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It is a tall order to have to build upon the legacy left behind by popular games like Bloodborne, Dark Souls, Sekiro. When it comes to action games FromSoftware seems to have the recipe down to a T. Given that all the aforementioned games are commended for their meaty grip and challenging edge Elden Ring has a lot to live up to. Even the best gamers have found their match in having to navigate the swamps and dungeons of the dense game-scapes to prove their worth.

What seems to entice and hook players to games in this genre is the way in which they force you to consider each moment for the unique challenge it presents. In the words of Kat Bailey reporting on the Summer of Gaming at IGN, “every foe is a puzzle waiting to be solved”. And the senior news editor is not wrong. Even the lowliest of enemies can surprise you if your head isn’t in the game. Death by hollow could be on the cards if you aren’t careful.

It is this demanding pattern that has helped firmly establish the genre. With such popularity among die-hard and casual gamers; You may be wondering how on earth it can be improved? Director Hidetaka Miyazaki had plenty of insight to offer regarding FromSoftwares ambitions.

In a recent interview with IGN Miyazaki spoke about improving the flexibility of previous combat systems. The developers’ goal with crafting the Elden Ring combat system is to provide many more options to the players when they are faced with an encounter. Giving them freedom over their approach and plan of attack to better take advantage of the situation. Ultimately this would make the gameplay more variable should you replay from the beginning. 

In the interview, Miyaki said: “We wanted to allow the player to combine these different elements to find their own strategy and even indirect approaches to combat if they wanted to,” Miyazaki says. “So yes, this is something that we wanted to explore more so than our previous games and really focus on […] this level of variety and this level of freedom in combat.”

That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been some wiggle room within the game mechanics = for the more creative players out there looking to exploit the engines. Plenty of ingenious streamers have uploaded entertaining gameplay footage demonstrating novel ways to go up against your enemies. In Demon’s Souls, for instance, you can take advantage of the poor A.I in the original version by shooting from a distance to see them tumble spectacularly into the depths below. FromSoftware is aiming to provide more elements of choice, the details are not completely clear as to what this will entail is unclear, but Miyazaki vehemently mentions “freedom” throughout his discussion of gameplay and that can only be a good thing. Although not much is being disclosed as concrete here is what is clear about the mechanics of Elden Ring, from the horse’s mouth:

  • Resurrection is not on the cards: Under the correct circumstances players could resurrect within the world of Sekiro, coming back to life but that won’t be the case with Elden ring. There are no resurrection mechanics built into it but the developers have ensured that design elements drive the players forwards anyhow. 
  • Stamina will not be the be-all and end-all: FromSoftware games historically put a lot of emphasis on your stamina bar, running out at an inopportune moment is quite often a major cause of death for many players in games such as Dark Souls. Elden ring will of course feature a stamina bar but the management will not be so crucial leaving players wide open for attacks. 

Miyazaki had the following to say on the subject; “Yes, the stamina bar exists in Elden Ring, but we feel it has less influence on the player overall,” Miyazaki says. “We wanted to make it feel less restricting again and contribute to that level of freedom more so than our previous titles.”

  • Simplified stealth mechanics: Although the mechanics have been simplified Miyazaki says they will present a wider variety of uses. You will have the option of crouching and sneaking your way to a backstab attack or running full steam ahead. “We wanted to create these opportunities for players to see what lies ahead of them and below them and around them and to assess how they’re going to confront that or not as the case may be. So stealth, while again it’s a simple implementation, it allows for a lot more of these possibilities,” Miyazaki says.

  • Almost 100 skills to explore: Elden Ring will also have more variety in terms of character creation and evolution. You will be able to freely adjust as you go, interchanging the weapons skills you have, want, or need in accordance with what you are presented with along the way. Miyazaki says “You’re free to build your character with different weapons and equipment. You’re free to learn magic as well,” Miyazaki says. Some of these skills can be purchased from stores. “There are cases in which you can buy them [arts, magic, etc.] at stores or learn them from NPCs, but generally they are hidden throughout the game’s world for the player to discover through exploration, rather than unlocking them through a skill tree as in previous titles.”
  • Customize and craft items on the move: Elden Ring’s customization was also briefly touched on, with Miyazaki explaining the crafting engine. “You can customize and craft items on the go by using materials found in the world,” he said. “There are also more resources to recover health on the way as you will be fighting for a longer time than before. The key word I think is retention and retaining a sense of progression, so we wanted them to keep going, to keep that flow as they explore and they journey through the map.”
  • The spirits of your defeated enemies become allies: One interesting gameplay feature is ‘spirit collection’. Many of us may have seen the use of a square cube in the trailer to summon other characters. Now Miyazaki has revealed they are the ghosts of your enemies. You can essentially collect the souls of your foes to do your bidding as allies in future battles that you encounter. Miyazaki says there will be a “large variety of them,” and they will be a “nice collectible hidden element” to encourage exploration. “They offer a lot of different strategic options, but also the player might find that they just like a certain enemy tagging along with them, a certain summon pleases them aesthetically,” Miyazaki says. “So there’s a lot of strategic and a lot of personal touch to the summons. And we hope that players will also enjoy discovering their own progression elements as well.” Matt Purslow compares it to Pokemon in his IGN article.

Elden Ring was developed with input from none other than George R.R. Martin, the author behind Game of Thrones. In addition to the point we have gone over above, Miyazaki shed some light on the assistance that Martin gave when building Elden Ring as well as more info about how FromSoftware hopes the game will promote player freedom.

Elden Ring caused a stir a while back but then news seemed to tail off until the recent Summer Game Fest where the trailer was dropped like a bomb. Ever since then the details have been creeping out of the woodwork little by little.  Elden Ring fans now have their hands on the plot synopsis and the action game is back at the center of conversations for FromSoftware’s games enthusiasts. We have learned that the company has plans to explore other mediums and as E3 2021 and the Summer of Gaming continue we will no doubt get all the nitty-gritty details. Many are already satisfied with the breadcrumbs we are being hand-fed for now, such as the circling new-found walking pot obsession some seem to have developed since the game trailer reveal!

So there you have it, a little more insight about FromSoftwares latest anticipated action game ready for release January 21, 2022, coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, and PC.

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