Elden Ring has practically become a meme during its much-awaited journey from edit suite to shelves. Between an initial reveal at E3 2019 and E3 2021, precious little had been shown about the game, save for some key art and the promise it’d be made in collaboration with Game of Thrones‘ George R. R. Martin. It wasn’t exactly a lot to go on.
But finally, it’s almost here. Developer FromSoftware (known for the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne and Sekiro) and publisher Bandai Namco, who have kept shtum over few years, have increasingly been teasing more and more about the game ahead of its imminent release.
“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.
“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, platforms and price
Elden Ring is released on February 25, 2022, hitting 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.
First, there’s the collector’s edition at £189.99, which will include the game, a steelbook, a 40-page art book, a digital soundtrack, and a 9inch statue of Malenia – Blade of Miquella.
Then there’s the premium collectors edition at an eye-watering £259.99, which includes the aforementioned items, along with an official helmet replica of Malenia.
You can pre-order all editions, including standard, at Bandi Namco’s official website.
What can you expect from Elden Ring?
Taking place in the Lands Between, the Elden Ring, the source of the Erdtree, has been shattered, causing chaos in the realm. The ruling Queen’s offspring and demigods alike have claimed shards of the Elden Ring known as the Great Runes, including a so-called Death Rune. Your job? To follow the path to the Lands Between beyond the foggy sea to stand before the Elden Ring and become the Elden Lord. Which is easier said than done of course…
As revealed in our special preview piece, Elden Ring‘s tutorial offers one of the best teaching systems in a FromSoftware game to date. All you’ve got to do is listen to a ghost who tells you to jump into a pit, and voila: you’re taking your first baby steps into the world of Souls, learning to backstab, dodge and fight with the best of ’em. It feels like a lot of thought has been put into making sure players understand the mechanics of a Souls game before they’re set loose in the new big, scary world.
Simply put, Elden Ring‘s open-world is gorgeous. The environment spans much further than the ones that fans might be used to, but Elden Ring hasn’t lost any of the Soulsmagic that makes every location feels tangibly, physically connected, no matter how far apart they lie.
Speaking of that open-world, FromSoftware has done a fantastic job of transitioning the fairly linear Dark Souls experience into a huge, explorable setting. Resting at Sites of Grace, Elden Ring’s answer to bonfires, gives you a small pointer in which direction you should go next, and although you’re under no obligation to do that, it’s nice that there’s a path in place to keep you moving in the right direction.
How difficult is Elden Ring?
First things 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 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.
Stealth feels completely at home here, and there’s a grim satisfaction in knowing that every clean takedown saves you a fight that could very easily risk progress. Elden Ring pushes a lot of fresh ideas, but it’s comforting to know that elements from each of FromSoftware’s soulslikes are exerting their influence here. Whether you’ve been eagerly devouring them since Demon Souls or only got hooked with Sekiro or Bloodborne, there will be something familiar for you to latch onto here.
Elden Ring world
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.
As discovered during our first hands-on experience with the game, it won’t take you long to see George R.R. Martin’s influence – faded family crests adorn the tents and banners, while the camp’s medieval atmosphere feels like it would’ve been right at home as a set in Game Of Thrones. As much as FromSoftware knows how to pull off a good boss fight, it also knows how to build a badass gothic castle, complete with a big bastard of a boss.
Miyazaki recently said that FromSoftware basically just fucked up George R.R. Martin’s creations to turn them into boss fights, and Margit’s living proof of that. Adorned in an equal amount of tentacles, armour, and magical weapons, Margit looks like Tolkein and Lovecraft took turns kicking the shit out of a Game Of Thrones book until something crawled out.
Elden Ring multiplayer
Expect to play 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 is 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.”
READ MORE: ‘Elden Ring’ Confessor and Samurai classes detailed ahead of launch’
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.
Messages and bloodstains left by your allies will be pushed you if you connect with other players in this way. You 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 of course been shattered and now the Tarnished are being summoned back to The Lands Between.
So what are you waiting for? Get pre-ordering and we’ll see you on the other side…
Elden Ring is released on February 25, 2022, hitting PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. Keep an eye here for more updates.