In this Elden Ring New Gameplay Breakdown & Impressions, New Mechanics Revealed article I’ll be discussing my thoughts about Elden Ring after watching a 17 minute gameplay demonstration, having a brief presentation by From Software’s Yasuhiro Kitao, and getting to ask many many questions about Elden Ring’s mechanics. If you’ve been dying to know more about Elden Ring, and have been wondering what the Gameplay is like, read on to find out!
Note to fans: This is a comprehensive article confirming many mechanics, Weapon Types, revealing new features, Spells, Enemies and even location and NPC names. If you’re trying to go in blind, you should probably be avoiding all coverage moving forward!
- Character Customization
- Attributes (Stats)
- Spirit Summons (Buddies)
- Weapon Categories (Twinblades spotted!)
- Armor Sets
- Magic Types (Pyro, Sorc & more)
- Combat Changes
- Jumping Attacks (Bows & Magic too!)
- Stances (posture / guard system)
- Stamina only for Combat
- Stealth (Sleep Arrows!)
- NPCs Met & Roles in Story
- New Waifu (Melina)
- Pot Boy / Pot People
- Spirit Steed (Mount) Mechanics
- Mounted Combat
- Crafting: Gathering Resources
- Stam Recovery via Dried Meat
- Map Revealed
- Map Functions, Setting Markers, Overview
- Labyrinth spotted! Chalice Dungeons?
- Dungeons & Legacy Dungeons
- Return of Illusory Walls
- Jump to Explore Rooftops of Dungeons
- Multiplayer & Online
- Asynch Features & “Group” Passwords
- Co-op possibilities
- PvP ONLY For COOP
- Confirmed Gestures
- Gameplay Impressions
- Upcoming News
Elden Ring New Gameplay Breakdown & Impressions, New Mechanics Revealed
There have been many comparisons between Elden Ring and Dark Souls, and it’s really no secret that the latest From Software game is heavily inspired by Dark Souls, and has even been called its “Spiritual Successor”. And after watching real live Gameplay of Elden Ring, I can see why this is the case.
Many items, such as Armor and Weapons are directly pulled from Dark Souls 3 without much change, and you will recognize certain attack animations like Parry, Riposte and Backstab as being nearly identical, if not completely so. Many of the Spells that you’re used to, like Soul Arrow and Soul Greatsword appear to be in Elden Ring as well, further illustrating this point.
Elden Ring is not like Bloodborne, in that it doesn’t re-imagine the core of Dark Souls combat in a familiar yet distinct fashion, it simply takes the Dark Souls formula and adds things like Jump and a Stances. These, while adding new dimensions to the combat of Elden Ring, are really just more tools at the disposal of the player to dispatch enemies and traverse the environment.
In short, you don’t have to use them to win in combat, you can play the way you always have in Dark Souls and still come out on top.
This was not the case with Bloodborne, as you had to learn to dodge and parry attacks, and when to use the Rally mechanic with no reliance on Shields.
While some may be wondering if Elden Ring is too similar to Dark Souls, a better way to describe this is to consider that Elden Ring is a “Dark Souls Experience” with a lot more player freedom. Freedom to make your character exactly how you want, whether it’s a warrior, mage or a fully functioning archer. Freedom to engage enemies when and where you want, whether it’s from stealth or by jumping down onto them and then unleashing your Spirit Summons. And freedom to go where ever your heart takes you, whether it’s into that Legacy Dungeon that looks like a castle, or to a camp full of enemies guarding a valuable item.
Elden Ring is designed to let you tackle its dramatically larger landscape the way you want, swapping some of Dark Souls’ “progression walls” for more exploration and character customization. If Sekiro was the apex of “git gud” because there were far less tools in your arsenal, then Elden Ring has swung the other direction, providing you with more ways to defeat your foes then ever before.
Elden Ring is all about letting you play the way you want to play.
Elden Ring Character Customization
Players will once again be able to create their character to their liking with a character editor, as well as choose a starting Class from the typically available choices. We don’t know their names yet, as we were not shown them, but we expect these should affect your starting Attributes and equipment much like the Soulsborne games.
