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Everything you need to know about Elden Ring

"OoHHh Elden Ring!"

Bandai Namco
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The most anticipated game of 2021 is real. Elden Ring will be available very soon, and so many of the most exciting leaks and rumors turned out to be pretty accurate.

Created by Dark Souls visionary Hidetaka Miyazaki, Elden Ring is a sprawling action game developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco. Anyone who’s loved games like Bloodborne or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will find a lot to love here — especially because the rich lore was co-developed by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. The latest information dump happened during E3 2021, so now we know a whole lot more about the upcoming title.

Here's everything we do know about Elden Ring.

But first: What are your favorite games and platforms of 2021, and what future releases are you most excited about? Take our poll!

When is the Elden Ring release date?

Games industry personality Geoff Keighley had the great pleasure of revealing the official Elden Ring gameplay trailer and release date during the June 2021 Summer Game Fest launch. It will be released on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC on January 21, 2022.

Is there an official Elden Ring trailer?

Yes! In addition to the June 2019 reveal trailer, Bandai Namco also released a gameplay trailer during the Summer Game Fest 2021 launch livestream.

That official trailer reveals a great deal of the game’s world without clarifying the sharper story elements just yet.

In it, the player character awakens to see a hooded woman with a horse saying, “The Tarnished will soon return, guided by grace once lost.” We see a bit of the crumbling world full of ruins, monsters, and mutated kings. “The Golden Order is broken to its core,” the woman also says. To be clear, this world is in ruins and full of terrifying enemies reminiscent of previous FromSoftware games.

The titular Elden Ring, whatever it is, was seemingly broken. And that is what broke the world in such a chaotic way (we think). The original reveal trailer from June 201 opens on a shirtless humanoid hammering something on a massive rock. Based on some other context clues, this may be the destruction of the ring.

There’s also an elderly, long-haired human wearing a crown, holding up what looks like a giant's arm (the king has 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. In the gameplay trailer, that same king seems like the Big Bad who has some horrifying mutations and many arms on his body.

There’s also an armored, red-haired female warrior with a metal right arm. She appears in combat during a snippet of gameplay, but it’s unclear if she’s a character you play as at some point, or if she’s some kind of companion. The two trailers generate more questions than answers, which is an exciting way to start things off.

What is Elden Ring gameplay like?

Mounted exploration and combat are a major part of the Elden Ring experience.Bandai Namco

Overall, combat and gameplay in Elden Ring look and feel remarkably similar to other FromSoftware games like Dark Souls — which is a very good thing. Enemies are varied with demented designs, and winning every battle requires twitchy reflexes to dodge and counter attacks.

The game world is much larger than your typical FromSoftware game, and it does indeed have open-world elements and travel on horseback. The “vast and seamless landscape” has natural weather and time-of-day progression, making it more immersive, an official blog post explains. It also offers online play with friends.

“Players will embark on a journey across a meticulously handcrafted world dripping in blood and deception brought upon by a variety of characters with their own unique motivations for helping or hindering the player’s progress, adversaries with profound backgrounds, and fearsome creatures,” the post reads. “Throughout their adventures, players will choose the fate of this cursed land by unraveling its secrets and myths.”

This excellent IGN breakdown drops a ton of details about the game.

It sounds like Elden Ring will lean into player choice as a way to shape the world, but how that’ll shake out specifically remains to be seen. That same post also promises that “role-playing and customization options allow players to define their own unique playstyle.” Some kind of class system will be present similar to Dark Souls, it would seem. Players can lean into stealth or take a more direct approach. By all accounts, it seems like Elden Ring will offer a lot of variety to the player.

In a June 2019 interview with Xbox Wire, Miyazaki hinted at this variety.

"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. When comparing it to Sekiro, he said Elden Ring “puts more focus on RPG elements.”

A June 2021 breakdown of the E3 2021 gameplay trailer confirms that the game will have more than 100 weapon skills that can mostly be obtained through exploration. Similarly, the player can find Spirits they can summon to aid them in battle.

What is the Elden Ring story?

Is this creepy king the final boss?Bandai Namco

The Elden Ring trailers have been cryptic at best, but there are plenty of story details to be gleaned from both. Better yet, the official Elden Ring website offers a description of the story:

The Golden Order has been broken.
Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between.
In the Lands Between ruled by Queen Marika the Eternal, the Elden Ring, the source of the Erdtree, has been shattered.
Marika's offspring, demigods all, claimed the shards of the Elden Ring known as the Great Runes, and the mad taint of their newfound strength triggered a war: The Shattering. A war that meant abandonment by the Greater Will.
And now the guidance of grace will be brought to the Tarnished who were spurned by the grace of gold and exiled from the Lands Between. Ye dead who yet live, your grace long lost, follow the path to the Lands Between beyond the foggy sea to stand before the Elden Ring.
And become the Elden Lord.

Between that and a breakdown from IGN with creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, we now know a lot about the game’s story. Like the Ashen One of Dark Souls III, you play as an undead Tarnished in Elden Ring.

The Erdtree is almost definitely the massive, glowing tree seen in the gameplay trailer. The Elden Ring is evidently the source of the tree’s magical power, and it’s been shattered. All of this takes place in the “Lands Between.” Those blessed by the Ring take on a golden aura, but if they lose their grace, they’re exiled from the Lands Between and labeled as Tarnished. Demigods — like the bosses in the trailer — each took a piece of the ring called a Great Rune. That drove them mad and seemingly mutated them all into monstrous versions of themselves. And it’s around this time that the Tarnished are called back.

The “abandonment by the Greater Will” is clearly this fall from grace, because it sounds like some version of God graced the Lands Between but abandoned the people because of the war that ensued. Your Tarnished character returns to the Lands Between and sets out to defeat the demigods, claim the Great Runes, and reforge the Elden Ring.

It’s basically the moral opposite of The Lord of the Rings.

There are six distinct realms, each ruled by a demigod that’s been “twisted and warped” by the Elden Ring’s power and fell to madness in unique ways. A hub area links all six main areas, and players can more or less explore in whatever order they want. Each realm has a mainline dungeon area.

“We've crafted a rich world with a staggering sense of scale, based off of legends written for the game by George R.R. Martin,” director Hidetaka Miyazaki wrote in a blog post. “Elden Ring is a world full of mystery and peril, ready to be explored and discovered; a drama in which various characters flaunt their own mystique and ulterior motives.”

Is there an Elden Ring leaked trailer?

Warning: Potential spoilers for Elden Ring follow.

Video Games Chronicle first reported in early March 2021 of a leaked Elden Ring trailer making the rounds online. Labeled as "Bandai Namco Confidential," the trailer was likely created as a way to showcase the game within the company as opposed to a public trailer.

“I can only imagine what drives you to seek the Elden Ring,” a narrator says in the trailer. “I suppose you can’t be talked into turning back. Very well then!” As described by VGC, the trailer includes "a montage of familiar Souls-style melee combat, boss battles against a fire-breathing dragon and a large, sword-wielding foe, and a glimpse at horseback combat in a large, open environment." As it turns out, this leak was very real.

Some of the scenes were also represented in the final gameplay trailer, and even though the two trailers are very different, it’s clear that it’s the same exact game world.

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