The anticipation surrounding Elden Ring has been sky-high for months at this point, and it continues to grow as its release approaches. To ramp it up even more, thanks to a recent round of previews and hands-on impressions by various publications and outlets, we’ve recently been treated with a bunch of new details on FromSoftware’s upcoming open world action RPG. Here, we’re going to talk about a few such details that caught our eye.
OPEN WORLD STRUCTURE
Elden Ring’s open world is one of the game’s biggest selling points, with the prospect of a Soulslike formula being applied to a massive open world setting looking like its defining feature. And if recent hands-on impressions are anything to go by, that may very well be on point. We already got a taste of what to expect from Elden Ring’s open world and its design in the closed network test, but while that was, due to its very nature, limited in scope, with large sections of the build walled off, recent impressions of the game’s final build suggest that in the full game, the shackles come off completely. Players will seemingly be allowed to head off into any direction in the world and traverse wherever they want with, with each area having rays of guiding light nudging player to different points. Quests, it seems, can be done in any order, and though players may of course run into enemies or areas that are too high level, it doesn’t sound like there will be many artificial barriers preventing progress. While we don’t have the full details on this just yet (and won’t until we play the game), we’re definitely encouraged by how much freedom Elden Ring’s world will offer.
Here’s another example of the freedom Elden Ring’s world will offer to players- every so often, the game will reward players for their curiosity or experimentation, perhaps with a secret path that allows you to skip an entire dungeon. Such an example was mention in VG247’s preview, which describes a hidden path that will allow players to bypass Stormveil Castle and completely circumvent the entire dungeon, skipping straight ahead to its main boss, Margit the Fell Omen. We’re more than a little curious to mess about in Elden Ring’s world and see if and how it rewards players in similar fashion.
BOSSES AND MINI DUNGEONS
One of the more interesting things about Elden Ring that’s become clear in recent weeks and months is that though it’s still going to be designed around challenge and difficulty the way every FromSoftware game is, by its very design, it’s also going to be the developer’s most accessible game yet. A prime example of that is how much more quickly players can get to bosses in this game than in Dark Souls. PC Gamer’s preview mentions that a large number of the game’s bosses are found either in small mini-dungeons that can be cleared with ease, or in the open world itself, which means it’s much easier to get back to them upon retries, and be better stocked when you do so.
We’ve known for quite some time that Elden Ring will allow players to traverse its open world atop a phantom steed called Torrent, but the recent batch of previews has highlighted just how radically the horse changes the core of exploration and traversal in the game. Movement is, of course, much faster, but more crucially, while attempting to blindly run past enemies in the Souls games was often a guaranteed death sentence, riding your horse past mobs in Elden Ring is far easier, which allows you to bypass any confrontations you want to avoid. That, of course, means that even if you find yourself in significantly higher level areas, you can still run past enemies, find a Site of Grace, and ensure that you have a quick and easy way of fast travelling back to that spot whenever you want in the future. It’s a surprisingly significant shift that’s been brought about by something that may not have seemed like the biggest new mechanic on paper at first.
The Roundtable Hold wasn’t an area in Elden Ring that we knew anything about until recently, but details on it have emerged thanks to recent previews- and it’s quite interesting. Similar to the Nexus in Demon’s Souls, Firelink Shrine in Dark Souls, or the Hunter’s Dream in Bloodborne, the Roundtable Hold is a hub location of sorts. The area is populated by a surprising number of NPCs. Players can converse and interact with them in a number of ways for all sorts of conversations, buffs, and more. There’s also a blacksmith there, and of course, places where you can purchase things.
Another new area in Elden Ring that we’ve come to learn about from recent previews is the Siofra River, spoken about in the VG247 and Easy Allies previews, which is essentially a massive underground network. A long load screen masked as an elevator ride takes you down underground to this sprawling area that seems to be spread out across large sections of the open world map, with a river running through it, and appears to link different parts of the world together. Exactly what the scale of this area in its entirety is going to be remains to be seen, but we’re itching to thoroughly explore it.
NO MORE HOLLOW FORM
This is another interesting change that might surprise Souls fans. FromSoftware’s Souls games have typically allowed players to either play in human form, which gave you more health but also meant that you could be invaded by other players, or hollow form, which let you play offline without the threat of invasions, but with disadvantages of its own, such as lower health, not being able to summon other players to your aid, and more. In Elden Ring, there is no hollow form anymore. Players can only invade you when you’re playing co-op, while the only penalty to dying is losing your Runes. As you might imagine, this is probably going to make death much more forgiving.
Based on everything that we’ve seen and know of Elden Ring so far, it’s clear that FromSoftware has gone out of its way to ensure that the game’s open world keeps throwing unexpected surprises at players. Some of these might come in the form of portals. TheGamer’s preview mentions a mysterious portal device found in the open world that transports you to a completely different part of the world full of red fungal growths and dangerous enemies. Whether that’s the only portal in the world or if there are others like it that will lead to different areas remains to be seen- we’re betting it’s the latter though.
CHANGES FROM THE NETWORK TEST
Unsurprisingly, it seems FromSoftware has tinkered with some things within the game, so not everything that you remember from its closed network test (f you played it) will be exactly the same in the final game. Rock Paper Shotgun’s preview, for instance, mentions that the goblins in Limgrave’s catacombs can now stack a Bleed effect with their attacks. Meanwhile, Easy Allies’ preview mentions that while the Many-Armed Key Master was a compulsory boss in the closed network test thanks to the key he dropped, he seems to have been moved in the final build of the game, with the key instead being found on a corpse in the same room.