FromSoftware is a legendary studio in the video game industry. Their Dark Souls series revolutionized the action-adventure genre upon its release, and, over time, it has become basically its own genre. Many games released since that original Dark Souls game have used its iconic mechanics and gameplay for their own ends. Games like sci-fi adventure The Surge, the Ancient Japan-inspired Nioh and Nioh 2, and even 2D action games like Hollow Knight and Salt and Sanctuary have all melded the spirit of Dark Souls to make a genre we know as the “souls-like”.
The last official “Souls” game straight from FromSoftware themselves was their 2019 release Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This game was a successful combination of the sneaking action of Tenchu with the signature, gruelling trial and error gameplay of Dark Souls. But, that was nearly three years ago, and fans are ready for a new punishme-, er, I mean experience. Thankfully, we have Elden Ring arriving at the end of this month. While this game doesn’t bear the Souls name, it does carry its spirit, and in this article, I will tell you how Elden Ring maintains that spirit, and what sets it apart from its older siblings.
Elden Ring is, first and foremost, a third-person action-adventure game. This perspective and genre are intimately familiar for FromSoftware fans, but what isn’t familiar is the scale that the game takes on. The Lands Between, the setting for this adventure, is a landmass that eclipses the playable area of anything FromSoftware has done up to this point, and rivals the largest maps in video game history. The full map has yet to be revealed, but the area that was explorable in the closed network test, which included vast rolling hills, multiple dungeons, and the ruins of a castle, is thought to just be a small fraction of what the final game’s map will cover.
In fact, the map is so massive, that the game includes a rideable spectral horse that will allow you to cover ground more quickly, in addition to the standard fast travel system. But, the map isn’t just massive. It also has extreme verticality that has been shown in gameplay previews, where the player character is seen reaching high cliffs thanks to a conveniently placed jump pad of sorts that sends your spectral horse flying into the air, or a nifty double jump that the horse does while in combat with a dragon. There is also an unmounted jumping ability, but the horse’s capabilities are probably there to make up for the lack of some kind of climbing system like what was present in Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Combat in the game will revolve around a familiar array of swords, maces, axes, and other medieval weaponry, but unlike the Dark Souls games, you will not be limited to what you can use as a result of class selection. Instead, you will find interchangeable weapon skills that you can freely use to customize your character however you like. Also, in addition to combat spells, Elden Ring will also include summonable spirits that you will find on your journey. These spirits will each have a different ability, and they will be summonable in combat to give you an edge over boss characters or mobs of enemies.
The long wait for the next FromSoftware game is finally coming to an end, and barring any mishaps, it looks like this will be a generation-defining experience that will keep players busy for the weeks and months to come. So get ready to mount your spectral horse and face down some demigods when Elden Ring is released in a few weeks on February 25th, 2022.
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