In case you thought Elden Ring was just an E3 2019 fever dream, a fifteen minute gameplay showcase was the latest reminder that it is in fact, real. This dark fantasy action role-playing game from Dark Souols developer From Software is coming February 25, 2022 and the footage from Bandai Namco marks the first new look at the game since June’s Summer Game Fest.
The showcase introduces us to “The Lands Between,” the setting of Elden Ring and its vast open world. It also introduces us to “site of grace,” a place of rest that is similar to the campfires from From Software’s Souls games. These landmarks will also be where you can follow rays of guiding light that direct players to various points of interest.
We also saw a dragon murder some NPCs while the Tarnished – the player character – narrowly avert their own demise. Players can use different skills when encountering foes, whether it’s using a magical bow and arrow to unleash seeker projectiles or use stance-breaking attacks to sever defenses. Spirits can be summoned to assist as well, and different kinds of spirits present unique opportunities.
Strange characters are expected in Elden Ring, not just because they’re par for the course with From Software but because we’ve already seen some before! The gameplay showcase gives us a closer look at one of those crazy pot guys from previous footage. One called Alexander asks you for help, and a swift smack in his uh, butt, helps him get unstuck from the earth.
To get around the sprawling world of Elden Ring, you’ll frequently be on your mount, and the way you can magically summon and banish it is very cool. The lands are also littered with “spirit springs” that let you and your mount launch high into the air, granting you a traversal opportunity with incredible verticality.
Online multiplayer will also be an option in Elden Ring, allowing players to team up for co-operative play, engage in direct PvP or invasion. Players can work together to stalk larger opponents and bosses. It wasn’t specified whether or not you can have more than one player join you in your bleak odyssey, but it would be very cool if we could take on “The Lands Between” in groups, not just pairs.
In any case, everything we’ve seen in the video points to the overall emphasis on thoughtful exploration in Elden Ring. The game isn’t so much about surviving a punishing experience or encountering horrifying monsters – though it appears those From Software trademarks remain part of the game’s DNA – but about deliberate engagement with the world.
Different area types have been woven into everything we’ve seen so far, and this preview promises open fields, castles, dungeons, forests, oh my. Mastering exploration is crucial to prying out their secrets and treasures, overcoming monsters and traps and discovering clever routes and secret rooms, such as when we’re introduced to Stormveil Castle, a derelict estate in the Limgrave region.
Which isn’t to say boss battles are an afterthought in this game. We get to meet Godrick the Golden, the demigod and ruler of Stormveil and by meet, I mean watch The Tarnished go toe-to-toe with his giant axe and his many hands. This is the big bad from the previous June footage, who dismisses The Tarnished as “playing as a lord,” before commanding them to kneel. This fight does not go well.
Looks pretty sweet so far. I won’t lie — I haven’t really spent a lot of time with From Software’s previous games, but Elden Ring looks absolutely intriguing based on this gameplay showcase. I’m going to miss the version of Elden Ring that exists in fan’s imaginations that will instantly evaporate once the real game is out, but I can’t wait to see what we all make of it.
EDIT: A previous version of this article stated that the gameplay preview was the first time the world of Elden Ring was referred to as The Lands Between. This was in error.