The brief interactions and scenes shown depicted several characters that seem to match what players would expect of known classes: a strength-based Greatsword build, an Axe-wielding barbarian, a spear-using knight or paladin, a twinsword Assassin type, a Staff Mage and a light armored Ranger or Explorer using a bow.
Elden Ring Attributes
Fromsoftware has confirmed that attributes will be similar to other Souls games, with a couple unique to Elden Ring, which weren’t divulged. Of note was the mention of Agility specifically, and that Strength would play some part in your Equipment Load, but otherwise players can expect a similar experience. Equip Load works much the way it does in Souls games, slowing your roll or preventing you from rolling entirely if you are not strong enough to use your equipment.
They also confirmed that leveling up will work as it often has. Players will collect “Runes” which are effectively the new “Souls”, that allow players to level up and place points into these Attributes. These are lost upon death, dropping onto the ground into a bloodstain that must be reached by the player to be retrieved. The name of this currency is subject to change, but we speculate that the original code name for the game being “Great Rune” is likely related to the game currency.
Elden Ring Skills
Players are familiar with the “Weapon Arts” of Dark Souls 3, and can now expect to see a deeper version of this system in the form of “Skills“. Skills are special moves that add surprising effects and flair to your combat, from creating projectile-type bladed winds to throw at your opponent, to giving you a 360 degree run and bash with your shield, you can expect skills to be an actual important factor in your build and combat approach.
Where in previous games weapon arts were assigned to one or several weapons, this time around you will also gain Skills by defeating Bosses or finding them as treasures around the game world that can be equipped and used with certain Weapon types. I want to make note here that not one time was it mentioned you can equip “ANY” Skill with “ANY” weapon, and that is seems like words were chosen carefully to avoid making such a statement.
It does seem like there will be at least some restrictions on which Skills can be used with which Weapons, but it’s not entirely clear what those are just yet. It may be this is still up for debate internally, as not all systems have been completely finalized. It has been confirmed that there will be over 100 of these to find, which promises a great amount of variety in possible combat combinations.
Elden Ring Spirit Summons
Spirit Summons (referred to as “buddies” in Japanese) are a new feature that will also play an integral part of your character Build, and these are acquired by defeating specific enemies. The ashes of these enemies can then be slotted and used to summon their phantoms to your aid by expending Focus Points, which you might remember from Dark Souls 3.
You can use Spirit Summons in battle to deal with enemies or distract them while you face others, and are very important in situations where there are many enemies staring you down. Elden Ring has particular places in the world, like enemy encampments, that are just loaded with enemies making it much more difficult to just charge in and kill them. Using Spirit Summons helps to make these fights more manageable, as does the addition of Stealth.
Even in this short demonstration, we saw a great variety of spirit summons – from a falcon to humanoid trolls and more!. This is in line with FromSoftware’s promise that we will enjoy a great variety of Enemies in the game, which so far seems to hold true as we spotted few familiar enemy types, and many new and innovative ones. Think harpies, trolls, armored and unarmored humanoid residents, grotesque winged titans, feathered dragons, tentacle-faced giants, deformed gargoyle goblins, blade-talon giant eagles … and all with ragdoll! 😉
Elden Ring Weapons & Armor
Much like the Souls games, Elden Ring will feature a large variety of Weapons and Armor for the player to choose from, in what Fromsoftware says will be “more than the previous titles”. As mentioned, many of these are immediately recognizable from Dark Souls 3, so players who enjoyed some of the Weapons in that game will likely be able to do the same in Elden Ring. However, one thing to note is that Twinblades will be making a return, so those of you who are fans of these Weapon types from Dark Souls 2 should be happy. The other weapons that we spotted were: Daggers, Swords, Longswords, Greatswords, Curved Swords, Staves (or Catalysts), Bows, Axes, Spears, Halberds, Scythes or Reapers, Whips, Small, Medium and Great Shields … and a full on Jousting Lance
For Armor references, it would seem we will be working with about the same equipment slots, featuring helmets, chests, gauntlets and leggings. Some of the armor designs seemed to favor some flavor of belts so perhaps this is an addition, but it’s entirely possible it was simply cosmetic of the armor designs.
