A Sense of Scale Was a Core Pillar of Elden Ring’s Design
Elden Ring finally received a gameplay trailer at E3 2021 and it is absolutely stunning. The graphics and visual design are packed full of classic dark fantasy goodness, of course, but what really took our breath away was the staggering sense of scale. Watching the protagonist navigate through an enormous world and take on foes so huge their heads appear to scrape the sky is an incredible experience. If you haven’t already seen this trailer, we heartily recommend you do that now. It’s good to have some idea of what we’re talking about when we start discussing Director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s claim that Elden Ring will contain the largest game map in FromSoftware history. As it turns out, this isn’t just a happy coincidence–that towering sense of scale was part of Elden Ring’s design from the beginning.
FromSoftware games typically feature complex, labyrinthine maps that players must wander through, gradually discovering connections between seemingly unrelated locations. However, this wasn’t always the case, as Demon’s Souls contain five completely unique worlds. Reportedly, the hotly-anticipated Elden Ring will combine later Soulslike’s single-piece map approaches with the classic separate worlds approach. The game will contain six major areas, each controlled by a demigod character. There is an order in which players are supposed to tackle them, but you will be able to stray from that game plan if you want–though there might be consequences for doing so. But then, what’s a FromSoftware game without consequences?
The expansive vistas, towering cliffs, far-off castles, and even the existence of a giant goat that players can ride across the map make it clear that Elden Ring’s world is big. This setting is called The Lands Between, a name invented by author George R.R. Martin, and it was created specifically to be a massive world that players can explore. Martin came up with the name while etching out a deep mythos for the setting, and if you’re at all familiar with his other works, you probably have some idea of what he can do when let loose on a basic fantasy setting. Elden Ring appears to be visibly more rooted in traditional high fantasy than FromSoftware’s previous Soulslikes, but the company’s trademark bleak tone and grueling combat still seem to be present, so we’re not complaining.
“We wanted to give a free level of progression and exploration through the Lands Between, so there’s a lot of different ways,” said Miyazaki. “You won’t be able to access everything from the start, but there are a lot of different ways you can approach each area. And there’s a lot of freedom as to which order you tackle different areas as well.”
While it appears that Elden Ring will not be a true open-world game, its combination of six huge dungeons with seamless connections back to The Lands Between may end up giving players the same feeling. Hopefully, the game plays as spectacular as it sounds.
Elden Ring will be released on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on January 21, 2022.