Elden Ring, the upcoming open-world fantasy RPG from Dark Souls and Bloodborne developer From Software, recently received a network test for selected gamers. During our playtime with the game, we found ourselves getting lost and fully immersed in The Lands Between. However, we also took note of some big changes and new features that Elden Ring introduces to the Souls formula.
While several of these features and changes have been documented by the developers, we thought it would be a good idea to compile everything you need to know about what’s new and different in Elden Ring when compared to Dark Souls, Bloodborne or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Dedicated Jump Button
First and perhaps most importantly for some players, Elden Ring now has a dedicated jump button! While it was first properly introduced in Sekiro, all previous games had needlessly complicated jumping mechanics, to say the least. Now that jumping is actually an easy thing to accomplish in a From Software game, it opens up plenty of interesting combat options. Players now have jumping attacks that make combat feel more versatile. Likewise, you can now traverse the environment easier with a jump button. It’s a small addition that makes a very big difference.
Open-world games and crafting seem to go hand-in-hand these days, and From Software have integrated it into Elden Ring. While out in The Lands Between, you’ll be able to pick up various components such as plants, flowers, twigs and more that can all be combined to create potions, arrows and other useful items. This encourages open-world exploration beyond just riding from one battle to the next. Best of all, you can pick up all these elements while simply running (or riding) around the world.
Revamped “Weapon Arts”
Weapon Arts is a cool feature first introduced in Dark Souls III that gave players extra skills and abilities tied to specific weapons. These usually involved magic-infused weapons or shields that unleashed devastating attacks or buffs. In Elden Ring, Weapon Arts (or Ashes of War) has been significantly expanded on. Instead of being limited to specific weapons like Dark Souls III, Elden Ring will allow players to infuse any of their weapons with unique Weapon Arts. Picked up a regular, uninteresting broadsword? Now you can spice it up with lightning or fire, for example.
Traversing The Lands Between is quite an undertaking on foot, but From Software have introduced a trusty steed named Torrent that will allow you to travel on horseback. Your steed can also easily glide up tall mountain cliffs thanks to knock-up streams. Most importantly, horseback combat is actually a viable thing. If you encounter another horse-riding enemy in the world, you can subtly initiate a jousting match. If you’re having trouble with a large mob of enemies, riding around on your steed will let you swipe at enemies and pick them off to thin the numbers.
Stealth in Dark Souls and Bloodborne never really got a chance to shine, which is why From Software made it a focus in Sekiro. In Elden Ring, stealth has been improved and made a viable option for engaging enemy encampments. There’s now a dedicated crouch button too, which will let you sneak around unsuspecting guards and foes more easily. It’s not as intuitive as something like Assassin’s Creed, but it is a welcomed option for engaging groups of enemies if you’re feeling outnumbered and just need to activate your inner Solid Snake.
Magic is Quite Powerful
Magic has been in most From Software games, but in Elden Ring, it’s getting a lot of attention. Magic this time feels incredibly powerful depending on your class and abilities. Furthermore, it deals a devastating amount of damage to bosses and enemies that melee weapons don’t. Thanks to the flexibility of builds in Elden Ring, you’ll be able to balance out some magical skills with melee if you want, or go for a full mage/sorcerer build and unleash strong elemental attacks. If you’re looking to make your time with Elden Ring a little easier, magic might be the way to go.
Making things a little breezier in Elden Ring is summons. In the past, summoning NPCs has helped in distracting bosses or enemies while you rush in for the attack. However, they were only limited to specific areas. While this is still true for Elden Ring, you can now carry your summons around (consisting of packs of wolves, knights, mobs of helpers and more). Summons now feel like an integral part of combat, and help alleviate some of the stresses that come with being overwhelmed in a particularly tough boss encounter.
From Software pioneered an entirely new sub-genre with Dark Souls, and this was thanks to stamina management being a key feature of gameplay. Elden Ring finds an interesting way to balance stamina usage with breaking posture, something that Sekiro greatly expanded upon and also made an important part of its gameplay. Stamina seems to regenerate much faster in Elden Ring. Instead of encounters becoming a battle of stamina nutrition, you can now simply attempt to break an enemy’s posture and go in for a deadly visceral attack. On the flip side, you also have an invisible posture bar that can be broken too, so watch out.
Elden Ring has been compared to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the open-world’s dungeons might be the biggest reason why. While exploring The Lands Between, you can occasionally stumble upon dungeons cleverly hidden throughout the world. These typical house boss fights at the end of them, and offer tons of rewards such as new weapons, armour, items or skills. They’re worth going out of your way to find if you want great treasures, and in an open-world RPG, that’s the name of the game.
Organic Events and Boss Fights
From Software’s approach to open-world design in Elden Ring is rather unique in that several of its “world events” are actually a lot more organic than you think. For example, in one early section of the game, you can stumble upon a mob of enemies in a swamp that gets obliterated by a dragon that suddenly swoops in. Enemies also have a path that they follow while they wander The Lands Between. This means you’ll never find an enemy in the same spot upon respawning, as most of them freely roam the open-world. Boss encounters work much in the same way. Most are tied to specific areas, but there are some that also freely roam around (the Tree Sentinel, for example, travels around on horseback lurking the opening area).
Elden Ring releases on 22 February 2022 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.