The look and feel of the armors will be very welcome by the Fashion Souls community, as they preserve the trademark souls aesthetics while giving a fresh and more detailed look.
The main armor that everyone has seen with the long white hair and red clothing around the waist that hints to the Alva Set is just the beginning: The Assassin-type character featured in the gameplay demonstration wore an eastern-style blueish robe with chained and jeweled fit armor, long open sleeves and leather gauntlets, mixing DKS3’s Mercenary swag with the Lord Blade’s Set. The knight / paladin / herald that we saw had a blue armor set that made me think of a much better dressed Herald. The Barbarian we encountered was wearing what seemed like a much more Conan-like version of the Bandit Set.
And of course remember that Equipment Load is indeed a factor in the game, and players will be forced to make tough choices once again about how much Armor they want to wear in order to be able to roll more quickly. As noted, Strength plays a role in this in Elden Ring, making Strength Builds all the more interesting when compared with Magic Builds.
Elden Ring Magic
Players will also be able to cast spells with the use of what seems to be Staves or Catalysts once again, using some familiar Spells from Dark Souls 3, and a host of new Spells as well. Fromsoftware confirmed that these use FP to cast, just like Dark Souls 3, and the “mana” system should more or less be the same.
I did not find out if there are the equivalent of “Ashen Estus Flasks” in Elden Ring, but I would not be surprised if this was the case. We did after all see the player using some sort of flask to drink from to heal, and with the FP system remaining in place, it seems likely it will as well, and one of the items consumed during a fight seemed to glow the right color for magic boosting.
If you are wondering what you can expect for your magic arsenal, we saw several pyromancies including Fireball hurls and a long and improved version of Firestorm. We also recognized several weapon buff effects that were glowing blue and yellow, hinting to magic and lighting effects. We saw a fluid and beautiful version of “soul darts”, magic-based “Soul Rain” casts that created a magical storm that precipitated soul arrows down on the area, a ginormous version of Magic greatsword, a light-colored aoe of frontal scythes, and a particularly awesome frontal AOE magic that summoned lightning and seemed to cause an earth tremor on its conal wake.
Elden Ring Combat & How it Has Evolved
As I mentioned a bit earlier, the combat of Elden Ring is by and large the same as Dark Souls 3, just with a few new mechanics tacked on top in order to provide players with more options. These are Jumping, Stances and Stealth.
Having a dedicated “Jump” button allows you to jump straight up in the air, much like Sekiro, allowing you to attack while doing so as well. This also applies to using Bows and Spells, so you can actually jump shoot enemies with a bow if you want to, and it’s worth noting this seemed extremely smooth when watching the gameplay.
The other thing added was what are referred to as Stances. A good comparison to this would be “Posture” from Sekiro, allowing you an opening for a devastating attack if you break your opponent’s Stance. However, unlike Sekiro I don’t believe this will be visible, and instead will operate much the way many Souls-Like mechanics do, with a hidden gauge that fills up as you attack with certain attacks. Once completely full, the enemy is exposed and you can hit them for massive damage in what looked very much like a “visceral attack” of Bloodborne.
These two things, combined with Stealth should make for more interesting combat as a whole, again allowing players more choice and freedom in the way that they approach enemy encounters while out exploring the landscape.
Elden Ring Stealth
Much like Sekiro, Elden Ring features Stealth mechanics that let you sneak up on and backstab enemies if you wish. This can help you thin out larger groups of enemies, improving your odds in head to head combat with some of the game’s tougher enemies. You can scout enemy areas from afar using a binocular, and plan your approach based on what enemies you spot.
One thing new though was the addition of Sleep Arrows, that allows you to put enemies to sleep from a distance and then sneak in and finish them off, or bypass them entirely. This seems to work on even some of Elden Ring’s largest enemies, allowing you to skip them completely to reach that shiny piece of Armor or Weapon behind them.
Exploration & Crafting
Exploration has always been a large part of Souls games, and it might even be the best part for some players who love to see all the intricate and carefully placed details painstakingly added by the From Software team. Exploring the open field will take you to “Field Bosses“, one of which was depicted on the first artwork batch of the game, and defeating them unlocks the checkpoints of the game “Sites of Lost Grace“.
