The 5 most important takeaways from the ‘Elden Ring’ gameplay preview

Elden Ring is one of the most anticipated titles of 2022, and after the November gameplay preview it isn’t hard to see why. Here are the 5 most exciting takeaways from the Elden Ring gameplay preview.

At this point Elden Ring probably doesn’t need much of an introduction, but for those who have seemingly been trapped under a rock (or Pot Boy) for the last few months, I’ll give a quick crash course.

Japanese video game developer FromSoftware, led by visionary director Hidetaka Miyazaki, has developed a stellar reputation for making quality action RPGs that kill you over and over again. With each title, starting proper with Demon’s Souls and ending with 2019’s Sekiro, they have expanded their repertoire of interesting gameplay mechanics and environmental storytelling.

elden ring gameplay preview
Image: Elden Ring / FromSoftware

Elden Ring, at least judging from what we’ve seen so far, is the culmination of all of the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Oh, and by the way, the OG behemoth of fantasy literature  himself, George R. R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame, lent his quill to help shape the game’s lore and overarching narrative.

If all that doesn’t get you excited then you should probably sit this one out, as everything that follows is likely to come across as the highly confusing ramblings of a mad fan.

For those that are still with me, let’s get to the point: the latest Elden Ring gameplay preview completely slayed, and here’s what we found most intriguing.

The Lands In-Between are vast

The world of Elden Ring looks unprecedented in terms of size and scope for a FromSoftware game. Despite this, the gameplay preview demonstrated that it is wildly diverse and populated with enough rich environmental storytelling to satisfy even the most discerning of fans.

We got a glimpse of stunning mountainous terrain, beautifully autumnal forests, open fields, and claustrophobic dungeons. So while the world is huge, the risk of it growing tedious or boring looks negligible.

I was left yearning to jump on my faithful stead and have myself a grand old adventure. Speaking of which…

Image: Elden Ring / FromSoftware

You travel fast in Elden Ring

Elden Ring promises to be FromSoftware’s first truly open-world gaming experience. And considering the apparent size of the world, the speed at which you can make your way through it is important. Thankfully, we got to see a few new gameplay mechanics that have been implemented with this in mind.

Firstly, you have access to a summonable mount that shares a striking resemblance to the iconic red elk (Yakul) from Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke. When riding you are much faster than on foot, meaning it’s ideal for traversing difficult landscapes, and also dealing with some larger foes. It also just looks really fucking cool.

Secondly, November’s Elden Ring gameplay preview showed off the game’s map system. This mechanic will enable fast travelling between important locations, but will also gently suggest which areas a player should explore first (you need to discover fragments to complete your map).

elden ring map
Image: Elden Ring / FromSoftware

Elden Ring pays homage to Berserk

If Sekiro was FromSoftware’s foray into Japanese folklore, then Elden Ring looks to be their attempt to explore the Nordic/Celtic archetypes of traditional fantasy. Sure, the Dark Souls games touched on it, but that golden ‘world tree’ is definitely some Lord of the Rings style majesty.

However, the darkness and madness that creeps into all of Miyazaki’s games is most definitely still there for all to see. This looks to be the closest Miyazaki has come to translating the twisted dark fantasy of his idol, Berserk creator Kentaro Miura, into an interactive video game experience.

And considering Miura’s recent passing, this homage feels all the more poignant.

Image: Berserk / Kitaro Miura

Dungeons will offer classic FromSoftware level design

Some fans are a understandably worried about Elden Ring’s adoption of an open-world paradigm; particularly how it could affect the game’s level design.

FromSoftware’s level design is often celebrated as best in class – relying on hidden pathways, unlockable shortcuts, and intersecting areas to create rewarding gameplay passages. Needless to say, an open world doesn’t lend itself to this approach.

The good news is that Elden Ring’s world has been designed with this problem in mind. The gameplay preview highlighted the design principles of what the developers are referring to as ‘dungeons’, and they are in-line with FromSoftware’s past work.

So get ready to kick some ladders, folks.

elden ring dungeon
Image: Elden Ring / FromSoftware

The magic system in Elden Ring looks much improved

Straight up: I don’t fuck with magic in Souls games. Give me a big chopper and I’ll swing to my heart’s content, happy as a babe. Or hand me a sword and shield and I’ll bravely face whatever Miyazaki and co. have in store. But magic? It’s always looked like an afterthought in FromSoftware’s games.

This looks set to change with Elden Ring. The gameplay preview focused quite a bit on the game’s new magic and special skills mechanics, suggesting the developers feel they have finally gotten it right. Using magic appears much less janky, quicker, and more fluid to use in combination with physical combat.

How it actually feels in practice remains to be seen, but the biggest endorsement I can give right now is that I am looking forward to trying it.

And that brings us to a close, friends. Although be sure to stay tuned for our updates, which will be published right after the Elden Ring closed beta.