The most anticipated video game of the year at The Game Awards 2020, Elden Ring, has driven a lot of hype in the many months since its reveal despite the fact that we still know very little about it.
In development at FromSoftware and directed by visionary Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, Elden Ring is a new dark fantasy that should resemble "Soulsborne" games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Except the lore and story have been developed in collaboration with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin (who had little to do with all the problems with the HBO show's final season, by the way). By all accounts, Elden Ring seems like it could be an open-world Dark Souls game — which sounds like a dream come true.
The game was originally announced during the June 2019 Xbox E3 showcase. Despite a few sparse comments from developers — and more recently from Xbox boss Phil Spencer — we still don't know much. Spencer said in a November 2020 interview with GameSpot that he had been seeing and playing the game "quite a bit." Does that mean it's very far along in development and primed for launch on the Xbox Series X now that the next-gen console is out?
Here's everything we do know about Elden Ring.
When is the Elden Ring release date?
FromSoftware and Bandai Namco have still not announced an official release date for Elden Ring yet, but the many leaks and rumors seem to indicate that the game will be released sometime in 2021.
Miyazaki confirmed in a 2019 Xbox Wire interview that Elden Ring has been in development since at least 2017, overlapping with Sekiro for a long stretch. Chinese Soulsborne content creator Longqi Bangbangtang claimed in a December 2020 video (shared on the Elden Ring subreddit) that development was completed in the first half of 2020.
Francesco Fossetti, editor of the Italian publication Everyeye, reported that the game was "doing fine" (via Alt Char) during a June 2020 live stream. Then in a December 2020 stream, he reported that the game was in the "polishing" phase. (This is one of the latest stages in game development.) Bangbangtang may have just been rehashing Fossetti's earlier claims, or they have independent sources corroborating the same information.
Journalist Jeff Grub also speculated in a December 2020 video that the next major Elden Ring reveal could be in early 2021. By all accounts, the game could be on track for a late spring 2021 release date at the very earliest.
It's worth noting in this that every major FromSoftware game since Dark Souls II has been released in the month of March, so that may be the window that the company is hoping for with Elden Ring. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, for instance, was unveiled at E3 2018 in June and then released nine months later in March 2019. Elden Ring isn't following a similar promotion and release cycle, and that may or may not be due to potential production delays related to the pandemic.
An interesting wrinkle in all this has to do with publisher Bandai Namco facing a series of trademark issues with Elden Ring, as noticed in a June 2020 Respawn First report.
As broken down in a Reddit post, Bandai Namco filed an extension to trademark the game just before a vital deadline. That basically gives the company at least six more months before an announcement has to be made. The game could be released before that six-month window expires in May, or it could be release even later than that.
Is there a trailer for Elden Ring?
Elden Ring was officially revealed on June 9, 2019 during Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference with an initial teaser trailer that looks exciting but also very confusing. (Watch it above.)
It opens with a shirtless humanoid (maybe a god?) hammering something on a massive rock in a dark cave-looking area. We later get a closer look at the figure, who wields a stubby hammer and has cracks in his back, as if he were made out of stone.
There’s also an elderly, long-haired human wearing a crown, holding up what looks like a giant's arm (the king his left hand shoved inside the arm ... gross!). Five other large arms reach out to grab him, which jives with all the body horror we see in games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne.
“I doubt you could even imagine it!” a voice says. “That which commanded the stars, giving life its fullest brilliance: The Elden Ring. Oh Elden Ring … shattered, by someone or something. Don’t tell me you don’t see it. Look up at the sky; It burns!” (It sort of becomes clear that the first being with the hammer shatters the Elden Ring.)
We also see an armored, red-haired female warrior who attaches a metal right arm to her torso. Another, seemingly different warrior wearing armor attacks a massive enemy we don’t get a good look at. Later, there’s a large red-haired ogre that burns on a battlefield — and then a white-haired woman with a staff that collapses.
None of this makes much sense at all, but it sure looks cool. The Elden Ring seemingly had magical powers of creation, and its destruction must have plunged the world into chaos. These various types of warriors may hint at the kind of customization we can expect from the game, or they may be major NPCs the player will encounter or even battle.
Rumor has it that a new trailer might be released sometime in early 2021. Sometime in February would make the most sense, but that remains to be seen.
What does Elden Ring concept art tell us?