I met few but interesting NPCs in my short stay in The Lands Between. I am happy to report that FromSoft’s trademark quirkyness remains and the voiceovers continue to deliver well-written and atmosphere-fitting lines. Whether they cackle crazily to themselves remains to be seen, but my money is on yes.
I saw artwork for an area with a rounded table, a roaring “grace” flame of sorts and several statues holding branches that I think may be the hub of the game, that you may access after progressing enough of the story.
I was also told that the narrative and story for the game will not be as “hard to grasp or piece together” as previous titles, and players can expect to enjoy “interpersonal drama” amongst the games “multiple protagonists”. This matches quite well with GRRM’s books, so you may see the merging of the contextual storytelling of Miyazaki and the complex interpersonal relations of the GoT articles in a great way.
Now for the question in everyone’s mind: YES, I used one of my questions to ask about POT BOY. And here is the answer: “The pot boys… we hope that players can explore and find their own answers in regards to the pot people, you are free to befriend them if you wish, but we CAN’T promise that you won’t have to SMASH THEM” … so… RIP potboys, you hold something valuable and thus you must die.
The possible new waifu of the series seems to be introduced during the demo, as you are greeted by red-haired Melina, who lowers her cloak to reveal an eye tatooed shut and declares “Greetings, traveler from beyond the Fog. I am Melina. I offer you an accord”. I say “possible new waifu” because she had some mysterious blue glow around her that looked a lot like what you use to summon your mount and made me think “is she the steed?”… and in Elden Ring, players will have more to explore than ever before, and they will spend a good amount of time doing so on their trusty Spirit Steed.
The Spirit Steed is a new addition to the formula, instantaneously allowing players to mount and be on their way. What struck me about this was how seamlessly this was handled, and in the footage the player was mounted and jumped down off a massive cliff and was galloping away in a matter of seconds. It all looked so smooth.
What I noticed is that From Software didn’t try to make the horseback riding feel “real”, but instead focused on good controls that almost looked more actiony in nature. That is to say, you can turn the horse on a dime, and it doesn’t look like you’re driving a boat around having to plan your turns in advance. Your mount can perform jumps and double jumps, and take special “boost” points that will propel it high into the air to a completely new vertical level.
Note that the Spirit Steed doesn’t take your Equip Load into account, so you will move the same speed on it regardless of how heavy you are. The steed seems to have saddlebags, which makes me think that you can store things with your Spirit Steed, or that it may function as your “item box”. It’s likely you’ll be able to purchase this from a vendor, or Craft it from materials gathered on the landscape.
I was treated to a few short bursts of mounted combat, and one particularly intriguing still that featured what looked like a jousting lance charge toward another mounted opponent. In general, you can use magic, archery and melee weapons from horseback, allowing you to battle enemies while on the move. The combat itself looked responsive but it was not possible to tell how something like iframes or blocking / dodging would work. The mounted fights I saw cut off to dismounted combat shortly after.
Of note: you will not be able to use the spirit steed during multiplayer sessions.
How much of a role exactly Crafting has to play in Elden Ring is not immediately clear, but I was made aware of the fact that you can harvest plants on the landscape and make things out of them. Or you can hunt animals and use their meat and bones to make things, like “Dried Meat” which operates much the way “Grass” did in the Souls games, providing you with increased Stamina Recovery for a short time. For animals to hunt, I spotted sheep, deer and eagles during the short traversal periods that I saw.
You can also Craft special arrow tips that provide various effects, and one could extrapolate that Sleep Arrows are likely one of these. From Software was quick to clarify that you can still buy many of these things from Vendors, but Crafting is an alternative means to acquiring them.
Note that in order to Craft certain items you must find “Recipes“, which can be acquired as treasure around the game or from defeating specific enemies you might find on your Map.
Elden Ring Map
New to From Software games is the addition of an over world Map. That’s right, you heard me, a Map! This allows players to see where they are in the Lands Between, and to figure out where to go next. Pieces of this map will be obtained throughout the course of your adventure, allowing you to see more and more of it over time. That is to say, you can’t see everywhere immediately.
