FromSoftware’s Elden Ring, at first blush, seems like a form of Super Dark Souls, a religious continuation of that motion RPG collection in an unlimited, vaguely acquainted fantasy world of sword and sorcery. But the developer of staunchly difficult video games like Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is making an attempt one thing grander with Elden Ring’s big open world.

This is a fantasy land so large that it requires an in-game map, one thing that previous FromSoftware video games have by no means provided. Players have needed to memorize the worlds of Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro by exploring their dungeons and castles repeatedly, build up these maps inside their brains. But in Elden Ring’s the Lands Between, the recreation’s landmass, they’ll be capable to place markers on a map and obtain steerage on the place to go subsequent.

As gamers journey by the densely packed Lands Between, they’ll encounter dungeons, large castles, and the occasional dragon bolting out of the sky to assault them. “We want the Lands Between to be filled with threats and discoveries,” mentioned FromSoftware producer Yasuhiro Kitao, in a video presentation with Polygon, who described the recreation’s massive map as “not just big for the sake of being big.” In that video presentation, FromSoftware showcased various settings: wintry plains, an autumnal forest, a flooded metropolis, and a decaying, swampy land.

Two tall indescribable monsters in a wasteland from Elden Ring

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

Kitao mentioned that the dungeons that gamers will encounter in the fields of the Lands Between can have selection — there are caves, cemeteries, and catacombs, they usually’re handcrafted, not procedurally generated like the Chalice Dungeons of Bloodborne. But gamers could discover some familiarity down in these dungeons, with traps, contraptions, torch-lit tunnels, treasure, and minibosses scattered all through.

Players, generally known as Tarnished in Elden Ring, can even encounter horrible monsters and enemy troopers. There are massive, majestic ashen dragons and armored knights. There are weird enemies, some with a dozen arms wherein to wield weapons, some with snakelike our bodies. In one combat, an outsized falcon with swords affixed to its talons pecked and sliced at the participant, whereas additionally throwing powder kegs at him.

Tarnished can have a spread of fight strategies at their disposal to cope with threats in the Lands Between: sword fight, archery, magic spells, stealth, and arrows that may put enemies to sleep.

Like Dark Souls video games, gamers may also summon assist. They can name upon their Spirit Steed, a horse-like creature that may help them in traversal and when mounted fight is warranted. Players may also summon different gamers, as much as two at a time, to help them in cooperative multiplayer. Different is the choice to summon AI-controlled allies of different varieties. Kitao described “tanky defenders” and “assault types” — and even a small mob of pleasant monsters — that may be summoned with the ashes of the deceased. While he didn’t provide many particulars, it feels like the creatures you slay in Elden Ring could provide their help in the afterlife as disposable, consumable allies.

A Tarnished on horseback battles a dragon beneath the moon in Elden Ring

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

Even shifting by the world of Elden Ring is totally different. In addition to the aforementioned Spirit Steed, which might double bounce throughout ravines and launch 100 ft in the air with the help of mystical bounce pads, gamers can … bounce. Similar to how the Wolf of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice moved by his world, Elden Ring gamers will be capable to leap and certain with out concern of fall harm by the setting. Traversing some areas, like crumbling castles or rocky terrain, seems to require liberal leaping round.

In one part of the recreation, generally known as Stormwind Castle, we watched a Tarnished strategy the entrance gates, solely to be greeted by a pleasant character who advised them that going by the entrance door was a nasty concept. He provided a second safer route. But the participant opted for the onerous path, had the gates open for them, and was instantly welcomed — with a volley of arrows. Doubling again to pursue the simpler, circuitous path, we have been proven that it required so much of leaping, sneaking, and battles with armed however underprepared guards. There was additionally an enormous troll — had the participant chosen the direct, tougher path, it will have been a face-to-face combat. In this secret path, they took it down stealthily with a sleep arrow and let it lie.

In one other part, the participant approached a caravan containing treasure below the cowl of night time. They sneaked by tall grass to cover themselves, shot a sleep arrow right into a guard, and completed him off with their blade. The different guards, now alerted, have been dispatched with a curved sword and magical abilities imbued into that weapon. It was quick work, and the treasure was shortly earned. More guards have been dispatched by summoning a quartet of red-eyed phantoms with their ashes. It was a battle not like something I’d seen in a FromSoftware recreation: the participant, 5 ghostly creatures, and a half-dozen troopers all combating without delay.

Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco

The core fight will doubtless really feel acquainted to Dark Souls gamers (sluggish and calculating), however FromSoftware can also be borrowing from the faster-paced components from Bloodborne and Sekiro. Players can sprint out of hurt’s approach and whittle down an enemy’s stance to deal crucial harm — not fairly the assured kill of a deathblow from Sekiro, however lethal nonetheless, Kitao mentioned. There’s additionally a brand new fight mechanic (Guard Counter), that may let gamers shortly reply after blocking at the expense of stamina. Kitao mentioned that Guard Counter is separate from parrying, which can return from Dark Souls.

There shall be different acquainted components from FromSoftware video games previous: quick journey through Elden Ring’s equal of bonfires (Sites of Lost Light); a younger maiden who will assist them degree up and be taught new abilities (her identify is Melina); a hub world the place associates and allies met in the fields will congregate; and fragmented storytelling that may let the participant interpret the occasions and historical past of this world. It can even be, in the FromSoftware custom, a difficult recreation. The developer could encapsulate that greatest in its personal description of Elden Ring: “a good, old-fashioned RPG.”

Elden Ring involves PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X on Jan. 21, 2022.