Those taking bets on whether George R. R. Martin would finish the The Winds of Winter novel or the game Elden Ring first can finally pay out. And once again, if you bet on the very long-awaited sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga, you’re disappointed and out some money. Thursday as part of Summer Games Fest, Bandai Namco and FromSoftware unveiled their first gameplay trailer for Elden Ring which Martin co-created with FromSoftware’s CEO and Dark Souls mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki. And it’s just as epic as you might hope.
This was one of the games we were most hoping we’d see as part of E3 2021, but hey, we’ll take it a day early. And though we definitely have no idea what’s exactly going on, it looks like the perfect synthesis between the two creators we hoped for. This represents Miyazaki and From’s return to a high-fantasy setting following its most recent game, Sekiro, which took place in a stylized feudal Japan. If you ask us, this looks like vintage Dark Souls stuff: tons of gorgeous and ominous areas; medieval weaponry and armor; a mix of possible fighting styles; and enormous, eldritch bosses with crazy legs and beards and stuff.
On paper, a melding of Miyazaki and Martin’s storytelling seemed too good to be true, and now that we’re finally seeing the first look, we’re even more excited. Martin famously creates dense and intricate fantasy realms and histories and lore, which is exactly the kind of thing players find in games from From Software, with its lengthy item descriptions and environmental storytelling. We will definitely have to pour over this trailer for the next seven months but when it looks this good, why wouldn’t we?
Luckily as of early November, we have 15 minutes of gameplay to keep us entertained. Where the trailer hinted that the title would bear more of a connection to other From games besides director, this gameplay show it’s basically just exactly a From Software game. Specifically Dark Souls 3, except with a horse to get you around, and a jumping/vertical path mechanic. Even the jumping existed in a From game before; its most recent title Sekiro introduced aerial traversal.
But anyway, complaining that a Miyazaki game looks too much like a Miyazaki game is a bit silly. There appears to be enough new elements to make Elden Ring stand out. But we definitely did a doubletake when the demo showed the player character doing a visceral attack on a boss.
Elden Ring has a scheduled release date of January 21, 2022.
Originally published June 10, 2021.