Since its announcement at E3 2019, no new information has been revealed about FromSoftware’s upcoming title Elden Ring. What is known about the game is that it’s a collaboration between Hidetaka Miyazaki, director of such iconic games as Dark Souls and Bloodborne, and George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The game is also said to feature an open-world — in contrast to the more linear levels in previous FromSoftware RPGs — necessitating the use of horseback riding to travel efficiently.
Elden Ring is expected to be a natural evolution of the “Soulsborne” games that came before it. Starting with Demon’s Souls, each From RPG has included several consistent mechanics and themes. However, each of these games has also featured innovations that made them feel wholly unique. As the next game developed by FromSoftware, there are several mechanics which should be carried into Elden Ring to make it a worthy successor.
A feature in every previous FromSoftware RPG is a “home base” the player can return to between battles. Soulsborne games are possibly the most intense modern action games, with complete focus and honed skill required to survive encounters with even standard foes. A game that constantly keeps players on the edge of their seat risks becoming more stressful than fun.
The way to avoid falling into this trap is to create a home base which the player can return to if they require a rest or a restock of supplies. Demon’s Souls’ Nexus is an example of such a safe haven, where friendly NPCs gather and create a feeling of community. No enemies exist in this place, allowing players to relax after traveling in a game world teeming with deadly obstacles. If Elden Ring wishes to make gamers emotionally attached to its world, it will require a home base.
One major thing Dark Souls did better than its successors is the interconnected design of its game world. Almost every area in the game connects to multiple other areas, sometimes by manually opening shortcuts, which makes players feel as if they’re actually exploring a functional fantasy world. Firelink Shrine acts as Dark Souls’ home base, from which the player can easily reach almost any area in the game, giving players a reference point to help them navigate.
This interconnected design is allowed to truly flourish because Dark Souls, unlike later Soulsborne games, only grants players the ability to fast-travel in the latter part of the game. This means players often traverse each area many times as they return to Firelink or travel to another area. If Elden Ring strives to promote exploration and interaction with its open-world, removing or limiting fast travel would make players engage more intimately with the map.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice placed much more emphasis on action than RPG mechanics. The addition of stealth, posture damage, and a grappling hook made the game function much more like Tenchu than Dark Souls. However, Sekiro still has many elements in common with other Soulsborne titles and it has valuable lessons to teach future games.
Skill Trees had a very noticeable effect on Sekiro‘s gameplay but never made the player feel overpowered, so their presence in Elden Ring would be welcome. Each tree is unlocked by collecting Esoteric Texts found throughout the world, which promotes exploration; skills are then unlocked using points acquired through combat. Both passive abilities and combat skills are available and can be progressed in any order, adding a high level of customization and progression to the game.
Every Soulsborne game, except Sekiro, includes a large number of different usable weapons. However, Bloodborne turned things up a notch by introducing Trick Weapons, each able to switch between two distinct forms. In Bloodborne, every single weapon feels unique and the transformations add another layer of complexity.
While Elden Ring is unlikely to feature Trick Weapons, the concept behind Bloodborne‘s unique weapons should remain. Every weapon should feel special in some way, outside of having higher stats or inflicting a different status effect. Two swords may logically be used in the exact same way, but adding something to make them mechanically distinct allows for much more customization and expression. Like in Bloodborne, there should be at least one weapon for every player to fall in love with.
Soulsborne fans are all anticipating more information on Elden Ring and, hopefully, more will be revealed soon. With a seemingly iconic combination of talent, the game is sure to impress once players get their hands on the controls. By introducing open-world design and carrying on the lessons learned in previous Soulsborne titles, Elden Ring has the potential to eclipse the games that came before.
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FromSoftware’s Elden Ring is still a mystery after its E3 2019 reveal. Here are some ideas the game may take from previous “Soulsborne” titles.