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Words: Will Sawyer
Elden Ring will finally launch on 21 January 2022. Given that the game has been in development for several years and was first revealed in 2019, hopefully it will release on time with no long delays. The recent gameplay trailer - check it out below - also seems to show that the game is pretty polished already, but we cannot rule out delays as the pandemic has forced several major studios to work differently, and FromSoftware is no different.
After its initial reveal trailer back at E3 2019, there was almost no further Elden Ring information until the gameplay reveal trailer was presented at the 2021 Summer Game Fest - a precursor to E3 2021, and encompassing events through the annual conference, and beyond it. This second trailer gave viewers a good look at some of Elden Ring's key locations and gameplay features, including a vast, interconnected, open world that can be traversed with a magical horse mount, and finally revealed the game's release date.
E3 2019 Reveal Trailer:
Summer Game Fest 2021 Trailer:
As with previous FromSoftware titles, Elden Ring will take place in a massive fantasy world where magic, horrible creatures, and dark forces are commonplace. It is set in an area called the Lands Between, which are ruled by Queen Marika the Eternal. A mysterious object known as the Elden Ring has been shattered into pieces and collected by the demigod children of Queen Marika.
It's the player's job as the Tarnished to roam across the plains, hills, mountains, swamps, castles and dungeons of the Lands Between to presumably gather up the pieces of the Elden Ring and wield its power as an Elden Lord. There's no doubt that these demigods will show up across the land as brutally hard bosses to fight, and given that this is a FromSoftware game, there will be plenty of weird and wonderful weapons for players to use against them.
While the game's director Hidetaka Miyazaki has said in the past that another Dark Souls game (the series that made FromSoftware famous) would be unlikely, Elden Ring collaborator George R. R. Martin confirmed in an interview with WWTW that the game was actually a sequel to Dark Souls, albeit without specifying which game exactly (we think he means the original). It certainly looks like it could basically be Dark Souls 4 from the trailer in terms of its epic, dark fantasy aesthetic, but perhaps it is set far in the future or in the distant past of the main Dark Souls series. With a name like the Lands Between, it could even be another dimension within the Dark Souls universe.
The short answer is, thankfully, no. FromSoftware has made a few PlayStation-exclusive titles in the past, notably Demon's Souls and Bloodborne, but Elden Ring will be available for all current-gen consoles, new-gen consoles and PC. Players will be able to check out Elden Ring on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PC the day it launches on 21 January 2022.
Much like previous Souls games, Elden Ring will have cooperative options that will allow players to summon friends into their world so that they can tackle the dangers of the Lands Between together. Unlike in previous Souls games, Elden Ring will be able to support up to four players in one session, meaning a small group of Tarnished can patrol the lands, looking for great, big bosses to take down.
However, there has been no news on player-versus-player invasions in Elden Ring, which are a key part of older FromSoftware games like Dark Souls. These involve having another player randomly appear in your world to try and kill you. This feature is not for everyone and can be turned off in Dark Souls by playing the game offline - but this often means other useful features, like bloodstains of other players and messages, are missing too. Hopefully, Elden Ring will have similar features that disable online play, or even better, an option that turns off invasions only and still allows for co-op.
Elden Ring is being made by the masterminds behind the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice over at FromSoftware in Japan. More specifically, the game is being directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, who has directed all of FromSoftware's biggest titles in the last decade, including Dark Souls, Dark Souls 3, and Bloodborne. (Is that us calling Dark Souls 2 not a big game? Maybe.) The game is also being published outside of Japan by Bandai Namco Entertainment.
One of the biggest features of Elden Ring is that it was developed in collaboration with famed fantasy author George R. R. Martin, who created the A Song of Ice and Fire book series that the Game of Thrones TV series was based on. While the ending of that show was pretty poor in the eyes of many viewers, it wasn't anything to do with Martin's writing, so don't go thinking that Elden Ring will have a horrendously underwhelming ending, too.
In fact, Martin's contributions to Elden Ring were wrapped up years ago, and he was brought in by Miyazaki mainly to build the world and mythology of the game. With that done, the rest of the FromSoftware team worked on the rest of the game using Martin's work as the foundation. Apparently, he was occasionally sent previews of new enemies that were being added, too.
Elden Ring will be running on the same engine that FromSoftware has used since Demon's Souls back in 2009. Even though FromSoftware aren't using one of the newer, fancier engines like Unreal Engines 4 and 5, that doesn't mean Elden Ring will look and feel terrible to play. FromSoftware undoubtedly add substantial improvements to their engine with each release, so the engine in its current state for Elden Ring should be plenty powerful to make the game look incredible and play smoothly on the new generation of consoles.
Featured Image Credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment
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