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PS Blog: The biggest innovations Elden Ring brings to a winning formula

DeepEnigma

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An expansive world, fast-travel, mounted traversal, and jumping innovate on satisfying From Software gameplay.

The developers at From Software are experts at crafting adventures packed with the unexpected. Sometimes these surprises take the form of a skeleton striking from the shadows, a hidden trap door, or a terrifying boss that changes gears mid-battle. Elden Ring contains those types of twists, of course, but the most astonishing revelation with this title is how much it shakes up the winning “Souls” formula while still delivering something satisfyingly familiar.

Bandai Namco invited me to enter the Lands Between to get a taste of the new open-world action-RPG. As a fan of the developer’s iconic Souls titles, I was excited to dive in and identify what new gameplay elements most shake up the experience. Read on for a top-level rundown of some big changes Elden Ring introduces to the From Software action-RPG catalogue.


Familiar Souls-style gameplay elements

Before jumping into the new, here are some of the fundamental Souls gameplay elements you can look forward to in Elden Ring:

  • Tough Bosses – From the hammer-flinging Grave Warden to the energy blades flung by Margit the Fell Omen, the boss battles on offer pack a level of challenge Souls fans have come to savor. Entrancing attack animations dovetail into devastating attacks, guiding you to study their movement and react to survive these fights.
  • Common enemies hit hard – Greed and laziness will be punished. Don’t underestimate common ghouls or random horse-mounted foes in the field. They will end you if you drop your guard.

  • Backstabs and parries – Block, roll, parry, and backstab your way through combat. Hard-earned muscle memory from past From Software games will come in handy.
  • Combat and Targeting – The bread and butter of dealing light and heavy attacks feels similar, yet with a subtle smoothness layered onto the overall gameplay. Locking on to enemies and cycling between targets mid-combat feels simple and intuitive.
  • Leveling Up – Collect Runes (a.k.a experience points) by defeating enemies and use them to level up at “Sites of Grace” discovered in the world (similar to bonfires in Souls titles). You’ll drop Runes when defeated, so be sure to make recollecting dropped caches a priority.

Significant innovations to Souls-style gameplay


  • Guidance of Grace – Shimmering trails of light extend from Sites of Grace, offering vague suggestions to direct your adventure towards areas of intrigue.

  • Open World – The Lands Between is a large open world, populated with powerful enemies, hidden treasures, side dungeons, and other points of interest to discover. The expansive terrain kept me constantly wondering what may be over the horizon. Unlimited stamina outside combat kept me hurtling towards my next destination.

  • Map – This key tool makes navigating the more open world smooth while preserving the key element of discovery. Collect map fragments to fill in terrain detail on your map, and fast-travel to Sites of Grace from almost anywhere except dungeon interiors. You can also drop a beacon on the map to aid navigation.

  • An Inviting Journey – Elden Ring contains From Software’s trademark gothic castles, ominous dungeons, and foreboding enemies. However, traversing the vivid, green cliff sides of the Lands Between injects a wondrous sense of adventure into the overall experience. For me, this translated to a feeling of excitement while exploring the open world – a satisfying contrast to the atmospheric tension and blind corners of dark dungeons.
  • Ambient Music – The world of Elden Ring has familiar placid solitude that Souls fans have come to appreciate. However, where some From Software titles essentially reserved background music for boss battles, the Lands Between hum with more subtle ambient music. The atmospheric tracks help make the open world feel even more alive.

  • Jump(!) – Unlike the rooted nature of past Souls games, a new leap allows you to surmount obstacles in the field. What’s more, you can perform a potent jump attack at any point in battle.

  • Fall Damage Reduction – What goes up must come down. Unlike the punishing plummets of previous From Software adventures, players can drop off a lofty cliff and receive little-to-no fall damage. This tweak invites players to adventure the exciting world more boldly. But remember to look before you leap, lest you stumble into a cast of giant crabs or other menacing foes.
  • Day / Night Cycle – The sun rises and sets, creating different moods as you explore the Lands Between. Seeing the setting sun cast pink upon the still waters of a swamp is a captivating sight. Transient weather events such as a rainstorm also pop up to change the vibe.
Much more at the link (media/gif limited):

 

Perfo

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I wouldn't call open world an innovation, given how oversaturated the AAA market is with it. If anything, staying away from the tired open world structure would have kept their unique identity intact.
Well DS is at its core a game where exploration plays a role probably bigger than its fights. An open world done well can make exploration way more rewarding than a linear experience so I'm quite excited to see where this leads. From the videos it seems a very relaxing experience a la Breath of the Wild with the core traditional gameplay kept intact for the dungeons scattered around the map. Only now you have to "discover" the path/s leading there.

Overall it seems to me that the direction they went for is adding to the experience and not removing anything from it.
 
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Melchiah

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Well DS is at its core a game where exploration plays a role probably bigger than its fights. An open world done well can make exploration way more rewarding than a linear experience so I'm quite excited to see where this leads. From the videos it seems a very relaxing experience a la Breath of the Wild with the core traditional gameplay kept intact for the dungeons scattered around the map. Only now you have to "discover" the path/s leading there.

