From’s game design.
All that is to say: the hype is unavoidable. Which is why we’re here to give you five reasons why we can’t wait to play Elden Ring.
It’s not a Dark Souls sequel
The influence of the Dark Souls games cannot be overstated; there’s a whole subgenre that carries the name! But you could tell that From was done with Dark Souls for a while, even before releasing Dark Souls 3. Elden Ring represents a clean break for the studio: a new design in a new setting, a perfect opportunity to pick and choose what classic mechanics to bring back, and what to leave behind.
Elden Ring will undoubtedly borrow plenty from Dark Souls, but it will do so on its own terms, unconstrained by player expectations.
It’s FromSoftware’s first open-world game
This being the first in what will (hopefully) become a new series for the studio, Elden Ring also represents a shift in how the storied developer has been building its worlds so far. For the first time, From is stepping away from its linear design, and opening up the game’s world to players from the beginning. We can’t even begin to imagine how this will affect the tight balance or immaculate pacing we’re used to getting from the developer’s work, but it’s undoubtedly going to be exciting to see how these challenges have been solved – and whether or not the shift was an ultimately good move for From’s games.
If the tech demo we’ve been able to play recently is anything to go by, though, this change of direction has been a smart move from Miyazaki and co.
So many new mechanics to sink our teeth into
Elden Ring isn’t just the first open-world game from the team, it also introduces a number of new mechanics and systems. Unlike past Souls games, you’ll be able to freely jump, which will definitely come into play in the game’s tough boss fights. The technical test showed us a couple of examples about how this improved mobility is going to save your skin, if your reflexes are fast enough. Jumping is also necessary to reach a few hidden areas, as the focus on verticality grows.
Then there’s the horse, which is not only designed to cut down on travel time in Elden Ring’s bigger world (compared to earlier games), it’s also yet another tool in combat. The horse – which can double jump, by the way – can help you take down enemies in a number of ways. Elden Ring offers horseback combat, too, so you can pick off stragglers quickly to thin the herd before dealing with the bigger targets (or even get out of dodge when necessary). Your equine companion is even useful in boss fights, some of which appear to be expecting you to be on horseback to survive. You don’t get that in Bloodborne.
Seeing combat evolve post-Sekiro
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is easily From’s most interesting game post Demon’s Souls. So much of that game was unique, and so pointedly so, that it was almost a statement; FromSoft can innovate beyond the simple upgrades in standard sequels. The combat’s demanding pace and its reliance on parrying and timing made it off-limits for a large number of players. It wouldn’t make sense for the studio to just ignore these satisfying mechanics and not, at least, bring back a version of that for Elden Ring.
Sekiro also introduced stealth mechanics, which Elden Ring already appears to be expanding on. Certain areas of the technical test could be played like a modern Splinter Cell; taking out guards and slowly working your way into the camp.
We’ll have to spend a lot longer with Elden Ring to see if stealth will become something we regularly lean on or completely forget about after the first hour. But it's always nice to have more tools at your disposal, right?
In a way, all of the new additions we’ve seen so far in Elden Ring make a lot of sense. A bigger world gets you a horse and more movement abilities. More enemies spread around is perfect for a stealth system to shine. But crafting remains the wild card – especially if your eyes tend to roll anytime a game expects you to chop down trees for wood or stone for metal.
From what we’ve seen so far, you’ll be able to turn animal parts and other resources in the world into various consumables, as well as into different kinds of tools, like sleep arrows. The potential this introduces is massive, and inches Elden Ring ever closer to RPG territory. We’re hopeful crafting won’t turn into a chore, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting elements to look out for in Elden Ring, especially when compared to other games in FromSoft’s extensive back catalogue.Elden Ring is out February 25 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.