What’s really cool about this map is that it allows you to set custom markers on it, that once marked appear in your game world as a beam of light shining into the sky, much the way they do in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. This makes it easier to find them once marked, and prevents you from having to keep re-opening your map to see where you are in relation to where you are trying to go! The categories for the map did not have names on the demo, but from their icons one could speculate that you get up to 100 markers for: weapons, bosses, enemies, fauna, flora, gems, chests, banners, trees (maybe checkpoints?) and castles.
I’ve seen nothing about Maps for the Dungeons or Legacy Dungeons yet, so I don’t know if these will be a part of Elden Ring, or if From Software will decide to leave these more traditional areas without one, as they have historically. The overall map did however have a button to press your right stick to display “Subterranean Labyrinth” so I am very curious as to whether that is a yet unannounced extra feature, or related to the dungeons of the game.
Dungeons & Legacy Dungeons
While you’re out traversing the Lands Between on your Spirit Steed you will eventually run into Dungeons and Legacy Dungeons. Dungeons are smallish enclosed areas that are full of traps, monsters and a Boss that reward the player with equipment, Skills or other rewards. These can be done alone or with other players and showcased the return of Illusory Walls.
Legacy Dungeons are much larger and are sort of their own sub area inside the Lands Between. They are called Legacy Dungeons because they are about the size and style of what one area from a Souls game would be, allowing for a sort of pseudo self contained theme and experience.
The one I was shown in the gameplay segment was called Stormvale Castle, and it afforded two approaches: either heading inside through the main gate, or taking the side path and sneaking in behind the enemies inside. The first option was much more combat oriented, while the second allowed for a more subtle approach. Players will often be provided these sort of options in Elden Ring, allowing them to tailor difficulty to some degree.
After traversing a greenish fog gate, I saw the Boss of Stormvale Castle who is none other than the one shown during the gameplay trailer revealed at E3, and it was absolutely insane. You confront this boss in a graveyard littered with yellow flowers and with the prominent corpse of a dragon nearby. The trademark FromSoftware boss music sets the tempo and, after pronouncing “I Command Thee, KNEEL!”, the boss proceeds to unleash a barrage of heavy AOE attacks including fire breath and grabs with its dragon-head arm. Our champion tried to fight back by summoning what I can only describe as Onion-Bros long lost evil cousin, “pumpkin bro” – who had an enormous pumpkin head and a flail, but it was for naught. The encounter reminded me in some ways of a giant Slave-Knight Gale with many arms that was uber aggressive towards the player, who subsequently died. It was easily my favorite part of Stormvale, but my second favorite thing was how Jump was used in this area.
While Jumping makes some difference in combat encounters, where it really changes the game is in the exploration department. By adding jump, and subsequently reducing fall damage to a much more manageable amount, players are now able to take greater risks in pursuit of reaching places they never would have tried to before, and this allows players to see the game world in a way they have never before. PARKOUR!
This of course is all factored into Elden Ring’s incredibly detailed and elaborate design, especially in Legacy Dungeons. And you are rewarded for doing so in the form of treasures and loot, almost as if From wanted you to go there all along… and you thought it was your idea…
Imagine for a second that you could get onto the roof of Anor Londo and then jump from rooftop to rooftop, then plunge down through an open skylight onto Smough’s head and you might have some idea what that sense of freedom could be like in Dark Souls 1. It is perhaps the single biggest change in the grand scheme of things, and one that feels like it has always been here when you watch the gameplay. It will completely change how you approach the game, and more importantly, it will very significantly change how you can expect multiplayer encounters to unfold.
Multiplayer & Online
After reading all of that, you might be wondering if you can play together cooperatively with other players, and the answer is yes you can, with up to 2 of them actually. While not all details are immediately clear, it does seem like Elden Ring will use a similar system to Dark Souls 3, allowing players to put their signs down and be summoned in most locations, including the overland areas, dungeons and Legacy Dungeons.
One particular thing that I want to mention is that “phantoms”, I’m not sure what they are called in Elden Ring, don’t appear to look much like phantoms at all, and are much less translucent and look much more like just regular characters who feature a slight tinge of orangey-red. It’s quite the change, and one you’ll notice immediately.
