Elden Ring: how could it be From Software's first open world?

Elden Ring: how could it be From Software's first open world?

Elden Ring

Announced in 2019, Elden Ring had lost track of him; at least until E3 2021. During the Los Angeles fair, in fact, the title returned to show itself with a decidedly less enigmatic trailer compared to what was shown two years ago. The new work by Hidetaka Miyazaki immediately appears as something majestic and which, hopefully, can offer us many hours of pure fun. In this editorial of mine, written less quickly and, therefore, less influenced by enthusiasm, I will try to objectively analyze what I have seen. The goal is to try to understand how the very first FromSoftware open world could ever be!

Elden Ring: how the first FromSoftware open world could be

What is shown, unfortunately , has not revealed much in terms of gameplay, as it is not a real trailer dedicated to mechanics; rather it would seem to introduce the plot and the artistic nuances of the work. In short, a presentation trailer with in-game images! Many, however, have tried to express an opinion on the playful part of the title, without even having glimpsed an excerpt of actual gameplay: a defect that I can hardly understand. Therefore, what follows will only be the result of my hypotheses, based on what is seen in the trailer. But I repeat, it is possible to draw only hypotheses; not judgments and absolute truths.

The art of Elden Ring

If there is something of the FromSoftware titles that immediately catches the eye, that is the artistic direction: evocative , gloomy, with a perfectly combined color palette. A dark fantasy Middle Ages with Lovecraftian hues, just like Demon's Souls and Dark Souls; why ask for a different artistic treatment? Wouldn't it be like asking Raphael to paint a Picasso? This was one of the least understandable criticisms (for me) aimed at the latest effort by the Japanese software house.

Elden Ring, with its medieval / Celtic setting, will be influenced by the previous productions of FromSoftware, because the development team is the same and the setting is very similar. Nevertheless, it does not appear at all as something already seen; has its own evocative power: what appears to be a sort of tree of the world (like Yggradsill or Irminsul) that extends its luminous branches along the yellowing sky, or the contrast between ancient ruins, scattered above and below the ravines, and castles surrounded by a magical aura and a polished marble floor. It certainly has a charm and a personality of rare beauty.

Also, personally, I can't wait to see how Miyazaki will elaborate what was born from the pen of George R. R. Martin: what horizons will await us? Which bosses will we face? What mysterious characters will we meet along our path? I can't wait to see the ink of an iconic writer's pen materialize, and come to life, as visual art in front of my eyes!

The open world

Now, let's move on to the most interesting part to analyze, that is: how will a soulslike open world ever be? The curiosity is really great, and it is more than legitimate to venture hypotheses about it. I tried to formulate mine, analyzing some frames in particular. Well, in my opinion, the game structure will be different but, at the same time, familiar to Souls fans. Elden Ring will have a seamless map, that is, in which we can move freely, but it will keep the dungeon crawler structure of its predecessors.

There will be camps and various secondary activities that will enrich, as per tradition, the lore of the game. Yet, the main missions will take place in labyrinthine and well-structured environments, just like in the Souls and soulslike environments, with traps and enemies hidden around the corner, ready to ambush us. But there will be something completely new on the outside, and I expect huge surprises from FromSoftware. Here, the open world just can not imagine it; I cannot imagine secondary activities suitable for such a title. But of one thing I am more than certain: I expect variety.

Yes, because the videogame landscape is really rich or, rather, rather saturated with open world titles with immense maps, but structured at random. I would never want a title so awaited by me as Elden Ring to turn out to be an open world that tastes like it has already been seen and, above all, to turn out to be a prairie without playful / narrative purposes. I really hope that everything has its own specific functionality, connected to the game world and its mechanics like a warp ready to weave together with the weft. A high-quality fabric would emerge.

On the other hand, at first glance, the title reminds me a lot (don't ask me why) even the beautiful The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild; an excellent game from which to take inspiration for the structure of the game world! Last question in this regard: will it be possible to play the title in co-op with up to four players in full? Impossible to know, but I strongly hope that matchmaking is not at all as difficult as that of a Bloodborne, and that it is possible to add your friends via an easy-to-manage dedicated lobby.

Horse, classes and combat system

The horse seems to have multiple functions, besides its use to move from one point to another on the map. Anyone who has played Dark Souls will know very well what else FromSoftware is a master of: the creation of different movesets for each single weapon (attention, not for every type of weapon; just for every single weapon!). The mount does not look like the classic mount that will lock against the first obstacle rock: it looks very fast, extremely intuitive and a real weapon. In one frame, we even see it take flight, using a whirlwind, to jump over a mountain.

Right here we see one of its first features in combat: we will be able to launch from it and swoop down. instinct against our enemies, breaking their guard thanks to the impact with the ground. Moreover, it seems that in the bossfight (I don't believe in all) we will be able to use it to comfortably avoid the shots of the slower bosses. Speaking of moveset, then, it is possible to deduce that combat on horseback will play an important role in the game. To corroborate this thesis, it is a precise frame in which the Senzaluce, on horseback, hurls an enemy off his mount by delivering a blow with a broadsword.

During the almost three minutes of the trailer, it was possible to glimpse a curious detail : the Senzaluce can be characterized by different classes. Impossible to know how many there will be in all, but the most watchful eyes will have noticed the presence of a particular character, or a masked figure to which the protagonist bows. As in the Souls, therefore, the protagonist will level up, and will be able to spend the in-game currency to enhance specific attributes. But, since it will be an open world, will there be a hub, or will there be several of these characters (like the one in the photo below) scattered in some points of the map?

Impossible to analyze in detail the Elden Ring combat system without first seeing it in detailed gameplay. Nonetheless, the speed of some animations (as well as some spells that extend the weapon) made it appear, in my eyes, a bit faster than that of a Dark Souls or a Bloodborne. Miyazaki, however, revealed a rather important detail: it will be possible to face enemies with different approaches. In addition to the head-on clash, diversified by the various classes, therefore, get ready to ambush your enemies. Will it be a stealth similar to Sekiro's?

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