Elden Ring is the evolution of Dark Souls according to series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, who also serves as the director behind the upcoming collaboration with George R. R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame. The project was first leaked well ahead of E3 2019, but still managed to become one of the most talked about titles at the show, thanks to a cryptic but intriguing trailer and the promise of two darkly-minded creative geniuses letting loose on a new IP.
What we learned about Elden Ring since it made waves at the Xbox Briefing during E3 2019 can best be summed up as what many fans would have expected: it's an action title that will lean into what FromSoftware is best known for, and will feature a brand new world created by George R. R. Martin. While we haven't gotten too many details about Martin's world-building, if it's anything like his writing in A Song of Ice and Fire, fans can expect a rich, dark, political world that pulls no punches and will likely murder several of the game's most likeable characters before players are halfway through the story.
Luckily, new details about Elden Ring as the evolution of Dark Souls emerged today during a Miyazaki interview with IGN. During the interview, Miyazaki established that the game would be a third-person action RPG title with a fantasy setting, with gameplay that is "not so far" from Dark Souls. According to Miyazaki, Elden Ring will go further than recent titles Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in distancing the game from its Souls inspiration, however. Rather than just elaborations on a pre-existing formula with a few twits, Miyazaki believes the game will grow on a much larger scale this time:
"With a larger world, new systems and action mechanics inevitably become necessary. In that sense, I think that Elden Ring is a more natural evolution of Dark Souls."
Elden Ring represents FromSoftware's first attempt to bring the Souls-like action the studio has refined to near-perfection to an open-world setting. According to Miyazaki, the key difference will be in design, since many of the previous games had environments that were connected on what could be argued as an open-world setting already:
"While the narrow and complex dungeons of our previous games were indeed interconnected, Elden Ring's environments will be much more open and vast. The more extensive world will form the base of Elden Ring's gameplay, and its mechanics are designed with that type of environment in mind."
What Miyazaki is describing appears to be a fundamental evolution of Dark Souls, then, rather than a reiteration on an already great system. Open-world environments do offer a lot more design space to work with, and could see the traditional combat roll, dodge, and parry mechanics involved in FromSoftware games become much broader and involve more stylistic and versatile movements. If nothing else, Elden Ring will bring a number of new features like horse-mounted combat and diverse situations using the environment, which should make for a welcome addition to a studio that already builds deep, strategic games that reward creativity.