What’s not clear is whether or not your cooperators will remain after Bosses are defeated, whether or not you can rest at checkpoints called “Sites of Lost Grace” while they are present, and whether you can transition from the overland to a Dungeon or Legacy Dungeon if you already have a cooperator with you. We did see a multiplayer team take on a “field boss” that unlocked a checkpoint, and the cooperator didn’t immediately depart, so I think we can expect these answers soon as more gameplay is shown.
One important note to clear up is that you cannot use your Spirit Steed while cooperating, and it will be disabled as long as other players are in your game world. This means you’ll be huffing it on foot when playing with others, which leads me to PvP and how that factors in to this decision.
PvP: The Big Surprise
PvP works much the same way as in Souls games, allowing players to invade the game world of others in most locations in Elden Ring. You can also place a dueling stone down, like you could in Dark Souls 3, in those cases you want to challenge other players directly.
Initially it was made clear there would be no mounted combat in PvP, but what was confusing was that you could be invaded on the over world so how would that work if players were already mounted. Well now we know the answer to that question!
Invaders will never invade a mounted player, because players cannot be mounted in cooperative play. That is to say, you can only invade players that are cooperating, not players who are alone. (Of course there’s a duel item for those who wish to summon invaders)
This is a controversial decision to be sure, and one that will likely send more than a few hardcore PvP players over the edge, but one that From Software was quick to clarify has not been finalized. If I had to guess, I’d wager they may want to see how the community responds to the news, to gauge whether they are more for or against this change. I’d urge those who have something to say about it to post in the comments, as it is very likely these will be read by either From Software or Bandai Namco in order to gather information regarding this topic. If you do opt for giving feedback, remember to provide options and alternatives rather than demand things be made as before.
Passwords and “Groups”
Passwords will also be making a return so if you want to play with a friend or set of friends you can use this password to find one another, but something new that’s really cool, is the addition of a “Group Password“. This allows players to use the same password to find one another, just like regular passwords, but it means they also only see the asynchronous features of those players as well. So if you only want to see bloodstains, signs and messages from specific people then you can use this feature.
In case you are wondering, we will have a Group Password for Fextralife at launch and as you have suspected it will be called “Fextralife” and have all of our community ready to share in the action.
We had the opportunity to ask questions to FromSoftware and one of them was what they may see as the new “Praise the Sun” or similar catch-phrase for the game. Of course, they were more than modest about their appreciation of the community’s love for the titles, and suggested that Elden Ring has such a great abundance of catchy text, content and story elements, that they expect anything could happen. I did keep my eyes out for possible Gestures and Emotes and I noted: Hurrah!, Joy, Applause and Bloodborne’s “Deep Respect”.
So What do We Think of Elden Ring Now That We’ve Seen Gameplay?
At the end of my time with From Software they asked me what I thought of the presentation, as it was the first of such they had done and that they were looking for feedback. I candidly replied that I am at least 3x more excited for Elden Ring after seeing it and getting questions answered, and having thought more about the game as I’ve written it all down, this remains to be the case.
Elden Ring feels like Dark Souls, there is no denying it, but it’s a form of Dark Souls that is nearly perfected. Miyazaki and From Software seem to be on a quest to make a very specific game, revamping and tweaking it through out the years in order to get closer and closer to “that game” that’s been in their Mind’s Eye. In my estimation, Elden Ring is the closest to that vision From Software has ever come.
Watching the gameplay, I was absolutely blown away by what I witnessed, but what was more intriguing, was the lack of “surprise” I felt. Nothing was really unexpected, nothing caught me off guard, and even though the wow factor was full on 100, everything felt like it had always been there. That is to say, if you knew nothing about Dark Souls, From Software or Elden Ring, and were just watching the gameplay everything would still make perfect sense. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but I have a feeling it won’t be too long before you get to see what I mean.
Unfortunately, no news was provided to us that we can share about upcoming public gameplay showings or the possibility of Network Tests or anything of that nature, but I would expect players to be informed about such things in the not too distant future.
If you have further questions about Elden Ring I will try to answer what I can, as I will be live on Twitch for several hours after this video goes live. Additionally, you can find nearly all of this information now on the Elden Ring Wiki, which we will continue to update up through and after the launch of the game.