There’s nothing quite like a FromSoftware game to whip an internet fanbase into a frothing frenzy. Even when literally nothing was known about Elden Ring, outside of a rumoured collaboration with George R. R. Martin, it was enough to get people overly excited. The two year wait from Elden Ring’s E3 2019 announcement until its E3 2021 return an almost tantric experience for thirsty fans.
We’re almost there, though. That wait has almost come to an end and Elden Ring will release on 25th February 2022 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One and PC. It was meant to be January, but you know what they say about good things.
So what is Elden Ring and why is it so highly anticipated that it clinches the #2 spot on our 2022 Most Wanted list? Set in the Lands Between that basks in the etherial glow of the Erdtree. This was a peaceful land once, but the destruction of the titular Elden Ring allowed it to be corrupted and tainted by Queen Marika the Eternal. You return to this real as a Tarnished, looking to find the Great Runes, restore the Elden Rind and become the Elden Lord.
While peeling back the layers of lore that are shrouded within FromSoftware’s games is part of the appeal, the main draw is the general atmosphere and the action RPG combat. Elden Ring still a Souls-like with rock solid combat that rewards timing, reflexes and patience as you battle through the world and face off against often towering enemies, but you’ll also be able to summon spirits that you’ve collected from the world or defeated in battle to come and fight alongside you – that’s in addition, of course, to the ability for other players to join you and play cooperatively, when they aren’t invading your world.
This is the most open world that FromSoftware has constructed for the genre that they helped to popularise. It’s so open that you get a spirit horse to ride around on, and there’s a world map that you can construct from map fragments, so that you don’t have to memorise the layout of the environment ahead of you. Exploring the world is key to your ability to upgrade, improve and customise your character build, searching for hidden treasures by delving into catacombs, caves, mines and dungeons. Oh, and you won’t necessarily have to face or flee from enemies you encounter in the open, with a new option to try and stealthily sneak past them or, perhaps, get the drop on them.
Further reading: Elden Ring Preview – Loving every second of the Closed Network Test
Of course, there are big centrepieces to the world as well, and one that was revealed for the Closed Network Test was Stormveil Castle, a complex multi-layered dungeon within the Limb Grave region. It’s here that Godrick the Golden, the very handsy ruler of Stormveil presides as one of the tainted demigods that you will have to defeat.
From what we’ve seen so far, Elden Ring is absolutely living up to so many of the expectations that have been heaped upon it. As Jason wrote in out preview last November, “Elden Ring feels like the culmination of every FromSoftware game so far. It takes parts from every entry in the Soulsborne games and fuses them together, then plops it all in a big beautiful world and just lets you figure it out from there. I can’t wait for February, and I’m sure that if you’ve read all of this, neither can you.”
And yet, wait we must…