Overall it seems to me that the direction they went for is adding to the experience and not removing anything from it.
Well, at least they went for unlimited stamina outside of combat, unlike BOTW. That's a plus. It's pretty funny though, that the blog post paints open world, fast travel and being able to jump as something innovative. :D

As for how rewarding exploration feels, to this date no open world game has felt as rewarding as something like Bloodborne. In general, Metroidvanias offer much more rewarding exploring than open world games. I just hope there'll be those moments of awe, when you discover routes like the way back to the clinic in BB.

I'm also doubting, that the enemy encounters in the open areas will feel as tense, since you can avoid them more easily.
 

BlackM1st

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Some of those bullet points sounds cringe as F.

"Savor difficult boss fights"

"Greed and laziness will be punished"

That's just sad to read. Some nerds pretending to be a hardcore mofos and Souls to be game to separate real men from children. Ridiculous.
 

Flutta

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Some of those bullet points sounds cringe as F.

"Savor difficult boss fights"

"Greed and laziness will be punished"

That's just sad to read. Some nerds pretending to be a hardcore mofos and Souls to be game to separate real men from children. Ridiculous.
part brother GIF
 

cormack12

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I love the way PSBlog have started using gifs consistently in these updates. Can't wait to play on Friday
 
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Filben

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Movement looks as "floaty" as always. Visuals could have been way better... I mean, torches don't cast shadows on the character and NPCs and objects? Sorry, I've seen this in games 15 years ago.

Otherwise it looks like a good Souls successor. From the looks of it, it's also open world where you can't traverse in a straight line and reach everything with ease like in 90% of other open world games. I love open world games when you feel like passing real, dense locations and that give you a feeling of scale when you can't reach the other side of the map in ten minutes by just pushing the stick forward. This is something all those big names like RDR, TW3, etc. suffer from – traversing the world is super easy.

Hope Elden Ring will be different in that regard.
 

GymWolf

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Some of those bullet points sounds cringe as F.

"Savor difficult boss fights"

"Greed and laziness will be punished"

That's just sad to read. Some nerds pretending to be a hardcore mofos and Souls to be game to separate real men from children. Ridiculous.
Ps blog videos/articles sometimes are a bit cringe yeah.
 
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edbrat

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I'm imposing a self-embargo on this now, I'm pre-ordering and I know it's going to be amazing and that I'll love it no need for anymore marcomms.
 
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RyRy93

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I want to read and watch everything but I can't, FROM are the last developer I can rely on to make a game I'll struggle putting down.

The idea of roaming the world shown in the GIFs with awesome dungeons and bosses thoughtfully scattered across the landscape is so hype inducing.
 
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Azurro

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Still incredibly skeptical of the open world aspect but well, it's a new soulsborne game, so hopefully it's not as boring as every single other open world game.
 
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FrankWza

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Still incredibly skeptical of the open world aspect but well, it's a new soulsborne game, so hopefully it's not as boring as every single other open world game.
It has souls combat and then some. That’s why you’re able to fight on horseback. If you had to dismount each time it would be annoying. That attempt to keep you engaged takes out my main issue with most open world games. But being From I’m sure they will take the ability away to fuck you when you least want to. Or they’ll pull a never ending story.
 

Azurro

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It has souls combat and then some. That’s why you’re able to fight on horseback. If you had to dismount each time it would be annoying. That attempt to keep you engaged takes out my main issue with most open world games. But being From I’m sure they will take the ability away to fuck you when you least want to. Or they’ll pull a never ending story.

It's just the fact that with every single open world there is this enormous tedium of running/walking/driving/riding to where the interesting content is, and there is so much empty nothingness just to justify some bulletpoint at the back of the box. I have seen a lot of positive coverage, but at the same time I've also seen people complain about the open world being empty, so let's see.

Why do people like that open world BS so much? It's just meaningless, never ending fluff that does nothing except look nice for a few pictures.
 
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FrankWza

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It's just the fact that with every single open world there is this enormous tedium of running/walking/driving/riding to where the interesting content is, and there is so much empty nothingness just to justify some bulletpoint at the back of the box. I have seen a lot of positive coverage, but at the same time I've also seen people complain about the open world being empty, so let's see.

Why do people like that open world BS so much? It's just meaningless, never ending fluff that does nothing except look nice for a few pictures.
I guess it’s a perception that bigger offers more value? Holding up or holding x for 10 minutes is no more valuable than watching a cutscene. I’d rather sit and watch
 
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Melchiah

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I think they mean "innovations" in a sense that those mechanics haven't been in FS titles before?
Imagine expecting people here to read.

I read the whole article. The point is, that obviously went past Kidd, it implies it's an improvement, a step for the better, when it's exactly the opposite. It's not like this is the first time, here or elsewhere, when you see the term innovation used as a praise.

It's more than likely, that it follows the same old formula as all the other open world games, than it actually manages to overcome the shortcomings, as said below.

It's just the fact that with every single open world there is this enormous tedium of running/walking/driving/riding to where the interesting content is, and there is so much empty nothingness just to justify some bulletpoint at the back of the box. I have seen a lot of positive coverage, but at the same time I've also seen people complain about the open world being empty, so let's see.

Why do people like that open world BS so much? It's just meaningless, never ending fluff that does nothing except look nice for a few pictures.

I wouldn't call any of that "significant innovations to Souls-style gameplay", like the blog post claims late on in regard to open world, map, fast travel, and jump.