On January 14, 2021 artist Gabriel Björk Stiernström posted to Artstation pieces of concept art that he created for the original Elden Ring reveal trailer. The post has since been removed from Artstation and the artist's personal website. While none of the images are particularly revelatory, they do offer slightly different perspectives on the people and places featured in the trailer.
Most of the action focuses on a kind of pedestal where the titular Elden Ring seemingly resides. In the above GIF, a character looms over it as magical-seeming dust particles drift upward. They're hunching quite a bit, so this person seems different from some of the others featured in the trailer.
The moment the ring is seemingly destroyed is captured in the below GIF. It explodes with a flash of bright light and the energy then shoots right up into the air.
Is Elden Ring a next-gen game for PS5 and Xbox Series X?
With no release date confirmed and a lot of game development time in the rearview, Elden Ring is trapped in the no man's land between console generations. Will it arrive exclusively on next-gen consoles? Will it be cross-generation and land on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5? Thus far, we really don't know, but we do know that it'll be cross-platform.
PlayStation and Xbox landing pages for the game make it clear that it'll arrive on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One whenever it does come out, but there's no telling about next-gen versions. In all likelihood, we're looking at a last-gen launch and then next-gen updates at some point later.
What kind of game is Elden Ring?
Elden Ring will feel similar to the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. These gritty games are known for their punishing yet rewarding difficulty set in dark fantasy universes. Some Elden Ring leaks claim it'll take place in a “vast, fully-fledged fantasy world” closer to an open world, which is something we've never seen in a FromSoftware game.
"An adventure awaits the brave and gallant in ELDEN RING..."
In a June 2019 interview with Xbox Wire, Miyazaki spoke about the game in great detail.
"We wanted to create a new dark fantasy action RPG full of things that we weren’t able to do in the Dark Souls series,” he said. “This title will include a wide variety of weapons, magic, and ways to engage enemies, that make it possible to provide users with a style of gameplay and strategy that suits them." That emphasis on role-playing also means the player’s character will be fully customizable, like in Dark Souls or Bloodborne.
Gamesradar reported ahead of E3 2019 that the project, with a working title of Great Rune, “is set in the Norse world, exploring Norse mythology and all its dark legends.” Other rumors reported by Gematsu called it an “open-world title (with horse riding) … with various kingdoms to visit and abilities to obtain from killing the leaders of those kingdoms.”
Many of the symbols and themes, however, seem more closely aligned with Celtic folklore. Some fans drew parallels to a character from Irish mythology called Nuada, a high king who loses their arm in battle and gets a new one through magic.
In terms of gameplay elements, Miyazaki has referred to the game as “open world,” confirming early teases that called it “the largest FromSoftware game to date.” Horseback riding could make the game feel similar to Zelda: Breath of the Wild or even Shadow of the Colossus.
What do some of the Elden Ring leaks claim?
One rumor purported as a leak in July 2020 that originated on 4chan claims Elden Ring will more closely resemble Dark Souls 1 and Dark Souls 3 rather than Sekiro or Bloodborne, and that it will not feature difficulty settings (which was a separate previous rumor).
The leak makes several other practical claims, like an inventory management system similar to that from Demon's Souls and a checkpoint system found in most FromSoftware games. An "air dodge" is also mentioned, which would theoretically make your Elden Ring character the most mobile Soulsborne hero to date. Elden Ring will also supposedly have a day and night system where bosses are more challenging at night but drop better loot.
Take these rumors with a grain of salt, but at the same time, they sound realistic and exciting.
How will Elden Ring compare to Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro?
“Unlike Sekiro, which has a heavy focus on action, Elden Ring puts more focus on RPG elements,” Elden Ring game director Hidetaka Miyazaki told Xbox Wire, adding, “Of course, we are not shying away from the fun of responsive melee-based combat, and these elements will be present as well.”
So how does it stack up to Dark Souls?
“Even when compared to the Dark Souls series, I believe this title will provide even more variety in the ways for players to overcome challenges and tweak their tactics when facing enemies,” Miyazaki said.
Sekiro and Bloodborne offer less variation in terms of combat options, whereas Dark Souls utilizes traditional fantasy classes like Cleric, Knight, or the less-common Pyromancer. For Elden Ring to have even more options will make it unlike the other Soulsborne games in a way that puts even greater emphasis on the role-playing. That, coupled with the open-world exploration, will make for a very different FromSoftware game.
Elden Ring might be released by the end of June 2021, but that’s our unconfirmed guess.