While Elden Ring launches in just a few short months, much about the game remains a mystery with next to nobody outside of From Software having had the chance to go hands-on with the game. That still hasn’t changed, but recently a handful of gaming sites were able to go eyes-on with a 15-minute-or-so edited demo of the game. The general public isn’t being shown that demo, but the previews do reveal some interesting new details about the game. Before we get to that, here's a handful of new 4K Elden Ring screenshots (click the image for full resolution).
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is something many already suspected – Elden Ring is taking heavy inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The game’s new open-world hub, The Lands Between, features a day/night cycle and is populated by groups of enemies similar to Zelda’s Bokoblins, but in classic From style, there are also some nasty surprises. In IGN’s preview coverage, they describe coming upon an enemy camp, only to be ambushed by a giant dragon, which led to an impromptu boss fight.
Thankfully, From is providing more navigational tools for getting around their new, bigger world. For the first time, you’ll have a map, which you have to collect in fragments, and can set waypoint markers. “Sites of Lost Grace” act as the game’s new bonfires, and some will even send out glowing light paths to guide players to their next destination (although you can always go your own way of course). Aiding in your journey will be your Spirit Steed, which can be called upon anywhere in the hub world and can summon jump platforms in order to reach higher elevations.
Now, if you’re looking for a challenge, the open world features a number of smaller trap and puzzle-focused dungeons, similar to the shrines in BOTW. There will also be much larger “Legacy Dungeons,” which are comparable in size and scope to full areas from previous Souls games. IGN compares the first of these dungeons, Stormveil Castle, to the Boletarian Palace from Demon’s Souls. The dungeon allows for both a direct and stealthy approach, and culminates in a boss fight against the multi-armed Lord Godrick.
Full character customization also returns, with outlets getting a peek at sword-user, archer, and sorcerer builds, and in an interview with Eurogamer, From Software’s Yasuhiro Kitao insists the game is taking a more character-focused approach with its story…
We're often told that our games have stories that are difficult to understand, but this time we feel that, rather than focusing on just the world itself, the characters and the drama surrounding them will paint a clearer picture of the mainline story and help players become more immersed in the story than ever before.
All sounds rather promising to me! Some may raise an eyebrow at From studying Nintendo’s notes so closely, but a BOTW with Dark Souls atmosphere and challenge could be a great thing.
Elden Ring will put players through their paces on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, and PS5 on January 21, 2022.